Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal: Player ratings from a dismal performance

Written by Edward Pitt

February 6, 2021

Arsenal have fallen to a 1-0 defeat, allowing Aston Villa to do the league double over us for the first time in 28 years. It was an atrociously sloppy goal to concede inside 2 minutes. Cedric under-hit a pass to Gabriel, Traore pounced on it to then square it to Watkins. A huge deflection then took it past Ryan. And after that point, despite lengthy spells of possession, Arsenal never really looked like causing Aston Villa any major issues. The passing was too slow in midfield and other than Saka, Pepe at times and Odegaard when he came on, there was a palpable lack of invention in the final third. It actually looked more likely for Villa to double their lead as the likes of Watkins and Grealish forced a number of fine saves from debutant Maty Ryan in goal. Here is how each player got on…

Ryan – 8/10: Quite easily the MOTM today. He could do nothing for the first goal after a huge Holding deflection took the shot away from Ryan’s gloves. Throughout the rest of the game, he seemed to pull off save after save as Villa countered us to keep it 1-0. He definitely seems like a dependable backup based on this performance

Bellerin – 5/10: Very poor from Bellerin. Sloppy in possession. Nervous going forward. And very unconvincing in dealing with Grealish. In fairness, Grealish can be a real handful and certainly was today

Holding – 4/10: I’m still a massive fan of Holding, but this is a performance he will quickly want to forget about. Watkins absolutely terrorised him, winning most headers and causing real problems with his movement. Very shaky from someone who is normally so reliable

Gabriel – 4/10: Gabriel was equally poor for all the same reasons; Watkins was proving too much for them both. Gabriel really hasn’t seemed himself since returning from injury

Cedric – 3/10: We can’t get on this guy’s back too much because he has been really good recently and isn’t playing in his strongest position. But this was a terrible performance. Directly at fault for their opener and was really struggling to deal with Traore on the counter attack. He couldn’t redeem himself going forward with his delivery often letting him down

Partey – 4/10: I don’t know what happened to Partey today. Normally he is so composed on the ball, can move it quickly and can glide through the midfield. Today, perhaps because of our nervous start, he was the complete opposite. So pedestrian on the ball. Lost most of his midfield battles. Did not move the ball quickly enough and seemed to too often be content with the sideways pass

Xhaka – 5/10: Xhaka was very much the same, though in fairness did play a couple of decent balls out wide at times and improved his performance in the second half

Saka – 7/10: The biggest flaw with the squad right now, is that we find ourselves in situations where we are forced to play our best attacking asset at LB, simply because he is left footed. We miss him so much when he isn’t on the right, but was looking good at LB too. He was the only spark in the first hour really

Smith Rowe – 4/10: I’ll sing his praises when he deserves it, but it would be delusional to suggest he was on top form today. He was one player still trying to make something happen, but it just wasn’t working out. Just out of sync; his touch was often too heavy, he was conceding unnecessary fouls and being shrugged off the ball quite easily at times

Pepe – 5/10: To a certain extent, Pepe deserves some credit for today. He was looking after the ball well, making good runs and getting into great positions. But he cannot get more than a 5 because when he got into these positions he never really delivered. Not a horrendous performance, but not his best

Lacazette – 5/10: He struggled really. I think him and Smith Rowe being off their game was what made us seem so poor going forward; they are normally so crucial to our attacking output, but it wasn’t working today


Aubameyang – 6/10: Looked a real threat after coming on and was heavily involved. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t quite finish off a couple of half chances which might have seen us steal a point

Odegaard – 7/10: I was really impressed by the new lad today. He showed some really nice touches and a good work rate. He was linking really well with Saka on the left hand side and created some good moments with his passing and vision. The only complaint I have of him is that he had a couple of decent chances to get us back in it which he should have done better with

Willian – 3/10: In fairness to Willian, he did play one real killer pass after coming on. Unfortunately, it was to Ollie Watkins as another under-hit pass at the back nearly cost us again. Going forward, he was poor and never looked like making anything happen

ARTETA – 5/10: I cannot complain about his initial team selection, but his in-game management was not brilliant. We should have seen Odegaard or Ceballos on for Partey or Xhaka at half time. And probably Martinelli brought on instead of Willian.

Overall a very disappointing game and performance. We have to bounce back now and put another brilliant run of wins together to get our season back on track if we are to finish in the top half

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons



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