Arsenal 2 - 1 Burnley

by Laurie Laker

Arsenal Football Club vs. Burnley Rugby Club

The Emirates Stadium at Ashburton Grove- 17August 2019


Bernd Leno – 5.5

Could do nothing about Burnley’s goal, and looked a little shaky on high balls into the box – maybe a new CB pairing ahead of him made for communication issues? Alert when required, mostly, though.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 6.5

Clearly still learning the RB trade, but was sharp when he needed to be and offensively kept offering a threat and an option for the front players to combine with.

David Luiz– 7

We know what he’s good at; being a ball-playing centreback. His lapse to lose Barnes for their goal was annoying, but he wasn’t helped by a deflection on the pass. Overall, he looked solid – decent debut, valuable minutes before a very tough next two fixtures.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos – 6.5/7

He looked fine. He did the basics well, and he relished the physicality that Burnley brought.

Nacho Monreal – 7.5

Captained the side today, and looked good doing so. Did his work at both ends of the pitch, defensively sound and offensively always available. Nearly had an assist but for his foot being offside. Encouraging return to form for the 33 year old.

Dani Ceballos– 9* (*MOTM)

Easily the best player on the park by a country mile. Oozed quality on and off the ball; his energy was wonderful to watch. Close control was Cazorla-esque, his running into the final third added bodies and options, and his tenacity earned him two assists. What a debut. Fingers crossed Raul’s on the blower right now, working out a payment structure.

Matteo Guendouzi – 8

Impressive today, again, in a deeper role than we may be used to seeing him in. Dropped to collect the ball from the centre backs, completed 48 of his 51 passes today which is brilliant. Really, really encouraging – we’ve got a player, here. 

Joe Willock – 7

His first start at the Emirates in the Premier League, and he looked right at home. His runs forward and the way he carries the ball is really, really lovely – able to break lines so effectively. Needs consistency, but he’s totally unafraid to commit and play his game.

Reiss Nelson – 6.5

Decent today, had a goal disallowed for a narrow offside against Monreal. Drove inside and attacked well after he found his rhythm, but the substitution at half time was probably the right choice. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7.5

Continued with the goals by getting today’s winner – a lovely shoulder drop and placed finish from the left channel of the area. Always looked a threat on the counter, his pace is just electrifying (I use that word deliberately given its TH14 associations) and worked hard when he had to. A man in form.

Alex Lacazette - 7

First goal of the season, and all his own work. He loves that lower right quadrant of the box; good strength, a sharp turn, and a neat finish as he was falling over. Needs more minutes to get up to full fitness, but he’s there to score goals and he did that.



Pepe (Nelson, 46) – 7

Gets a good rating for the nutmeg alone; pretty sure he stole a man’s soul today and we all watched in real time. Great feet, but clearly needs minutes. Should have sealed/assisted the sealing goal late on, but an encouraging half.

Kolasinac (Lacazette, 72) - 6

He was fine. Alert defensively. Mostly, just relieved to see him back in light of ongoing and recent off-pitch issues; got a great reception, which was a nice touch.

Torreira (Ceballos, 83) – 6.5

Only got 10 minutes, but looked sharp and involved right from the off. Had a good effort well-saved.

Newcastle United 0 - 1 Arsenal

By Laurie Laker

St. James Park - 11 August 2019

Bernd Leno – 6.5

Looked calm and collected, but not a lot to do in truth. Happy with that. Shouted a bit, which I liked. Solid under pressure at crosses; a nice change from Arsenal keepers past.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 8

We’re critical of his lapses, so we’d better praise his positives as well. Excellent defensively today, a constant option going forward, and a brilliant assist for the goal.More please.

Calum Chambers – 7

First league start, and he did well. Passing was useful for our buildup, and defensively he was tuned in. Didn’t seem as rush-prone has he has previously. SokratisPapastathopoulos – 6.5

Looked comfortable alongside Chambers, and never hugely troubled. Solid.

Nacho Monreal – 6.5

With Tierney coming in, this was a “Remember me?” display from the Spaniard. Got up and down well, but crossing left a bit to be desired. Decent day, and he’s a great backup when the time comes.

Matteo Guendouzi – 7

Always involved, drove forward as often as possible. Broke up play a few times, too, which he’s clearly developing a sense for. Hair like a drowned poodle, for extra swag.

Granit Xhaka – 6

Slowed things down in the middle a bit too much, a little sloppy with his passing at times, but otherwise was…fine. Captain once again, and the armband looks his to lose at this point.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 3

Frustrating day for the Armenian, and for those of us watching him. Involved, but nothing came off. Missed a near-sitter, too. Not his best. Inconsistency is becoming his hallmark, now. A concern. 

Joe Willock – 7

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but he’s going to be a star. Showed real glimpses of his quality today, tired towards the end. Not at all out of place in the starting XI. The growth continues.

Reiss Nelson – 6

Quiet for large portions of the match, but showed a few lovely moments and worked hard off the ball. Execution not quite there yet, but he’s got the talent that’s for damn sure.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 8

A man who has looked on fire since preseason began, he was great today. Always a thread, pace and involvement all over the front line. Took his goal very, very well, too. A top, top player.


Dani Ceballos – 5

There’s a bit of the snide cynic about his game for such a cultured player. Like that. More to come, we hope.

Nicolas Pepe – 5

Not on for long, but a few nice touches and some pace to burn gave us a few glimpses of what he’s going to bring once he gets up to speed.

Gabriel Martinelli – 4

Not on long enough to make an impact.