Manchester City 3 - 1 Arsenal

by Laurie Laker

Leno – 7

Made some decent saves, and had we had a better squad ahead of him we might’ve got something today. Couldn’t do much about the goals. Distributed a little better than previous weeks. 7

Lichtsteiner – 3.5

Seeing Sane on the bench, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief. Too soon, sadly. Really poor display from a player brought in to shore us up, add some nous, who in reality looks well over the hill.   

Koscielny – 6.5

Kept up with Aguero for the most part, but positional-wise got shown up a bit today. Had to do the work of two men due to the liability of the player next to him, mind you. Did his best, and for a man over 30 returning from the worst injury of his career, he was okay. Scored our goal, which was a lovely moment for us.

Mustafi - 4

Not great. His side of the pitch contributed to every single City goal, his playing of everyone onside made me crazy, and his consistent sliding into tackles he won’t ever win…well, it’s just very on-brand for him. 

Monreal – 6.5

By far the best of our fullbacks today, kept Silva at bay relatively well until City went up through the gears in the second half. Assisted Koscielny for our goal with a flicked-on header, but at times was left a little exposed and isolated in defense.

Kolasinac – 6.5

Struggled to get involved at times, but when he did he was admirably committed to putting balls in and bodying up, but neglected defensive duties a bit which led to both Walker and Silva having a free run at Monreal. He’s an attacking threat, but we need a player who works both ways. 

Guendouzi – 8.5

Now here’s a young man who seriously impressed today. For all the talk of him costing us in midfield, he arguably bossed the whole centre of the park for most of the match. Always involved, he drove forward and played the ball into space so well. Completed the most passes of anyone in the first half (22), and generally was inspiring when other were insipid.

Torreira – 7

Did his thing and did it well. Read passes, broke up City’s forward play, generally made a nuisance of himself. He’s been a bargain, but he’ll plateau unless we populate the midfield around him with players who can build on his good work. He’s vital for us, one of the few players in the right age bracket to build our future around.

Iwobi – 5.5

Not his best day today. Gave way the ball on the edge of our box, leading to their first goal inside 40 seconds. Really indecisive in and around City’s box, which often cost us after decent build up down that side. Worked hard, but overall didn’t have the connecting impact between midfield and attack that we need him to.

Lacazette – 6

Tried really hard today, but had so little service that whatever he did wasn’t impactful. Pressured from the front as well as he ever does, but it was a game of scraps for our strikers and they’re never going to do well with that. 

Aubameyang – 5

Rarely involved today, and had to drop deep to get any time on the ball. A few balls in behind for him to chase, but nothing fell his way – much like Lacazette. Drifted out wide, too, where he’s never, ever effective. Frustrating day for him, I’m sure.

Substitutes:

Ramsey (Iwobi, 67 minutes) – 6

His least impactful sub performance of the season came in a game where many of us (myself included) thought he should have started. Not much came off for him, and the game was beyond us by the time he arrived. 

Suarez (Kolasinac, 67 minutes) – 5

It was an Arsenal debut, and a return to his former club, that he won’t look back on with much fondness, sadly. Struggled to keep the ball when it came to him, and looked every bit a player in career limbo. Won’t be our saviour, calling it now.

Mavropanos (Mustafi, 79 minutes) – 5.5

Defensively got involved when he came on, as you’d hope for a centre back. Glad he’s back, as we’re running out of good defenders.

Arsenal 2 - 0 Chelsea

Leno – 7.5

CLEAN SHEET KLAXXON!!! Relatively untroubled today, only one shot on target to deal with. Came out for the ball well, punched with distance, and martialed his defense. 

Bellerin – 7.5

Was on course for his best performance of the season in my mind. Got forward well, and had Alonso (aka Wanker-in-Chief) in his back pocket all day on the defensive side. Truly devastating injury, if it is indeed the ACL we all fear it is.

Sokratis – 8

Celebrating a tackle like it’s a goal? Yes please. An outside of the boot assist for his CB partner? More of that, too. Got right amongst the Chelsea front line, gave Hazard & Co. no breathing room, always closing space. Love his #pashun, I must say.

Koscielny – 8.5

He gets the extra .5 because he scored artfully with his shoulder (your captain could never, btw) and because he’s now got the best hair at the club. Got across the near post well often to block low crosses, seems to have something of the old “right up their arses” pace about him again. His real comeback performance, this, no question.

Kolasinac – 7.5

The longer this season goes on, the more we’re starting to see why he was in the Bundesliga team of the year and why he’s become so crucial to our efforts. Attacked very well, tied for most chances created today. More than anything, though, I was thrilled with his defensive application throughout, which was excellent.

Xhaka – 7.75

When he wants to, he really can command a game. Pressed well and fed the ball forward at a rate of knots, but it was his maturity in winning the ball back and drawing fouls that impressed me today. Broke up their momentum well, and deserves special commendation for his defensive work.

Torreira – 7.5

Slightly less involved in the second half, but he did what he does – won the ball back readily and gave us a platform to move forward from. Quite clearly had the better of Kante all day today, which given all the talk about Kante being a slightly shorter version of Jesus Christ, was nice to see.  

Guendouzi – 7

Was a little surprised to see him involved at the start, and on the left side of the midfield at that, if I’m honest. That said, he’s a brave player and showed no signs of fear or intimidation today. Ran so, so much – seemed to be everywhere.

Ramsey – 8

Close shout for Man of the Match for me, along with Lacazette. Seems that Emery has worked out where to use him – at the point of the midfield diamond – but too little too late as he’s off to Juventus in June. Was everywhere today, pressing from the start. A real bright spot today, and we’re going to miss him more than we know.

Aubameyang – 7

Did he miss that early cross, or was it good defending? I can’t say for sure, but what I really like about him is how his head never drops – he’s always up for involving himself. Tracked back so well today, with a couple of tackles that our CB’s would’ve been proud of. His overhead kick attempt, had it gone in, would have sent me into near-orgasmic joy. Alas. 

Lacazette – 8.5

Our Man of the Match today, in my view. The first touch for his goal, my word, silky doesn’t come close. It was just delicious, and the finish at the near post – phwoar. Nothing less than we, and he, deserved, either. Worked really hard defensively, too, and his applause and pump up display to Iwobi when subbed off was great to see – a true team player.

Subs

Iwobi – 6.5

Involved himself well, and drove forward readily – which put Chelsea on the back foot again after a spell of pressing. Not much came off for him today, though, but nothing went wrong either.

Maitland-Niles – 7

Took over the right back slot from Bellerin and did admirably. His pace and positioning was a bonus as their pressure mounted.

Elneny – 6

Did what he does; came on, played it safely, put a foot in. Nothing wrong and shored things up a little for us.

by Laurie Laker

West Ham 1 - 0 Arsenal

By Laurie Laker

Leno 6

His distribution still really bothers me, particularly his kicking, for a keeper who’s supposed to be a modern, outfielder-in-goal sort of keeper. Nothing doing with their goal, mind you.

Sokratis: 6.5

Had a classic “got stuck in” moment when he went through the back of Andy Carroll late on, which will have pleased the “yer da” quota of the viewing figures. Fine, otherwise, but not a day to look back on.

Koscielny: 6.5

Fitness returning, but has clearly lost a few yards of pace when getting to lose balls in the box. Not awful, overall.

Mustafi: 5.5

Mustafi is always going to Mustafi but it wasn’t his worst day, either. Lazy tackle for his booking – was never, ever getting there in a million days. Tried to play some of those line-breaking balls out from the back, rarely came off – much like everything else we tried today, to be honest.

Maitland-Niles: 6.5

Looked lively early on as the match got off to a flying start. That early influence faded quickly, and soon struggled to involve himself in the game. Not his greatest day for passing, either, giving West Ham the ball more often than some of the ball boys.

Xhaka: 5.5

Barely noticed he was playing for most of the match, save for his abysmal clearance that lead to their goal. Tried defending, and did so to an okay level, but the real crime today was how he failed to impose himself on the midfield and play in our two strikers.

Guendouzi: 5

He’ll get better, but today was not one of his better days. Was involved often early on, like a lot of our forward-minded players. He’s 19, so his decision making is often lackluster, and today was one of those days – played the wrong ball a lot, etc.

Kolasinac: 6

Defended really well, a bit of a shift from his usual attacking-only involvement. Combined well with Iwobi, but for once he couldn’t find a killer cross or pass into the box for our finishers.

Iwobi: 6

*Insert platitude here about being a trier* 

Joking aside, he did try. A lot. It just rarely came off. He was centimeters from an equalizer that we didn’t deserve, and drove forward at every opportunity. Frustrating day for him, as his colleagues in the front three offered little help in the way of linkup or passing options.

Aubameyang: 5

Missed a decent chance today in a game where we created so few. Barely involved otherwise, and when he was his touch wasn’t good and he offered little to his fellow striker. It was an off day for him, and many others.

Lacazette: 6

First 15 minutes, played like a man possessed. Faded afterwards, but had most shots of anyone in the side today and that – I suppose – counts for something. Not much happening with his strike partner, and his play suffered for it. Was repeatedly frustrated by the midfield’s lack of passing production, rightly so.

Substitutes

Ramsey: 7 (for Mustafi, 59)

Immediately involved in creating options. At this point, while I understand that Emery doesn’t necessarily know where he best fits and is off to Turin in June, he’s a talented player and as we’re paying him we should be playing him, IMO. *Gets off soapbox*

Torreira: 5.5 (for Xhaka, 59)

Quiet, didn’t really steady the ship as much as we’d have liked. Kept things simple, which was something we struggled with today.

Bellerin: 5.5 (for Maitland-Niles, 69)

A welcome return for our Spanish Cockney, even if he didn’t have the marauding impact we wished he would’ve.

Arsenal 4 - 1 Fulham

In the future our player ratings will feature interactive media that allows you to add your votes. For now, they’re just some text on a screen. Enjoy!

By Laurie Laker

Leno – 6.5

His distribution was pretty average, a bit of an annoyance for a modern keeper. Was often quick off his lie to help out an occasionally wayward back three. No clean sheet, though. 

Koscielny - 7

Still clearly well short of his best, but fitness coming back even if his pace isn’t. Cleared well in what was easily his best display since a long layoff.

Mustafi – 6

He’s a liability, and he really didn’t find anything like the passing range he can have, but he also didn’t stick out a leg or do something incredibly “Mustafi-esque” so, you know, that’s a plus. Taken off at half-time, which helped my heart rate drop.

Papastathopoulos – 7 

Still had some edgy moments where he toed the line with his aggression, but the highlight for me was his unbelievable tekkers in the final third – a nutmeg, a inside cut, and a shot on target – marvelous stuff. 

Maitland-Niles – 7.5

Got up and down well, really showed regularly for an out ball to set up forwards. Linked up well with Lacazette at times, lots of round the corners. Encouraging stuff from a player with an incredibly high ceiling. 

Xhaka – 6.5

Before his goal, he really wasn’t great – loose in possession and inaccurate with his forward passing. Kicked on in a big way from his goal, grew in confidence hugely. Should’ve had a second after lovely move between Iwobi and Kolasinac. 

Guendouzi – 7 

One thing you can say about him is that he wants the ball. He’s 19. He’ll get better, but there’s raw talent to burn. Played some lovely passes into spaces, even if he was a little loose in possession at times

Kolasinac – 7.5

Defensively, he’s a feather. Offensively, he’s a hammer. Assist for Lacazette’s goal and highly involved with Iwobi in positive build up on the left.

Iwobi – 6.5

An assist and plenty of involvement down the left, had one of his better displays in recent weeks. Can see him actively trying to find form, fight his way out of a bit of a slump. Particularly lovely was his backheel for Xhaka’s near-second goal, too.

Aubameyang - 7

He’s a prolific striker in the number of chances he gets, and the number of goals he scores. Worked hard, made some excellent runs into space – found sometimes by the adventurous Guendouzi – and eventually got his goal via a deflection. League top scorer – cannot complain at that.

Lacazette – 7.5

Always hungry and involved, something of the Giroud about his energy at times. He’s a physical presence, too, and bodied up to a few of Fulham’s pressing defenders. Took his goal wonderfully, handshakes all round. Taken off to some negativity, but his applause changed the mood.

Subs

Torreira – 6

On for Mustafi, clearly still in need of a rest. 

Ramsey – 7

Off the bench, among the goals. Got the vital third goal. He’s a true professional, and we’re really going to miss him when he’s gone.

Saka – N/A

No impact, but a Premier League debut for one of the most talented youngsters the club has seen in years. More to come.