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.