Arsenal 3-2 Benfica – Player Ratings

(Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

Wow. What a game. A true rollercoaster of emotions. From the despair of going behind, to the hope brought on by Tierney’s goal and the pure relief when Aubameyang headed home the winner. It’s never an easy time for Arsenal, right?

Instead of having a look at what we learnt today, in what was an emotional affair, I’ll be giving my player ratings for the game…

Starting XI:

Leno – 6 : Standard game from Leno. Didn’t pull off any miraculous saves and couldn’t do much for the goals he conceded. Nothing more to say on the goalkeeper, really.

Bellerin – 4 : I’m not Bellerin’s biggest fan and I thought he wasn’t great today, but he wasn’t awful either. Wasn’t at fault for the goals conceded, but wasn’t at all productive going forward. Really needs to improve his chance creation and end product.

Luiz – 4 : Whilst his mistakes did not cost us today, I thought it was a lacklustre performance from the experienced centre back on the night. Miscommunication and a lack of sharpness on and off the ball led to a few shaky moments- but nothing too big. Not awful today, but certainly not up to standard.

Gabriel – 5 : Much like his centre back partner, Gabriel Maghalaes didn’t seem to be quite at his best today. Not a performance to be too disappointed with, but certainly not one to praise too highly. Had some good moments, and some more vulnerable ones. The better of the two centre backs today for me, and definitely the best at the club in that role.

Tierney – 7 : Despite his relentless efforts, I still thought Kieran Tierney looked like a player who wasn’t at 100% today. This was, of course, until he turned on attack mode, cut inside and blasted it far post to put us back level at 2-2. A moment of brilliance, from a player that consistently stands up to be accounted for.

Xhaka – 7 : Good game from Granit today. Nothing special, quietly did what he does every game. Steady and controlling in possession. Has his fair share of critics, but has been undeniably one of our best players recently.

Ceballos – 1 : Giving him one feels generous, but I feel I have to simply because he did some okay passing before his mistakes. Was sitting way too deep before the first goal, which caused him to rush up and make a stupid challenge. You simply cannot give away freekicks in those areas. He was at fault again for the second goal; zero awareness of the striker’s position… all he had to do was get distance on the header and he failed. Quite frankly a disasterclass from Dani, which is a real shame given his performances in the last few games.

Smith Rowe – 5 : Didn’t get into the game if we’re honest. Had some nice moments, but overall a very forgettable performance from Smith Rowe. I’d definitely say I prefer him in a more central role as opposed to on the left.

Ødegaard – 6 : Another player who didn’t grasp the game completely. Had good moments and played some lovely passes, but again- nothing to write home about in regards to Ødegaard output. Not bad at all, however- and he wasn’t without his good moments.

Saka – 9 (MOTM) : I’m running out of words to describe Bukayo Saka with, so I will keep it simple. Starboy. Nothing less. Once again Arsenal’s best player. His assist for Aubameyang’s first goal required incredible vision and an inch-perfect final ball, which he successfully delivered. The second assist proved just how crucial he is to us. Out of nothing, he played a divine cross for Aubameyang to nod home and win the game. Incredible player.

Aubameyang – 8 : After missing three chances of note in the first leg, all eyes were on the captain to deliver the goods when we needed it most. And, quite clearly, that is what he did. two goals, an opener and a last-minute winner. Just what the doctor ordered from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He’ll be pleased with that, for sure.

Substitutes:

Partey – 8 : After coming on for Ceballos 63 minutes in, Thomas changed the game. He just is an excellent player- even at half fitness. Simply class, can’t wait to have him fit to start. It’s that simple.

Willian – 7 : When Willian came on for Smith Rowe in the 63rd, I was understandably angry. A man who had done nothing all season coming on when we needed two goals?! Today, however, he proved me wrong. Nothing special, but made the correct pass to assist Tierney- and was secure on the ball throughout. Credit when it’s due.

Lacazette – 5 : Came on and didn’t really have much to do. Standard five, did nothing wrong but made no meaningful impact.

Chambers & Elneny – N/A : Came on at 90 minutes. Nothing to judge their games off.

A stressful, and overall poor, performance from the team today. At the end of the day, we’re through at that’s what counts. We’ll have to step it up next round though, because the performance against Benfica wasn’t good enough.

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