14 FA Cups and counting… Dan’s Arsenal v Chelsea Review and Player Ratings

Let’s go Arsenal – 14 FA cups and counting – Dan Smith

I promised myself I would enjoy the FA Cup for what it was. I’m not going to let it paper over cracks and
I won’t ignore it’s our worse League position in over 25 years.

When I send my season review in a couple of days, I won’t let this weekend sway my mind. Yet it’s the hope that kills you.

While I don’t trust Stan Kroenke to match his ambition there is something about Arteta that makes you think maybe, just maybe, we have stumbled upon a manager who could be special.

Don’t underestimate what he did on Saturday – the first boss to lift the Cup in his debut year since 1997 and he did it by tactically getting the better out of Frank Lampard. Just like he did to Pep Guardiola in the semifinal. This in his rookie year!

Maybe it’s the confidence of youth (young for a coach) but he has self-belief in his ideas, doesn’t second guess himself and logically as he gets older he will learn more.

I grew up with Arsene Wenger, Such was his ethos I mainly saw us play one way. His principles were so strong he rarely sacrificed his morals no matter the opposition. He believed his way was the best way of winning and that was that.

So, it’s taking me a while to get used to us adjusting based on the opponent. For 2 decades I been used to us having the possession. Instead we let Chelsea have the ball and waited for those moments to break. We did to Chelsea what they so often do to us.

In the semi-final and Final Arteta has been smart enough to understand we have limitations.

It takes man-management to get his squad to play like that, he showed that, as he celebrated like he was still a player. They wouldn’t have done that for Emery. Arteta was a decent midfielder for us but he could be a great manager for us…

And as for the players….

Martinez – 8
Didn’t have many saves to make but became a monster in final 15 minutes, claiming everything, taking charge, etc. Won the hearts of gooners with his interview with the BBC doing a terrible job of explaining to viewers why he was crying. He wasn’t in tears because he’s been loaned out for 10 years. It’s because he grew up in poverty and vowed to his parents one day, he would return to Argentina with a medal. Who said the FA Cup has lost its romance?

Bellerin – 8
Part of our fan base were turning on him, forgetting the seriousness of his injury. The worry was did he still have the pace or confidence to take on his man? Well that’s what created our goal, his burst of energy

Luiz – 8
I said if he plays like he did in the semi-final we would win. He had Giroud in his pocket and was classy even at the final whistle. His two best performances for us were the semi-final and Final.

Holding – 8
Physically he stood up to Chelsea. Great focus and concentration as Chelsea have players who have close ball control, so you have to be vigilant not to concede a penalty. If he stays fit, he is young enough for Arteta to make him better.

Tierney 7
Possibly slow to react for their goal? Great though after that. Couldn’t get down the left as much as he wanted, but that’s more due to our attacks coming down the other side.

Maitland-Niles – 8
Had the beating of their left back, although a couple of times his final ball let him down. For someone who doesn’t like that position he read the game brilliantly. There were two occasions when Chelsea got the ball across the box and he did great to pull out of making contact.

Xhaka – 8
Gave the ball away in the first few minutes and I worried it was the Xhaka from the first half of the season. Technically though he won the two yellow cards which turned the game. Did he exaggerate how hurt he was? Should Jorginho have been sent off at the Emirates? That’s my answer…

When defending a lead Xhaka showed great leadership, becoming a shield in front of our back 5. I loved it when he took the ball to the corner flag against 9 men. That’s the ruthlessness I want to see.

It was assumed in October that the Swiss international had played last game for us, so that also makes a great story. After the abuse he got from trolls I would shove this down some fans throats but he’s possibly more mature then I am.

Ceballos 9
It just hasn’t been mentioned enough the masterstroke Arteta has done dropping this man deeper. The Spaniard’s Arsenal career was going nowhere pre-lockdown. His great footwork won free kicks and tackles and often started our counter attacks – including for our winner. Is it night him asking the ref to book a player? I like that mentality…

Pepe 8
His end product is still raw, but his skills won so many fouls. He was doing that at crucial times to relieve pressure. He had a cool head to assist the winner. He will only get better.

Laca – 7
Great work rate as usual. There wWas one time when he should have passed to his strike partner quicker, but apart from that, good game.

Auba – 9
Under Emery he was just a goal scorer. It reflects well on Arteta’s man management as he now tracks back and when he gets a couple of chances takes them. The penalty was class as their keeper has a reputation of being a spot-kick king. Maybe his winner was the one time he benefited from no crowd because surely with 80,000 fans shouting he wouldn’t have been so composed? Okay he would have…
Oh …. and one of the best trophy lifts ever!

To win a Final you need to play well and get some luck. Everyone delivered and I’ll admit there were moments where I thought our name was on the trophy. Their best player and captain got injured, then a harsh red card and they finished with 9 men.

As for us?
Just over 12 months ago I woke up nervous and excited, my whole day geared up for a Final with Chelsea.
We lost 4-1. I had had enough. I looked at my housemates, my parents and my brother and said, ‘help me’ They agreed to support me and make sure I didn’t go through that again.

So, a year a later. I wake up, nervous excited, that butterfly knot in your stomach. My day consumed for a Final …. with Arsenal vs Chelsea. My loved ones failed me ……I’m so glad they did

In 15 years, we will look back on 2020 as a unique year. That time where Football was played in empty stadiums. Where Fake crowd noise was played in to your TV. Where you could use 5 subs.

Oh, and we will ask ….’how the hell did Arsenal win a trophy?’

Arsenal 14 FA Cups and counting…

Dan Smith


  1. Now we can build confidence on the FA cup to win CL and EPL.
    We need 3 quality additions in the mildfied(spine).

    Upamecano/Soyuncu at CB

    Partey /Doucure at DM

    Greenish/Coutinho at AM

    #Support Arteta.
    #Trust Arteta,trust the process.

    1. Nice thought Abdul but I don’t think we will have the £150 million needed to buy any three of them.

    2. I like the players you mentioned. Partey is the first on my list. Greenlish and Couintho won’t come cheap but if barca are willing to do a decent business with us for continho then that would be fine. I hear a loan deal but his wages are on the high side..

      Lets see how the transfer window goes….

      Aubamenyang please sign that deal. Board support Arteta

    3. Countinho rumour is really gathering momentum but what about his wages?
      Doucore, Partey, Danilo? 1 of them is a must and we are good to go.
      I’ll prefer an English cb

    4. Fair rating, but giving Holding 7 while you gave Tierney 7 does not reflect what happened in the game. Holding was our weak link in the game, he was so abysmal. I will give him 6, Tierney 8. Tierney gave an assist with a long ball that gave us the penalty.

    5. Only problem mate is Europa don’t pay much
      So fact we were relying on that for any kind of revenue tells you everything
      You don’t ask players to take a pay cut then make those type of signings based on Europa revenue

  2. Proper ratings, well done Dan. I’d swap the ratings for Bellerin and Tierney though. I thought all the players played with heart and skill but Martinez, Luiz, Tierney, Ceballos, AMN and of course Aubamayang were awesome.

  3. Wow! Great article Dan Smith, you have got a great gem in righting.
    Honestly you got me emotional with the words from the Emi Martinez rating.
    And rounded the ratings up with Aubameyang.. Oh what a wonderful and hilarious way of lifting the trophy after a man of the match performance!!
    If his contract is extended he will break the alleged infamous recent Arsenal “Captain curse” and fast become the best Arsenal captain in history breaking records.

    Arteta is the man for the job! And I believe Stan Kroenke will not want to be left exposed, so he might spend some money this coming window.

    Onwards and Upwards Gunners, the revolution has begun!!!!

  4. Faith in Arsenal keep the faith Trust in Arsenal they played their hearts out for Arsenal and the Fans

  5. Dan, when did AMN beat their “left back”?I think most of the ratings are too high, but to hell, we won and that’s what matters.

    1. Nah that’s why tactically it work
      Tierney chooses when to switch to.full back
      Auba second goal against City ?
      How you think the centre back was on half way line on left ?

      1. We were pushing out of defense breaking. In such a situation, he was simply moving up to support Pepe. I agree that it works tactically, but he can’t push all the way out to fullback all the time when we already have a wideback playing there. What position would you say Niles played?

        1. When was 7 a bad score ?
          I’m not Sokertise handing out medals
          Can’t give everyone a 8 lol
          Just saying I seen him get foreward more in past

          1. No bro, I wasn’t complaining about your rating. I was just explaining to you why he may not have gone forward as much. I still think he was better than Holding though.

      2. Well done lads, probably the best all-round performance of the season. What’s with Arsenal and the FA Cup?We’ve now EQUALLED the FAC record held by the Arsenal Women, 14 each.

        One of the BBC pundits suggested that Auba will sign if they strengthen the squad and I’m inclined to agree. MA has delivered and so now the owner should back him but I’m not holding my breath!!!

  6. Dan, again you don’t appear to appreciate the work Lacazette does in drawing opposition defensive players away from Pepe and Aubameyang, giving them space. There is no way his contribution was less than other Arsenal players, who took the field.
    In my view all players deserved 8, with Ceballos and Aubameyang 9.

    1. Gave him a 7 not a 2 lol
      It was that moment when he didn’t pass to Auba quick enough
      Can’t give everyone a 8

  7. In that final, my rating for KT is higher than that of RH and AMN, likewise I feel NP deserve a better ratings than cebalos

  8. Tierneys’ 7 is too low, Dan. Arteta deserves a 10 and Martinez is a special keeper that deserves to be our number one from now on. Luiz was phenomenal. I can’t fault any of them and feel proud of all of them today. Now I just hope we can keep Auba and get Kronke to support Arteta in his vision!? COYG!!

  9. Why do most arsenal fans rate ourselves low? I hear people say we can’t afford this player that player bla bla bla.This is what Kronke wants to hear from you.We make his work so easy such that it has programmed everyone’s minds that Arsenal don’t have money to spend.

    Who said KFC can’t afford 150m to buy us 3 quality players?.Let’s stop saying Arsenal doesn’t have money.Fans of big clubs think they can buy any player and we should start thinking same.this will put pressure on the Own to spend.

    When you spend on quality players, you win trophies the club become attractive hence you attract fans,lucrative contracts and you get your money back with profit.

    Also, you can choose the option to spend big this season on quality players and skip 2 or 3 seasons without making any major signing.look at Liverpool.This is common sense.

    #Support Arteta.

    #Trust Arteta,trust the process.

    1. I agree, but also think that we should not always go after established names. Like its totally my opinion, but I am not sold out on Coutinho and think he might be an expensive risk. And when a young, quality CB like Sarr is available on a free we should pounce on him! And for the AM positions, I think we should target the young player from the championship, Eze. But to each his own opinion. Cheers!

      1. Keep wasting on so called established players look under our own noses we have good young players give them a chance they are good

    2. Oh okay , so if we say it , it will.happen ?
      We will spend 300 million then
      And Natalie Portman will marry me
      And ill.win a million pound

  10. Martinez tiernay ceballos and aube were stand out players … 10 for all … naitland miles was excellent as was luiz and 9 for both … despite all the negatives here holding had a good game 8 … rest were decent but nothing to shout home about so 6 and 7s all round .. Pepe is the big frustration I really want to be positive about him and he shows glimpses of real quality but not for 70 odd million … am willing to forego a new RB as we at least have competition there which should raise the bar … but if we are going to get anywhere near top 4 we will need a quality DM and AM as minimum … as the laca aube combo doesn’t work for me would not be upset if laca left but that would require replacement .. xhaka should be sold ASAP to generate funds along with willock and Nelson and one of redundant CBs (besides sokrates) with saka and nketiah on loan … partey and coutinho would be an excellent window .. and what arteta needs and deserves to move forward … the lesson from last decade is that winning the cup doesn’t equal revival .. even if it does bring a big sugar rush and yday was massive

  11. Well done, Dan! A season full of excellent articles from yourself 👍 I haven’t commented on all of them, but it’s always a pleasure to read them!
    Looking forward to more next season (next month 😉). Keep up the good work 👏

  12. Dan, can I just back Sue’s comments regarding your articles – always factual and with reasoned personal opinions.

    I would give every single player the same rating, as this was a fantastic team effort…there was no weak link, otherwise the chavs would have rolled us over long before half time.

    The players worked really hard as a team after the first 15 minutes and if Partey was watching the celebrations at the end, he must have been impressed with the way the players were as one….10 out of 10 for all of them, including MA.

  13. Congrats to the team and fellow fans, it was a great team work, and good writeup. After the celebrations, we now need to focus on the transfers. I have belief in the team following last summer’s performance…. no money, no money, they were able to secure saliba, Tierney, martinelli, pepe and capping it up with Cedric and Mari, all of which have positive impacts on the team. Trust they add more positivity to the team this month.

  14. “Cellebus – is it right for him to ask the referee to book a player. I like that kind of mentality”.

    How sad is that mate?

    It’s a bloody disgrace.

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