What a time to be a Gooner. 2022 closes with an almost unbelievable scenario with Arsenal seven points clear at the top of the table, a situation that would have been deemed pure fantasy if it had been suggested at the start of the season.
Of course, nothing is won in December but that shouldn’t hinder our enjoyment of how this team is performing. Arsenal is a delight to watch playing with fluidity and attacking verve and infectious joy.
Another dangerous opponent was overcome yesterday, and as we continue to manoeuvre our way past these hurdles the level of belief grows. Having said that there was still time to be biting your fingernails when it looked like Brighton may have scored their third, so a vulnerability remains. Here are my ratings.
Ramsdale (6) Made an important save from Trossard early doors but was partially at fault for the second goal and have a couple of harum-scarum moments at corners.
White (8) This report would have given him a seven if he hadn’t been substituted. He looked quietly effective throughout, however exactly how effective became apparent after he came off and Mitoma, who was hitherto invisible became the most dominant player on the pitch against a very rusty Tomiyasu. This demonstrated just how good a right-back White has become.
Saliba (5) The boy is suffering from a World Cup hangover. His previous assured calmness has not been evident. Made a few hurried clearances which were a sharp contrast to the player who always seemed to have space and time on the ball before. His error for the goal reflects a player who has lost a bit of focus.
Gabriel (6) Was uncomfortable when Brighton came into the game and his Achilles is when he comes up against quick passing interchanges the likes of which Brighton is superb at.
Zinchenko (7) It isn’t easy to rate Zinchenko as a defender as he spends so long as an auxiliary midfielder, a position in which he excels. His passing and decision making is always on point. However, there is a sneaking suspicion that his absence at left-back unnerves Gabriel who would prefer to have a physical presence there.
Partey (9) The anchor and cornerstone of everything that is good about this team. Admittedly I couldn’t understand why we had avidly pursued him and paid handsomely for his services, but when he is in this kind of form he is imperious. Brilliant tackle to begin the move for the first goal, brilliant pre-assist for Nketiahs and constant reading of Brighton’s intentions and breaking up their play. As with White, his absence spoke volumes about his contribution as things unravelled without him.
Xhaka (8) Was the calmest head on the pitch when Brighton started to come back into it, which is a statement I could never have imagined writing not so long ago. A reassuring presence and he is doing the simple things superbly.
Odegaard (9) He is wearing the captain’s armband as if it is a super heroes cape. There is no need to beat your chest in order to be a leader when you can just produce a moment of sublime brilliance instead. When the game was in the melting pot he produces an assist of such quality for Martinelli that everything that happened after it paled into insignificance. And then there’s his phenomenal work rate.
Saka (8) Consistency is what he has brought to his game this season. The flashes of quality he showed in previous years are now there on a permanent basis. Took his goal beautifully and made it look easy, which it wasn’t.
Nketiah (8) Eddie is living his best life. When all and sundry doubt your capacity to produce but you do it anyways it’s a great feeling. Scored a poacher’s goal which is exactly what he has in the locker. But his hold-up play, his pressing and his layoffs were all on the money.
Martinelli (8) His tussle with Lamptey was even enough in the first half, but Martinelli roasted him in the second. Has obviously been instructed to shoot more frequently and that creates havoc, resulting in Eddie’s goal for example. He took his own goal well even though I was screaming for him to pass to Saka.
Those are my ratings, what do you Gooners think?
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