Arsenal player ratings v Villarreal – Nightmare game and low rating for Ceballos

Arsenal lost 2-1 to Villarreal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final this evening in what can only be described as a poor performance.

A consolation goal from Nicolas Pepe means that we only need to win the second leg 1-0 at the Emirates to reach the final.

The biggest negative from the game was Dani Ceballos getting sent off for two bookable offences.

Arsenal Player Ratings

Bernd Leno – 6

Could do nothing about both goals, but he responded well to his error against Everton and pulled off one sublime save that perhaps kept Arsenal in the game.

Calum Chambers – 5

Chosen ahead Hector Bellerin again and he was very average.

Pablo Mari – 4

This is arguably his worst performance for Arsenal as he looked nervy for most of the night and was at fault for the first goal.

Rob Holding – 5

He will not be proud of his defending for Villarreal’s second goal, but he put in a good enough performance apart from that.

Granit Xhaka – 5

Samuel Chukwueze exposed him and showed why Arsenal needs another natural left-back when Kieran Tierney doesn’t play.

Thomas Partey – 6

In games like this, we would like one of his shots to get in, but he did his job in midfield and also coped well in the absence of Ceballos.

Dani Ceballos – 3

His red card was avoidable by either Mikel Arteta replacing him at half time or being disciplined. Let the team down.

Bukayo Saka – 7

Arsenal’s saviour again after earning the penalty that keeps us in the tie. He wasn’t afraid to take the game to the hosts.

Martin Odegaard – 5

If he plays like this in most games, he won’t be anywhere near the team. But Villarreal didn’t give Arsenal much chance in midfield.

Emile Smith Rowe – 6

Did well in a new position and just needed more support from his teammates which almost never arrived.

Nicolas Pepe – 7

Responded well to the responsibility placed on him as the most senior attacker on the night. Scored the team’s goal and kept the Villarreal defence on their toes.


Gabriel Martinelli – 5

Made the team look more like we would have wanted when he was subbed on. One wonders why he was benched and Smith Rowe was used as a false nine.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 5

Came on too late to do anything in the game.

Willian – N/A

Mohamed Elneny – N/A

Arsenal Player Ratings from Ime

Tags arsenal player ratings


  1. Not too surprised or fussed.

    Typical Arteta thinking he’s a tactical genius but pi$$es the bed yet again. Kept Ceballos on too long, False 9 nightmare, it’s our new normal.

    Question is when is enough enough?

    Baffling how some wanted Emery gone, yet plead for an inferior Arteta to get more time.

    Take away Saka this year and Arteta would have been done months ago.

    Time to cut bait at end of the season and fire Arteta. Clearly over his head; needs a couple years in Championship for seasoning, utter disappointment.

    1. Lol, those ratings.

      Only 3 players should get a 6, Pepe, Leno and Saka. The rest should be 5 or less.

      Partey 6, 🤣🤣🤣

  2. Saka dived.
    How did we managed to get that pen past VAR.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 5
    Came on too late to do anything in the game.

    He should have levelled it.

    Partey was rubbish again.

  3. It’s one of those things in the sport, where a manager makes a decision and if it goes well he looks a genius, but if it doesn’t he looks a complete fool.

    Ultimately every manager will live or die by his decision

    I’ve supported him up to this point, but if he doesn’t win the EL then it’s obvious he doesn’t have anything to offer this football club and should be fired end of this season.

  4. If the quality of players in our squad are languishing at the middle of the table then it means Arsenal should look elsewhere for a coach with rich profile not a trainee like Arteta.

  5. Well, it’s a not bad I will say. 2-1, let’s bring the game to home and nail it. Mathematically, our chances are high. So, keep calm. Arteta stays as long as we are in Europe League.

  6. I am done with loaning in other teams players.

    I would rather lose with our players than someone else’s. From here on in just use other teams players only if we have to.

    If Tierney is fit he plays left back. Xhaka then replaces ceballos in the centre, Smith rowe plays where he is most effective, whilst auba or Martinelli replace odegaard.

    Moving forward I don’t know who the best centre back partnership is, but my guess is Saliba Gabriel or mavropanos Mari.

    Xhaka is not the long term partner for Partey, who is actually very uninspiring. Chambers is a decent deputy right back. Whilst the attacking midfield of Saka, Smith-rowe, Martinelli is so exciting.

    I don’t care who nails down the starting striker role of the proper strikers, but at least one needs to be sold.

  7. Xhaka at left back? Mystery?
    False nine…..why no Martinelli?
    Why was Arteta sucking up to Kroenke?
    We want our Arsenal back. Whatever happens, at the end of this season Arteta must go.

  8. The man has been a problem to us since the beginning of the season. He defeated us with his stupid tactics uselessed ESR as a false nine he has never played in his life. He stupidly copied pep against PSG with Bernardo has false nine. Nketiah, martinelli, balogun all trained on shooting on Wednesday, but he kept them on bench ,dropped balogun at home.
    Basically, he’s always scared of substitution. He should better win the second leg or else he’s gone. Nightmare for me as a fan. Villarreal was never a bigger team than arsenal, until thus clueless manager made us inferior to them.
    What was our tactics today, no shot on target for a whole 45mins.

  9. the problem is that we supporters judge d coach by game results not his intentions or aim and also d progress of those players.d calibre of players arteta started with as far as coaching job is concerned at city are much higher than our very much average players at arsenal.At city guardiola does little shouting on the side lines and wins many trophies but at arsenal arteta shouts so much and wins little,he keeps correcting them,reminds them of their duties and wake them up wen they switch off.So my fellow supporters dat young man is trying but you will not understand until he is sacked

    1. The problem is that Arsenal supporters have had enough of managers “trying”. The standard of the club has deteriorated exponentially.

      The ultimate blame, as you imply, should not be directed at Arteta but at management. But the reality is that at the end of the day Arteta is Arsenal’s manager, and so he will always receive the lion’s share of backlash.

  10. Apart from a couple of games where Lacazette realized he needed the odd good performance (for his new contract – whichever team that is with), Arsenal have played with a “false nine” all season. Sometimes with a pair of “falsies” up front!!!

  11. embarrassing tinkering by a manager who has clearly lost the plot

    as for the players, Mari was atrocious, both positionally and with the ball at his feet…his glaring lack of pace is just the sh** cherry on top of this sh** sundae…Gabs should be the regular starter from this point forward

    Xhaka presence on the pitch is just a constant reminder of how low our standards have become over the past decade…it appears that he’s replaced his old shirt/arm pull with a crazy close your eyes leg sweep, when he’s about to get easily beaten by an opposing player…grade school defensive tactics by a mediocre player that our manager is so determined to be in our lineup that he will shoehorn him into a position regardless if it makes sense or not

    Ceballos continues to show why this franchise will never truly progress until we stop borrowing players who couldn’t give a flying fu** about the future of our club…there’s simply no excuse for him to be in our starting lineup considering the importance of this match and his error-prone play in the EL this season

    finally, don’t even get me started about the tactical naivety that ultimately led to our starting selections and formation…the fact that we had 2 total shots on goal and the second one didn’t even occur until the 93 minute, says it all…clueless plan, clueless execution and no visible in-game adjustments, except for that savvy maneuver of bringing on two players in the final minutes when we should have been using every available second on the clock to push for a second goal(both players walked slowly off, then WIllian, one of the subs, walked to the farthest part of the pitch to take the corner—WTF)

  12. It was very poor for our perfomance . Am disgraced by the action of mikel . How can he play midfielder smith rowe in a striking role that he has never done again. He is not good in scoring and you prefer him instead of martineli, balogun, nketia, auba and willian. Since when has ever team played without a striker and have a winner?
    2. The decision of using non experienced miedfielders was a big mistake . Using chambers,mari, and holding was a mistake . It could work better if gabriel, bellerin and cedric started .
    3. The decision of not subtituting cebalos for elneny was bad judgement. He was already booked and you prefer to pjay him more minutes.
    In general the coach failed in all points and areas

  13. 1.Why on earth were we playing 3 number 10s in the starting 11.No sane manager can play Ceballos,ESR&Ode at the same time.
    2.Why did we field players (Leno&Ceballos)who have made it clear that their future is away from the Emirates.Worse enough Arteta forces Xhaka to play out of position so that he can accommodate his favorite Ceballos in the starting 11.
    3.With Martinelli,Bolugun,Pepe&even half fit Auba &Lacca.Why would you experiment with ESR in such a crucial match?
    We have watched in disbelief Arteta fielding a substandard team day after day,not because we lack players but because he has his favorites. This is killing our team and it must stop.
    Its either this guy is naive or not up to the standard of managing this team.
    All in all enough is enough,Arteta must go.We want our arsenal back.

  14. having many players injured, it was going to be tough for Arteta Mikel to plan for this game against another detailed planner in Unai Emery. ceballos doesn’t want to play for arsenal especially after Martin oedegard signed, (he was frustrated). but arteta could still have changed his formation to 3-5-2.
    Leno, chambers, holding, mari
    Soares, partey, xhaka, oedegard/smith, saka
    pepe, martinelli/nketiah
    this could have allowed him to put all the players in their usual position and even managing to rest the injured,

  15. What I fail to understand is how we always waste a half! Why does it always take until the 2nd half for us to get going? By that time we have a mountain to climb – talk about doing things the hard way!! SMH!!

    Fair play to Pepe though, who has performed in the EL this season 👍


    1. Completely agree, although that has been happening to us for years. It’s nothing new. Lost count the amount of times we’d have to go a goal or two down under Wenger, before waking up.

      I always think it’s a cultural mentality issue, because this problem has spanned years, across different managers. Maybe the players always think they don’t need give it 100% because we’re Arsenal, failing to realise we’re not a big club anymore, and haven’t been for years.

      1. You’re right, it has spanned years. I don’t recall other teams having this problem, not even teams in the bottom 3!! Unbelievable

  16. Understand the frustration but can we get a bit of perspective here? We had 2 previously-tried CFs available: Nketiah who hasn’t looked capable in recent games, and Aubamayeng who’s just returned from having malaria – I’m not surprised neither one started! That left us with no option but to try something different.
    There’s no question that we’ve looked most dangerous this season when Laca has been up front and linking the play – out of the available players the only ones who I could see reliably controlling the ball with their back to goal and linking with midfielders and wingers are ESR and Odegaard, so he went with ESR – makes sense to me, but there’s no guarantees how well it will work, especially against a decent side like Villarreal.
    Definitely would have been interested to see Pepe or GM tried there, but it would likely have required a different game plan, probably more reliant on counter attacks to play them through on goal – that would have been more of a “tinker” than what was actually tried (note that we haven’t had much success with Auba playing that CF role this season, and his skillset is more similar to those players).
    Understand the frustration, don’t agree with MA playing Xhaka at LB in this game, I think Ceballos has demonstrated he’s not reliable for these occasions, but on the decision to try ESR as a “false 9”, I get it and think it was worth a shot given the options available.

    1. @Davi- so Martinelli was not worth playing then? Or does he not count?
      Gutless manager making us a toothless team against a very ordinary side.

      1. As a CF it would have been as much of a tinker as trying a false 9. Pepe and Saka have been our most reliable attacking players, so while I want to see more of Martinelli, I don’t see how he starts this game realistically..

  17. Why did Arteta make that last two changes when it was 1 minute 30 seconds to end the game.Nonsense!!!! if he knew what he was doing he would have made his subs earlier.

    Any serious coach would have made 3 straight subs at half time.You have 5 subs to make.If something is not working change it quickly.

    Arteta jealouses his own players because the fans love them and praise them.I think martinelli need to apologise to him(Arteta) for whatever reason known to Arteta alone. Why do you bench players who are willing to fight for you and the fans? Guendouze suffered the same fate.

    People say Arteta is clueless but I didn’t believe till yesterday.

  18. As a supporter of Arteta, I was dismayed by the naivety of his selection yesterday.In the first leg of the tie he ought to have concentrated on keeping the game right and hitting Villareal on the counter.To play Xhaka at LB was a huge mistake as his experience in a holding midfield role was essential to provide a solid base along with Partey.This is not the first Europa Cup match where Ceballos has been found wanting but after last night I hope he has played his last game for Arsenal.Exactly why we had two recognised full backs on the bench whilst Chambers and Xhaka were used in these positions is beyond me particularly when there was absolutely no need for us to chase the game.As for Mari, I have been criticized on more than one occasion for pointing out his lack of pace and his need to defend deep,but if he is considered to an integral part of our future, we will continue to struggle defensively.This is first occasion where I have openly criticized our Manager, but on this occasion I genuinely feel it is justified.While the tie is still in the balance , I cannot see us keeping a clean sheet in the return and I only hope the likes of Tierney and Lacca are fit enough to start for without these two we look very ordinary.

  19. I said it before and I will say it again with Arteta coaching our team we going nowhere he is trying so hard to be Pep Guardiola on the Arsenal expense and less I say about Rob Holding the better the way he does his defending duties

  20. I said in another article, MA tried to copy Pep’s formation against PSG by not playing an attacker and he paid for this decision. He seems to be lost, and he should know better that emery will play on Xhaka’s side, so he should’ve played someone else and use Xhaka in mid and playing an attacker!

    I still believe we can win and qualify, but decisions like these are too risky for our team MA!


Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs