Arsenal v Man City Review and Player Ratings – Saka the only bright light in the darkness

Dammit anyways. That was bad!!! by Peter Doherty
After the elation of overcoming the Spurs and United challenge in quick succession Arsenal have returned to earth with a huge bang after a poor return of one point from three games. The truth is if anybody asked an Arsenal fan at the start of the season would they be happy to be joint leaders with a game in hand at this stage then the answer would have been a resounding YES!
But it’s the context that counts. There was a huge opportunity to establish an almost unassailable lead if we had  been able to maintain momentum. There is a palpable sense of a massive missed opportunity. And that applies not only to the league situation in general but also to this game we just witnessed.
Make no mistake about it, this was not a good Man City performance. They’re capable of producing football several levels above this. This was a very poor Arsenal performance in the second half. It wouldn’t be harsh to say that they bottled it.
 That is the hardest pill to swallow. If just a couple of our players had been able to perform to the standards they had set all season then Man City were there for the taking. We were the architects of our own downfall and that is going to be something that these players are going to have to face over the coming week. It is one thing to be carried off the battlefield on your shield like a true warrior but another to have surrendered with a whimper. It feels harsh to be so scathing of players that have delivered so much joy over the last six months, but you’ve got to say what you see.
Here are my ratings:
Ramsdale (6)
Could do very little about the goals and was unfortunate that the Grealish one took a deflection off Tomiyasu as he had set himself well. Had to deal with quite a few suicide back passes and he did so with an admirable degree of calmness.
Tomiyasu (3)
Had an absolute nightmare. To call his mistake a schoolboy error is doing a dis-service to school boys. Compounded it by getting a ridiculous yellow card. Was unfortunate to deflect the Grealish goal but it was an incident that typified an unusually hapless performance. With the exception of one sumptuous cross offered very little going forward.
Saliba (4)
For the second game running the young French man has been given a harsh education by a strong skilful centre forward. None of the anticipation and silky recovery skills of earlier in the season were evident as he was frequently at sixes and sevens. 2023 hasn’t been a good year for him thus far.
Gabriel (4)
The Brazilian has been a rock in recent times but like his defensive partner looked overawed by Halaands presence. Was fortunate not to concede a penalty and gave away the opportunity for the second goal with poor decision making that reflected his performance in general.
Zinchenko (5)
Looked lively in the first half and led the charge after conceding the first goal but his form fell off a rather steep cliff in the second half. His decision making in attack is questionable, as he frequently selects the wrong option for a pass or tries one that clearly isn’t on. Was as culpable as the rest of the defence for the melee that came later in the game.
Jorginho (4)
The question for Arsenal fans is whether Jorginho would provide adequate cover for Partey in his absence. The answer after this outing looks to be a resounding no. Was ponderous in his passing always requiring an extra touch or two that enabled City to set their defensive shape. But it was his lack of awareness of his surroundings and his team mates proximity that was alarming. He set the trend for poor distribution along the back line and the infection spread from there.
Xhaka (4)
In a game of this magnitude you need your leaders to step up and be counted but unfortunately our most senior player visibly wilted in the heat of the battle. In a season where he has rehabilitated his reputation he delivered his poorest performance by some distance. Had several opportunities to play in team mates but fluffed his lines completely, whereas his complete hash of a golden opportunity to shoot will haunt him for some time to come.
Odegaard (6)
Was unable to influence the game as much as he normally does but was still courageous in shouting for the ball and continuing to take the fight to City. His work rate is never in question as he is always the first to lead the press. There is a suspicion with Jorginho behind him pointing and dictating play that there may be too many chiefs on the field and this affected our captain.
Saka (8)
The one bright light in the darkness. Was his effervescent self and had Silva on the rack throughout, who was fortunate to remain on the pitch. The Citys defence were so wary of him that they invariably moved over to his wing leaving acres of space on the opposite wing. Was calmness personified with the penalty.
Martinelli (7)
Worked tirelessly and was a constant threat. Unlike the majority of his team mates he didn’t concede possession cheaply and was reliable throughout. The suspicion that Zinchenko’s role cramps his style is legitimate as the Ukranian occupies the space that he likes to attack and this causes him to have to recycle the ball rather than go on the front foot. Subbing him was a poor move as he was one of the few players still offering stability.
Nketiah (5)
Would have got a higher mark for his effort level as he once again put in a huge shift. But you simply cannot be a centre forward at this level and pass up up two glorious opportunities of free headers in the box unmarked and not even get them on target. Was responsible for the penalty award but two free headers is unforgivable.
It doesn’t make for good reading but what is important is that the Arsenal faithful get behind their team now when they need us most.
What do you Gooners think?

Peter Doherty

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Tags Player Ratings


  1. I can’t see how we beat villa with eddie upfront the guy has no Link-up play no hold-up play needs about 3 to 4 chances to score a goal in the summer Arteta needs to make a decision he either bring back balogun and give him a chance or sell both Eddie and balogun and buy another striker

  2. I disagree with Jorginho’s rating, because I thought he distributed the ball well and made several interceptions

    Now we must win the remaining games in this month, otherwise we might as well forget about EPL title

    Unfortunately, Odegaard and Smith-Rowe can’t play like De Bruyne on our right side of the pitch. I think Nelson has a better potential to play like that, but there’s no more minor cup games to give him such chances

  3. I thought Jorginho was by far the best Arsenal player on the pitch. It’s your opinion but I strongly disagree. I mean the guy hhhhha goal line clearance! That alone should guarantee a 6. Also strange that the largely ineffective Martinelli gets a 7 . The fact that Martinelli’s ineffectiveness is often blamed on Zinchenko is becoming ridiculous as well.

  4. Shows how badly we miss the versatility of Jesus up front.

    Interchanging with wingers, playing false 9, dropping into midfield in buildup, even getting double teamed frees up Martinelli and Saka.

    Nketiah offers none of this, not a plan B striker we need. He is a 1 gear version of Jesus when we need an aerial threat striker as a different option up top.

    Thought Zinchenko was very poor again, and Tierney must be wondering why he can’t get a chance.

    Kiwor may be the next thing, but why spend the 20 million when we needed a striker or DM? Edu tried for Caicedo whom Brighton was not selling in January.

    Sorry but Jorginho isn’t the answer. If he had been 1st choice target fans would have been furious. But as a panic buy too many seem ok with the move.

    Partey injury proves we HAVE to bring in direct competition, as his absence in big games costs us points.

    Frustrated with the rinse and repeat tactics, and Arteta has to figure things out quickly. No one should be safe from the bench, time to open up competition for starting games.

    1. Seriously good points well made, Durand. Highlights how far we still have to go and that our start to the season was a false dawn, because our squad is nowhere near ready to stand astride the EPL. IF (and that’s a big if) we bounce back with Jesus, Partey and ESR (remember him?) returning to the fold it will be a triumph of grit, togetherness and luck because we are now in a dogfight with teams with far deeper and more complete squads.

      1. We have quality depth compared to last year, but I don’t think they are utilized properly.

        Tomiyasu on the bench for how long?
        And he starts against City? Why not start against Brentford and have White Ready for City?

        Zinchenko has been off the boil for 3 games now, and inverted tactics found out. Tierney can’t get a game? Can’t get a chance to start over Zinchenko?

        Martinelli struggling paired with Zinchenko, Trossard can’t get a start? Nketiah have really dipped, Martinelli or Trossard can’t get a run together in the front 3?

  5. A lot of people on here seriously need to take the blinkers off and understand the difference between just being negative vs actually understanding that we have issues.

    Eddie is not good enough, he has certain skills which are good but overall he is not a top 4 EPL team striker. It’s not negative to say this, it’s valid criticism and IMO is the truth.

    We play one style and are not very flexible and have no idea what to do when that 1 style/tactics do not work. Our success in the first half of the season was great and we rarely needed to adjust to pick up points, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to work on a change of tactics in case it is needed in future and the future is now. It’s not negative to say this, it’s valid criticism and IMO is the truth.

    We’ve needed a proper DM to challenge Partey and be a back-up for when he is not available or need to change tactics. Continuously targeting forward players, although needed, should not have been a priority and has been 1 failure of the transfer strategy. It’s not negative to say this, it’s valid criticism and IMO is the truth.

    We are leaving contract discussions too late and giving players too much power, players that we desperately need to stay. If they don’t stay at least then they are no where near expiry and we can demand a good sum of money for them. It’s not negative to say this, it’s valid criticism and IMO is the truth.

    Our lack of rotation has made us predictable and our fridge players stale. You cannot play the exact same way for every single game, there needs to be changes based on opposition. It’s not negative to say this, it’s valid criticism and IMO is the truth.

    All of this has been ignored by many due to the fact that we were doing fantastically well. When certain people highlight these issues we are shut down immediately just because we were top of the log. It’s arrogant and naive to presume we need to work on nothing because we were killing it in the league.

    Now with some tweaks in strategy and some rotation we can pick it up again and give City a good run for their money, let’s hope we do that because I do believe this team is very good.

    Learn the difference between negativity and valid criticisms you simply may not agree with.

    1. Spot on PJSA. A year ago I thought it was often valid to call out some of the extreme negativity in a transitional season causing a schism between fans.
      But this is NOT the situation this time around. We are a year further along with a stronger squad that has shown it can compete at the highest level. There is no longer criticism of our whole ethos or direction – it is much smaller scale and specific. Calls are for players to be “rested” from the first team rather than leave the club. It is very noticeable that the criticisms made over the past few games are largely logical, reasonable despite being subjective and void of any agendas, personal attacks or abuse against individual players or manager. Whether we agree or not with individual statements they usually have a reasonable basis in fact and don’t deserve criticism merely because they are deemed “negative”. Condemning all criticism as negativity is counter-effective, unhealthy and masks problems. Merely stating that everything is fine does not make it so, and neither does highlighting issues in a constructive way make someone a doommonger, troll or lesser supporter. We have progressed greatly into a seriously good team, but let’s all agree that we are not there yet, and allow those discussions as to why.

  6. Am I the only person who can’t understand why Eddison was not sent off. He had a yellow card for time wasting then he gave away the penalty by taking Eddie out surely another yellow card?

  7. While your assessment of the back four is spot on, you are being unjustifiably harsh on Xhaka and Jorginho who were more than a match for their counterparts throughout the first half when we were, without doubt, the better side.The fact that we lost the game can be attributed to shocking mistakes and errors of judgement made by our back four individually and collectively.For sure, Nketiah ought to have scored with one of the 2/3 opportunities which came his way, but the flack he is taking is way over the top.We need to get our house in order at the back, otherwise we can forget any aspirations of winning the title.

  8. The fact our defense was so poor is a reflection of the assurance and confidence that Partey gives when in front of them. Parteys absence was obvious. Our defense looked shakey so it’s plain to see it was more mental than physical. Without him in the middle we struggled to attack as much as we struggled to control the ball at the back!

  9. I don’t think Jorginho was that bad..
    He was decent…
    Did recover ball few times.
    1 on line clearance..
    Also his passing was tidy..
    You rating for Jorginho shows your prejudice against Jorginho

    1. Agree Kedar. He’s not Partey but that’s not his fault. He was reasonable, did some good things and didn’t deserve that mark. Interesting to consider how his predecessor Sambi would have done in that game…

  10. I have noticed that whenever most of us assess our players,we apply double standards.Whenever a fan-favourite makes a mistake,it will often be attributed to anyone or anything else other than said player. Usually the coach,tactics,or easy targets like Xhaka,Nketiah.

    On the other hand, when less popular players make mistakes,they are quickly labelled as not good enough,among other demeaning adjectives. Sure these opinions are subjective,but we should always try to be aware of our own biases and how they skew these opinions.

  11. You all keep saying a game in hand forgetting that, it will most proberbly be cancelled out at the ethihad. As things stand now, it’s city’s title to lose they are in control and with momentum.
    Most fans are complaining because we have seen this movie quite too often.
    Lost 8points in three games. A position we fought had to be in at first half of the season. lost the initiative like bunch of amateurs, don’t forget this is city’s first away win against the current top 5 teams in the league. Yesterday was not about showing city we can play good football it was about the result for God’s sake, do they need a soothsayer to know that.

    1. I am not too complaining because the fact is if I would have told before start of the season that after 21 games we will be 2nd in league table on goal difference then I would have laughed out loud…
      The fact is we have overachieved lot this year..
      But can’t fall back more..

      1. Tell that to Leicester fans that came from the championship to win the league. You don’t go into competitions with beggars mentality(after the United game I saw how we celebrated and zinny coming to tell the world that we are going for the title, I asked myself this is just 19games do your job stay humble and coincidentally that have been our last win) we may have predicated religation before the league started but with 3months to go we were 8points clear so that’s the reality and we don’t live in the past, an opportunity is steering at us, honestly I see united having a better fight for the title than us currently, and that’s a team we left 11 points behind just weeks ago…. We were 8points clear yet my Chelsea friend told me to place a bet with him that any amount I place he will triple it that arsenal will not win the league I wasn’t even convinced within myself to place the bet too. But that is the perception that people have towards us and yet season after season we always find a way to prove them right. Dropping 8 points in 3 games it’s hard to remember a title fighting team that drops such amount of points at this stage of the season, now is about the points more than the performance

  12. Disagree with rating specially for Saliba, he dealt well with all the threats. Gabi had a stinker and was directly responsible for one of the goals so can he and Saliba have same rating?

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