The winners and losers from Arsenal’s backup players against Zurich

A match of mixed performances. by Ben Dungate

This week’s European endeavour saw a standout performance (in my opinion) from Eddie Nketiah. Admittedly he didn’t score, as is the case with our strikers presently, but his work rate and work off the ball was excellent. He is deceptively quick and was a constant thorn in the side of the Zurich defence. Much has been said lately about whether Eddie is good enough cover for Jesus, by me included, and whilst I don’t think this match was really anything to go by it does make me remember just last season when I was lamenting Lacazette’s inability to score, but decent effort, and Auba’s ability to score but non-existent effort. Eddie has shown loyalty when other players may well have just thrown a tantrum and gone elsewhere. He is trying, and as long as he continues doing that the goals will come.

Now, Albert Sambi-Lokonga. He didn’t have such a magnificent night. He was largely absent and appears to be doing a fabulous impersonation of Ainsley Maitland-Niles by constantly griping about not getting enough opportunities to play and then doing precisely nothing when given a chance. It’s infuriating to see young guys with bags of talent lack the willingness to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in. Much like AMN, ASL rolls his socks down and doesn’t get stuck in. They both possess that languid stride that propels them around the pitch with seemingly little effort and both have way more composure than they are entitled to, but neither Ainsley nor Albert seem to really know what type of player they are.
And lastly, a shout-out to poor Cedric Soares. He sits and waits patiently for a game and doesn’t seem to complain and then only got his chance last night when Tomiyasu had to go off having only come on shortly before. This was a strange one for me. Yes we needed to win the match but Cedric is a perfectly capable understudy. There was no need to bring Tomiyasu on and now he will be missing for a while with what looked like a hamstring injury. Annoying and avoidable.
On the plus side Keiran Tierney had his best performance in an Arsenal shirt for quite a while and just in time as that left-back spot is his to lose until Zinchenko and Tomiyasu are fit again.


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  1. what a joke, Nkeitah was a headless chicken. He killed so many attacks with a poor touch and poor decision making in the final 3rd.

    Time to cut our losseson this one tbh nothing more than a 3rd or 4th choice. Maybe championship level player.

    A loser not mentioned was Arteta, why on earth bring Tomi on when you have Cedric on the bench. What a brain fart by the coach, of seismic activity 8.

    Lokonga another player bought for a pretty penny and is out of his depth. Maybe a loan spell would do him good.

  2. The writer is right Eddie works hard on and off the ball, Jesus too works extremely hard for the team without actually scoring.
    Reiss Nelson seems to be on the verge of coming good, he’s much more comfortable on the right wing, needs another full season of playing regularly to prove his worth.

    A keep saying Lonkango needs a full season playing regularly at one of those newly promoted clubs under his belt.
    Can just imagine had Arsenal got Danilo dos Santos de Oliveira in his place, with his tireless runs and Hollywood passing,

    The rumor is strong in the south, Danilo is Arsenal bound, it is even rumor Edu hisself was at the match weekend. One thing for sure gooners is going to love this fast developing power house on the left if he ever Grace’s our turf.

    1. We have seen enough of Lokonga. Last yr he was younger, new to league so most of his flaw went unnoticed. Now it’s obvious that he is a miss unless he makes sudden improvement. He can get the ball ticking but he is not game changer, when he plays we concede most of the goals through him. To keep ongoing progress of our team we need player who is minimum at Partey level or better than him and I am really skeptical that Lokonga can get better off Partey.

      1. Very few players at Partey level will be available especially in January, Savic is the only one comes to mind.

        But Arsenal could trys for a young midfielder with a high ceiling.

  3. It’s easy to look back and say that Tomi should not have been brought on but a win was looking far from certain and a win was required. I think Arteta did the right thing. He isn’t a clairvoyant and the injury was very unfortunate

    1. I completely agree with you SueP, some people can’t wait to have a snipe at the boss. As for Nketiah, I thought he had a pretty decent game and was unlucky not to score.

  4. I am not formiliar with this Danilo of yours. Would you mind telling me which team he plays for? Fans mention so many names that are better than ours, but fail to mention the league and team they are playing for. Sometimes I’m lost. Don’t tell me to google the name!

    1. Danilo plays for Palmeiras in Brazil, the club just won the national league cup on Wednesday.

      Campeonato Brasiileiro Serie A

      Danilo though a left footer played on the right in Partey exact position on Wednesday, there is speculation he could be name in the national team on Monday..

  5. I must have watched a different game as I thought Eddie was awful .
    As for Vieria ,a complete waste of money IMO when we were crying out for an Athletic powerful midfielder and we buy a weaker carbon copy of Odegaard.
    Lokonga is about as useful as a ashtray on a motorbike,AMN miles ahead of him ,and I’m not really a fan of his .
    There is a massive gulf between some of these 2 nd string players and the main starters .

    1. Wow Dan, finally someone watching the same game as myself.

      We need to cut our loses on some of these guys or at the very least send them on loan and if they dont impress at least they will retain some market value.

      Imo Tavares and Lokonga were bad buys.

      Viera, i will wait and see.

    2. I disagree concerning Vieira.on another night he could have scored a couple,at least he was involved in the game and in some of our better play.contrary to other players,he is not hiding .I think he just needs a bit more time.

      1. But was he a player we needed ?
        IMO he’s to similar to Odegaard .
        Looks to lightweight and one paced for the PL .

    3. Well we can disagree on Eddie but I absolutely agree with your assessment of Vieira. Such was his anonymity I forgot to include him in my piece as I completely forgot he played in the match. I’m sure he is technically quote proficient but he doesn’t seem to offer anything else that I have seen. It’s statements like “Vieira can take us to the next level” that worry me. Of course the direction of the next level wasn’t specified.

      1. Ben did you really watch the game.Vieirs’s stats for the game.
        – defensively he won the ball 3 times
        – he was involved in 8 of our attempts at goal
        – 3 key passes
        -he had a game leading xG of 0.35
        I’m telling you had he scored even one goal that night,we would be talking about a complete different performance, probably MOTM.

        1. Yes, of course I watched the match. And despite what the stats may tell us I am entitled to an opinion that differs from your own. I remember his attempts at goal being quite weak and disappointing given the position he found himself in and was otherwise ineffective. I think he is too similar to Odergaard but far less effective and too lightweight for the league at this time. He clearly has technical ability but he needs to couple it with strength and tenacity.

          1. Sorry,I shouldn’t have asked you if you watched the game!and yes you are entitled to a different opinion!

  6. Agree Lokonga needs a loan out…especially.if we get either Danilo ir Luiz.

    Someone above also mentioned what a wasted opportunity for AMN … sad to see guys not taking their chance and yet thinking they are guaranteed a first team place ! Great talent ..suspect temperament

  7. No use laying blame for bringing on Tomi. A player could still get injured even during training. I believe Arteta got nervous because the second goal wasn’t coming and wanted to preserve the advantage.

  8. I think some of us are judging Nketia harshly considering the fact he played on the left and he’s clearly not comfortable there. Despite playing in unfamiliar territory, I thought he dovetailed well with Tierney down the left side. Anyone with a keen football eye will tell you that Tierney’s excellent performance partly had to do with Eddie’s positioning. It has been mentioned before that Tierney doesn’t play too well with Martinelli but performs well with ESR – it appears that he plays better with Nketia too. Nketia also played much better once he was moved to the centre

    1. Another excellent point. Martinelli is arguably our most dangerous player but I think he needs to be moved into the middle to be the most effective he can be. Tierney and Nketiah seemed quite cohesive on the left side and Eddie demonstrated more defensive work than I expected from him.

  9. Guess Nketiah must be an acquired taste. Been here 5 years and has yet to establish anything, aside from squandering opportunities.

    In 2026 some will still whisper of Nketiah’s potential, how he needs a chance, and his work rate.

    Work rate without goals or productivity is the stuff of headless chickens. Basically one runs around, kinetically active, yet produce nothing.

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