Arsenal v Sporting Player Ratings by Peter Doherty
After displaying dominance, assurance and complete control against Fulham Arsenal showed polar opposite qualities against Sporting. From the kick off Arsenal were uncertain, outworked and uninspired. After the goal they began to have the upper hand but even then it was unconvincing. Whatever was said in the dressing room at half time did not have it’s desired effect, as they emerged a shambles and made a team that are fourth in the Portuguese league look like world beaters.
All in all, this game played out to the worst possible conclusion. Two early injuries caused disruption and concern for the rest of the season. There was the abject failure of any of the second string to demonstrate the capacity to replace their first team counterparts. And then 120 minutes of energy sapping action and tension capped off by a penalty shootout loss.
Our departure from the Europa League may turn out to be a good thing as there has always been doubts that we have the squad to compete on two fronts. The failure of the second choices present in this game to take control of it highlighted the scale of the drop off in performance, because when the main men entered the stage we began to look like ourselves. How this evening will be judged will be clear at the end of the season as it may be a blessing or a curse.
Here are my ratings
Ramsdale (8) This tie would have been long lost if it wasn’t for him. Made a few outstanding saves when his defense seemed to be collectively conspiring to lose the game.
White (4) Made an unexpected early entry for Tomiyasu and showed his surprise by being constantly unaware that a game of football was taking place around him.
Holding (6) Another who entered the game earlier than anticipated but wasn’t particularly culpable for the lack of cohesion. Made a few interceptions when Sporting were on top early in the second half.
Gabriel (6) Was overworked by a lack of midfield cover and Zinchenko’s absence at left back, as Sporting constantly targeted that gap and the Ukranian didn’t react. Was called upon to intervene far too frequently and had a hell of a lot of work to get through.
Zinchenko (4) Was obviously suffering from colour blindness as he managed to pin point pass to green and white on at least six occasions. Caused havoc with his wayward distribution and was taken to the cleaners by Edwards.
Jorginho (5) Maybe suffers by comparison to his counterpart Partey but the difference in stability and control when he was replaced was alarming. Did show what he is capable of with the lovely through ball to Martinelli that caused the goal.
Xhaka (6) Was trying manfully to turn the tide but the failure of his team mates to resemble a cohesive midfield meant it was a thankless and fruitless task. Took the goal well and when the cavalry arrived he regained his groove.
Vieira (3) Is there a player in there? He hasn’t shown anything to date to warrant his price tag or a place in the first team squad. Looked like somebody who had wandered off the terraces, as he had not a single input into the game of note. Has a lot of work to do to convince observers that he has a future at Arsenal.
Nelson (6) Worked hard and it was difficult not to have some sympathy for him as there was very little to work with. Tracked back magnificently on two occasions in particular where he prevented attacks from unfolding. On a night when nothing was going right for the team demonstrated a willingness to graft.
Jesus (6) Showed his qualities as well as a lack of match sharpness in equal measure. In another couple of games his closing down will be considerably more effective. Good to have him back as he offers so much.
Martinelli (6) Toiled in the morass of the team performance but continually showed for the ball. Was directly responsible for the goal and tried constantly to make something happen, although largely to no avail. And of course missed the decisive penalty.
Subs: Trossard (5) From the king of assists to someone you wouldn’t trust to assist a pensioner across the road, in the space of five days. Improved considerably when the first teamers came to play.
Partey (8) For the love of God please don’t get injured. If ever there was a doubt as to his importance to the team then the contrast in pre-Partey and post-Partey should comprehensively dispel it. Makes everyone around him a better player.
Odegaard (8) Similar to Partey he makes everybody else put on their big boy pants. Single handedly rose the volume in the Emirates. Indispensable.
Saka (6) Struggled initially to have an impact but when Odegaard came on for extra time it seemed to bring him to life and he was dangerous thereafter.
Only one tournament to focus on now, which is the only positive that can be taken out if this evening. If we go on and win the league this will be seen as a huge positive.
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