Arsenal’s victory versus Doncaster was another routine win for the Gunners at the Emirates; although a 1-0 final scoreline doesn’t do our performance justice. We had 16 shots in the first half alone; while only 5 or so were on target, it was clear to see that Arsenal were dominating (not forgetting those possession stats). While at the game, one could clearly sense an aura of frustration in the crowd, as one squandered chance led to another, and another, all resulting in either a jammy Doncaster block, save, or terrible shot. While Alexis failed to shoot frequently in the match, and Giroud kept on aiming for the spectacular to complete a century of Arsenal goals, others had to also be blamed for Arsenal’s lack of proficiency in front of goal. On several occasions, players like Elneny and Wilshere were encouraged to shoot by the crowd, as a wealth of space opened up outside the box, and each time, they hesitated. I would normally at this point criticise Walcott heavily for his wasting of chances; he proved me wrong tonight, and hit the back of the net after locking onto a delightful switch pass by Alexis Sánchez. Maitland-Niles also impressed, despite being out of position. Unlike Reiss Nelson who was understandably inexperienced in his allocated RWB role, Niles knew what was expected of him, and thus fulfilled his offensive and defensive duties effectively. We will continue onto the individual player ratings on a game which while promising, failed to live up to rightfully high expectations.
Ospina : 6 – Was barely involved tonight, but made some notable saves when called upon.
Holding : 6 – Decent showing, seemed to be shaky at times but the match was a confidence builder in itself.
Mertesacker : 8 – Rarely put a foot wrong, a leader and a sentinel in the back line today.
Chambers : 7 – Started the game very very well. As part of the back three, he was the most energetic and lively, calling for the ball and bringing it forward. While playing too high at times, and trying to be too fancy with the ball in some situations, this was a top-quality performance from the young Englishman. What a shame he had to be subbed off due to a suspected injury. Had the potential to be MOTM.
Reiss Nelson : 5 – Was sound on the ball, created good chances, but did not fit the RWB role at all in my opinion. He seemed half hearted when it came to his defensive duties, understandable given him being an attacking player at heart.
Maitland-Niles : 7 – Good performance despite being out of position; defended well and stayed on his man as instructed, but also made considerable contributions to Arsenal’s attack when linking up with Sánchez.
Elneny : 6 – A bang average performance at best, Elneny failed to set the world alight. However, this isn’t his purpose and played his role in the team well to a certain extent.
Wilshere : 9 – This rating may seem generous, but I honestly believe that Wilshere’s first full 90 minutes in an Arsenal shirt since returning were inspired, and tremendous to say the least. At the epi centre of every attacking play, Wilshere adopted the role of a playmaker and thrived. A wizard on the ball, Wilshere slalomed thorough Doncaster’s defence and proved to be a menace the entire match. Rating was thoroughly deserved.
Walcott : 8 – While Walcott was characteristically Walcott at times in losing the ball, he had a very good performance. At points we saw glimpses of brilliance, as if a “what could’ve been” regarding to his potential flashed in front of our very eyes. One of these flashes of brilliance was his goal; a cool composed finish lobbed over the keeper from short range. Remained a threat for the rest of the game.
Alexis Sánchez : 9 – A MOTM performance by the Chilean, which all started with a delicious assist to Walcott, a perfectly weighted pass which easily found its target. Alexis remained the engine of the attack for the rest of the match, and warranted at least four men marking him at the same time. What a player he is.
Giroud : 7 – Linked up well with his fellow teammates as usual, but tried too many times for the spectacular instead of scoring a simple goal. While it’s definitely understandable that he’d want to make his 100th goal memorable, a league cup exit marred by Giroud missed chances would’ve been memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Da Silva – 7
Iwobi – 7
Willock – 4
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Thanks for reading.
Carl Higgins (@carltonlolz)