Arsenal returned to action at long last against Manchester City and Mikel Arteta pulled out some big-time changes. Here are the player ratings.
Arsenal‘s return to action may not have looked the way many expected when the starting XI’s were released. Mikel Arteta called in some massive changes, clearly steering to the side of youth rather than experience for the restart.
Among the big changes were Nicolas Pepe dropped to the bench in favor of Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka, while Pablo Mari came into the starting XI in place of David Luiz. In the midfield, Matteo Guendouzi regained his place ahead of Ceballos or Torreira and perhaps the most surprising was Mesut Ozil being dropped in favor of the youngster Joe Willock.
One might say that Arteta was building a team for the future rather than the present, especially with names like Ozil and Ceballos dropped, not to mention Luiz. But Pepe being left off was skeptical at best.
Arsenal failed, but here are their player ratings from Manchester City
Still, we needed to see it in action before judgment was passed. And it didn’t look bad in the first half hour. While Manchester City controlled more of the dangerous possession early on, the Gunners were able to hold their own, defend appropriately and launch plenty of counters of their own. This definitely looked like a clash of equal in the early goings, even with Leno shining the most for the Gunners in the first half while Ederson had no saves to make.
As the half approached, City began to take control poking holes through this Arsenal defense to get some open runs at goal. The momentum was clearly shifting and finally broke when Luiz flubbed the ball right into the path of Raheem Sterling just before half. Sterling didn’t miss that chance.
It only got worse from there until the scoreline read the same old Arsenal. Not even a single shot on target.
Here are those player ratings:
Man of the Match. The highest rating I will ever give a keeper in a 3-0 loss. But it was earned. This match could have been a full debacle, rather than a half debacle, if not for Leno. Excellent first save from the free kick in the 4th minute. At first, I thought he caught the ball with one hand, but alas, he’s not quite that good. A great save regardless. And there was more to come. He had two more saves just past the half-hour mark, the second one being particularly brilliant, as it was a sheer reflex save. Another tremendous save a few minutes later to deny Riyad Mahrez. Bernd Leno is the only reason this match wasn’t a hell of a lot worse.