26 October 2013

Player Ratings vs. Crystal Palace

As discussed in the game review, this was a bit of a slog. Tired legs and maybe a bit of a jaded attitude left us straggling for long stretches. Fortunately, we found a way to win. Few teams are going to run away with every  game they play, after all. Still, three points taken.

All ratings and statistics come from whoscored.com's match report.
  • Sagna—7.85 Listed as whoscored's Man of the Match, and why not? He co-led the team with five effective clearances and snuffed out any number of attacks on the left side. He even had a cheeky little bicycle kick to clear. A number of good crosses, two of which Giroud nearly headed home. He even had a few chances to score from inside the box...
  • Ramsey—7.79 Shockingly, not a single tackle or interception for a man who regularly led the team. Playing out on the right wing asks him to do different things, to be sure, so he answered with two key passes, 91 passes (led the team), and the assist to Giroud to ice the match.
  • Szczesney—7.74 My Man of the Match, to be honest. He had an answer each time he was challenged, which was far too often for my tastes. Frankly, I want my goalie bored out of his skull. With the number of free kicks  and shots from distance that we conceded, Szczesny did well to keep everything out, including a world-class save against Jedinak despite being screened by Giroud. What's more, he showed some flashes of anger when teammates flubbed their lines, an emerging sign of genuine confidence from the young keeper.
  • Mertesacker—7.69 Another unassuming and solid performance: four tackles, three interceptions, five clearances, three aerial duels won. 
  • Gibbs—7.67 Great game for Gibbs with eight tackles, three interceptions and clearances, a confident performance.
  • Koscielny—7.65 While not quite a dominant performance, he, along with the rest of the back-line kept Crystal Palace out of the box all day. An eye-popping 13 accurate long balls on 15 attempts, which was crucial to keeping us one step ahead of Palace, especially after Arteta was sent off.
  • Giroud—7.4 The man put in a workman-like performance, slogging his way around the pitch, getting pushed around and clattered all day. He looked knackered, to be honest. However, he never stopped moving and made the most of the chances he was given—two strong headers goalward, and great timing to get open to finish Ramsey's pass.
  • Özil—6.94 Another quiet performance from the man, but he did have his moments. He had one great scoring opportunity but chose to one-touch a cross when he might have had time to set himself up. Not a criticism, necessarily, but a result of the high expectations that follow him around.
  • Arteta—6.57 Hard to take the ranking at face value. On one hand, he slotted coolly on the penalty and found time to add seven accurate long balls and three tackles. On the other, the red card was a bit harsh; to judge it as a clear goal-scoring opportunity from that distance—50 yards or so and with Chamakh more intent on clattering Arteta than on keeping the ball—beggars belief. Arsene has ruled out an appeal, so he'll not play Tuesday against Chelsea.
  • Cazorla—6.57 A very quiet evening for Cazorla saw him subbed off for Monreal, which is just as well as Monreal emerged as the livelier attacking threat anyway. A couple of nifty dribbles but little impact suggests that he's still finding his fitness and form.
  • Flamini—6.16 Honestly, he only played for eight minutes, so there's not much to say. He did treat us to a lovely glimpse of the inner thigh once he took a seat, so there's that.
Subs
  • Monreal (72' for Cazorla)—7.13  As mentioned above, Monreal showed some surprising verve with the ball, even dribbling into the box à la Ramsey versus Norwich, and very nearly came away with a goal. Strangely, he didn't have much else to do as we protected the lead. Good to see him back, though, albeit in midfield instead of defense.
  • Gnabry (8' for Flamini)—6.88 A strange substitution at first glance, coming into the defensive midfield, but his heat map does show him playing more as a winger anyway. Some incisive runs and solid decision-making throughout.  He worked his way nicely into the box before getting cut down, earning the spot-kick for Arteta. A ghosted assist, if you will.
  • Wilshere—6.55 (69' for Gnabry) Another odd substitution. I'd prefer that Wilshere just rest, especially after how poorly he played against Dortmund. If we were looking to strengthen the defense, why not send out Vermaelen or Rosický? At any rate, he did fine and looked a bit more energetic, so no harm done.