07 November 2013

Arsenal 1-0 Dortmund: Player Ratings

Another fine goal from Aaron Ramsey earned us a  massive win keeps us atop Group F with nine points, but of course he wasn't the only story. We are now the only club in the world to have beaten Bayern and Dortmund in the last 12 months (if not more); you can read the match report here. Here is a quick run-down of how our boys did on the day (stats courtesy of whoscored.com):
  • Aaron Ramsey—7.8:  another Man of the Match for a man, scoring the game-winner of course for his eleventh goal of the season (one more than he's scored in his five other seasons with the club). He could have had another but for a last-gasp deflection from Weidenfeller.
  • Per Mertesacker—7.79: a massive effort to stabilize the back-line and secure a second consecutive clean sheet, some brilliant tackles to go with a team-leading eight clearances. I'd been skeptical of Per in the past, but no longer. His tackle in the 30th minute has converted me.
  • Wojciech Szczesny7.45: He made some crucial saves to keep the clean sheet, such as the one on Reus's header, and his quiet confidence is a welcome change of pace from the cocky but less-reilable performances of the past.
  • Bacary Sagna—7.43: Quieter, more-conservative effort than last time around as he and the rest of the defense committed more-thoroughly to staving off Dortmund's counters. Less involved on the offensive end, but the trade-off clearly worked out.
  • Mesut Özil—7.35: Mercurial comes to mind. Another quiet game with a few careless touches but did send in a well-weighted ball for Giroud to head down to Ramsey for a second-assist. Due for a rest, no doubt, if only to dull the keen edge of our expectations.
  • Mikel Arteta—7.27: led the team with four interceptions while again leading the team with 93% passing accuracy. His guile and experience shined on a night when he saw yellow in the 23rd minute but refused to be baited or booked for the remainder of the game.
  • Laurent Koscielny—7.24: Fierce. Unlucky not to have earned a penalty, but a number of vital tackles and clearances to go with five clearances. He and Per have to be in the conversation for best center-back pairing in the Prem.
  • Olivier Giroud—6.98: Yet another assist for the buteur du charme, whose work-rate and physicality in and around the box have become essential to the attack. He may not be a goal-scoring forward, but the chances he creates for others have been key even if they don't always show up on the score-sheet.
  • Kieran Gibbs—6.94: Like Sagna much less-involved on the attack, staying home to neutralize Blaszczykowski and a whole lot of other letters as well.
  • Tomáš Rosický—6.77: Everywhere and anywhere all evening, leading the team in tackles (4) and interceptions (4) and doing his level-best to remind the Dortmund faithful of his glory days. I lose track of how often he finds the ball on the edge of the opponent's box, whether it's an interception or a 50-50, and finds a team-mate to set up a goal-scoring chance (as he did with Özil). Numbers don't do him justice.
  • Santi Cazorla—6.71: Strangely quiet on the offensive end—not a single shot taken—but he worked hard and found ways to contribute, especially defensively, with a couple of tackles and interceptions to his name.
Substitutions:
  • Nacho Monreal (75' for Cazorla)—6.14: A fine strategic sub to rest an ineffective Cazorla while protecting the lead, Monreal didn't have much time to do much else but did manage two clearances and an interception.
  • Thomas Vermaelen (89' for Rosický): Not enough to rate. Even with stoppage time, I worry that such a substitution is more demoralizing than not appearing at all (compared to coming in closer to the 70th minute, for example). Yes, the Kos-Per pairing has been top-notch, but he should see more time, if only to spell Kos or Per.
  • Nicklas Bendtner (89' for Giroud): Not enough to rate. Touched the ball once, I believe. Meh.
Did I mention that we beat Dortmund? Away? Well, it's worth repeating. We beat Dortmund. Away.