The pressure is at its peak for Arsene Wenger as Arsenal stumbled again at the hands of Manchester City at a stale Emirates atmosphere on Thursday.
Arsenal looked like they were about to make amends to their Carabao Cup final defeat with a bright start to the game, but soon fell for Manchester City’s attacking displays, as the visitors scored three in the first half alone. First-half goals from Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sane, might have all but ended Arsenal’s chances to sneak into the top four.
Arsenal’s attack could not be questioned as there was intent in their game plan, but City’s attackers on the ball proved to be too good for the Gunners’ defence to handle. It wasn’t like the players did not put in an effort, but in the end whatever they made of the game wasn’t enough to prevent the league leaders heap more misery on Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal did have a penalty early in the second half, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed his shot, which also summed up what was a miserable night for Arsenal, the fans, team and manager alike. Here’s how we rated Arsenal’s players against Manchester City.
Petr Cech – 6/10
The 200th clean sheet eludes him. Could not do anything about any of City’s goals, and wasn’t at fault in any of those situations. Made many saves, which turned out to be important ones, as it saved Arsenal from conceding more on a night when City were not even at their best for half the game.
Hector Bellerin – 4/10
Bellerin will have more empathy shown towards him for the consistent and continuing lack of support he’s been getting these days against teams while defending. Again left exposed as he was almost alone at times at the back. Two of City’s three goals came from his side of the pitch.
Shkodran Mustafi – 5/10
After horror shows in the last few games, it’s clear Mustafi defines everything that has been bad about Arsenal and defending this season. Another below par performance from the Germany international. While it was a better performance compared to Sunday, his gameplay lacks the required leadership and consistency to hold off the best sides, but more importantly conceding goals.
Laurent Koscielny – 4.5/10
Over the last few months and for the best part of this season Koscielny has displayed a slow side to his game. The Manchester City attackers had a field day against him, going past him with ease.
This is probably the lowest point of his career right now and is everything that is the problem with Arsenal’s defence. Not a performance expected from a player of his experience, especially when leading his side.
Sead Kolasinac – 4/10
Kolasinac has his name saved by his intent to attack the ball and move forward. But the central aspect of his game is defending and it’s been missing for quite some games of late.
Against City, he wasn’t exactly suspect, but the men in blue had an easy time against the Bosnian, who is often guilty of disappearing at the back where he is most needed. Not enough to usurp Nacho Monreal anytime soon.
Granit Xhaka – 7/10
Arsenal’s man of the match, if one really is to be given such a recognition. In the last two games, both against City, Xhaka was great. He was the one trying to make things happen all along, right until the end.
Made a lot of plays and apart from a few wayward passes, he ensured at that Arsenal won the ball back before trying to build on something against the best midfield in the league. Led Arsenal in tackles and passes. Took a few shots, most of them on target but failed to find the net on any of those occasions.
Aaron Ramsey – 7/10
Another Arsenal player who deserves praise in the face of criticism after a mediocre team performance. Ramsey was at the heart of most Arsenal attacks and was instrumental in driving the ball forward for his team. He fought hard right till the end, like Xhaka and refused to give up despite the feeling that the rest of the team had thrown in the towel long back.
Danny Welbeck – 3.5/10
Welbeck ticks a lot of boxes including hard work, running around, getting into dangerous positions etc. but what comes of it? The Englishman was good with the ball as well as without it, but the lack of end product has damaged his game more than the goal drought he is currently enduring. Against City he was a lively presence, taking the ball forward many times but failing to do anything with it.
Mesut Ozil – 3/10
Over the course of his Arsenal career, many pundits and former players alike have pointed out his tendency to disappear in big games, and such was the case against City. He was supposed to be Arsenal’s chief creator, but lost the ball countless times and showed frustration right from when Arsenal conceded their first goal. Poor performance from the German.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 6/10
Like Xhaka and Ramsey, Mkhitaryan was another one of those players who worked their socks off for the team right until the end. He was trying to win the ball and pressing the opponents the entire game. When he had the ball, he decided to make things happen in attack. Won the penalty that Aubameyang missed.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 2/10
Not the performance one would expect from a club record signing. Apart from the many chances, Arsenal could have converted or at least tried, a striker of Aubameyang’s stature should do better with penalties. His tame effort symbolised everything that was wrong with the Gunners against Manchester City. Needs to pull his socks up.