Arsenal once again failed to hold on to a lead as a late Bruno Duarte goal condemned them to a 1-1 draw against Vitoria SC in the UEFA Europa League.
Arsenal were on the backfoot for most of the first period, with hosts Vitoria de Guimaraes enjoying the better opportunities. But, Emiliano Martinez kept the Gunners in the game, denying Marcus Edwards and Edmond Tapsoba, while Pepe struck the woodwork for the Portuguese outfit as the first half ended goalless.
Things did not change much after the break, but with ten minutes left Arsenal managed to break the deadlock through Shkodran Mustafi, who headed home from a Nicolas Pepe free-kick. Unai Emery’s men, though, failed to hold on to their slender lead as Bruno Duarte scored a deserved equaliser for Vitoria in injury time with an acrobatic finish.
Despite the dull performance and the disappointing result, Arsenal remain at the top of their group in the Europa League. And here’s how we rated the performances of the Gunners’ stars on the evening.
Emiliano Martinez: 6/10
The stand-in goalkeeper started strongly, making a couple of good saves in the first period to keep his team in the side. Should have done a much better job of dealing with the cross leading to the late equaliser. But, instead Martinez just flapped weakly at it.
Shkodran Mustafi: 6/10
The German centre-half looks much more comfortable playing in a back-three. Defended relatively well for most parts, although questionable positioning led to him conceding free-kicks at times, earning him a booking.
Showed positive intent with his passing, but his attempts didn’t always reach the intended targets. Extra point for the headed goal that should have won it for Arsenal if not for another late collapse.
Starting at the centre of Arsenal’s three-man backline, the seasoned defender got lucky after a poor clearance went unpunished. Otherwise, did little wrong defensively. But, it was his distribution from the back that was a major letdown, as he often opted for a sideways pass, playing it cautious.
Rob Holding: 4/10
Captaining the team on the evening, Holding still looked like lacking match sharpness as he struggled to lead from the front. Was given a difficult time by the lively Marcus Edwards for most of the game and was beaten all ends up in the lead-up to Vitoria’s late equaliser. Also headed over when set up by Bukayo Saka.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 4/10
Preferred over Hector Bellerin as the right-sided wing-back, Maitland-Niles struggled to make any inroads going forward into the attacking third and was increasingly pushed back by the lively Davidson as the game wore on. His passing too wasn’t as accurate as he or his manager would have liked.
Dani Ceballos: 4/10
Another Arsenal player who had a difficult outing in Portugal. The on-loan Real Madrid midfielder dropped too deep too often to get on the ball, leaving his midfield partner isolated as a result. His passing also left a lot to be desired, when he was needed to be the creative linchpin of the side. Pulled up with a hamstring injury and had to be taken off.
Joe Willock: 5.5/10
Worked hard and tried to make things happen for his side, but it was not to be his night. Did show some bite in his game, as he won his fair share of duels on the field and made some important tackles, while also looking purposeful when driving forward. But, Willock did not make a telling impact before being subbed off.
Kieran Tierney: 7/10
The biggest positive of the evening for Arsenal, the Scottish left-back was a handful to deal with, with his energy up and down the left flank, while his whipped crosses were always laced with danger. Defended solidly for most parts as well, making some crunching tackles, although there were times when the hosts got in behind him.
Nicolas Pepe: 5.5/10
The Ivorian attacker, who was the hero of the first leg, was completely deprived of service on the night, which hindered his ability to run at the opposition defenders and cause problems. But, his set-piece delivery was on point again, as he got the assist for Mustafi’s goal with a fine free-kick.
Gabriel Martinelli: 5/10
No meaningful service for the summer signing meant he had little impact on the proceedings against Vitoria. Did work hard off the ball, but offered very little attacking threat on the evening, apart from a threatening cross after a lovely piece of skill in the first half.
Bukayo Saka: 5/10
After making quite the impression in recent months, the young attacker has somewhat fizzled out in the past few matches. Never really got into the game on Wednesday evening and apart from a cross to set Holding up, did little of note before being subbed off for Alexandre Lacazette.
Matteo Guendouzi: 6/10
Replaced the injured Ceballos ten minutes into the second period. Added more energy and impetus to Arsenal’s play, but lacked the support from his teammates.
Alexandre Lacazette: 5/10
Came on in place of Saka a little after the hour mark. Like the rest of his attacking partners, struggled to cause problems to the opposition with no service coming his way.
Lucas Torreira: N/A
Thrown on for Willock with less than fifteen minutes on the clock. A strange substitution given that Arsenal were still searching for a goal when he came on.