Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Saka impressed while Calum Chambers was solid at the back as Arsenal and Everton played out a goalless draw on Saturday.
Freddie Ljungberg took charge of the first-team for the final time as the caretaker boss, with Mikel Arteta confirmed as the new permanent manager a day ahead of the game. On Saturday, Arteta was watching from the stands, but there was very little inspiration he would have drawn from the proceedings.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came the closest to scoring for Arsenal, only to see his close range effort being parried away by Jordan Pickford. At the other end, Bernd Leno was never forced to make a save, as the game ended in a goalless stalemate. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ljungberg’s charges.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
The easiest game he would play all season. With the match headed to an uninspiring, Leno simply watched the proceedings for the most part, only called into action when there were crosses to be collected, which he did without much of a fuss. Would be glad to have a clean sheet under his belt.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 7/10
Much improved from Maitland-Niles, who was much more impactful going forward. With Alex Iwobi hobbling off early into the game, Maitland-Niles had a lot of freedom to charge forward. At the back, the youngster was in trouble at times, but he improved as the game wore on.
Calum Chambers: 8/10
Callum Chambers’ game by numbers vs. Everton:
100% tackles won (3/3)
most passes completed (69)
most defensive aerials won (5)
most headed clearances (4)
Very solid. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/paqqilEvqt
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 21, 2019
After the struggles of last weekend, this was a fantastic showing by Chambers. Was caught out of position early on once, but soon steadied himself. Upon doing so, there was no way past Chambers, with David Luiz bearing the brunt of the Everton attack most of the times thereafter.
The numbers tell the tale for Chambers as well, with the Englishman leading the charts for passes completed (69), defensive aerials won (5) and headed clearances (4). It appears as if last week’s disasterclass was but a mere blip, with Chambers making a telling impact whenever he has started as a centre-back otherwise.
David Luiz: 6.5/10
Luiz went in the opposite direction as Chambers, starting the game strongly before appearing jittery towards the end of the game. Initially, there was very little way past, but at times, the Brazilian was at his worst, making some rash decisions. Assured as ever with the ball at his feet.
Bukayo Saka: 7/10
With both Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney sidelined with injuries, Saka started as a makeshift left-back. Initially, the decision appeared to be ill informed, but Saka improved drastically as the minutes ticked by. At times, he really impressed with his positioning and the youngster looked quite dangerous while charging forward. A step in the right direction.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
A solid performance by the former Arsenal captain, one that showed his value to the team. In the early exchanges, the Swiss was overrun easily, but once he found his footing, he paved the way for Arsenal to dominate Everton in the middle of the park. Moved the ball forward with precision, but he could have set a higher tempo on the day. Decent, nevertheless.
Lucas Torreira: 6.5/10
Much like Xhaka, Torreira helped Arsenal be more solid in the middle of the park. The duo starting together make for a good base for Arsenal to be hard to overrun. However, it also exposed a lack of a quick passing option, which Matteo Guendouzi provides. So, while Torreira was solid, his passing abilities were not up to scratch for the requirements in the game.
Reiss Nelson: 7/10
A surprise starter in attack, Nelson was deployed on the right wing. The youngster seemed to not be up to the pace of the game to begin with, but did improve gradually. Made a lot of impact during set-piece situations and showed a lot of confidence while taking on the defender. However, his end product could do with some work.
Emile Smith Rowe: 6/10
With Mesut Ozil not considered, Smith Rowe made his full Premier League debut. However, the young midfielder was not in his elements on the day. Supposed to pull the strings in the final third, Smith Rowe was often left to be a peripheral figure and had to drop deep to see some action. When he did, he was wasteful, which is so unlike him. There will be better days.
Gabriel Martinelli: 6.5/10
As always, Martinelli cannot be faulted for a lack of effort. The Brazilian never shied away from running at the opposition defence and looked to make things happen. However, his final pass was missing on the day and he seemed to have lost a step after facing a heavy tackle from Djibril Sidibe.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5/10
A frustrating day at work for the Arsenal captain. Aubameyang was left feeding off scraps for much of the game and had just nine touches on the ball in the first half. Things improved post the break, but only ever so slightly and when the ball did make its way to him, he was not sharp enough. Should have done better when shooting a half volley from a corner.
Joe Willock: 6/10
On for the struggling Smith Rowe, Willock pretty much continued from his teammate left off, struggling to break down the Everton attack. Never looked like he was lacking confidence, which is a positive.
Alexandre Lacazette: N/A
Lacazette replaced Aubameyang with 12 minutes left in regulation time, but could not find a way into the game, getting a touch on the ball just four times.