Dani Ceballos was the only positive for a dismal Arsenal side as Aston Villa handed them a 1-0 loss at Villa Park on Tuesday night.
Arsenal were coming off the back of a stunning win in the FA Cup semi-final this past weekend. But they failed to build on the momentum gained from two big performances last week, as they failed to put the Aston Villa defence under any sort of sustained pressure. In fact, it was the hosts who took the lead, in the 27th minute.
Trezeguet scored from a fine half volley after Tyrone Mings flicked the ball towards him from Conor Hourihane’s cross. Arsenal did have a few half chances but could not even get a shot on target in the game, as Aston Villa held on for a 1-0 win. The result has ended the Gunners’ hopes of making the Europa League via a top seven finish. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Emiliano Martinez: 6/10
Somewhat unlucky for the goal that Aston Villa scored as he was slightly unsighted. Martinez, though, provided an assuring presence at the back otherwise, making a couple of decent stops while also completing every pass he attempted (20/20).
Rob Holding: 5/10
Coming into the side in place of the injured Shkodran Mustafi, Holding had a difficult evening. Jack Grealish easily won their duel, although the young defender was at hand to clear anything away that came in the air. However, as the game wore on, he started taking up a higher line alongside the other Arsenal defenders and he was nearly punished when Keinan Davis got past him.
David Luiz: 6/10
Easily the best Arsenal defender on the day and it was surprising that it Luiz who was taken off for Nicolas Pepe at the hour mark. During the 60 minutes he spent on the pitch the Brazilian comfortably negotiated the threat of Mbwana Samatta. His long balls helped ease off the pressure, while he misplaced just 3 passes all game. Solid again.
Sead Kolasinac: 5.5/10
Back into the starting lineup, Kolasinac produced a hit and miss performance on Tuesday. While the Bosnian did win an impressive 8 duels, he was caught out of position at times, as Arsenal pushed desperately for an equaliser. A few misplaced passes did not help his team’s cause but he was involved in a positive moment along with Dani Ceballos further up the pitch.
Cedric Soares: 5.5/10
Much like Kolasinac, Cedric blew hot and cold over the course of the game. While he did carry a threat down the right flank and played in 1 key pass, the Portuguese international did not produce a single accurate cross. Linked up well with Eddie Nketiah, although he needed to do more with his deliveries.
Dani Ceballos: 7/10
Quite easily the best player for Arsenal on the night. Ceballos looked like a man on a mission and had the most touches in the game. The Spaniard also made 1 key pass and the 7 long balls that he completed helped open up play well. However, Ceballos faded as the second half progressed, as Arsenal failed to mount the pressure on Aston Villa.
Lucas Torreira: 4/10
Starting in place of Granit Xhaka, Torreira was rather dreadful against Aston Villa. The Uruguayan midfielder did keep things simple and completed 42/44 passes, to his credit. But, he failed in his primary task, as the Aston Villa midfield overran him with ease on several occasions. Taken off at half-time for Xhaka, and rightly so.
Bukayo Saka: 5.5/10
Deployed in a position that suits his abilities rather perfectly, Saka cut a confident figure and took on his opposite number with verve. However, the young Englishman could not create a sustained pressure and like Cedric on the opposite flank, none of his crosses reached the target. Did make a couple of important interceptions, although he needed to do more.
Eddie Nketiah: 5/10
Available again after serving his suspension, Nketiah was thrust into the starting lineup, albeit on the right wing. The young forward showed a lot of desire but was not involved a great deal. Having said that, he did have a great chance from a Granit Xhaka corner, only to head onto the woodwork. Better suited to playing centrally.
Alexandre Lacazette: 5/10
Over the past week, Lacazette has grown in confidence, which ought to have kept him in good stead against Aston Villa. However, on Tuesday, the French striker was not involved a whole lot and he could attempt just 23 passes. In fact, he did not even aim a single shot at goal and fizzled out in poor fashion.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5/10
Aubameyang made a decent start to the game and unsurprisingly posed the greatest threat to the Aston Villa defence. However, the Arsenal captain managed to take just one shot all game and struggled to find any sort of space to make an impact. Was also given the slip by Tyrone Mings in the build-up to Trezeguet’s goal, having become distracted by a conversation between the two.
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
On for the ineffective Torreira, Xhaka was a major upgrade, as the moves started flowing better. Combined with Ceballos really well, as one would have come to expect from the duo. Created the chance for Nketiah from a corner, won 3 duels and lost the ball just 5 times. Did all he could to turn the tide, but there was hardly anything in the final third.
Kieran Tierney: 6/10
Tierney replaced Saka with 30 minutes left and looked better than the youngster. A constant outlet down the left flank, he created one half chance and completed a couple of long balls. But, it just wasn’t to be in the end.
Nicolas Pepe: 6/10
Despite playing just 30 minutes, Pepe was by far the best Arsenal attacker on the day. The Ivorian played in 2 key passes, which is quite impressive given the duration he was on the pitch. Misplaced just 1 pass and won 3 duels as well. Needs to start the remaining two games this season.
Joe Willock: N/A
On for the final 12 minutes or so, Willock did not have much time to make an impact.