Bukayo Saka was the only promising sign for Arsenal as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City.
Arsenal succumbed to a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City, at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening. The Gunners weren’t the better of the two sides as they struggled to get an early grip on the proceedings, with their opponents dominating the first phase of the game.
Manchester City’s early pressure paid off when Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute. Arsenal, however, did well to fight back during the final stage of the first-half, notably creating some excellent goalscoring chances. Bukayo Saka’s effort, in particular, was gracefully saved by Ederson.
In the second half, the visitors failed to capitalise on their positive momentum as Manchester City once again tried to dominate the game and find the two goal cushion.
The Gunners, on the other hand, lacked the creative essence to cause any problems for the opposing defence as the Sky Blues eventually secured a narrow win. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the Arsenal players in their defeat to Manchester City this past weekend.
Bernd Leno 7/10
Bernd Leno was unlucky, to begin with, as the rebound of his save to deny Phil Foden fell into the path of Raheem Sterling for the first goal. The German international looked pretty calm otherwise, notably making one extraordinary save while his positioning and distribution were decent.
💬 "We're on the right way. Today we lost this game, but next time we have to win and be confident in our play like this."
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 17, 2020
Hector Bellerin 6/10
Hector Bellerin was sort of isolated in the right-back position as most of Arsenal’s passage of play transpired from the left flank. As a result, the Spaniard mostly had to defend the threat of Bernardo Silva. He did a decent job, for the most part, while trying to influence the game with his forays down the flanks, at times.
David Luiz 6/10
David Luiz should have done a better job of defensively in this match. The courage, vigour and motivation were all lacking from the Brazilian, who had a hard time dealing with Sterling.
Luiz’s poor form certainly doesn’t help his cause, especially with Rob Holding pushing for a start while the likes of Pablo Mari and Shkodran Mustafi will soon recover from their respective injuries. He did create an excellent chance for Aubameyang though.
Gabriel Magalhaes 6/10
Much like his defensive partner, Gabriel Magalhaes lacked the temperament and was rather erratic when dealing with the Man City attackers, especially in the first phase of the game. He improved greatly in the second half, providing some great clearances and showcasing his ability to read the game.
Kieran Tierney 7/10
Back in his natural left-back role, Kieran Tierney showed a lot of promise. The Scot did have a hard time against Riyad Mahrez, but his forays down the left flank, combined with a remarkable connection with Bukayo Saka served as one of Arsenal’s main sources of creativity. A promising display from the left-back.
Granit Xhaka 5.5/10
Granit Xhaka had an off day in midfield, struggling to cope with the technically gifted nature of Manchester City players. The Swiss international moved forward and joined the first line of press, at times, but to no avail. His passing was also off, as he eventually made way for Thomas Partey during the final phase of the game.
Dani Ceballos 6/10
Dani Ceballos assumed a deeper role in midfield in order to provide additional defensive coverage for the four-man backline. It clearly didn’t work as the Spaniard was caught out of position in the lead up to the Manchester City opener, as he failed to intercept a pass in the final third.
Ceballos may have been much more influential in a more attacking role, in this fixture. And it won’t be surprising to see Mikel Arteta operating him as a number ten in the future.
Bukayo Saka 8/10
Bukayo Saka was by far the best player for Arsenal in this fixture. He was an absolute spark on the left flank, showing impeccable combination play and understanding with the likes of Tierney and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He also had the best opportunity of the game, though it was saved by Ederson.
Saka is clearly much more influential in a natural left-wing role and could achieve much more without the obligation of having to track back and defend.
Nicolas Pepe 5/10
Fielding Nicolas Pepe against Manchester City turned out to be a disastrous decision from Arteta, as the Ivorian barely managed to make any impact on the proceedings. He failed to take on Kyle Walker, and with Arsenal crafting very little from the right flank, he was only a tool in the first line of press for the Gunners.
Nicolas Pepe v Man City highlights | A new man under Arteta?! 😱🔥 | HD pic.twitter.com/m2dSVUvQAp
— Rue (@thfcrueben) October 17, 2020
Another gamble by Arteta, Willian operating in the number nine role didn’t work either as it came at the expense of a lack of penetration going forward. He barely made any runs in behind the defence to cause problems for the opposition. Was rightly taken off in the second half.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 6/10
Aubameyang tried to keep with the menacing duo of Tierney and Saka on the left-flank, playing some nice one-twos while providing a clever through ball to free Saka for an excellent opportunity late in the first half.
That said, the Gabonese international had a poor game by his lofty standards. He wasn’t involved in the game enough to cause problems for the Manchester City defence as his goalscoring woes continue this season.
Alexandre Lacazette 5/10
Alexandre Lacazette came on in the second half, replacing the ineffective Willian. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to change the course of the game.
Eddie Nketiah N/A
A late replacement for Pepe. Didn’t play enough to warrant a rating.
Thomas Partey N/A
Made his Arsenal debut in the 83rd minute. Didn’t play enough to warrant a rating.