Granit Xhaka emerged as the only positive as Arsenal once again dropped points, this time against Crystal Palace with a goalless draw on Thursday.
Arsenal’s momentum in the Premier League came to an untimely halt as they were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace at the Emirates on Thursday.
After scoring four goals against West Bromwich Albion, the Gunners started the game relatively well. They looked dangerous going forward while dominating possession. But, Palace eventually clawed their way back into the game, making it more of an even affair, though the match barely offered any entertainment. The two teams went into half-time unsurprisingly goalless.
In the second half, Arsenal once again started strong. They enjoyed even more possession but were extremely open on the counter as the Eagles tried to make use of their pacy duo of Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze. Unfortunately, they were wasteful enough in front of goal while the Gunners themselves failed to craft clear-cut goalscoring opportunities on a consistent basis.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will now run the rule over the Arsenal players following their dismal draw with Crystal Palace this midweek.
Bernd Leno: 7/10
Despite all the threat, Crystal Palace provided on the counter, Bernd Leno was barely tested for the majority of game. His exquisite save to deny James Tomkins just before half-time, however, was one of the highlights of the match. It was, thus, indeed a deserved clean sheet for the Arsenal goalkeeper.
Hector Bellerin: 4/10
Hector Bellerin had a miserable game against Crystal Palace. Nothing was going his way, especially if we consider the number of misplaced passes he made in the final third. The Arsenal right-back also lacked the cohesion with the rest of his teammate while sometimes allowing the Palace forwards including Zaha to make runs in behind the backline.
Rob Holding: 7.5/10
Rob Holding had a difficult time getting the better of Christian Benteke in physical and aerial duels. He also notably misplaced a pass that led to Palace counter-attack in the first half. However, the Englishman looked more comfortable when Benteke was taken off and made one important block late in the proceedings.
Arsenal’s points after 18 PL games in the last 5 seasons:
16/17 – 37
17/18 – 33
18/19 – 37
19/20 – 23
20/21 – 24
Another poor home result. 😶 pic.twitter.com/jmj2I4sjem
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 14, 2021
David Luiz: 7/10
David Luiz complemented the defensive contributions of Holding. His physical and aerial prowess was critical in dealing with the opposition attackers. Although the veteran centre-back did not have much of an opportunity to influence the game with his long, diagonal passes, he looked quite solid at the back.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 6/10
Ainsley Maitland-Niles provided the occasional spark on the left flank with silky footwork and tenacity. But overall, the full-back failed to produce that cutting edge movement that Kieran Tierney has in long supply. He was still a little unlucky to be taken off early in the second half, though.
Granit Xhaka: 8/10
Granit Xhaka was one of the best players in the game simply because of his commanding presence in midfield. The former Borussia Monchengladbach man was spot on with his tackles, creating multiple turnovers in the middle of the park. His passing was not spectacular as much, but the ex-Arsenal captain deserves credit for excelling in the role he was given.
Granit Xhaka made six tackles against Crystal Palace.
The most he’s made in a Premier League game since March 2018 against Man City (also six). pic.twitter.com/ZgKtViJf4v
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 14, 2021
Dani Ceballos: 7/10
Dani Ceballos looked like the player who was going to make the difference for a significant portion of the first half. The midfielder did indeed look quite tidy with the ball. But, his influence on the game eventually waned in the second half.
Bukayo Saka: 6/10
Bukayo Saka made some smart movements in behind the Palace backline, at times. However, the Englishman failed to provide any sort of penetration in the final third. His final ball was also lacking, with his transition to a left-back later in the second half only minimising his influence on the game.
Emile Smith Rowe: 6.5/10
Emile Smith Rowe was disappointing considering the lofty standards he had set in recent weeks. But, the youngster deserves credit for constantly trying to make things happen. His positioning sense, however, certainly needs to improve as he failed to provide himself as a proper passing option for his teammates in the final third.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5/10
While Arsenal may have rediscovered their form, one player who is still yet to get back to his best is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. And to his credit, he did show early signs of redemption when making useful runs down the left flank. Unfortunately, his influence waned as the game progressed and in the second half, the striker was virtually ineffective.
Aubameyang is the captain of this football club. He has to do much better. Not only with his football, but with his passion throughout the game. He looks completely uninterested.
— Eduardo Hagn (@EduardoHagn) January 14, 2021
Alexandre Lacazette: 5/10
As the commentators put in “Alexandre Lacazette barely had a sniff” and rightly so, as the Frenchman was not involved enough in the proceedings. The Crystal Palace defenders do deserve a lot of the credit for their tight marking which prevented the Arsenal striker to even drop and make use of the ball. One of his first half chances was robbed by Bellerin, though.
Nicolas Pepe: 6/10
Nicolas Pepe replaced Maitland-Niles early in the second half as Mikel Arteta opted for more offensive firepower. The Ivorian looked effective at times with his nimble footwork and a compulsion to beat players. However, there was not enough penetration in his game.
Thomas Partey: 6/10
Thomas Partey made his highly anticipated return to the pitch during the final phase of the game as he came on for Ceballos. He recovered a couple of balls in midfield, and it will be interesting to see how Arteta plans to utilise the former Atletico Madrid star going forward.
Eddie Nketiah: N/A
Replaced Lacazette late in the game. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.