Arsenal player ratings as Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard endured a rough night that saw Villarreal send the Gunners crashing out of the UEFA Europa League.
Coming into the semi-final second leg trailing 1-2 from the first leg in Spain, Arsenal had their task cut out at the Emirates against Villarreal. However, Mikel Arteta’s side lacked any sort of verve or imagination going forward, with chances not forthcoming at all. The closest Arsenal came to scoring in the first period was when captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck the outside of the post.
The hosts did make a lively start after the half-time break, with Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith Rowe coming close to breaking the deadlock. However, Villarreal held firm and started to threaten going forward, carving out a few chances of their own which were not taken. Arsenal, though, lost their energy and momentum soon after and found it difficult to find a way through.
Aubameyang came the closest once again when his header hit the inside of the post and fell kindly for a Villarreal defender to clear. Even though the Gunners tried to push in numbers in latter stages, a goal was not forthcoming as Unai Emery, on his return to the Emirates, managed to secure the draw that was needed to take his team through to the finals, where they will face Manchester United.
It was a disappointing display from the home team as they managed to conjure up just one shot on goal on a night when they needed to score. Here are our player ratings for Arsenal stars following their elimination from the UEFA Europa League at the semi-final stages.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
Brought back into the side after being rested over the weekend, there was not a lot for the German to do on Thursday night. A couple of rather straightforward saves from Samu Chukwueze and Gerard Moreno aside, not called into action much. Almost caught out by a Hector Bellerin backpass.
Hector Bellerin: 4/10
Poor. Preferred over Cedric and Calum Chambers, Bellerin struggled to make any sort of impact on the right going forward. Let down by his touch as attacks broke down when he was on the ball constantly.
— Arsenal Presser (@APresserV2) May 6, 2021
Rob Holding: 6/10
Fairly solid at the back and was a threat from set-pieces as well, going close with a couple of headers. But his passing from the back was a major letdown. Even though stats say he completed 94% of his passes on the night, Holding just does not offer the range of distribution that someone like David Luiz would.
Pablo Mari: 6/10
Much like his defensive partner, Mari was solid defensively, winning a game-high nine aerial duels. Especially once Chukwueze was no longer on the field, the Spaniard was quite comfortable. But, he lacked that bit of urgency and incisiveness on the ball that Arsenal desperately needed on the night.
Kieran Tierney: 5/10
Rushed back into the starting XI after Granit Xhaka picked up an injury during warm-up, the Scotsman did not look at his sharpest. Not the same threat he can be when going forward while he was huffing and puffing while tracking back. Kudos for the effort, though.
Martin Odegaard: 4/10
Starting in a slightly deeper role than usual, the Real Madrid loanee never really got into the game on Thursday night. Did not offer the quality needed on the ball in the right-side channel and failed to create anything of note before making way for Gabriel Martinelli. Played no key pass and had one shot blocked.
Thomas Partey: 4/10
Given the euphoria on Thomas Partey's arrival at Arsenal, the first season proving quiet a damp squib.
First season to forget but hopefully many significant ones to come. pic.twitter.com/jclXwhTjVI
— Michael Oti Adjei (@OtiAdjei) May 6, 2021
Hailed as the game-changer for Arsenal when his signing was completed in the summer, it is fair to say that Partey has underwhelmed quite a bit in his debut season in England. There has been the odd game when he has been unstoppable but Thursday was not such on occasion. Standing as the only screen to the back four, the Ghanaian found it hard to cope all by himself. Uncharacteristically sloppy on the ball, he got caught upfield on several occasions. Just not his night.
Emile Smith Rowe: 6/10
One of the few players who looked good for Arsenal on the night. Back into the lineup, the Englishman was playing slightly deeper than he is used to but was not lacking for effort as he gave it his all. Tried to create when on the ball, worked hard off it and even came close to scoring in the second half.
Bukayo Saka: 5/10
Marshaled very well by Alfonso Pedraza, who did not give Saka an inch on the right flank. As a result, the youngster was not able to create much going forward. Tried to drift infield and get on the ball, but was just not effective enough even, though he did make two key passes.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5/10
Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang had fewer touches (7) than any other player on the pitch in the first half, including both goalkeepers and Yeremi Pino who replaced Samuel Chukwueze.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 6, 2021
The Player to Watch in our match preview, the Arsenal skipper was deprived of service on the night and as a result was hardly involved. Did have a couple of moments when he came close to scoring, striking the outside as well as the inside of the post on either side of half-time, but did little of note apart from that. Still lacking sharpness, having recently recovered from malaria.
Nicolas Pepe: 5/10
The go-to man for Arsenal in the Europa League this season, Pepe never really got going against Villarreal. Worked hard but did not offer much in the way of goal threat apart from a shot in the second half. Lacked ideas on the ball and often slowed things down. When he did try to play it into a dangerous area, there was just not enough quality on the end product
It’s like Emery knew he would be coaching against ARS so he signed Pepe as sabotage. Brilliant! #ARSVIL
— TheEyeBallTest (@wateyecee) May 6, 2021
Gabriel Martinelli: 6/10
Replaced Odegaard in the 66th minute and livened things up for Arsenal after coming on. Made a few decent runs on the left but was not able to threaten the goal.
Alexandre Lacazette: N/A
On for Aubameyang with ten minutes left. Not enough time to make an impact.
Came on for Tierney in the 80th minute. Made one dangerous-looking forward run which came to nothing.
Eddie Nketiah: N/A
Stoppage time substitute for Bellerin. Booked.