Arsenal player ratings as they returned to winning ways with a 3-1 triumph over West Bromwich Albion, with Emile Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pepe and Willian scoring.
Under pressure after crashing out of the UEFA Europa League in midweek, Arsenal did not make the brightest of the starts at the Emirates, with West Brom looking the better side in the early exchanges as Matheus Pereira even came close to scoring. However, around the half-hour mark, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe combined for the latter to score his first Premier League goal with a fine volley, putting the Gunners ahead.
It was only a matter of minutes before Mikel Arteta’s side ended up doubling their lead with Nicolas Pepe scoring a stunner to put his team in firm control of the contest. Arsenal could have added to their lead late in the first half as well as early in the second period but Sam Johnstone made a string of saves to keep West Brom in the game before Pereira found the back of the net at the other end to drag the Baggies back into the game.
Darnell Furlong sent his header wide as the visitors pushed for an equaliser but it never came. Instead, it was who Arsenal who scored again late on, with Willian netting his first goal for the Gunners via a terrific free-kick from just outside the box to make it 3-1 and confirm the victory. The result sees the north Londoners move into the ninth place in the table while West Brom have now officially been relegated after the defeat.
Here are our player ratings for the Arsenal stars as they bounced back strongly from their midweek heartbreak.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
A game wherein the German wasn’t tested a great deal. Leno couldn’t have done much to stop Pereira’s solo goal but did show good command in his box to come out and collect crosses or long balls on a few occasions.
Calum Chambers: 7/10
Replacing Hector Bellerin in the side, the former Southampton man provided a good attacking outlet down the right and was solid defensively as well. Got the assist for Pepe’s goal while his movement was also key for opening up the space for the Ivorian to take aim. Saw a lot of the ball and used it well for most part.
Rob Holding: 6/10
Captaining Arsenal on the night, Holding did well to keep Mbaye Diagne quiet after the Baggies early positive start. Made a joint game-high five clearances, dealing with whatever came his way effectively. However, could have stepped up instead of dropping back in the lead-up to Pereira’s goal.
Gabriel Magalhaes: 6/10
Restored to the lineup due to the absence of David Luiz and Pablo Mari, the Brazilian dealt well with the physicality of the West Brom forwards, standing firm and not letting much get past him, although should have tried to get tighter to Pereira leading to the goal. Passed well from the back too. Encouraging after a recent decline in form.
Bukayo Saka: 8/10
Bukayo Saka's game by numbers vs. West Brom:
100% shot accuracy
100% take-ons completed
7 touches in the opp. box
2 chances created
A spicy left-back display. 🌶 pic.twitter.com/DTaIaTXqPk
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 9, 2021
Arsenal’s best player on the night, it was Saka who dragged Arsenal back after West Brom had started the game on a brighter note. Brilliant play before setting Smith Rowe up for the opener with an accurate cross from the left. Had a shot saved on the verge of half-time and looked a threat each time he ran at the Baggies defence. Ended with two key passes, two dribbles completed along with two interceptions.
Mohamed Elneny: 6/10
Coming in for Thomas Partey, the Egyptian international midfielder worked hard as usual and tried to be more forward-thinking with his passes but tended to slow things down quite a bit. Chipped in with three interceptions – joint-highest on the night, along with a couple of clearances but the quality on the ball was lacking.
Dani Ceballos: 5/10
Back into the side after missing the midweek game due to suspension, the Real Madrid loanee, much like Elneny, slowed things down for Arsenal each time he got on the ball even though there were some neat forward passes in the left-side channel for Saka. Not good enough though and was caught out for Pereira’s goal.
Nicolas Pepe: 7/10
This is a 72m goal. Very few wingers in world football who can score this type of goal as consistently as Pépé does. pic.twitter.com/PjJ3WVzo8c
— ' (@DocAFC_) May 9, 2021
Not the best of the performances from the Ivorian who often found it hard to get past Conor Townsend on his side but a stunning effort to make it 2-0 in the first half after he cut in from the right, essentially proved to be the match-winning goal for Arsenal. Had a shot saved after half-time and worked hard off the ball throughout.
Emile Smith Rowe: 7/10
Fabulous technique from Smith Rowe for that goal. So good. pic.twitter.com/CEDQRKFvkH
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) May 9, 2021
Preferred over Martin Odegaard in the No. 10 role, the Arsenal academy graduate caused the Baggies all sorts of problems with his movement and running, which also created spaces for those around him. Showed great technique to score the opening goal – his first in the Premier League. Had an effort saved after the break and was taken off soon after with an injury.
Handed a rare start, the Brazilian linked up well with Saka down the left flank, with most of Arsenal’s threat coming from that side. Created a game-high four key passes, although there were moments when he lost the ball cheaply. More than made up for it though with a sublime free-kick late on to score his first goal in Arsenal colours.
Willian has scored his first goal for Arsenal with his third shot on target in the Premier League this season.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 9, 2021
Gabriel Martinelli: 5/10
The Player to Watch in our match preview, Martinelli started as a centre-forward instead of his usual position on the left-wing and endured a quiet outing. Did not carry much of a threat in the final third and tended to drop deep time and again in an attempt to get on the ball, cutting out his effectiveness at the top. Will see better days.
Alexandre Lacazette: 6/10
Replaced Martinelli at the hour mark. Offered more in terms of physical presence and movement in the final third as he works his way back to full fitness.
Kieran Tierney: 6/10
On for the injured Smith Rowe, slotted in at left-back which led to Saka moving higher up the pitch. Still not quite at his sharpest but showed good energy to get up and down the pitch.
Thomas Partey: N/A
Came on in place of Ceballos with less than 15 minutes left. Solid cameo.