How did Arsenal's players rate in their 3-2 win over Ludogorets?
Arsenal ensured qualification from the Champions League group stage for the 17th consecutive season with a dramatic 3-2 win over Ludogorets in Bulgaria. Having beaten the hosts 6-0 at the Emirates a fortnight ago, this was a far more exacting test for the Gunners as they found themselves 2-0 down after 15 minutes. Jonathan Cafu turned in Wanderson’s free kick from close range before Claudiu Keseru, Olivier Giroud’s former teammate at Tours, doubled their lead three minutes later. Granit Xhaka steered home Mesut Ozil’s pull back to get the visitors back in it, before Giroud’s glancing header put them in level at the break. The second half was a more cagey and bitty affair, but was lit up by a sumptuous moment of quality from Ozil.
He latched onto Mohamed Elneny’s chipped through ball, lifted the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper before stepping inside not one but two Ludogorets defenders to slide the ball into an unguarded net. What could have been a forgettable group stage game will now be discussed in N5 for years to come. The result sets up an effective play off with PSG at the Emirates for top spot. We rated each member of Arsenal’s unfamiliar line up.
David Ospina- 6/10
The Colombian keeper was excellent against Ludogorets at the Emirates; displaying his prowess as a sweeper keeper. However, the weakest part of his game was exposed last night as he struggled to command his area from set pieces. Wanderson’s delivery for the first goal was good, but a more proactive keeper may have punched it clear. Rushed out quickly to deny the same player in the second half though, which showcased the better side of Ospina.
Carl Jenkinson- 5/10
Got his first 90 minutes in an Arsenal shirt against Reading last week, but this was a sharp step up. Whipped in some nice crosses in the first half, but looked a little out of place and didn’t support play as well as he could have done. With Aaron Ramsey drifting inside from the right flank, Arsenal needed more lateral threat from this position. Gooners and Wenger will hope Hector Bellerin makes the north London derby.
Shkodran Mustafi- 6/10
Solid in general, but should have read the danger far quicker on Ludogorets’ second goal. His failure to track a runner all the way to the near post was reminiscent of Edinson Cavani’s goal against Arsenal, as well as Borja Baston’s at the Emirates for Swansea. This is something of a theme, and is a flaw the German needs to iron out.
Laurent Koscielny- 7/10
Didn’t put a foot wrong, which is what we have come to expect of Koscielny. Perhaps could have sat this one out in an ideal world, but Ludogorets showed enough pace and quality to justify Wenger picking his best defender.
Kieran Gibbs- 5/10
Has been quietly impressive recently, and looked set to start against Tottenham on Sunday to counter the pace of Kyle Walker. However, his role in Keseru’s goal was very poor indeed as Cafu beat him far too easily. With Alexis Sanchez drifting inside from the left, needed to provide greater width going forward as well.
Francis Coquelin- 7/10
Made five interceptions and completed 91% of his passes; Coquelin did a pretty good job of holding the fort in Arsenal’s midfield. Too often in the past, Arsenal have been quite open in this area of the pitch but with him and Xhaka in there they kept control of things well.
Granit Xhaka- 7/10
Defensively, his poor tackling remains a concern. This is not a result of malice, but rather a slight flat footedness that means he is dribbled past a little easily. Oozes class in possession however, and produced arguably the pass of the night to find Alexis Sanchez in a crowded penalty area.
Aaron Ramsey- 7/10
Played on the right flank when Arsenal were out of passion, but given license to move infield when the Gunners had the ball. Wins an extra mark for his pin point chipped cross which found Giroud for the equaliser. This was only his second start of the season, but the Welshman divides opinion among the Arsenal fanbase. Would have benefitted from Bellerin playing on his outside.
Mesut Ozil- 9/10
The winning goal is isolation was good enough to warrant a nine. Wasn’t his finest performance as a whole because Arsenal didn’t stretch Ludogorets enough to free up space between the lines for him to operate in. Good pull back for the first goal too, and the German is very adept at delaying his crosses by a second or two to allow runners to arrive.
Alexis Sanchez- 6/10
His first game on the left flank this season and probably his quietest performance. Picked up some of the same positions he does at centre forward, but he is just that little more predictable. Always looks a more dangerous player with Theo Walcott or Danny Welbeck next to him rather than Giroud. The two of them are trying to play very different games.
Olivier Giroud- 7/10
Got his goal, and whenever your centre forward does that he can claim to have done his job. However, some of his link up play was a little clumsy. This can be put down to rust, but Arsenal are just a little more deliberate and obvious with him leading the line. Did very well to track back and win a tackle in his own half to set up the winner though.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain- 6/10
Came on to provide some added pace and width, but never quite got the opportunity to run at his man.
Mohamed Elneny- 8/10
Like Giroud at Sunderland, an inspired substitution from Wenger. His first contribution was a well weighted ball over the top to set Ozil free for the winning goal.
Alex Iwobi- N/A
Not on for long enough to warrant a mark.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Christine Sanjaya
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