Arsenal v Chelsea player ratings
Szcz: Chelsea’s regressive tactics ensured that he didn’t have his hands full, but he responded well when called upon. He came out well to collect a couple of through balls which had evaded our defensive line, snuffing out their attacks without any dramas. He caught and punched well from their set pieces and distributed competently. The saves he was required to make were comfortable and he collected his third clean sheet in four games, which is most admirable. 7/10.
Sagna: After a poor showing against Wigan I thought Sagna was back to his normal self against Chelsea. Aside from one wayward header I can’t think of any glaring errors he made. He wasn’t overly effective on the offensive end but did a good job defensively and kept Kalou quiet, as you’d expect. 6/10.
Koscielny: It was a very good outing for the Frenchman as he displayed just why he has become such an important name on our team sheet. He was domineering from the back and had Torres in his pocket all afternoon. He was unfortunate not to score from a decent free kick from Van Persie, the angle at which the ball came to him preventing Koscielny from keeping an eye on where the goal was, causing him to hit the bar. Chelsea had a huge chance towards the end of the game when the ball fell to Sturridge just a few yards out, but Laurent flew in with a Karate type kung fu kick, studding the ball off for a corner. If he had mistimed the tackle by a femtosecond it would have been a red card and penalty, but he got it spot on. 8/10.
Vermaelen: As is usual he was a unit at the back, making plenty of tackles and dictating the aerial duels. His modest height belies his spring, and I think if football hadn’t worked out for him he could well have a promising career in the BLB (Belgian League Basketball); I just don’t think he’d have the jump shot for the NBA. In fairness he was marking Torres, a centre forward who he has outscored this season, so he was never going to be breaking a sweat. 7/10.
Gibbs: I was surprised to see Gibbs starting now that Santos seems to be getting back to fitness, and the young man put in a decent shift. His positional play seems to improving as a result of his recent spate of games, and while he sometimes does get caught he possess the pace to get back and break up their attack. He was a threat going forward and looked good money to pick up an assist with his crossing. 7/10.
Song: I thought he had a good game in the middle, breaking up their play with tackles or fouls and generally did well on the ball. There were a couple of moments where he turned out of trouble well and found a pass, and apart from one incident at the end of the game where he cheaply played a loose ball up the middle rather than spread it left to an open Gibbs, I thought his decision making was fine. He played a couple of lovely chips to Van Persie, one which Persie shot straight at Cech from a tight angle and one where Persie was bundled over by Cahill. But whatever I think…”haters gon’ hate”. 7/10.
Ramsey: He contributed well defensively and put in a number of good challenges in the midfield, yet he is impressively sluggish on the ball, displaying very little pace, strength or awareness of the opposition’s players and he turned the ball over on many occasions. I refuse to scapegoat the poor kid however as you cannot fault his determination or work rate; a lot of players who are low on confidence wouldn’t show for the ball nearly as often as Ramsey, leaving their team virtually a man down. Unfortunately he slows our game down due to his love of the sideways pass, but I think more directness will come with confidence. I would be surprised if he remains Welsh captain in this run of form however. 4/10.
Rosicky: He was industrious as ever and sparked our midfield into life on a number of occasions. He unleashed a decent effort at goal in the opening minutes and helped link the midfielders and the forwards. His resurgence has been great to watch, but the one other thing I would love to see him remember is how to lash in the ball from 20 yards out. Before Wenger signed him and up until his injury you wouldn’t bet against one of his efforts flying in; now if he scores it’s a bit of a delicacy. He was subbed off around the 65 minute for Diaby but I don’t think it was a substitution based on performance, rather the need to get Diaby some much needed minutes in the wake of Arteta’s injury. 6/10. th
Oxlaide Chamberlain: He was deployed at wide left from kickoff but tended to drop into central midfield to pick the ball up as he was having very little luck down that flank. One of the most promising things about him is he really posses a decent football brain as you can see when is pressured on the ball. He very infrequently loses it, drawing the foul instead and enabling us to keep our momentum going. He wasn’t overly effective, but I’d rather see him playing than Arshavin, and as long as his attitude and work rate remain high he’ll continue to score well on my reviews. 6/10.
Walcott: Theo has an interesting ability to make rather average full backs look very very good. With Ca$hely Cole being rested ahead of Tuesday night there was a real opportunity for him to show why he warrants a new, high paying contract and a place on England’s starting team sheet come the summer, but he was really out worked by Chelsea’s young defender. While I think Alan Smith’s naming of Bertrand as man of the match was a little over the top, he did control Walcott well and he had another ineffective game. Yet that being said I think Theo is the kind of player who can turn a game on its head, and if anyone is happy to see him injured (as I’ve seen some people maintain) at this stage of the season with so much to play for and an already beleaguered squad, I would say those people are psychologically wanting. One good free kick to Van Persie aside, he had anything but a great game. 4/10.
Van Persie: Our captain is beginning to get on my nerves a little, not because he is going through a barren patch or because he enjoys seeing his football friends in their hotels but because he seems thoroughly insistent on not shooting. Against Chelsea, and in the few games before that, he would lay the ball off or try and pick an unlikely pass instead of lashing the ball towards goal as he did earlier in the season. There was one point where he dummied a fake shot past Cahill and Cech and could have slotted it home with his right foot, but he chose to repeat the dummy and check back onto his left, allowing Cech to smother the shot. He missed a golden chance to tap in from point blank range from a Walcott free kick, volleyed into Cech from a tight angle and splintered his shot well wide after beating the offside trap, losing all sense of composure. I think earlier in the season he may have scored two or three goals, but perhaps his confidence waning fractionally. 5/10.
Diaby: Unsurprisingly Diaby had the look of a player who hadn’t played in a while and I don’t think anyone was expecting too much from him. In my eyes he is the most natural replacement for Arteta in our squad and easily has the pace and strength to fill in that midfield role. Don’t forget that Diaby was starting for the French national team before he succumbed to yet another injury, so I’m still holding high hopes for him. 6/10.
Gervinho: To be honest I was surprised he wasn’t selected to start this game, and I’m beginning to wonder quite why he has been dropped to the bench for so long. He came on and added a bit of bite into our offence, creating a few chances for us late on. I think he is better at starting games than coming on as an impact sub, and in all honesty I’d rather see Chamberlain come on for him than the other way around. 6/10.
Santos: He came on in a more advanced role and helped instigate a number of attacks. To be honest he normally deploys himself as a support striker even when playing at left back, so he was more than comfortable in that advanced role. 7/10.