Football Features

“The best player on the pitch, everything he did had a purpose” – Player ratings as Arsenal beat Chelsea to keep top four race alive

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:43, 12 May 2021

In a stoic night of football, Arsenal won 0-1 against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to keep their Europa League hopes alive.

The Gunners completed a league double over the Blues for the first time since the Invincibles season in 2003/04, a result Thomas Tuchel said was “completely our own fault,” and that there was “something in particular” that he got wrong with his line-up.

Here’s how the players rated at Stamford Bridge:


Kepa Arrizabalaga – 7 – An absolutely stunning save to prevent Jorginho scoring an own goal unfortunately led to Arsenal’s opener. Could have done nothing about the goal and had almost literally nothing else to do.

Cesar Azpilicueta – 6 – A solid display.

Thiago Silva – 6 – Really poor covering defending for Arsenal’s opener, marking space instead of tracking Smith Rowe. Played well besides with a team-high 4 clearances, rebuffing Arsenal’s sporadic attacks.

Kurt Zouma – 7 – An impassable object. Hit the bar late on.

Reece James – 6 – Played in some tasty crosses as he patrolled the right flank.

Billy Gilmour – 5 – Moved the ball around nicely. Subbed off at half-time.

Jorginho – 3 – Staggeringly negligent backpass led to Chelsea’s opener. Played decently besides that but it was such a colossal and needless error that it’s barely believable. Also had the ball ricochet off his shins in the final seconds.

Ben Chilwell – 5 – Not really as involved as he could have been as an outlet.

Mason Mount – 7 – One of Chelsea’s best as always. A relentless presence in attack, driving the Blues forward in search of an equaliser. Created a game-high 4 chances.

Christian Pulisic – 7 – Very bright with his movement.

Kai Havertz – 5 – Did superbly well to steal the ball from Pablo Mari but then missed the easy 1-v-1. Still a work in progress for Chelsea.


Callum Hudson-Odoi (for Gilmour 46′) – 5 – Added a bit of cut-and-thrust but couldn’t really create anything.

Olivier Giroud (for Havertz 64′) – 5 – Added a bit of physical presence up-front and was unlucky to hit the bar with a late effort.

Hakim Ziyech (for Azpilicueta 78′) – 5 – Wasn’t able to unleash his talents.


Bernd Leno – 7 – Made some big saves as kept a priceless clean sheet.

Rob Holding – 7 – Colossal block to stop a Chelsea equaliser. Really impressive as Arsenal went into a rearguard.

Pablo Mari – 7 – Sloppily robbed by Havertz for a chance in the first-half. Lucky to get away with that but was decent otherwise.

Gabriel – 8 – A titan in defence. A mammoth 10 clearances plus 2 blocks as he was yet again the titan, leading the Gunners rearguard. For a defender as young as he is that is so impressive.

Bukayo Saka – 4 – Really poor. He’s not a right wing-back, though, so hard to blame him.

Mohamed Elneny – 7 – Hardworking display in the middle.

Thomas Partey – 8 – We got a little glimpse at the quality Thomas Partey possesses tonight. Game highes for tackles (5), interceptions (3) and possession gained (9). He’s such a special talent.

Kieran Tierney – 7 – Worked hard and was huge defensively but then also produced a couple of moments of great quality.

Martin Odegaard – 5 – A bit bland.

Emile Smith Rowe – 8 – Scuffed the ball into the back of the net to open the scoring. Kept on pushing forward besides that, carrying Arsenal on his back at times as a one-man attack, while also pitching in defensively. Speaking on Sky Sports after the game, Jamie Redknapp thought Smith Rowe was “the best player on the pitch, everything he did had a purpose,” while Ashley Cole added: “for a young boy he’s always willing to get on the ball, take the game by the scruff of the neck.” Their praise was entirely justified as the young Arsenal lad put in the latest in a long line of impressive displays.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameuang – 6 – Did well to close the rebound and find Smith Rowe for the opener. But that was all he really did in a game where he was isolated by Arsenal’s system. Sulked when subbed off.


Hector Bellerin (for Saka 66′) – 5 – Didn’t get into the game.

Alexandre Lacazette (for Aubameyang 79′) – 5 – Came on late, sent Thomas Partey through late on.

Callum Chambers (for Bellerin 88′) – n/a – Came on late.