Football Features

“A nuisance all game, non-stop” — Chelsea 2-4 Arsenal player ratings

By Ben Green

“A nuisance all game, non-stop” — Chelsea 2-4 Arsenal player ratings

Published: 22:22, 20 April 2022

A frantic, pulsating all-London affair at the Bridge finished 4-2 to Arsenal against Chelsea as Mikel Arteta’s men boosted their top-four hopes in the Premier League.

It was a match that oscillated between utter madness and pure delight as the visiting side return back across the M25 with all three points, thanks to an unlikely Eddie Nketiah brace, an Emile Smith Rowe worldie and a late penalty from Bukayo Saka, cancelling out Timo Werner and Cesar Azpilicueta’s first-half efforts.

So, as the dust settles in west London, here’s how the players rated:

Chelsea

Edouard Mendy — 4 — Once an immovable force, Mendy looked nervous every time the ball found his feet. In fairness, he wasn’t really at any major fault for the four goals, but he looked shaky nonetheless.

Reece James — 4 — A quiet game from Chelsea’s typically attack-minded and influential full-back. Shuffling across the backline certainly didn’t help, but his positioning just wasn’t quite there as Arsenal picked the lock with liquid ease.

Cesar Azpilicueta — 4 — Took his goal superbly, a supreme poacher’s finish. But defensively susceptible, particularly for Arsenal’s third and fourth as his wayward pass was intercepted by Tavares, who bombed forward and teed up (albeit fortuitously) Nketiah. The penalty decision was just an absolute brainfart moment from the experienced Spaniard. A 4 for the goal alone.

Malang Sarr — 2 — Really struggled to get to grips with the pace of the game. Looked overwhelmed when Arsenal pressed forward to close him down and all at sea when they charged up the pitch. His booking summed it up as he was caught out of possession then brought down Saka after some neat footwork from the England forward.

Andreas Christensen — 2 — Unforgivable blunder to gift Arsenal their opening goal. For a player renowned for his ball-playing qualities, Christensen really didn’t cover himself in glory when he sold Mendy short, allowing Nketiah to maraud forward and break the deadlock.

Marcos Alonso — 3 — Lively going forward. Questionable on the back foot. Saka slipped past him on almost every occasion, a real chastening experience from a player who has been there and done it, but tonight, he had a very difficult game.

N’Golo Kante — 3 — A shadow of the player who, this time last year was running rings around Real Madrid’s majestic midfield. Every time Kante received the ball Arsenal swarmed him like a pack of bloodthirsty hounds, and the Frenchman simply wilted under the pressure. A very atypical showing from a player who has so often epitomised composure.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek — 5 — RLC was so influential for both of Chelsea’s goals, intercepting, pressurising, marauding forward. It looked to be his game at one point. But that presence soon wavered and he just couldn’t make things click in the middle of the park. A supposed double-pivot with Kante may be one we never see again.

Mason Mount — 6 — Superb delivery for Azpilicueta’s goal, Mount tried to make things happen and was Chelsea’s greatest source of inspiration in the final third bar Werner. But as Arsenal got the third and then condensed the space, Mount’s attacking verve petered out slightly.

Romelu Lukaku — 2 — First time starting a game since that infamous ‘seven-touch match’ against Crystal Palace… and you can see why. Just did not have a sniff, completely anonymous once again.

Timo Werner — 7 — The German’s purple patch continues. Arguably Chelsea’s MOTM, Werner ran Arsenal’s backline ragged at times, took his goal well. He had a moment in the first half where he won the ball back, charged forward, skipped past one or two Arsenal players and provoked a huge roar from the Stamford Bridge terraces. Werner on the up.

Chelsea Substitutes:

Thiago Silva (for Christensen 45′) — 5 — A few strong challenges that justified his inclusion, and a few hairy moments as well.

Kai Havertz (for Lukaku 60′) — 5 — Didn’t quite do enough to get Chelsea back into the game, though at that point, with the Gunners sitting deep, it was always going to be a tall order.

Hakim Ziyech (for Alonso 81′) — 5 — Much like Havertz, it seemed too little too late by the time he entered the fray with Arsenal well organised at the time.


How the Premier League top four odds look now:

  • To finish in the Premier League top four: Chelsea 1/66 | Tottenham 8/11 | Arsenal 11/10 | Man Utd 14/1 | West Ham 150/1

Follow this link for more William Hill football betting markets. Odds correct at time of publication. You must be over 18 to gamble. For more information, visit Be Gamble Aware.


Arsenal

Aaron Ramsdale — 4 — Saved by Gabriel after a whipped Mount corner escaped his flailing arm, and things didn’t get much better from there as he looked completely glued to the spot when Werner’s deflected strike nestled into the back on the net, almost in slow motion as he eventually mustered the strength to produce a dive.

Ben White — 4 — Exceptionally weak for Chelsea’s second as he fell to the ground expecting Jonathan Moss to blow up for a foul, but that was never going to happen. Overall was a difficult role expected of White, first playing as a sort of quasi-right centre-back before shifting out as a more traditional No. 2, and much of Chelsea’s joy came down his side.

Gabriel Magalhaes — 6 — Shoddy defending from both clubs, but Gabriel just sneaks a half-decent score for that goal-line clearance in the opening exchanges of the first half. Mount’s in-swinger eluded Ramsdale, but Gabriel anticipated the danger superbly to head clear. Instinctive defending from the Brazilian.

Rob Holding — 5 — Poor first half. Solid second half. Holding strikes bang in the middle for that. He looked lost in the opening 45 minutes, but really put his body on the line as Chelsea threw the kitchen sink at Arsenal late on. A tale of two halves.

Nuno Tavares — 5 — Very poor to let Azpilicueta evade his presence. Catatonic defending against a player not renowned for his pace or penalty-box presence. That being said, going forward Tavares made a tangible impression on this match as he intercepted Azpilicueta pass and set up Nketiah (albeit with a few fortunate deflections).

Granit Xhaka — 7 — Such a strange game from Xhaka. One moment he’s walking through treacle and turning his back on Werner’s strike, the next he’s going peak Lionel Messi on the edge of his own box and inspiring a well-wrought goal. In the second half, though, he was heroic.

Mohamed Elneny — 7 — Composure personified. Elneny done exactly what he was asked to do. Amid the chaos and frantic nature of the match, the Egyptian brought an element of tranquility, putting his body on the line when out of possession and eating up grass like a man training for a marathon.

Martin Odegaard — 7 — Neat and nimble on the ball. The fleet-footed Norwegian was Arsenal’s release valve, picking the ball up ‘in the hole’ and looking to thread passes, one of which was well-weighted in the extreme as ESR tucked home.

Emile Smith Rowe — 8 — A scintillating showing from Smith Rowe who seemed to thrive in congested spaces with twinkle-toed jinks and pirouettes. But beyond the panache he demonstrated with the ball at his feet, it was his goal that really stole the show, a first-time, laser-guided finish past Mendy, who was rooted to the spot. “An absolute beauty”, as described by Gary Lineker on Twitter.

Bukayo Saka — 8 — Had Alonso on toast for much of the contest, the fledgling winger tore down the line and offered an escape hatch for the Gunners when under pressure. That balletic gait was inspirational for Arteta’s men when in full flow, and menacing in the box as he was tugged down to seal Arsenal a late penalty, which he duly dispatched.

Eddie Nketiah — 9 — Vindicated his starting berth. Against a patched-together Chelsea back-three, the former academy graduate put them under immense pressure with his constant harrying, forcing Christensen into a mistake and netting superbly. He made a nuisance of himself after the restart as well and worked wonders to sneak the ball past Mendy for his brace. Superb effort from a striker many were expecting to have little to no impact on this match. “A nuisance all game, non-stop,” Jamie Redknapp told Sky Sports in the aftermath. And that pretty much summed him up.

Arsenal Substitutes:

Gabriel Martinelli (for Nketiah 70′) — 6 — Lively upon his introduction. A well-used sub by Arteta.

Cedric Soares (for Smith Rowe 75′) — 5 — Another well-utilised sub from the Arsenal boss as Cedric caused problems and reinvigorated the touchline.

Alexandre Lacazette (for Saka 90′) — N/A — A run-the-clock-down sub in the dying embers.

 

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