Arsenal 2, Tottenham 0: Post-Match Thoughts and Player Ratings
Arsene Wenger had promised to treat the game like a Premier League fixture, and the lineup he fielded verified he was true to his words. Like Arsenal, Tim Sherwood and his Tottenham side had their own injury problems to contend with, but the gaffer opted for the same squad that was victorious against Manchester United at Old Trafford with the only exception being Nabil Bentaleb coming in for Etienne Capoue.
Emmanuel Adebayor is a player in a rich vein of goalscoring form, and he was singled out as one of the players to watch out for. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to that billing in the course of the game.
It was a tightly contested first half with Christian Eriksen missing a clear-cut chance early on, and there were some close shaves from Roberto Soldado, but Santi Cazorla blasted in the first goal after some good work from Serge Gnabry. An error from Danny Rose allowed Tomas Rosicky to score what proved to be the match-clincher midway into the second half.
Wenger showered praise on Gnabry's overall performance in his post-match conference, via Arsenal.com, and shared some injury updates on Theo Walcott and other players who have injury problems as well.
Listed below are the player ratings for the triumphant heroes in the North London Derby.
Lukasz Fabianski: For a player who has been extremely match-rusty, the Pole did pretty well. His save from a Christian Eriksen shot was his major highlight of the night, and he also showed good awareness to save Moussa Dembele's long-range effort. 7/10
Bacary Sagna: The French fullback worked tirelessly down the right and kept Eriksen at bay for lengthy periods. Even when Sherwood ludicrously chose to replace Roberto Soldado with Nacer Chadli, thereby drafting Eriksen to the middle, Sagna dealt with the threat the Belgian posed. 7/10
Nacho Monreal: Like Fabianski, games have been few and far between for the Spanish fullback which is due to the fact that Kieran Gibbs has been in a good run of form. However, a calf injury to the left-back paved the way for Monreal to stake a claim for his place in the starting XI. 7/10
Laurent Koscielny: Kos had a slow start to the game with some sloppy play and erratic passing, but as the game progressed, he improved drastically, locked Adebayor in a cage and probably swallowed the keys. His movement and anticipation were sublime. 8/10
Thomas Vermaelen: The captain couldn't play against Cardiff due to illness, but he led his team out and put up a mature defensive performance in the first half before he was replaced at half-time due to a knock he received on his knee. He was also booked for a rather clumsy challenge. 7/10
Per Mertesacker: The BFG replaced Vermaelen at half-time and worked in tandem with Koscielny to do what they do best—keeping clean sheets. Mertesacker made a lot of clearances in the game and anticipated the ball superbly as well. 7/10
Mikel Arteta: The talismanic midfielder steadied the ship in the middle of the park and stamped his authority on the game. He dictated the tempo of the game and was always available for a pass. 7/10
Jack Wilshere: Arsenal's midfield maestro was at his combative best, and he was very industrious on the field of play. His fiery side was on display when he clashed with Dembele, but the referee took absolute charge of that situation. It's good seeing him play in his natural position, but he was replaced by Mathieu Flamini with 20 minutes left to spare. 7/10
Tomas Rosicky: The evergreen Czech midfield lynchpin was ubiquitous on the pitch, and his work rate was evident for all to see as he robbed Danny Rose off the ball before running from the center circle to score a goal any striker would have been proud of. To think he's actually 33. Wow! 8/10
Mathieu Flamini: The French anchor man was summoned into the manager wanted a more rigid central midfield pairing alongside Arteta to provide protection to the back line. But with Arteta probably suffering from a strain, Flamini became Arsenal's primary holding midfielder, and he didn't place a foot wrong all game long. 7/10
Mesut Ozil: The German magician arrived on the scene with 15 minutes to spare, and he clearly showed some signs of rustiness. I believe he'd be in perfect shape for the game against Aston Villa. 6/10
Santi Cazorla: This season, Santi Cazorla hasn't yet reached the level he was in the last campaign, but that opening strike will have done some wonders to his confidence. The acquisition of Ozil has seen him move to the left on a permanent basis, but he still drifts infield to make an influence on the game. 8/10
Serge Gnabry: This lad is a phenom. His performance against Tottenham was a top-drawer, and he even managed to add an assist to his name. Gnabry's future is so bright, the fans can't wait to see him unravel that potential. Wenger would have to ensure he keeps his feet on the ground. 9/10
Theo Walcott: With Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner out injured, and coupled with the fact Lukas Podolski isn't 100 percent, Walcott was asked to do an ominous task of being the center forward for the night. While he spearheaded Arsenal's attack, his linkup play wasn't close to what Giroud showcases on the pitch, but you can't deny his effort, zeal and determination to take one for the team.
His usually reliable finishing was rather erratic, though, but the 2-0 trolling when he was stretched off was iconic. 7/10
It was a great game of football with lots of end-to-end stuff, but Arsenal turned on the style with two well-taken goals that sent their fierce rivals out of the competition.
The FA Cup remains a very realistic chance for the Gunners to win a trophy and, with qualification, move on to the next round as well as to a favorable draw, they would surge further to a place in Wembley.
Do you agree with these ratings? Feel free to share yours with your comments.
This article is also featured in Toni Okike's Arsenal blog, Gooner Daily.
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