Aston Villa vs. Arsenal: Rating the Gunners Players
It wasn't a classic Arsenal performance by any stretch of the imagination, but with defensive injuries mounting for Arsene Wenger's side, a victory over a performance is what was required.
Before writing this article, I didn't really have a stand-out Arsenal player in mind, but after assigning the ratings which I feel were accurate, only one player managed a 9/10 and takes my plaudits.
Let me know your thoughts on the ratings, and Merry Christmas.
Wojciech Szczesny 8/10
An early save from Agbonlahor meant Szczesny was alert to the Aston Villa threat from the word go, and he looked solid all night.
It was his defensive line that let him down for the goal, but all in all, a steady performance.
Thomas Vermaelen 6/10
Left back is certainly not Thomas Vermaelen's best position, but it was his terrible defensive header that gifted Marc Albrighton his goal.
Vermaelan attempted to nod the ball across to his team mate Per Mertesacker, but got nowhere near enough power in it, and the ball fell kindly to Albrighton to finish between Szczesny's legs.
He looked rather uncomfortable all night and will be itching to return to centre half when a full back becomes fit.
Per Mertesacker 6/10
For me, the jury is still out on Per Mertesacker.
The big German seems too cumbersome for the Barclays Premier League, and tonight, he failed to close down Marc Albrightons shot following Thomas Vermaelan's mistake.
Always an attacking threat from set pieces, Mertesacker didn't show much promise in any other area and was shown a yellow card for a poor trip on a rampaging Charles N'Zogbia.
Laurent Koscielny 7/10
Koscielny was certainly the more sturdy centre back between himself and Mertesacker, and probably Arsenal's best defensive player on the night.
Francis Coquelin 5/10
Arsene Wenger opted for Francis Coquelin over Sebastien Squillaci, which is a little surprising given Arsenal's defensive problems.
Charles N'Zogbia gave Coquelin the run around all night, and the only time he managed to halt the wingers progress was by fouling him. A yellow card ensued.
Earlier in the game, Coquelin had failed to mark Agbonlahor, whose header forced a great save from Szczesny.
Surprisingly, Coquelin was not subbed when Villa increased the pressure.
Much improvement required.
Gervinho has been an excellent provider for Robin Van Persie since he signed, but he can also be incredibly frustrating.
His pace is always a threat throughout the match, but he fluffed his lines on a couple of occasions when he should have done better with his final ball.
A lively first-half performance that tailed off in the second.
He was replaced by Andrei Arshavin late in the second half, who won the corner that Benayoun scored from.
Arshavin rating 5/10. Too many times has Arshavin failed to spark Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta 7/10
A relatively quiet night for Mikel Arteta.
He kept the ball and played simple passes most of the evening without much difficulty.
Arteta has a lot more ability in him than what he displayed tonight, and barring a nice throughball for Walcott, he didn't use much of it, which was disappointing.
If he was up against a stronger midfield, he may have struggled tonight.
Aaron Ramsey 7/10
Ramsey has filled in relatively well during Jack Wilshere's injury layoff, but tonight, his forward play left a lot to be desired.
Ramsey seems to struggle with the simple tasks on occasion, and tonight, it was a throughball to Gervinho and a shot from the edge of the box.
Defensively, he wasn't bad and made an excellent block on a goalbound Gabriel Agbonlahor shot.
Ramsey was replaced by match winner Yossi Benayoun, who scored a header in the 87th minute to claim all three points for the London club.
Benayoun rating 9/10. What more could you ask of a late substitute other than to score the winner?
Emmanuel Frimpong 6/10
A lot has been made of Frimpong's ability, but in reality, he probably wouldn't have played tonight if Alex Song hadn't been suspended.
A bit of a disappointing evening overall, and he was replaced by Thomas Rosicky after 65 minutes when Villa really started to force the game.
Rosicky rating 7/10. He seemed a lot more assured than Frimpong
Theo Walcott 8/10
Walcott started lively for Arsenal and was involved a lot during the opening 20 minutes.
Walcott's shirt was tugged by Ciaran Clark in the 16th minute, which provided Robin Van Persie with a simple penalty, and Walcott was involved again a few minutes later as he tried to lob Brad Guzan from a through ball.
He should have been on the scoresheet tonight, but showed a nice turn which brought the penalty.
A constant threat and was one of Arsenal's better performers.
Van Persie 7.5/10
People are running out of superlatives to describe Robin Van Persie's season so far but whilst he didn't play badly tonight, he also wasn't at his best.
Van Persie slammed home a penalty after Walcott was pulled back in the box in the 16th minute, and then he turned provider in the 87th when his corner found the head of fresh substitute Yossi Benayoun for the winner.
He did the important things well.
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