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Saka stars but substitutes struggle in Aston Villa vs Arsenal player ratings


Mikel Arteta and Arsenal strengthened their grip on 4th place with a comfortable 1-0 win over Aston Villa at a sun-bathed Villa Park.

Arsenal dominated the first half, but headed into the interval with just the one-goal advantage thanks to Bukayo Saka, whose strike after 30 minutes flew through a series of bodies and past Martinez from outside the area.

It ultimately proved decisive however, as Arsenal controlled the game for much of the second half but couldn't find a second goal, before weathering a late storm from the Villians on their way to picking up a massive three points in their hunt for a top 4 spot come the end of the season.

Player ratings

Emiliano Martinez - 6

One brilliant reaction stop from a deflected cross in the first half. Could perhaps have done more with the goal but saw the shot late. Was tidy otherwise.

Matty Cash - 5

Was lucky to escape a yellow card for a series of fouls, but did a good job of keeping a lid on Emile Smith Rowe down the Arsenal left. Couldn't get involved in the final third.

Ezri Konsa - 6

A solid but unspectacular performance from Konsa. Didn't do too much wrong but was relieved to see Martinez keep out a cross that took a deflection off him early in the first half.

Tyrone Mings - 5

Was sloppy in possession and it was this that saw him booked in the first half for a follow through on Saka. Struggled to cope with the Gunners in the first half.

Ashley Young - 4

Was run ragged by Bukayo Saka in the first half. Many of Arsenal's brightest attacks came down the right-hand side, and the veteran was often left isolated against Saka and Odegaard. He won't be the last to suffer this indignity, however.

Douglas Luiz - 5

The man linked with a move to Arsenal did little to promote his credentials to Arteta as he lost the midfield battle to Partey and Xhaka. Will certainly have better games.

Jacob Ramsey - 4

A steep learning curve for Ramsey lies in wait. Was punished for some sloppy touches in the first half, and couldn't operate with his usual driving runs through midfield.

John McGinn - 4 

Had Aston Villa's first shot on the hour mark. Aside from that, was largely anonymous in attack, but worked hard in defence.

Philippe Coutinho - 4

Was given a massive build up and was brought to the club for these sorts of occasions. Could not get into the game whatsoever, however.

Emiliano Buendia - 4

Made an important defensive contribution to stop Saka from doubling Arsenal's lead early in the second half. In attack, however, the Argentine was practically non-existent. Was hooked just after the hour mark.

Ollie Watkins - 5

Was quiet for much of the game and couldn't find an effective way to link up with either Coutinho or Buendia. Improved in the second half, and saw a deflected shot cannon back off the post, but couldn't do enough.

Subs:

Bertrand Traore- 4

Offered very little after coming on, and headed a difficult chance wide from a late corner.

Leon Bailey- 5

Offered Cedric a new challenge in the second half, and provided a pair of tantalising crosses, but no one was on hand to take advantage.

Danny Ings - N/A

Was not on the pitch long enough.

Arsenal

Bernd Leno - 7

Made a couple of important claims to alleviate pressure on his back 4. However, his distribution remains as erratic as ever and he regularly only found Aston Villa players with his passes, putting his side back under pressure.

Cedric Soares - 8

In Tomiyasu's absence, Cedric has been excellent and he continued in that vein of form at Villa Park. A couple of crucial blocks kept Arsenal's clean sheet intact.

Ben White - 7

Fresh from his call up to the England side, White looked fully in control as he became Arsenal's main distributor in Ramsdale's absence. Will head into the international break full of confidence.

Gabriel - 6

Untested for the most part but one header over his own crossbar prevented an almost certain tap in at the back post.

Kieran Tierney - 6

Was erratic with his crossing but defended much better than in recent weeks as he kept Buendia and then Traore quiet.

Thomas Partey - 8

Partey's ability under pressure is the main reason that Arsenal have been able to keep their impressive run going since Christmas. Playing alone in central midfield now that Xhaka operates further forwards, he didn't really put a foot wrong for the Gunners at Villa Park.

Granit Xhaka - 7

Continues to adjust to his new role as a more advanced midfielder, and while there are certainly players that could do the job better around the world, he is making a fine fist of it.

Bukayo Saka - 9

Ran the Aston Villa defence ragged and has developed a seemingly telepathic link with Martin Odegaard on the right side of Arsenal's attack. Now adding goals to his game and surely staking his claim as one of the best forwards in the league.

Martin Odegaard - 7

Ran the show once again in the attacking third and was unlucky not to come away with something to show for it.

Emile Smith Rowe - 7

Struggled to reach his usual giddy heights on his return to the side, but offered plenty of running and endeavour both on and off the ball.

Alexandre Lacazette - 5

He and Smith Rowe got in each other's way when it looked easier to score than miss midway through the first half. Continues to work hard for the side but is the clear weak link in Arsenal's front 4, and missed a glorious opportunity to slip in Odegaard twenty minutes from time that could have settled the result.

Subs:

Nicolas Pepe - 3

His air kick in stoppage time put his side under unnecessary pressure, and gave away a free kick in the dying seconds that forced a good save from Leno.

Eddie Nketiah- 4

Arsenal's lack of quality replacements were telling as Nketiah continued to offer the impression that he isn't at the required level for Arsenal. Will surely be leaving in the summer.

Rob Holding- N/A

Came on late to see out the 1-0 win.


Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.



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