An overview on Arsenal’s Scotland preseason tour- player ratings for both games
Two goals were scored. Three conceded. Simply not good enough. In two games where a win should’ve easily been the outcome in both, missed chances were left to rue from players who we know have the quality to convert any other time. Numerous defensive errors lead to goals that really could have been at the other end minutes before, but going into Inter Milan in the USA next week, I will rate every player’s performances and the team as a whole in this report.
Arthur Okonkwo- 5
The 19-year-old was given his first chance in the net, due to the absence of Bernd Leno who is on holiday after being included in the Germany squad for the Euros. Arthur made a vital mistake at 21 minutes in the Hibernian match, misjudging a back pass that allowed Martin Boyle to get on the end of it and score in an empty goal. There was a tiny bit of improvement in the Rangers game, but bad marking from the defence during set-pieces meant that Okonkwo conceded an easy goal off a header from inside the 18-yard box.
Karl Jakob Hein- 6
Despite conceding, the Estonian man made a few great saves to deny even more embarrassment in both games. However, there were still negatives and Karl did concede similarly to Arthur, struggling to deny headers from set-pieces.
Sead Kolasinac- 5
Having returned from Schalke after being sent back on loan for the rest of the 2020/21 season, Sead appeared in the Hibernian match and despite a few attacking runs, was rather quiet. The main problem in the match was missed chances, and the Bosnian wasn’t that involved while the defensive errors were down to the defence as a collective, hence the low rating.
Pablo Mari- 6
Pablo was the only centre-back to start both matches and could be the possible candidate to take the starting spot although rumours of Ben White joining Arsenal could shut down this idea. The main strength was the distribution of the Spaniard, who made a few key passes during both matches to set the strikers off on goal. The marking inside the box was poor, which led to two goals during the Rangers game which could’ve easily been prevented, but overall for a preseason match, Mari was better than the rest.
Harry Clarke- 6
There isn’t much to say about Harry as he didn’t have much involvement in the goals for Hibernian. For his first game in the tour after promotion to the first-team squad, he played alright, and showed good signs of what there was in the academy if needed to be called upon.
Rob Holding- 5
I just can’t give Rob a 6 because the defensive display in the 2-2 draw was still very poor. Rob played alright but the defence as a collective is at fault for the errors made in the two goals off set pieces. Hence why Rob is at a 5.
Cedric Soares- 4
Cedric played in both two games, but the reason for the poor score lies purely on the first goal for Hibernian and the mistake that put Arthur Okonkwo to blame, although the backpass was very lacklustre. On the attacking end, there wasn’t much creativity and the defending wasn’t up to the high standards that Arsenal should have so a 4 is a justified result. In the Rangers match, there was slightly more improvement, but to still be conceding two, especially off set pieces doesn’t warrant a higher rating.
Hector Bellerin- 6
Hector came on in both games as a substitute, amid interest from Inter Milan and other clubs who are pursuing a move for him this summer. In the Hibernian match, Alexandre Lacazette played the ball to the full-back on the right-hand side, whose cross at the byline was neatly finished by Emile Smith-Rowe. However, it wasn’t the best of sub appearances in the Rangers game as Hector lost track of Cedric Itten in the box who had a free header to slide past Karl Jakob Hein. Despite saying that, there were only three goals for the Gunners in the tour so an assist is a positive for such a limited amount of minutes played.
Calum Chambers- 5
Calum came in as a substitute in the Rangers game and can play right-back and central defensive position which is useful when the game is end to end. However, the tactics Arteta had employed meant that by the time he had come on the game had died down a bit so Chambers wasn’t that used to the slow tempo.
Kieran Tierney- 6
Kieran came on during the Rangers match for some game time in his home country, after his involvement in the Euros with Scotland. As always, his attacking runs were very good providing some good opportunities but was left to blame for the second goal as Tierney had to switch men after Hector lost Itten, and was too late before Itten and headed past Karl Jakob Hein. Overall, Tierney was pretty good, but the defensive error could’ve easily denied the win if Arsenal had put some of the chances away.
Nuno Tavares- 9
The recent signing made his debut against Rangers and in twenty minutes already had one goal under his belt. His attacking runs as described in my previous article about Tavares, proved crucial as he latched on to a loose ball, turned in on the full-back sending him the opposite direction and slotted calmly into the bottom corner, something even Aubameyang couldn’t do minutes earlier. It is a dream start for Tavares and his Arsenal career and deserves a 9 rating.
Omar Rekik- 6
The final defender who appeared in the tour was Omar Rekik, who was promoted to a professional contract in January after signing for the U23s from Hertha Berlin in Germany. The Dutchman stood his ground in the few minutes he played, and his versatility meant that he was going forward in the attacking phases to support the tired midfield, while also defending just as well in the match against Hibernian.
You should never judge a player by their weight during the preseason, but Willian’s attitude to playing for Arsenal is generally poor. The performance was poor as well, whether he was starting against Hibernian or coming on against Rangers, there wasn’t anything to talk about and was just average at best.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles- 6
Ainsley featured in both matches after returning from the relegated West Brom who had signed him on loan in an attempt to stay up in the Premier League. Maitland-Niles returned straight back into the centre-midfield spot against Hibs, partnered with Elneny. Although the team performance was poor, the two central midfield spots were key to providing opportunities for the attackers.
Mohamed Elneny- 5
Mohamed Elneny started both games, against Hibs in the central role and the Gers in a more defensive role. In both games, he had different midfield partners. The only fault that Elneny made was for the second Hibernian goal, where the Egyptian was easily and unusually out strengthed by Paul Hanlon who headed into the box for a tap in from Daniel MacKay. However, there were still promising signs from Elneny who is still consistently battling for the midfield spot, and now with rumours that Granit Xhaka could be off to AS Roma, it may be even closer than he thinks.
Joe Willock- 6
Joe came on at the Ibrox for the first time in red and white since he had gone on loan and scored 7 in 7 for Newcastle in the Premier League. Although there was no goal to add to his tally, Joe pulled a few strings in the tired midfield and managed to rejuvenate the energy to get back the equaliser in the 2-2 draw. That’s why he’s at a 6.
Reiss Nelson- 6
Reiss hasn’t featured much at all since being promoted to the first team but remains a promising talent that is overlooked. The only flaw that could be noted is his strength, where he gets dispossessed easily by the full-backs. In saying that, Reiss played very well and usually does when called upon, and when Nicolas Pepe is out for any reason, Nelson should be called upon after some good displays against the two Scottish sides.
Thomas Partey- 7
There is only one word to describe the Ghanaian midfielder’s performance. Dominant. Mainly against Rangers, Thomas was brilliant in the central defensive position and retained possession countless times. As a substitute in the Hibs match, it was already too late to try to make a difference but nevertheless, Partey was very impressive and hopefully foreshadows his performances in the league and cups this season.
Omari Hutchinson- 7
Omari is one of the most talked-about prospects of the Hale End academy in the last few years. Born in 2003, Omari is only 17 years old and already slotting in in the wing position and CAM if needed in the match against Hibernian. Despite only playing a limited amount, Hutchinson was good technically with one of the only flaws being his awareness on the ball which can be improved easily while training with the first team.
Tom Smith- N/A
Academy prospect. No appearance but named on teamsheet for subs against Rangers.
Jack Henry-Francis- 8
This is probably the first time most people have heard of Jack, who is a 17-year-old defensive midfielder who has been playing consistently well in the U23 side and was finally deserved promotion to the first XI. Although the highlight for him against Hibs was that his shirt was three sizes too big, his technical ability is similar to Omari but more defensively is just another prime example to showcase how talented the academy group are.
Emile Smith-Rowe- 9
Emile was one of the key players in the match against Hibs despite coming on as a second-half substitute. He was also superb against Rangers even though the outcome of both games didn’t entirely suggest so. Against Hibernian, Emile scored the only goal for Arsenal and created multiple opportunities against Rangers as well in the CAM spot, which seems to be the strongest position that he has played in so far. If this is how his preseason is going, we can hope that Arteta plays him in the domestic games.
Nicolas Pepe- 5
As one of the most important players on the tour who had impressed many people towards the end of the last season, it looked like the Pepe that appeared in the matches in Scotland was the one that lacked confidence at the start of the season. A missed penalty against Hibernian that could’ve completely changed the result around and numerous missed chances against Rangers that Arsenal should be relying on Nico to bury. It was disappointing but hopefully, it is not a sign of things to come.
Eddie Nketiah- 7
Some embarrassing missed chances against Hibs including an early one-on-one that was put on a plate for Eddie to score looked like it was over before it even had started. But Nketiah kept going and was rewarded with ten minutes to go against Rangers when he took the ball from the defender and slotted past the keeper to make it 2-2. With hard work comes reward, and this was an example of it which is why when mistakes are made, Eddie came back better and got the goal that was much-needed for the draw.
Folarin Balogun- 6
Another talked-about prospect who many fans wanted to see start, Folarin came on as a sub against Hibs and finally started at the Ibrox. Although there wasn’t a goal to talk about, there were good ideas implemented and more energy than more experienced players like Lacazette and Aubameyang throughout the match.
Alexandre Lacazette- 7
Alexandre Lacazette is still capable of pulling off good performances. Against Hibs, coming on as a substitute when 2-0 down is always tough and there wasn’t much that could be changed but he still played to his strengths (quite literally) winning a penalty that went on to be missed. He was also involved in the goal that ESR scored to make it 2-1. Against the Gers, he didn’t play as well but was still consistent enough to deserve a 7.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- 4
The final player and by far the most shocking rating- because almost everything went wrong for him. So many chances that could’ve propelled Arsenal to a three or four goal lead were blazed over the bar, wide or mishit. The only positive that Auba displayed was his distribution, sending Balogun and Nketiah in clear on goal in both games. An inconsistent player in the first games of the preseason, we can only pray for better for the next few games so we can start the season in a winning fashion.
So that’s it! Thanks for reading my player ratings of every player involved in the Scotland preseason tour as I highly appreciate it.
Please let me know on Twitter at @AaronJaffe11 if there are any changes you would make to the ratings, or if any players I didn’t do any justice.
And I’ll see you next time with the player ratings of the USA tour.