Poetically, the stars were aligned for Arsenal. Mesut Ozil was supposed to put on a performance mirroring his Real Madrid days against Atleti, Lacazette would return to France to put on a masterclass in the final, Wenger would face a ghost of his former past in Marseille and finish his Arsenal career with a shiny European trophy, and Simeone would go from shouting with stupid hair on the Madrid sideline to shouting with stupid hair in an obscure station in the Madrid metro. It could’ve been perfect.
But, that dream died with lacklustre performances from a majority of the team. It’s disappointing to say the least, so let’s just get onto the ratings…
David Ospina – 4.5
Made a couple of decent saves. Okay, now that the positive part is out of the way…his distribution was terrible throughout. It was vital to get forward without suffering from a mistake like in the first leg, and 13/22 passes completed from the back is completely counterintuitive to that. Also, there seemed to be little to no communication between him and his defenders.
Hector Bellerin – 4
Costa clearly noticed that Bellerin was WAY out of position and watching the ball. He made a break for it, called for the ball, and bullied Bellerin long enough to blast the ball past Ospina. It’s literally some of the worst defending I’ve seen, and I’ve watched a lot of schoolyard football. His crosses in the box weren’t all too great either. And why didn’t he shoot when he had that chance!? Ugh, moving on…
Nacho Monreal – 4.5
A little slow on the day. He got down the wing but his passing was ineffective like Bellerin’s. Only 3 out of 6 tackles successfully completed.
Shkodran Mustafi – 6
He did his absolute best to keep the defence fighting after Koscielny went off. Although a 1-0 loss isn’t what we needed, he is a big reason why we keep it so close for so long, extending our hope late into the game.
Calum Chambers – 7.5
Speaking of big reasons for keeping the game close…I can’t imagine the nerves Chambers felt coming on for Koscielny so early in such an important game, but he put in an absolute shift. He had 3 tackles and aerial duels won, 8 clearances, and an interception. He made a game-saving tackle against Griezmann to keep it close. This performance should solidify his spot next to Mustafi for the rest of the season.
Aaron Ramsey – 6
What’s an easy way to tell how hard Ramsey worked? He completed 4 tackles in the final 15 minutes. That’s a very telling stat. In other situations, maybe it’d be worth talking about his team-high 26 losses of possession contributing to the loss, but with how the game was going and our necessity for a goal, it was refreshing to see someone fight until the end.
Granit Xhaka – 7
Xhaka helped out on defence well and provided Arsenal’s only shot on goal of the game. In a team of players who would rather dink the ball around 20 times before thinking about shooting, I’ll applaud anyone who isn’t afraid to challenge the keeper, even from distance. No complaints here.
Jack Wilshere – 5
There’s a reason why he was the only (non-injured) player subbed off for Arsenal. He got out ran by Costa and simply gave up, which thankfully didn’t lead to a goal. Later (or earlier, my mind is pretty jumbled right now) he completely lost track of Griezmann, which once again, thankfully didn’t lead to a goal. Despite his two key passes, he only had 16 total passes in the final third, good enough to land him in 7th in that category for the team. As one of our “prized” attacking midfielders in a game where we HAVE to score, that’s just unacceptable.
Danny Welbeck – 6
Another hard worker on the day. He had 4 tackles and 5 clearances, but like the rest of the team, he just couldn’t break that Atleti defence.
Mesut Ozil – 5
Considering his history against Atleti while playing for Real Madrid, I can say that he played well below my expectations for him. He had a chance or two to make something happen deep in the box, but nothing came of them.
Alexandre Lacazette – 5.5
As has been customary with goalless performances from Arsenal this season, the striker was fairly anonymous. Lacazette just couldn’t buy a way into the game whatsoever. For his singular chance of the game, he took a bad touch, but the midfield should’ve supplied him with more.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 7
Despite having just 14 touches, his presence in the last stage of the game got the team very close to equalizing. The fact that he was on for such a short period, yet nearly scored a miraculous curler just goes to show how shot-adverse the rest of the team can be. I love his tenacity, I just wish the rest of the bunch had that quality as well.
Laurent Koscielny – 10
Incredibly disappointed to see Koscielny go down like that. He’ll for sure miss the rest of the season along with the World Cup. There’s a possibility that this was his last act as an Arsenal player. He might cause a lot of divide amongst supporters, but he’s been with us through thick and thin, and he’s an absolute class act. Get well soon Kos.