Arsenal player ratings as Alex Iwobi is great with an 8, but hapless Mohamed Elneny sees red in 3-2 win over Southampton

Matt Jones - Editor 19:48 08/04/2018
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Danny Welbeck scored twice but glaringly missed an open goal.

Arsenal kept the pressure on fifth-placed Chelsea by sinking relegation-threatened Southampton in a thoroughly entertaining game at the Emirates.

Gunners fans must have begun to get that all-too-familiar sinking feeling when Shane Long… yes, Shane Long, took advantage of poor communication between Petr Cech and Shkodran Mustafi to waltz in and give Saints a shock lead.

The hosts recovered brilliantly to lead at the break though, Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang astutely finishing off a slick move to equalise before Danny Welbeck fired in fortuitously to make it 2-1.

Defensive frailty was again evident as the visitors deservedly levelled in the second half, Cedric Soares teeing up Charlie Austin to poke home.

Welbeck then had a very Welbeck few minutes, contriving to miss an open goal from yards out before powering in a header to win his side the three points.

Both teams then had a player sent off in the closing stages; Jack Wilshere somehow wasn’t one of them when he tugged Jack Stephens’ shirt off his back – the Saints midfielder shown a straight red for raised hands, as was Mohamed Elneny for shoving Soares in the face.

Here, we rate the Arsenal players:

Shkodran Mustafi and Petr Cech watch on as Shane Long opens the scoring.

Shkodran Mustafi and Petr Cech watch on as Shane Long opens the scoring.

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1)

Petr Cech – 7: Far from blameless in Long’s opener. Generally sturdy though, saving well from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s stinging shot, keeping out Long’s header and then tipping over Dusan Tadic’s piledriver.

Hector Bellerin – 6: Got forward at every opportunity but for a player blessed with such pace, he met his match in Long, who he tugged back to earn game’s first yellow.

Shkodran Mustafi – 4: You generally get two contrasting performances – good or bad. This was the latter, horribly at fault for Long’s opener and failing to clear prior to Austin’s equaliser.

Calum Chambers – 5: Struggled with Long’s pace and Austin’s strength. Is only 23 so best years are ahead of him. But whereas Arsenal used to be the best place for young players to grow, that hasn’t been the case for a long time.

Sead Kolasinac – 6: Continues to grow in stature and, being an attack-minded full-back with a hulking presence, has added much-needed brawn to his new team.

Mohamed Elneny – 3: It’s sometimes a struggle to fathom just how he’s at a top Premier League club. Erratic, aimless and struggled to contain feeble opposition. Reacted well to clear Wesley Hoedt’s header off the line but was then stupidly sent off late on.

Granit Xhaka – 6: Has his detractors but had a generally solid game. Yet to really dominate games in the engine room but offers plenty going forward. Unlucky not to make it 3-1 when McCarthy tipped his fizzing drive wide.

Alex Iwobi – 8: Arsenal’s heartbeat in playmaking No10 role, keeping their attack ticking over. Tricked and teased Southampton. Assisted both Welbeck goals, the second a terrifically tantalising cross.

Reiss Nelson – 7: Was one of Arsenal’s brightest sparks during his 64 minutes on the pitch. Confidence grew, the highlight being a cheeky back heel that was unlucky not to result in an assist for a Xhaka screamer.

Danny Welbeck – 7: Benefitted from a wicked deflection to beat McCarthy. Then missed an open goal to make it 3-2. Then climbed high to power in the winner. A typical day at the office for the talented yet furiously frustrating forward.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7:  Tried to drop deep to lend a hand, but on the shoulder of the last defender is where he thrives. Sporadically involved until popping up to do what all deadly marksmen do – score vital goals.

SUBS:

Jack Wilshere – 5: Should have had an assist but Welbeck somehow skied over. Most telling contribution was ripping Stephens’ shirt off to get Saints man sent off.

Alexandre Lacazette – 5: Did little in his brief cameo. The best thing you can say is that had Welbeck left Wilshere’s centre, he’d surely have tucked home.

Rob Holding – 6: Late addition. Did brilliantly to slide in and block Josh Sims’ shot.

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