Szczesny : Szczesny was rarely tested today with City managing just two shots on target. I think it’s a testament to the entire squad that we held them to their lowest amount of shots this season, and as a result Szczesny had a relatively quiet day at the office. He distributed once poorly which could have led to a very dangerous situation but Arteta mopped up very well to spare any potential blushes. 6/10.
Sagna: He did what Sagna does best and put 100% into every second of the match, fighting until the final whistle. On a day in which Walcott was struggling to provide from the right flank Sagna put in a wealth of crosses which one of our players could have capitalised on. Balotelli seemed intent on breaking as many legs as possible today, and after the umpteenth bookable offence Sagna drew him into another late tackle and he got the early bath he deserved. An extemporary professional is how I’d describe him. 7/10.
Koscielny: The partnership between Koscielny and Vermaelen is genuinely blossoming with the continuation of spring, and apart from the odd chance they never really looked like scoring. He is faster, stronger and more determined than almost any forward he comes across, and he does the basics consistently well. Unfortunately he picked up another yellow card which means he’ll miss the next two league fixtures. Hopefully we won’t miss him. 7/10.
Vermaelen: There’s a presence about Vermaelen that makes us tick defensively, and (last week aside) he is outstanding. Today he dominated in the air, stepped in front well and carried the ball forward whenever was necessary. On the offensive end he made a bit of a hash of things however, blocking Van Persie’s header on their line in the first half and slipping as he went for a tap-in in the second. Yet his primary duty today was defending, and anyone who marshals a clean sheet against City deserves high praise. 7/10.
Gibbs: I thought he was enjoying a decent game until he was forced off through injury, and I hope it is nothing too serious. He linked up well with the midfield and rarely turned the ball over in their half. He always puts in a decent shift when tracking back as well, which is consistently good to see. A lengthy lay off is exactly what the doctor would never consider ordering, and Wenger didn’t touch on it in his post match press conference, so hopefully it’s not severe and season threatening. 7/10.
Song: In my opinion (which is rarely humble), Song is the best player in his position in the league at the moment, and games like today only serve to prove me correct. I regularly lose count of the amount of tackles and interceptions he makes every game, and his assist ratio for his position speaks for itself. Critics will point to the odd turnover or ambitious pass that goes awry, but when Van Persie goes as far as to kiss Song’s boot during a game I think he has a licence for the adventurous pass. He has a composure on the ball that allows him to draw fouls when in our half which alleviates pressure on a regular basis. Add to this the ability to take a studded boot to the kneecap in the first 20 minutes and continue playing as if it didn’t happen, and I personally think we have something special. 8/10.
Arteta: The manner in which the uncapped Spaniard has conducted himself this season makes me consistently peeved that he hasn’t been on our team sheet for a few seasons now. He masquerades all game as the player who does the unglamorous job, linking defence and attack and putting himself about. Then he whips out a 25 yard strike and reminds everyone just how glamorous he can be. He netted his seventh league goal this season today, beating Joe Hart (who I think is the best keeper in the league) from a healthy distance, and in doing so won us 3 vital points. Sky awarded him Man of the Match, and I see no reason to argue with that. 9/10.
Rosicky: He put in an industrious shift today, covering plenty of ground and helping to propel us into the final third. He never seems to run out of legs, and if he lost the ball he worked hardest to win it back for us. Until Wilsher is back I just don’t see any competition for places in the midfield at all. 7/10.
Walcott: He struggled to make many inroads into the City defence today, and his pace was matched by Clichy meaning he couldn’t get in behind him where he is most dangerous. He came off in around the 84 minute for Oxlaide Chamberlain but I think I would have subbed him a bit earlier. 6/10.
Benayoun: He was the surprise name on the sheet prior to kickoff, but the reason for his selection was palpable as he asserted his defensive work rate through the team. He performed a similar job against Tottenham, where he wasn’t overly influential on the offensive end yet made us a far sturdier defensive outfit. He weaved a bit of magic in the final third once, but his shot was straight at Hart. He was replaced by Ramsey at 79 minutes. 7/10.
Van Persie: The main man played very well again today, even if he didn’t get on the score sheet. Vermaelen made sure of that in the first half! Song chipped another great ball over the top for him but his header spun away off the post. It was a chance he probably should have scored, but as we won anyway I’m not too fussed. He dropped into the midfield on the odd occasion allowing Walcott and others to bomb past him, and generally put in another decent shift. 7/10.
Santos: The Brazilian made an appearance on 60 minutes for the ailed Gibbs. He has his critics; everyone seems to be on the “he can’t defend” bandwagon at the moment. I’m not hopping on it just yet, for a couple of reasons: one being it’s his first season in the league so he needs to adjust to the pace, two being that his lack of pace for a conventional Arsenal full back means he looks unfit and under prepared. One case in point is where Balotelli ghosted past him and Santos had to concede a yellow card pulling him to the floor. Yet I can think of occasions this season where he has made very good tackles in big games, whilst also displaying aerial ability which Gibbs simply doesn’t have. I also think that when fully fit, he will be our first choice left back. Call me crazy…6/10.
Ramsey: I assume that when he came on it was a like for like substitution for Benayoun, the idea being that he could compact the midfield and operate defensively as well as going forward. He was involved in a great piece of play at 1-0 up which could have killed the game, but after doing well to eliminate the defender and put Hart on the back foot he skewed his shot well wide. It’s probably as a result of his lack of match time recently, and he should have squared it to RVP for the tap in, if only to bolster my fantasy league points this week. 6/10.
Chamberlain: He only had five minutes to operate, but I would have given him more. No time to really get involved and take anyone on. 6/10.