Arsenal 3 Valencia 1 – Cojones found – Player Ratings

Three at the back, wing backs for width, narrow up front and no Terrier. We need to score goals so hopefully our two main strikers on the pitch can do the business, but they will need service.

First Half

Things looked bleak after an early set-piece setback. The lad who looked like he’d never walk again moments earlier rose at the far post to nod home.

Arsenal’s response was majestic. Lacazette with a brilliant turn set a sprinting Auba free through the middle. Pausing to take the keeper out of the game, he laid it off for the following up Laca to stroke the ball into an empty net.

Seven minutes later, yet another spin by Laca saw him beat the offside trap and be available for Xhaka to pop it beautifully right on to his forehead. The ref’s wrist piece told him the ball was miles over the line when the keeper tried to claw it out after it had come off the post. Laca knew it was in – cue delighted celebrations and suddenly we were in front. Wow.

Second Half

We were excellent in the first 20 of the 2nd period with a full on power play. Every single player snapped into challenges determined to be first to the ball. It was a shame we couldn’t capitalise and score a third and fourth during this purple patch.

As energies dwindled, Valencia began to come back into it and Cech made a brilliant save to keep the slender lead in tact.

Laca’s chances came and went. He really should have grabbed his third but made a dog’s breakfast of a simple header and then hit the keeper’s legs in a one on one.

In the 88th minute Valencia made a time wasting substitute, keen to hang on to the 2-1 and their precious away goal. I began to think about how a slim lead was better than nothing but was doubtful it might be enough.

Then Mkhitaryan, who had provided real thrust when coming on for Mesut, had a shot blocked. The ball ricocheted back to Laca who tested the keeper with a deflected effort but again the ball found its way to Kolasinac who floated his classiest ball of the season to the far post where Auba shinned it in. Perfect. From a squeaky 2-1 to a far more convincing 2 goal cushion. Well played, lads.


We’ll still probably require an away goal in the Mestalla but at least we’re in there with a great chance of the Final.

The first half was pretty even but our second half dominance merited the 3-1.

Another great thing about that late goal was that those who can’t be bothered to remain in their seats until the end of the match, all missed it.

Ratings (extra point for all for us winning the first leg of a semi by 2 goals)

Cech – looked a little shaky on high balls but his save at 2-1 could well be crucial … 8

Mustafi – a fine performance from the German – pre-match worries from Gooners were banished by Shkodran’s commitment , drive and effort … 8

Koscielny – looked to have pulled a hamstring early in the 2nd half but played on fighting for the cause – hope he’s ok, his experience is invaluable  … 8

Sokratis – enjoyed the rough and tumble of the game and even smiled on occasion – he’s so likeable … 8

Maitland-Niles – some good, some not so good, but his positive contributions were excellent after he settled down … 7

Kolasinac – not brilliant in the first half but his final ball got better and better, as did his passing and interplay on that left flank in 2nd half – gem of an assist … 8

Xhaka – excellent through the game – controlled the midfield in the second period and delivered a peach of a cross for Laca’s second … 8

Guendouzi – I was surprised to see him subbed as he seemed to be playing well at that time, intercepting and interchanging to great effect   … 7

Ozil – a little anonymous in the first period but put the after burners on after half time – had a lovely time pinging the ball to and from Xhaka … 8

Lacazette – ran his socks off, scored two goals – could have had two more … 9

Aubameyang – sprinting around with real purpose, it really seemed that Auba had saved himself for this one – instrumental in Laca’s first and got that vital 3rd at exactly the right time … 9


Torreira – found his early season form with great interceptions, tackles and distribution – Unai’s substitution of the tiring Matteo was completely justified by Lucas’s performance … 8

Mkhitaryan – added much more in 20 minutes than he has done in the last three or four games combined in this little cameo … 7

Monreal – little to do as a sub for Kos … 7


Emery – Unai’s magic Europa wand appears to still be in tact after his move to Arsenal – hopefully he can come up with a plan to see us over the line next week … 9

Rob Newell – Camerasport via Getty Images

Marcelino Garcia Wagner – it was perfect that he was satisfied with the 2-1, tried to waste time and then looked crestfallen when he found his side two goals behind … 5


Clement Turpin – any lame efforts at using ‘highway robbery’ in the assessment of Monsieur Turpin were not required as the Frenchman did his best to uphold the rules without wanting to dominate proceedings in a sickening Oliveresque way – loved that moment when he pointed to his wrist to confirm the 2nd goal … 8



21 Responses to Arsenal 3 Valencia 1 – Cojones found – Player Ratings

  1. Sue says:

    No complaints from me (well, except that cheap goal we gave away!!)
    Laca was immense – definitely MOTM (shame he didn’t get his hat trick!)
    Sokratis was hilarious as usual
    I hope Koscielny is ok, don’t want to be without him next week
    Such an important goal from Auba (& damn I love that celebration!)
    Kolasinac looked so fine 😍
    I thought Mesut was brilliant (some people online were still slating him – smh)
    Not vintage Arsenal, by any means, but we got the job done… no mistakes next week.. and Baku here we come!! Yay!! COYG

  2. Sue says:

    chas.. love that Tony Adams goal, one of my all time favourites… I still miss that guy

  3. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    19 years!!!

    Really enjoyed the game – it had it all. One down and I was depressed. Equaliser girded the loins. Ref pointing to his wrist for Laca’s second made my half time whisky more palatable.

    Then a fine 20 minutes of speedy interplay. A superb Petr save and then the marvellous finish.

    All in all, a great evening’s entertainment.

    Pleased we have a €100m front two – they make anything possible.

  4. RA says:

    Excellento, Chas,

    An enjoyable evening that started off with an annoying give-away-goal, and then it was all go-go-go.

    I think that, without exaggeration, the score could easily have been 6 : 2.

    Our defence were playing at top level, for them, but Valencia coulda, shoulda had two goals, one of which, as you said, was stopped by Cech in a last ditch one on one, and the other was almost a goal line toe in which they amazingly missed.

    LaCaz was brilliant and yet coulda, shoulda scored two more easy chances, and Auba is the usual mixture of speedy brilliance and ‘oops, where’s me glasses’.

    Great football; great game and the team played as one! 😜

  5. LB says:

    A very enjoyable read, thanks.

  6. RA says:

    Morning, Sue,

    Umm, when you said “Baku, here we come” were you including yourself?

    Do you know where Baku is? Do you know it is 2,500 miles from the UK to Baku? Do you know it takes an average 7 hours to fly from Heathrow to Baku?

    If you do, and you are going to the final (oh, no, I might have jinxed us 😩) — you are a better man than me! 🤩. 😁

  7. Sue says:

    Good morning RA… and I have to say, what a fine morning it is!! That winning feeling – I’d missed that!
    It was a figure of speech.. unfortunately no, I won’t be going to Azerbaijan (ha, see I know where it is!) Have to settle for the Emirates on Sunday instead!
    Hey! Don’t call me a man! 😂 Hmmm getting me confused with one of your ladyboys?!! Hehe!

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Chas for a comprehensive and well written match review. 🙂

    After an iffy start, the team regrouped well and dug out a fine result. Valencia played some good football but were not able to deal with our intensity and two red and white hot strikers who created chances for each other all night long. For me the biggest plus was our ability to not let Valencia back into the game after we scored our second. And it was also the night of the fine assists and pre-assists:
    * First goal: brilliant through-ball by Lacazette to Auba and cool head by the latter to find the former to finish the move off;
    * Second goal: superbly weighted cross by Xhaka from a moving ball, finding Laca’s head at the right space and time (so even Laca could not miss that header)
    Third goal: calm head by Kola to find Auba – rather than blasting it himself, he picked out Auba superbly.

    Boys did us proud.

  9. Morning all, starting ro feel like my Jonah status is coming back, miss a game we win, watch a game we lose and play without conviction. So for that reason I will not watch any more game 🙂

    I have seen highlights of the goals, first theirs, awful defending, always concerns me when three defenders can be around a man who heads in above them.

    Our goals TA says it all above, seemed to have found some of our pace in attack and counters again, maybe the early Valencia goal gave them encouragement to over commit?

    I’d be interested on thoughts with the midfield pairing, I think Torreira was very good early season, but it seemed once opposition realised they could not play through those areas anymore they attacked us wide and we had bigger issues.

    I am not sure if it is a combination thing, when Xhaka plays he seems to be the intended receiver from back 4 which puts Lucas slightly more advanced, when Guendozi plays the roles are reversed and Guen will go do the harrying and pressing while Toreira steps in as needed with impeccable reading of the game as a last ditch early season he reminded me of Gilberto Silva, but lately maybe unfairly he has reminded me more of Alex Song when he decided he could do a job further up the pitch. He is probably doing as asked but I think there is an argument for Xhaka and Torreira that is one or the other but not both.

    Glad for the win to stop the rot, but would really like us to continue in this vain every game, I don’t like the idea of turning it on for occasional games, we don’t want to be a cup side like Spuds.

  10. RA says:

    Hi GIE,

    Good to see you. 😁

    Your summary above is excellent, particularly the mention of the midfield and the players we have available, or chosen to play by the managers.

    There is a fairly clear demarcation, now you point it out, as to who is playing what role depending, as you say, on whether it is Douzy or Terrier with playing with Xhaka.

    I think Douzy can be very good racing hither and thither to close down caunter-attacks, but he still has a lot to learn.

    Terrier is by far the better of the two at defending, but like all South Americans he likes to attack, and is confident in his skills, and goes forward a lot when he should stay back.

    I would choose him over Douzy at the moment — maybe one day they will both play together more regularly.

    As for Xhaka, he does have a skill at long range passing in particular, and can play cushioned balls into the forwards when an opportunity arises.

    He cannot defend for toffee, and fouls a lot by grabbing jerseys of opposition forwards as they run past him. Worse than that, he is mouthy to the officials and looks like a red card is pointing in his direction.

    With his passing skill, and his thunderbolt shooting (which I would like to see more of) I think he should join the attacks and leave the defending to Terrier.

    So, Xhaka and Terrier for me.

    [There are kids coming through, of course, including defence and midfielders, and when Emery gets up the nerve to use them, that can all change again.]

    Thanks for your professional insight.

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    GIE, you hit on The dilemma of Arsenal, Unai and football in general: how to staff and balance the midfield. Xhaka and Torreira are naturally deep midfielders and feel very comfortable there. Xhaka and Torreira supplement each other but as a pair they would feel more comfortable in a Pochetino or Mourinho team, or maybe even in the current Ajax team – in terms of midfield roles and their strongest skills. Emery wants to play more advanced, attacking football and so wants one of the two in ‘deep midfield’ to be more of a b2b player. I reckon he has instructed Torreira to do so and there has been mixed success, but it all was better when Ramsey was finally getting into his stride (and then, so typically, got injured again – the story of his football life and that’s why I am happy he is moving on). Guendouzi is a B2B type except for his limited defensive ability and as yet quite ineffective attacking threat.

    I think it would suit Arsenal to play both Xhaka-Torr deeper and play three attacking midfielders in front of them. Two would also need to be good at wingplay and assist and score goals regularly. As per my comment yesterday, we don’t have enough quality in those areas as yet.

    Alternatively, he will try to find a top quality B2B player and play mostly Xhaka or Torreira next to them from next season onwards. It will be interesting to see what will happen over the summer.

    It looks like Emery has no other choice than to keep working with the likes of Torreira and Guendouzi to find the balance in each remaining game.

  12. Sue says:

    All to play for…. what does UE do? Play a weakened team on Sunday & go all out next Thursday? Or carry on as normal in the league & hope nobody gets injured?
    Decisions, decisions…….

  13. jjgsol says:

    In my usual pessimistic mode, I am not counting any chickens.

    I have only seen highlights, but Valencia had some really good chances, which they missed, rather than were saved, whilst we had good chances that were saved rather than missed.

    Laca’s missed header was simply too low for him, so not really his fault.

    How did that assistant standing on the line looking straight at it miss the fact that the ball was almost at the back of the net?

    Well done. Can we now have more of the same please, including on Sunday?

  14. LBG says:

    They day after the night game before provides time for contemplation. Recognition and acceptance of the facts is often the most difficult thing for me. As I turned, somewhat disconsolably to my Bro last night with the comment “this (Valencia) team or not very good, Ant?” “Yes, but we are not a very good team either!”
    Still hard to accept, but fully in line with my recent comments re 3/4 windows required so why? Well, I think, because I hoped perhaps, that Dick could be a miracle worker and Lazarus could arise immediately.
    Very interested in comments this morning from GiE, RA and Total. I still believe the Terrier, Ouzi AM-N pyramid will eventually come good. Afraid I still do not appreciate Xhaka, largely for the reasons listed by RA, and because the defensive intelligence allied to pace, that is often asked of him in this current team, he possesses none of.
    Effective, goal scoring, quick, wide attacking midfield players are the priority for me ( l believe Holding and Mav will become our future long term CBs, and, as I have said before, believe Thompson, if given the chance, can take the left back berth), and perhaps we have them ready made on loan in Germany.
    This, perhaps controversially, marginalises Mesut and I’m afraid for me, Aubang – there you go gents, get you teeth into that. (Still believe in three or four others in U23 and Academy, as well.)
    PS “Sell” Litchsteiner, Mustafi, Elneny, Micky, Nacho, and Kola
    There it is, my reflection, for what it’s worth.

  15. GunnerN5 says:

    I have an odd feeling this morning, I’m very happy that we won the game and have put ourselves in a strong position to reach the final; however………..

    My deeper feelings tell me that we are an average team and came away with a very fortunate 2 goal lead – but I’m not complaining I’m just perplexed that I’m not excited.

    The reality is that I miss the audacious skills of Henry, Vieira, Petit et al and feel that all we have today is a band aid team.

    I’m fully behind our new manager and hope that we can buy the type of players he needs to take off the band aids and show us that he has healed the cause of of issues.

    Sorry to throw a negative take on things – but It’s how I feel this morning.

  16. Aaron says:

    You have been a fan for very long, if the Arsenal can get to the final, and somehow get a grasp on a European cup, the averageness of this particular squad will be forgotten quite easily.

  17. GunnerN5 says:


    Yes I would be a happy camper if we won The Europa Cup but I still cannot ignore my feelings about the quality of the squad,

    I think that Unai Emery has done a remarkable job with this team but the team itself are not the quality level needed to be fully competitive with Liverpool or Man C.

    It’s frequently stated that the table does not lie. We are 26 points out of first place (nearly 9 wins off) but we are of a similar standard to Chelsea, Spurs & Man U.

    Our defense and midfield are in dire need of help in both the quality of player’s and coach’s. AA is fortunate enough to have several bloggers who are far more aware of the personnel changes needed – I can only go on the gut instinct of a supporter.

    One last point is that you cannot buy or coach desire and passion – that has to be inherent in the players who are selected – if they only possess the skill levels required then they should not play for Arsenal.

  18. LBG says:

    Your last line is the most one of this current discussion, sir, and rarely evidenced consistently for me with this squad.

  19. Sue says:

    Laca has been crowned Arsenal’s POTS 👏👍

    In other news.. Liverpool fans have started a petition, calling for Messi to be banned, for “punching” Fabinho 🙄

  20. Big Raddy says:

    Agree that Laca has been POTS with Koscielny a close second

  21. chas says:


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