Valencia 2 Arsenal 4 – Player Ratings

A solid looking team on paper with three at the back plus wingbacks and the Xhaka-Torreira axis. The front three could get isolated if the wingbacks don’t push forward.

Ten men defence or all out attack – let’s hope Unai has got it bang on

First Half

After a slow first ten minutes we decided to spice things up a bit by losing the ball on the edge of Valencia’s penalty area and all of a sudden, 7 men were caught ahead of the ball. A simple goal on the break resulted.

Valencia had a few sniffs but nothing of any consequence and then with our first chance Laca and Auba combined, with the help of a backwards defensive header from our Gabriel, to create a beautifully executed finish from the Gabonese Gooner. Away goal cancelled and an equaliser completely out of the blue. Phew.

Our other two chances both came as we got into the game and even started to string a few passes together. First Auba drove straight at the keeper with his weaker left and then the best chance of the first half fell to Laca after Auba’s brilliant run down the right flank. Alex’s first time effort clipped the outside of the post with the keeper nowhere – oh so close to a second away goal.

Second Half

The second half began in magnificent style with a nicely worked goal finished with a great 360 from Laca and drive into the bottom corner. Two away goals and Valencia now needed 4 goals. Surely that would be enough?!!

from AFC twitter

When they got one back 8 minutes later there can’t have been many Gooners who were completely certain that the mayhem of the previous two nights might not start again in the Mestalla.

Mesut was replaced by Mkhitaryan and we started to control things once more. Ainsley’s assist for Auba’s second was just sublime. The trick to beat the full back and then the driven near post cross were just majestic. When did we last score at the near post? Auba’s finish sent the Gooners both in the stadium and around the world wild with joy. 3-2 away from home and Valencia were back needing 4.

Kolasinac replaced by Mustafi improved the defence as Nacho is so much better as a defending wing back.

Sergio Perez/REUTERS

Matteo for the Terrier was the last excellent substution. He controlled the game for the last ten against a demoralised Valencia team. The final goal was a thing of rare beauty with intricate passing, a stepover, superb return pass by Micki and blasted roof of the net finish for Auba to seal his hat trick. Just superb.


Where has this Arsenal side been hiding in the Premier League? Or is it just a case of English teams are that much more intense?

Unai excelled in the Europa again – it really does seem to be his speciality. The two top-class strikers again proved their worth with 4 goals of such high quality. Seven between them over the two legs – simply outstanding.

What a glorious and unexpected night after the two previous nights of despair! The team confounded most people’s expectations with a performance of real quality. Well Done!

The chavs in Baku and a one game shoot-out. Bring it on.

From AFC


Cech – not sure he had too many saves to make as Valencia’s shooting and crossing wasn’t much better than Napoli’s had been in the quarters … 7

Papa – loved him chest bumping with Kos right near the end – as a pair they were excellent … 8

Kos – magnificent captain’s performance putting his body on the line for the team …  8

Nacho – played his part in his usual whole-hearted way … 8

Ainsley – if he can remove the odd lapse in concentration from his game he’s going to develop into a superb Arsenal stalwart – his assist was so, so good … 8

Sead – still too happy to shovel the ball backwards and then disappear forward – we improved when he got cramp … 7

Granit – a little lumpen on occasion and his intricate short passing game needs work – he gave his all, mind you, which is all we can ask … 7

Lucas – the game seemed to be played around him a little in the first half – great assist for Laca’s goal – still not sure if he and Granit complement each other … 7

Mesut – was ok but when he went off he wasn’t really missed which is telling … 7

Pierre – a world class hat trick from a world class finisher on his day … 10

Alexandre – the second goal came at just the right time and Laca never stopped putting in 100% effort – such a good signing …. 9


Henrikh – away from the hustle and bustle of the EPL, Micki sometimes excels – his cameo was top drawer, topped off with a glorious assist for Auba’s hat trick goal – that old Dortmund combination in all its glory … 8

Shkodran – filled in nicely … 7

Matteo – looked brilliant in his ten minutes on the Mestalla pitch – instrumental in that final goal with his positive forward passing … 8


Unai Emery – everything right on the night – you cannot ask for more … 10

Baku here we come!


Danny Makkelie (NED) – wasn’t fooled by much on the night – excellent … 8



38 Responses to Valencia 2 Arsenal 4 – Player Ratings

  1. chas says:

  2. Sue says:

    Nice one, chas! Love the pictures (Kolasinac – you could have taken your top off! Mesut looks happy 😄)
    Xhaka didn’t have his greatest game imo & our defending was a little suspect at times, but hey Auba & Laca were on fire!
    Auba worked so hard, he was everywhere! That was the best we’ve seen from him! Laca was brilliant too.. what a night for these 2 (& us gooners!) We’re in a European final.. that is just sinking in!!
    Waking up with that winning feeling 👌 COYG

  3. chas says:

  4. chas says:

  5. chas says:

  6. Nice summary Chas, have to say thought the front two worked well last night, not always been the case this season, one subtle change seemed to be they were both playing centrally, which gave Valencia centre backs much more cause for concern. Our only width was provided by Kola and M-N, even Ozil stayed more central rather than drifting wide to find space (although not sure it benefited him or us much to do so). Interested in GB’s comments yesterday about Iwobi being a possibility in that role and that is not something I have thought about before, but if PEA and Laca were to stay more central I think it could work as Iwobi would be able to go either way from central.

    As you say Chas, Nacho is a better wing back than a centre back and it showed, and he is probably slightly better defensively than Kola.

    Don’t know what caused the little scrap at the end but I liked it.

  7. chas says:

    From the Arseblog report….
    “The orange seats of the Mestalla became more and more visible as home fans said ‘Sod this, it’s a beautiful night. I’ll head down to Plaza de la Virgen to listen to an old crusty play a home-made flute hewn from a goat’s femur rather than watch any more of this’.”

  8. VP says:

    excellent post match post Chas, thank you

    Yes could someone shed some light on the bust up at the end

    also Ozil being subbbed off, he looked f#$cked

  9. chas says:

    Ainsley got booked!

  10. LBG says:

    Amongst the undoubted euphoria, I would like to pick up a number of points regarding the two final games.
    Chas ” Nacho is a better wing back than CB” Agree. Play him there for the Final. Sorry Kola, you are not good enough!
    AM-N was “roasted” early on at right back (largely because he had no one double teaming when attacked wide). Interested in Iwobi centrally idea, but Sunday and Final, perfect opportunity to try A M-N there for now and future. ( second thoughts, give Sarri a headache and save it for Final)
    If Mav is not fit ( or to be trusted; you are making a mistake Dick!) in middle of Sokratis and Kos at CB, try out one of our talented defenders in the U23s. They are all quicker and bigger than what we have got, and could well rise to the challenge of Giroud or Higuain, and, like Eddie, become heroes for a day.
    And finally, as suggested also, Wobbly has the speed of foot to be coached in attacking AND defensive skills/ responsibilities as a one off – right wing back.

  11. RA says:

    Loved the Post, Chas, and your summary about what was going down was really good.

  12. RA says:

    Like everyone else, I loved the game and could not believe the way the team pulled together, and Auba played the way I was hoping for throughout the season.

    LaCa is such a steady Eddie and his goals were terrific.

    As for the rest — What Sue said at 6:49. 😳

  13. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all,

    Superb performance and one that was completely unexpected.
    It’s obvious that due to the high level of performance in the Premier League that English teams can play at a high level of performance far longer than than there European counterparts.

  14. GunnerN5 says:

    Chas I’ve had Email issues for the last 24 hours. I’ll be back on the phone to my provider at 9:00am attempting to get a resolution. Meanwhile I’m unable to send you my posts.

    I’ll keep you informed during the day.

  15. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Chas, brilliant write up.

    I feel and share your enthusiasm as much as I felt and shared your abject despair in the Brighton report. Has you ever wondered whether we are all becoming bi-polar in our mood swings. Maybe there is actually a medical condition that needs defining…..AIBPD….Arsenal Induced Bi-Polar Disorder.

    Loved the quote you put up from Arseblog…genius…made me laugh.

    Ahh, Dennis and Paulo. Imagine if we had those 2 in their prime. So many of our team issues would be sorted.

    With Dennis there is no more Ozil conundrum because you have the supreme master, and it would just become a question of who we could sell Ozil to.

    With Paulo there would be no worrying about Nacho and Koli having certain deficiencies, because Maldini had all the strengths of both of them multiplied by a factor of 10 and no weakness in his game. He would be brilliant as a FB, WB and on the left of a back 3.

    On Ozil,it was noticeable how peeved he was. Probably didn’t really have a justification for it though and it is hard to find fault with UE’s decision at that time in that game.

    I have always liked Mesut. He is an elegant player and I am, even now, in 2 minds about him. I have always felt that after we bought him we should have been looking to build a team framework around him to get the best from his undeniable sublime talents, but we did anything but.

    He really needed to have that complete free role to unlock the game, with proper defensive cover behind him, and pace and movement from both flanks and ahead of him. He really should have been the Ferrari engine with the Ferrari chassis built around it. Instead we got the Ferrari engine and built a 3 wheeled robin reliant framework around it.

    Maybe much of the criticism is unfair to a large degree because he hasn’t been able to showcase his true talent through no fault of his own, and then people look at all the smaller negative factors.

    It has never bothered me about his casual appearance on the pitch or not making a lung bursting run back with a crunching tackle to finish. His running stats bust the casual appearance myth anyway and we should have the defensive stuff covered and just let him be Mesut and come up with the game winning moments.

    Having said that I wonder whether the ship has sailed now. 6 years down the line may be too late to right the wrongs and I am not sure he fits Emery’s blueprint. It could still be done but then I would suggest we don’t need both Iwobi and Micki. 2 out of the 3 is enough.

    Moving into next season I feel we need to have the squad to play effective 4-3-3, 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 systems. The first 2 suit him because both have a 3 man CM but the last doesn’t as you need 2 more robust and hard working (in defensive duties) CM’s.

    I still think we need a proper athletic, strong and quick specialist holding midfielder to come in, and then you choose the other 2 (or 1, system dependent) to take up the other CM berths. We can currently choose from Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Micki, Elneny and Iwobi. Factor in the possibility of starting to introduce players like Smith-Rowe and Willock (which we should be doing) and even with Ramsey going we are top heavy in CM.

  16. LBG says:

    Mustafi for Milan. Elneny for Bordeaux. Yes please!

  17. GoonerB says:

    LBG, I like AMN where he is now and how he is developing in the role. Both him and Bellerin can play any of those systems I mentioned as FB or WB, and it is nice to have 2 young excellent options there that are both still improving.

    If he got roasted last night it was probably just because Valencia have developed to be dangerous from those wide areas and as a lone WB, expected to support the attack, he couldn’t cover space behind him at all times.

    A 4-3-3 system would have made that less an issue because he can then concentrate more on covering that area defensively with more sporadic overlapping runs forward. The balance of play changes slightly form FB to WB.

    The problem is I feel we only have the squad to suit the WB system at present, which is why I feel it is imperative to introduce pacey, goal scoring wingers / wing forwards to or squad to give us those better variable options.

    That position is the most important for me before any defensive consideration because I think it has a domino effect on improving our defence anyway. If you have those attacking, goal scoring wide players we are then less reliant on the attacking width provided by a FB so often throughout the game. We then shouldn’t be left so often exposed to a counter-attack initiated in the vacated space behind the FB, with 2CD’s now effectively in a back 2 left exposed, and 1 of them even having to track across to try and cover the counter-attacking wide opponent leaving us with 1 CD in the middle.

    Out of interest which of our under 23’s are you thinking of LBG when you mention being bigger and quicker?

  18. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Superb write up of a superb evening. Despite our dodgy first 10 minutes it was terrific.

    Only 6000 seats allocated to AFC in Baku ! That is a shit show by any standards and once again it is the touts wwho will be thrilled by the myriad tickets going to UEFA suits and being sold on the black market.

  19. LBG says:

    GoonerB 12.05
    Understand your “liking” for A M-N as wing back, but I believe he could become another great No 10.
    Have been rattling on about youth for months. We have already seen Zech Medley twice in the first team, but he is a CB not left back where he was played. The left back who should replace Nacho is Dominic Thompson, a ball playing ex midfielder with grit. And to complete the possibilities, a Spaniard, Julio Pleguezuelo, a captain in the making. What have we got to lose.

  20. fatgingergooner says:

    It will be an interesting final tactically, and Emery will need to get it right for us to lift the trophy. When we played them at home he got it spot on with the 3 CM players and Ramsey as the AM behind a front 2. It was basically a diamond. We let Chelsea have the ball wide as much as they wanted knowing they had no height up top (William, Pedro, Hazard) and flooded the central areas where they like to play little 1-2’s. Ramsey worked his socks off to keep Jorginho from dictating play whilst at the same time being a focal point for our attack.

    For the final, I’d like to see the diamond used again but there will be a couple of things Emery needs to address to get another positive result. Firstly, it looks like Giroud will probably start which means that allowing Chelsea width suddenly becomes a risky ploy. I’d like to think Sokratis and Koscielny could deal with his arial threat but we all know how good Giroud can be if he gets the right supply. The other issue will be how Özil does in comparison to Ramsey. I can’t imagine Özil will stifle Jorginho as much as the Welshman did at the Ems so maybe Lacazette will have to work even harder defensively to keep the Chelsea man from controlling the game. The Özil/Jorginho winner could decide the match. The final bit of concern for Emery will be the full backs. We would be playing a 4 at the back in the diamond (as we did at the Emirates) but Bellerin will not be available to Mark Hazard and Kolasinac can be risky in a back 4. Personally I’d go with Monreal on the left as he’s better defensively and I’d stick with the pace of AMN on the right rather than trying to draft in someone like Mustafi to man-mark Hazard.

    I’d like to see a team of:

    AMN Sokratis Koscielny Monreal
    Torreira Geundouzi Xhaka
    Lacazette Özil Aubameyang

  21. LBG says:

    Oh and GoonerB, when you have checked out those three, and we can’t afford Lille’s Pepe, check out Bukayo Saka!!

  22. GunnerN5 says:

    Chas my Email is back up so I’ve sent you a couple of posts.

  23. chas says:

    Loving this from a chap called Dangerman on twitter.

  24. LBG says:

    Hope you are happy with me disagreeing with you again as last night.
    I so believe we are not equipped at present to play four at the back and should break the mould with new players and new positions, in order to overcome Chelsea.
    I would play:-


    A M-N


  25. GoonerB says:

    LBG, many of those names from the youth ranks I am familiar with and agree about bringing them through.

    Maybe with some of our existing experienced CB’s the likes of Mavro and Medley can be tried out next season and by the end of it we may not actually need to dip into the transfer budget. Holding was already looking decent so if one of Medley or Mavro really steps up next season we might be ok.

    I like the sound of Thompson and in reality we need someone emerging in that position as Nacho is slowing up a little now and Koli is very good in some aspects but isn’t rounded enough and has weaknesses. Give the promising youngster a go.

    I saw Saka play earlier this season and he looks a good talent with great promise but feel he is not ready yet to play it regularly. I feel that attacking right side is an important one to get right so we need to get someone else and maybe him as the back up to that player.

    Unfortunately I am not feeling the AMN number 10 position. He has pace and the ability to go past people but I am unsure about his reading of the game, vision for a pass from the central area and goal scoring prowess.

    It was always touted about his best position being the DM area but I am starting to think that he is maybe one of these players that has been found a different and more suitable position through almost by luck and necessity.

    His attributes and pace make him look more suited to a wide role of some sort. I worry that bringing back into an already over-stocked CM role may see him get swallowed up and dwindle with less game time, while right now I still feel he could develop into something a bit more special as a WB or attacking FB.

  26. GunnerN5 says:

    I fear for the fans traveling to Baku – it’s a 2,709 mile journey from London to Baku. What condition will the players be in after that trek, I think it’s an insane decision by the FIFA “think tank”.

  27. LBG says:

    GoonerB, only thing I disagree with is A M-N “touted as defensive midfielder”.He has always to my knowledge quoted his preferred position as attacking central midfield.
    The main thing that disappoints me is, given the clear and obvious weakness of some of our defenders, why the integration hadn’t begun six months ago. I believe we may have discovered a couple of diamonds and done much better in top four challenge if so.

  28. Big Raddy says:

    There is no chance that Emery will risk playing youngsters in the Final. He is forced to use AMN but had Hector been fit …

    Next season we will have to bring through the youngsters as we are financially strapped. Smith Rowe and Nelson could be stars of the future, so could Mavro, Willock and Medley. AMN is already in the squad, so too Terreira.

    Iwobi is only 22 and will improve.

    We need a young LB. Chilwell could be the chap.

  29. Big Raddy says:

    Ooops. LBG 12.43 has already covered my previous comment!

  30. fatgingergooner says:

    I really have zero interest in the game at the weekend. Seems pointless putting a strong side out but I guess Emery will want 5th place and Auba will want goals to have a chance at golden boot. I can see us losing and it would be a shame if we finished 6th as we’ve probably been better than Chelsea and United for large parts of the season. Just a shame we couldn’t get over the line for the top 4.

  31. fatgingergooner says:

    I have to say that the ticket allocations for both European finals is something that needs sorting. It should be about the fans celebrating with their team, not a load of fat cats and journalists who have little interest in the result.

  32. Sue says:

    I’d like to sign off with a win at Burnley – big ask, I know! Even more so now as Mike Dean is officiating 😩 plus we’re wearing the green kit 😫
    On a plus – that’ll be the last time we ever see that ghastly green kit!! Yay!! 😉

  33. VCC says:

    “with the help of a backwards defensive header from our Gabriel” ???????

    I’m sure it was Lacazette who got his head to the ball?

  34. GunnerN5 says:

    GRANIT XHAKA has surprisingly been revealed as the second best midfielder for winning the ball back out of the Premier League’s top six.

    Xhaka recovers the ball an average of 10.29 times over a Premier League game, second only to Liverpool’s £40.5million enforcer Fabinho, 10.32.

    The 26-year-old shockingly boasts better numbers than partner Lucas Torreira, as well as Fernandinho and Chelsea pair Jorginho and N’Golo Kante.

  35. chas says:

    Laca’s header was after Gabriel’s.

  36. chas says:

  37. chas says:


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