Assessing Arsenal: Per's ridiculous stats, Ozil poor, Wilshere sublime

Per Mertesacker

Arsenal overcame a substandard Marseille side, defeating the French side 2-0 with Jack Wilshere scoring both goals. We rate each Gunner's performance…

Wojtech Szczesny - 8 -

Got off his line well to deny Andre-Pierre Gignac a shot when he had a one-on-one with the Pole from an acute angle. Got down well to produce a blocking save late in second half and then, minutes later, dived well to his left to palm a Florian Thauvin effort to safety.

Bacary Sagna - 6.5 -

Was kept largely quiet at the back, like Monreal, but his contributions at the attacking end were largely forgettable, for his own sake, as he spooned a good chance into row z.

Per Mertesacker - 7.5

Good box-play in the opposition half and, in an extraordinary statistic, the big f****** German has not conceded a goal for 455 minutes. He also completed a ridiculous 99% of his attempted passes (77/78).

Laurent Koscielny - 7

Made countless interceptions. Perhaps the term to use for Laurent this evening should be quietly brilliant and effective.

Nacho Monreal - 6.5

Wasteful in possession when in the attacking half but remained an intelligent runner and a useful asset in tandem with Tomas Rosicky. Before Arsenal's double substitution he made a good, last-man, goal-line clearance.

Mathieu Flamini - 7.5

In past columns, I've described Flamini as a midfield hound-dog, an energetic terrier always on the run and after the ball, and this evening he was literally barking (orders) at his team-mates. A great midfield boss and Arsenal's engine. Failed to collect his customary yellow card.

Aaron Ramsey - 8

Considering all the incredible goals he has scored this season, together with the confidence he has when playing his football, it's bonkers that he missed a tap-in opportunity in the first ten minutes after great play from Wilshere out wide. Won a penalty where he was body-checked after an exquisite piece of skillful control (though he was outside the area) and, in the second-half, a genius flicked through-ball provided Giroud a clear chance (but the Frenchman was incorrectly flagged offside).

Jack Wilshere - 9

Opened Arsenal's account within 30 seconds with a sublime effort as he ran onto a ball fed through the right flank, dribbled into the penalty area from wide, cut back and appeared like he wanted to play an assist but instead lifted the ball over Steve Mandanda and into the net. Was a threat in the final third with clever runs, both on and off the ball. He fully deserved his second.

Mesut Ozil - 6

As unexpected as a squandered Ramsey shot, Ozil showed loose control early on but, as the game progressed, began to show intuitive link-up play with his fellow Guns, Giroud in particular. Mikel Arteta is Arsenal's traditional spot-kick taker and Arsene Wenger will have wished he had him on the pitch as Ozil's attempted conversion was impotent. Was still capable of neat, one-touch football but overall had an off game for his own high standards despite assisting Wilshere for his second.

Tomas Rosicky - 7.5

His positional sense and blocking ability in the defensive zone were both on point, while his running in the final third was incisive. The Czech Republic international captain put in a hard-working shift, which was something that Arsenal then lacked when both he and Wilshere were brought off.

Olivier Giroud - 8

Pre-match, the ITV commentary team claimed Giroud is not a feared Gunners striker like Thierry Henry or Ian Wright were before him, however, he is a completely different type of forward - a rare breed, for his quality, in the modern Premier League era. Yet two of his many multi-faceted strengths were demonstrated in the first half where he physically out-muscled the Marseille defence before knocking the ball on toward an incoming Wilshere. In the second half, he became a magnet for Ramsey's lofted 40-yard passes.

On the 75th minute mark, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky came off for Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla while an annoyed Mesut Ozil made way for Mikel Arteta at 81 mins.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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