Stephan Lichtsteiner 3/10 as Arsenal's uninspired play at Brighton raises questions
Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw at Brighton as Jurgen Locadia's first-half equalizer cancelled out an early strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Premier League on Wednesday.
The Gunners had a bright start: they went ahead in the seventh minute, and Aubameyang later had an excellent chance to double the lead. But Stephan Lichtsteiner's poor attempt at a headed clearance gifted Brighton an equalizer as Locadia ran onto the ball and rounded Bernd Leno in the 35th.
Aubameyang's hot streak continues as he netted his 13th Premier League goal of the season, the most of any player. And 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi was very composed in midfield, showing once again that Arsenal may have uncovered a real diamond. But those are perhaps the only good things you could say about this performance.
Despite dominating the game early, this turned out to be one of the most uninspiring performances by the Gunners under Unai Emery. Arsenal never looked likely to get back on top after Brighton drew level and were bereft of ideas and imagination in a poor second half. After Mesut Ozil came off at halftime, they had little in the way of creativity going forward.
Manager rating out of 10
4 -- Emery's starting lineup looked quite natural given the number of injuries he has to deal with, but his decision to yank Ozil at halftime will reignite talk about the German's future at the club. And taking off Alexandre Lacazette on the hour-mark looked counterintuitive given the French striker's energetic performance. Overall this was an unconvincing performance from the Gunners that serves as a reminder that they don't yet have a true identity under Emery.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 5 -- Was stranded in no-man's land on the goal, but that was hardly his own fault. Made a couple of routine saves but was also caught off his line in the second half when he was lucky that Solly March didn't have the composure to take advantage.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 3 -- Had a nightmare first half, when his poor header gifted Brigthon an equalizer and his many enterprising runs forward often ended with him giving the ball away. Slightly better in the second, but simply looks too old to adapt to the Premier League at this stage of his career.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 6 -- Made a couple of uncharacteristically sloppy passes but also made a key last-ditch tackle in injury time to deny Brighton a late chance for a winner.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 6 -- Still looked uncomfortable on the ball at times as he plays his way back to full match fitness, but his positioning was largely excellent.
DF Sead Kolasinac, 6 -- The powerful Bosnian is perfecting the art of muscling attackers off the ball. Couldn't give the attack the sort of boost he has provided in recent games but made up for it with a very solid defensive display.
MF Lucas Torreira, 6 -- Perhaps a bit less aggressive than he usually is with the threat of a suspension hanging over him, but still made a number of interceptions and good tackles.
MF Granit Xhaka, 5 -- Functioned well at the base of a midfield diamond and helped Arsenal dominate possession with a composed passing display. But needed to do more in the second half to help the attack.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 7 -- His long ball over the top for Aubameyang in the opening minutes set the tone for an excellent passing display from the teenager, who had one of his most complete performances in an Arsenal shirt. His confidence and composure on the ball are striking for such a young age.
FW Mesut Ozil, 5 -- Made his first away start since October, only to be yanked at halftime by Emery, who perhaps was less than impressed with the German's halfhearted attempt to track back on Brighton's goal. Made a couple of clever touches around the box, including one in the run-up to Aubameyang's opener, but this was another performance that raises questions about his role in the side.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 -- Could have had a first-half hat trick but for two excellent saves from Mathew Ryan (although one could argue that he should have been more clinical on that last chance). Faded after that and had hardly any service in the second half.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 -- Outstanding in the first half, when his performance included everything you want from a striker except an actual goal. Superb work to set up the opener and often dropped deep to give the midfield a target man, but was surprisingly taken off after just 60 minutes.
MF Alex Iwobi 5 -- Replaced Ozil at halftime, though didn't do much to justify that decision from Emery.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 6 -- Injected a burst of energy in midfield and nearly set up both Aubamayang and Ainsley Maitland-Niles for good chances.
DF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 5 -- Provided a spark going forward as a wing-back for the last 20 minutes but lacked quality in the final third, giving the ball away needlessly.