An improved display from NUFC today but ultimately, it’s another defeat and one that looks set to leave us in the relegation zone, as Mesut Ozil’s first half volley sealed a slender win for Arsenal.
Here’s our thoughts and marks out of 10 following today’s 1-0 defeat at the Emirates.
NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1) – Elliot– Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo – Merino, Hayden – Murphy, Perez, Atsu – Joselu.
Elliot – 6 – Solid stop to deny Wilshere from close range in the second half. Feel more comfortable with him between the sticks than Darlow.
Yedlin – 6.5 – Some important challenges and a more switched on defensive display that we’ve seen in recent weeks. Arsenal weren’t really at the races but he kept Sanchez quiet.
Lejeune – 5 – Better in the second half, but was very poor in the first. Tended to get too tight & could’ve easily conceded a penalty after getting the wrong side of Lacazette. Ozil’s goal was impressive but Lejeune’s ‘clearing’ header was a tad weak in the build up.
Manquillo– 6 – Allowed Bellerin or Iwobi to get in behind on occasion (although that may have been due to a lack of help from the winger ahead of him), but generally stuck to his task well. Didn’t enjoy any bursts forward to support attacks.
Hayden – 5 – Combative, but sloppy and clumsy too. His touch let him down a few times and he struggled to get us moving forward when in possession, often preferring to go back. The odd good challenge but as many (if not more!) needless and slightly reckless fouls. Struggled to carry the ball forward, often preferring to go back.
Merino – 8 – Easily NUFC’s best player. Broke up the play, drew several fouls, took players on and got his head up to try and drive us forward. Showed confidence & composure and never gave up in the middle. Put in a real shift and tried to get us going best he could. All action and looked like the real Mikel Merino after a few rusty displays on his return from injury.
Murphy – 6 – Had a decent low shot saved by Cech after cutting in from the right, but was wasteful on the counter more often than not. Needs to work on that final ball and decision making.
Perez – 6.5 – Helped hold the ball and get us up the pitch. Drew several fouls in decent set piece opportunities areas. As ever with Perez there was some frustrating moments, but he was better than he has been recently.
Atsu – 6 – Ran at his man (with mixed success) in the first and showed some decent composure in possession but started the second poorly and was subbed off for Ritchie. Gave Bellerin a little too much space at times and needs to improve final ball after using his pace to get himself in good positions.
Joselu – 5 – Won just about everything in the air, but aside from that (and putting himself about) he was very poor. Loose and wasteful in possession and a little too slow to react and sluggish when we needed him to be sharper. New striker in January essential, but won’t be easy to come by.
Ritchie – 6.5 – Gave us some added impetus and urgency. Some great crosses into the box and some sharp forward passes after some pedestrian play before his arrival onto the field. Had a decent chance but couldn’t keep it down.
Diame and Gayle on too late / didn’t touch the ball enough to give a full and fair rating.