Fri. Jan 22nd, 2021

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Roy Keane says Arsenal’s players ‘aren’t good enough’ – who are the Gunners’ best and worst players?

10 min read

Ten games in, Arsenal‘s Premier League season already looks over and Roy Keane from the Sky Sports studio has made his judgement on the squad at Mikel Arteta’s disposal. The players may want to look away now.

Arteta has overseen FIVE defeats in the Premier League with the north Londoners sitting in 14th place and even a top-four race seems out of reach at this early stage. 

Former Manchester United captain Keane jokingly claimed Arsenal were just about good enough to survive a relegation dogfight, but he was deadly serious when laying into the overall quality of the Gunners stars. 

Mikel Arteta's Arsenal have lost five out of 10 games this season and look miles off the top

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have lost five out of 10 games this season and look miles off the top

Roy Keane says the Gunners players 'aren't good enough' to play for the club and are 'too soft'

Roy Keane says the Gunners players ‘aren’t good enough’ to play for the club and are ‘too soft’

Keane claimed some of the players ‘aren’t good enough’ and ‘are too soft’ for a side of Arsenal’s stature as Arteta’s squad deals with a lack of creativity in front of goal. 

Following Keane’s outburst against the Gunners, who face Rapid Veinna in the Europa League tonight, Sportsmail rates and slates the current crop after their disappointing start to the campaign…

Bernd Leno

One of the select few who still has any sort of dignity in this Arsenal squad. The Gunners would have been on the wrong end of several hidings if it weren’t for the German goalkeeper – Leno is one of the best shot stoppers the north Londoners have had in years.

Verdict: Performing well

Goalkeeper Bernd Leno has saved Arsenal from a number of heavy defeats so far this season

Goalkeeper Bernd Leno has saved Arsenal from a number of heavy defeats so far this season

Alex Runarsson

It’s harsh to criticise the Icelandic goalkeeper given he was a cheap replacement for Emiliano Martinez, whose sale to Aston Villa helped to fund Arsenal’s summer transfer plans. Yet to concede a goal in his Gunners career but his two games were against European minnows and he’s unlikely to feature against quality opposition. 

Verdict: Jury’s out 

Hector Bellerin 

There are two sides to the Spaniard – the exciting full-back going forward and the careless defender while tracking back. Bellerin has surprisingly been Arsenal’s most efficient source of chance creation in this goal drought from open-play, though his attacking mentality is often a joy for opponents on the break.

Verdict: Good enough for Arsenal – just 

Hector Bellerin has looked good going forward but is still suspect to defensive errors

Hector Bellerin has looked good going forward but is still suspect to defensive errors 

Cedric 

The Portuguese right-back has barely played due to Bellerin’s return to fitness and his own personal injury. Arteta described Cedric as one of the Gunners’ strongest players in wide areas when he first joined, a four-year contract given at the start of the season hints that there might be a player in there. The 29-year-old has done little wrong in his limited appearances so far. 

Verdict: Jury’s out 

David Luiz

The Brazilian centre-back brings leadership and is good going forward with his range of passing, but Luiz is let down by his defensive frailties. The 33-year-old’s game is exposed when in a back two and Arteta appears to have abandoned the back three which helps cover the cracks in his concentration. Luiz is running out of chances.

Verdict: Must improve, but can he? 

David Luiz needs to improve his defensive game but is the Brazilian capable of doing so?

David Luiz needs to improve his defensive game but is the Brazilian capable of doing so?

Rob Holding

The English centre-back shows promise on occasions but lacks consistency. One of the more vocal players on the pitch and popular with the fans but – like most of the team – there’s an error in him. At 25, we should be seeing the best of Holding and Arteta often overlooks the defender when given the chance to. 

Verdict: Time is running out

Gabriel Magalhaes

The Brazilian is the only summer signing to have shown any sort of promise in an Arsenal shirt so far this season, though doubts are beginning to form over whether he can play in a back four. Gabriel has excellent positioning and puts his body on the line but needs a mobile centre-back partner to make up for his lack of pace. 

Verdict: Performing well 

Gabriel Magalhaes appears to be a smart buy for Arsenal but he struggles to play in a back four

Gabriel Magalhaes appears to be a smart buy for Arsenal but he struggles to play in a back four

Callum Chambers

The defender looked like he was going to be a big part of Arteta’s plans when the Spanish manager first arrived but a serious knee injury ruined Chambers’ development. The 25-year-old still has two years left on his deal but needs game time quickly to show his worth. Like Holding, Chambers is running out of time. 

Verdict: Jury’s out 

William Saliba

The Frenchman was signed for £25million last season but Arteta took one look at the defender and deemed him not ready for first-team football. The 19-year-old has yet to be given a competitive test in north London and needs a January loan to justify his promise.

Verdict: Jury’s out 

Shkodran Mustafi

Careless in possession and poor in terms of positioning, Mustafi’s Arsenal career has been dormant for several years. The German was given another chance under Arteta following a defensive injury crisis but a poor cameo in the Leicester defeat appears to be the final straw. He will feature in the meaningless Europa games and possibly in cup matches to give others a rest and that will be it for Mustafi before he leaves on a free. 

Verdict: Not good enough 

Shkodran Mustafi has failed to take several chances to impress at Arsenal

Shkodran Mustafi has failed to take several chances to impress at Arsenal

Pablo Mari

The Spaniard played a few matches after joining from Brazil but a long-term knee injury has damaged the start to his Arsenal career. Like Gabriel, Mari looks tidy in possession and his left foot could be useful in build-up but a lack of pace is a concern. 

Verdict: Jury’s out 

Sokratis 

The Greek defender was deemed not good enough by Arteta to compete in this Arsenal defence, which speaks volumes about how far the 32-year-old has fallen. Sokratis has never looked comfortable with the ball and struggled to buy into Arteta’s style of playing out from the back.

Verdict: Not good enough 

Kieran Tierney

The Scot is placed in the same category as Leno as one of the players who can hold their head up high despite the disastrous start to the season. Tierney is solid defensively, excellent at delivering balls into the box and is not afraid to tell his team-mates when they do something wrong. Just ask Granit Xhaka when he embraced Ezgjan Alioski after the Leeds match. 

Verdict: Performing well

Kieran Tierney is the only player who is showing some heart at Arsenal right now

Kieran Tierney is the only player who is showing some heart at Arsenal right now

Sead Kolasinac 

The Bosnian started his Arsenal career as an attacking left-back who needed to fix his defensive game. Now Kolasinac has lost the quality going forward that endeared him to Gunners supporters when he first arrived, there’s not a great deal of positive feedback about the 27-year-old.

Verdict: Not good enough 

Dani Ceballos

The on-loan Real Madrid midfielder did enough to get a second loan spell at the Emirates this season, but hasn’t done enough to justify it since then. With all midfielders fit and available, Ceballos would not start on current form and his off-field scraps with certain team-mates hints that he’s a liability in the squad.

Verdict: Must improve or won’t be retained 

Dani Ceballos is struggling to justify Arsenal bringing him back on a second loan deal this term

Dani Ceballos is struggling to justify Arsenal bringing him back on a second loan deal this term

Thomas Partey

The Ghanaian was hailed as the saviour to Arsenal’s midfield problems but now has a thigh injury which could rule him out until the New Year. Partey showed what he could bring to the Gunners side with a superb display in the win over Manchester United but would Arsenal have been better off going for attacking midfielder Houssem Aouar this summer instead?

Verdict: Jury’s out – but hopes are high

Granit Xhaka 

The 28-year-old’s display against Wolves hinted that Xhaka’s time in north London may be done. The Swiss midfielder gives the ball away too much and doesn’t bring enough going forward to justify his inclusion in the starting XI. 

Verdict: Not good enough 

Granit Xhaka's carelessness in possession is damaging Arsenal and brings little going forward

Granit Xhaka’s carelessness in possession is damaging Arsenal and brings little going forward

Mohamed Elneny

The Egyptian is one of the most under-rated players at the club. Unlike Xhaka and Ceballos, Elneny is careful in possession and rarely attempts the ‘Hollywood pass’ that his midfield team-mates show. The 28-year-old is excellent at retaining possession and has been a big miss for Arteta’s side after his coronavirus diagnosis on international duty this month.

Verdict: Performing well 

Joe Willock

The young Englishman brings a lot more attacking intent than the likes of Xhaka, Ceballos and Elneny in midfield and could be a useful player. What lets Willock down is his final ball in front of goal. It looks like the 21-year-old is finally getting a chance under Arteta this season – his displays and attacking numbers between now and Christmas will define Willock’s Arsenal career. 

Verdict: Jury’s out 

Joe Willock has showed glimpses of attacking intent but needs to improve his final ball

Joe Willock has showed glimpses of attacking intent but needs to improve his final ball

Ainsley Maitland-Niles 

The England international’s all-round game has come on massively since he first became an Arsenal regular in 2017, but Maitland-Niles’ game time out wide has been hampered by the rise of Bukayo Saka. With the current first-choice midfielders current underperforming, the 23-year-old may finally get his chance at the heart of Arteta’s team. 

Verdict: Jury’s out – needs game time.  

Mesut Ozil

On his day, Mesut Ozil is a top player but is that day behind him? Arsenal are missing a creative spark but the German’s work-rate off the ball does not make him a good fit in Arteta’s system. Frozen out and not named in their squads.

Verdict: Not good enough for what Arteta is trying to bring to Arsenal 

Bukayo Saka 

The 19-year-old has impressed many this season but is being let down by his team-mates’ inability to create chances elsewhere on the pitch. Too much pressure has been put on Saka to bring quality in the final third – if other players step up then the England international can have more freedom to show his full potential. 

Verdict: Performing well 

Too much pressure is being placed on the shoulders of Arsenal's impressive Bukayo Saka

Too much pressure is being placed on the shoulders of Arsenal’s impressive Bukayo Saka

Emile Smith-Rowe

The 20-year-old looks like he’s put injury issues behind him and could be a secret weapon for Arteta’s Arsenal in the second half of the season. A loan move away could be a more sensible option in January but Arteta may be running out of ideas in front of goal. Smith-Rowe can both create and score – but is he ready?

Verdict: Jury’s out 

Willian

The Brazilian is not even close to replicating the performances he showed at Chelsea in an Arsenal shirt. Willian has looked slower since switching west London for north and no goal contributions since the start of the season is a real concern. The winger needs a promising Christmas to resurrect his form.

Verdict: Must improve 

Willian is not even close to replicating the high-quality performances he showed at Chelsea

Willian is not even close to replicating the high-quality performances he showed at Chelsea

Nicolas Pepe

The Ivorian has yet to justify his £72m price tag and his silly red card at Leeds shows he needs to mature as well as develop his consistency. That being said, Pepe is a more exciting option in the final third than his team-mates – Arteta must bring him back in after his suspension to make Arsenal less predictable up front. 

Verdict: Jury’s out

Reiss Nelson

The young English winger has looked promising every time he performs but is yet to get a decent run in the Arsenal first team. Nelson showed in his Bundesliga loan spell at Hoffenheim that he can perform week-in-week-out at a high level but needs to show Arteta what he’s missing or he’ll fade away at the Emirates. 

Verdict: Jury’s out 

Reiss Nelson can play at the highest level but Mikel Arteta needs to give him more game time

Reiss Nelson can play at the highest level but Mikel Arteta needs to give him more game time

Gabriel Martinelli

The young Brazilian showed he was more than good enough to play for Arsenal in his breakout season last term, but a long-term injury has stopped that momentum. Martinelli is expected to return in the new year and can be like a new signing for Arteta – if he can replicate his form. 

Verdict: Good enough for the first team 

Eddie Nketiah 

This was meant to be Eddie Nketiah’s big season at Arsenal but Arteta’s choice to move Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang into a central striking role has shifted the young Englishman down the pecking. The striker has shown at England Under-21 level what he can bring but does his future lie elsewhere if Arteta doesn’t bite the bullet and promote him?

Verdict: Jury’s out 

Alex Lacazette

The French striker looked on form at the start of the season with goals in his first three Premier League matches. But Lacazette’s form in front of goal since then has been poor and has been guilty of missing easy chances when the Gunners have dropped points. The 29-year-old has never established himself as first choice in north London and the clock is ticking. 

Verdict: Must improve 

It has been a tricky season for Alex Lacazette despite three goals in his first three games

It has been a tricky season for Alex Lacazette despite three goals in his first three games

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 

Arsenal’s captain has not looked the same since he signed his new mega-money contract at the start of the season. The Gunners are looking to their skipper for inspiration and it’s not there. Aubameyang looked threatening on the wing but needs to recapture his form he showed at Dortmund as a central striker if the Gunners want to achieve anything this season. 

Verdict: Must improve 

Back in a central striking role, Arsenal need captain Aubameyang to step up as a leader

Back in a central striking role, Arsenal need captain Aubameyang to step up as a leader

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