Arsenal Player Ratings and Tactical Notes from the Euro 2020 Group Stages
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
By Mac Johnson (Senior Writer)
I’m writing this minutes after the conclusion of both the England vs. Czech Republic and Scotland vs. Croatia matches, so excuse my presumptions that the Arsenal players involved in Euro 2020 have made their run of appearances. Given Bernd Leno's permanent state as Germany's recently promoted and quite temporary second choice goalkeeper, I don't reckon he'll see the field against Hungary.
That being said, Arsenal have four players involved in Euro 2020, which isn't a despicable total, until you remember that Wolves have that many players representing Portugal alone. Due to Arsenal's high contingency of high-profile African and South American players, and general lack of quality, the club's underrrepresentation shouldn't come as much of a shock, but it does mean that football Twitter hasn't had as many scapegoats to dilute their opinions.
Switzerland's Granit Xhaka, Germany's Bernd Leno, Scotland's Kieran Tierney, and of course, England's most recent Man of the Match, Bukayo Saka, are the four players in question, and now that their time in the group stages has concluded, it's only right to hand out Player Ratings. And in classic WLYA fashion, I'll be taking after the wonderful Vinay with some tactical points as well.
Let's start at the back.
Bernd Leno - 5.0
Goodness he looks handsome sitting on that bench, doesn't he?
There really isn't much to say here. Germany still have a pivotal tie against Hungary to come, and so Manuel Neuer will start. Tactically, he's been as astute as a benchwarmer can be. And his rating is determined by his inactivity, and the fact that his inclusion wouldn't have changed the outcome of either match Germany have played in so far. Moving swiftly onwards.
Kieran Tierney - 8.0
In a Scotland side notably bereft of moments of quality, our unstoppable Scotsman has a habit of providing them, along with Andrew Robertson, and Scotty McSauce, who's rather adept at playing centre-back. Against England, he was lights-out defensively; just an absolute monster to get past. His performance versus Croatia was slightly lower-key, but he wasn't at fault for any of the goals, and he provided more going forward than his previous performances, and notably more than Robertson, despite being played at centre-back. Scotland deserved to exit because they can't put the ball in the back of the net, but a lot of teams would love a Kieran Tierney of their very own this tournament.
A healthy Kieran Tierney is nearly impossible to play against.
Similar to Project Restart, Tierney has shown the ability to thrive in a deeper-lying role.
His flexibility could hint at a more inverted role in the future if necessary.
His passing range is second to none on the Scotland team, and his crossing is always dangerous.
Should Arteta use a back three in the future, Tierney would be better-served to slot into a more defensive role, letting the midfield above be free-flowing, especially with an injection of new blood into the side.
An early elimination from the Euros will allow him to stay healthy and have a more complete preseason.
Granit Xhaka - 6.5
Key to this Switzerland side, as he so often is, he captained the side in all three fixtures they played. His passing was especially key in the 3-1 win over a despondent and downtrodden Turkey side, but Xhaka looked to continue the bounce he experienced this season with the Gunners. He got into the attack frequently, avoided committing silly fouls as often as he could, and played with the striking consistency we've come to expect from him. However, his side are third in the group, and could face elimination. On that basis, and given his lack of goal contributions (he was unlucky to thump the post from a set-piece), I've rated him above average, certainly, but nothing special.
Played a more traditional double pivot for Switzerland alongside Remo Freuler of Atalanta; the two provided the midfield cover for Vlad Petković's 3-4-1-2 formation.
Looked to play in a slightly deeper role to allow for the runs of Freuler and the overlapping fullbacks.
Xhaka had the second-highest xG-Buildup of any member of the Switzerland squad during the group stages.
His runs from deep were key to Switzerland's buildup, as Xherdan Shaquiri struggled to carry the creative impetus of a team singlehandedly.
Looks to be an excellent midfielder for Jose Mourinho, assuming his move to Roma doesn't fall through.
Bukayo Saka - 9.0
What a player our Starboy is. Omitted from the side for the first two matches, he made a serious case for his inclusion in the third: Gareth Southgate will have a difficult time ignoring him now. In an England side bereft of quick movement, Saka provided a spark that was otherwise lacking, although Jack Grealish gave it a fair shot, to be fair to him. Man of the Match is well-deserved; he was head and shoulders above anybody else on the pitch earlier today.
He showed the entire footballing world just why Arsenal fans love him so much. This isn't so much tactical as it is me being upset. Drop your agendas people, the kid's quality.
Right-wing looks to be a comfortable home for Saka—his driving inside-out runs caused the Czech Republic no end of problems.
As Daniel would say, if you can't beat him, beat him. Bar Grealish, nobody drew more fouls for England today, and he drew a yellow card singlehandedly, and should've arguably drawn another.
The fact that opponents have reduced to fouling hi to stop him smacks of Eden Hazard. Scintillating stuff.
His defensive support was key at a few moments too, as he and Kyle Walker linked up nicely.
His linkup with Kalvin Phillips showed us what Partey might be able to do given more freedom with a true No. 6 behind him.
I may be in love with Bukayo Saka. That's it, that's the tweet.
And that's it from me! Hope you lads and lasses enjoyed this one, and I'll see you next week.