Arsenal 2-0 Luton: Player ratings as Gunners put pressure on Liverpool in title race

  • Arsenal secured a comfortable win over Luton Town in the Premier League
  • Martin Odegaard and a Daiki Hashioka own goal decided the game in the first half
  • Gunners move ahead of title rivals Liverpool in the table for at least 24 hours
Arsenal were too good for Luton at the Emirates Stadium
Arsenal were too good for Luton at the Emirates Stadium / Eddie Keogh/GettyImages

Arsenal made it 28 points from the last 30 on offer with Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over Luton Town in the Premier League, leapfrogging leaders Liverpool in the process ahead of the Reds hosting bottom club Sheffield United on Thursday.

Martin Odegaard fired the Gunners into a 24th minute lead, which was doubled when Daiki Hashioka scored an unfortunate own goal in the first half. There was a feeling throughout that Arsenal didn’t need to get out of second gear and had something left in the tank.

Luton were by no means disgraced, but that has been the story of their season and is the reason why they remain in a relegation battle: competitive but just not quite good enough.

How the game unfolded

Mikel Arteta opted to rest Declan Rice and Gabriel Martinelli, while he didn’t risk Bukayo Saka due to a lingering knock from the weekend. That meant Reiss Nelson’s first Premier League start since 2020 and opportunities for Emile Smith Rowe and Thomas Partey.

It wasn’t a whirlwind start by any means and when Arsenal took the lead midway through the first half it was the game’s first shot on target. Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu was caught on the ball in his own half by Smith Rowe, before Odegaard laid off to Kai Havertz and then moved into the box to finish clinically when the return pass made its way back to him.

A decent save from Luton goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski kept Smith Rowe out around ten minutes later, while Teden Mengi threw himself in front of successive efforts to turn in the rebound. Kaminski made another parry, albeit a fairly comfortable one, when Ben White’s surprisingly silky skills in midfield resulted in Havertz being played into the left channel.

That resistance from the visitors gave out with a second Arsenal goal right before half-time. Smith Rowe was again involved, cutting the ball back from the left across the six-yard box towards Nelson. The winger didn’t get the final contact, but his presence running across Hashioka forced the defender to turn the ball into his own net instead.

Rather like the first half, the second 45 began pretty slowly. Luton did try to inject more energy into their attacking performance with the introduction of Tahith Chong off the bench not long after the restart, although the good spell that followed didn’t translate to real chances.

Ultimately, Arsenal were cruising and Arteta was able to make full use of his bench to keep players fresh. Fans had to wait until the 80th minute to see the first shot of the second though, with substitute Takehiro Tomiyasu sending a shot from distance narrowly wide of the far post.

Arsenal player ratings (4-3-3)

Emile Smith Rowe was arguably the star of the show
Emile Smith Rowe was arguably the star of the show / Julian Finney/GettyImages

GK: David Raya - 6/10 - Hardly tested.

RB: Ben White - 6/10 - Played with confidence drifting into midfield.

CB: William Saliba - 7/10 - Took a no nonsence physical approach to his defending

CB: Gabriel - 6/10 - Good on the ball and solid on the ground.

LB: Oleksandr Zinchenko - 6/10 - Spent a lot of time in the centre of the pitch because of how Arsenal dominated possession.

CM: Martin Odegaard - 8/10 - Took his goal really well, deliberately cutting across the ball as he struck to wrongfoot Kaminski. Hardly misplaced a pass, created chances for others and was busy even out of possession as well.

CM: Thomas Partey - 7/10 - Swept up loose balls in midfield and kept possession ticking over. Lacking match fitness to complete a full 90.

CM: Emile Smith Rowe - 8/10 - Grabbed his chance with both hands and was instrumental in the first goal by winning the ball back high up the pitch and later setting up the second. Left the field to a standing ovation and has staked his claim for a more permanent place.

RW: Reiss Nelson - 6/10 - Bukayo Saka doesn't have to be worried about his place but it was decent showing and he helped make the own goal happen.

ST: Kai Havertz - 7/10 - Moved well and didn't just limit himself to a 'number nine' role. A yellow card for simulation whilst trying to win an insignificant free-kick was a sour note.

LW: Leandro Trossard - 5/10 - The least impactful of the attacking trident.


SUB: Eddie Nketiah (66' for Havertz) - 5/10

SUB: Declan Rice (66' for Partey) - 6/10

SUB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (74' for Zinchenko) - 6/10

SUB: Gabriel Martinelli (75' for Nelson) - 5/10

SUB: Jorginho (85' for Smith Rowe) - N/A

Subs not used: Aaron Ramsdale (GK), Jakub Kiwior, Jorginho, Fabio Vieira, Gabriel Jesus


Mikel Arteta - 8/10 - Saw an opportunity to rotate and took it, starting Nelson, Smith Rowe and Partey. It was absolutely vindicated by the relatively comfortable nature of the win.

Luton Town player ratings (5-4-1)

Ross Barkley performed well for Luton
Ross Barkley performed well for Luton / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

GK: Thomas Kaminski - 6/10 - Made a couple of saves but could do little about the goals.

RB: Fred Onyedinma - 7/10 - Thrust into the starting lineup after only 16 minutes in the Premier League this season prior to kick-off. Impressive, considering.

CB: Daiki Hashioki - 5/10 - Maybe he could have done more to prevent the ball going into his net?

CB: Teden Mengi - 6/10 - Put his body in front of a few Arsenal attempts.

CB: Issa Kabore - 6/10 - Moved into the middle for the tactical shift to a back five.

LB: Alfie Doughty - 7/10 - Getting the ball out to him on the left to cross was a clear tactic.

RM: Andros Townsend - 6/10 - Put in a shift but didn't see much of the ball.

CM: Ross Barkley - 7/10 - Luton's chief creative spark pulling the strings in midfield, particularly in the second half.

CM: Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu - 5/10 - Caught on the ball in a bad area right before Arsenal broke the deadlock. Sacrificed for greater attacking threat early in the second half.

LM: Jordan Clark - 6/10 - Asked some questions of the Arsenal defence in the second period, but put his only shot wide of the target.

ST: Carlton Morris (c) - 5/10 - It was always going to be a lonely night leading the line in this system.


SUB: Tahith Chong (53' for Mpanzu) - 7/10

SUB: Cauley Woodrow (75' for Onyedinma) - 6/10

SUB: Luke Berry (81' for Townsend) - 6/10

Subs not used: James Shea (GK), Tim Krul (GK), Joe Johnson, Christian Chigozie, Zack Nelson, Axel Piesold


Rob Edwards - 7/10 - His decision to put Chong on certainly improved things. In the circumstances, it was a respectable performance.

Player of the match - Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)