Assessing Arsenal This Season
Posted by Aaron C-Reid | Published on February 18, 2016
It’s fair to say Arsenal have had nothing less than a roller coaster season, from a poor start, Arsenal are now competing with the likes of Leicester, Tottenham and Manchester City for the title. Again, Arsenal’s lack of spending has caused problems for their squad mid-season, but Wenger’s men haven’t had the worst of times this season, below analyses the hits and misses of this glorious Premier League season.
Goalkeeper – Petr Cech
The big keeper has been one of Arsenal’s best and most important players this season, with his outstanding handling and reflexes keeping them in games at times. Arsenal have relied on him on occasion, especially when Per Mertesacker is exposed on the counter attack. After a poor debut, Cech has proven to be a fantastic acquisition, making 86 saves, the second most from any Premier League keeper. He also boasts the most clean sheets from any keeper, at 12. Overall I feel that he has been one of the best keepers in the league, and one of Arsenal’s most critical players, Arsenal have only conceded on average 0.88 goals per game when he has played.
Cech’s Season Rating 9/10
Right Back – Héctor Bellerín
Hector Bellerín came out of nowhere last season, when he replaced Mathieu Debuchy as Arsenal’s starting right back. The young Spaniard has impressed with his blistering pace and his abilities going forward. He ends many of the opposition attacks and then quick starts Arsenal’s counter attacks. His best moment may be setting up Mesut Ozil’s goal in the 2-0 defeat of Bayern as he found a way to sprint past David Alaba at full throttle, even though it was the 94th minute, and square it to Mesut Özil who sealed the game with a side footed finish. To summarise in my opinion Bellerín has been like a new signing since coming in to the side and has been solid for the Gunners.
Bellerin’s Season Rating – 7/10
Centre Back – Per Mertesacker
Arsenal’s captain, Per Mertesacker, hasn’t been such a standout player compared to the other defenders. He may have experience on his side but seems to be constantly exposed due to his lack of pace. In previous seasons he seemed to have formed a solid partnership with Laurent Koscielny, but anytime they’ve played together this term they don’t seem to be on the same wavelength. Mertesacker seems to be out of favour since his rash tackle and sending off against Chelsea and I think this could be the beginning of the end for his Arsenal career.
Mertesacker’s Season Rating – 5/10
Centre Back – Laurent Koscielny
Probably Arsenal’s best defender in the last few seasons is Koscielny and he hasn’t disappointed this term either. He reads the game so well, is a good tackler and has the pace to cover for Mertesacker. Koscielny looks like the most comfortable person in the Arsenal squad defending and will hope to be a mainstay in the Gunners’ side in the near future. I feel that he has been assured for Arsenal the whole season and if they do go on to win the league then he will be a key player in the title chase.
Koscielny’s Season Rating – 8/10
Left Back – Nacho Monreal
Monreal may be Arsenal’s most improved player, growing from one of Arsenal’s poorest performers to being one of the first names on the teamsheet within a few months. After being a fringe player Monreal has established himself as a solid left back for Arsenal and possibly the best left back in the league this season thus far.
Monreal’s Season Rating – 8/10
Defensive Midfielder – Francis Coquelin
After a hugely successful second half of last season, Francis Coquelin started the season very well. He hit the ground running and seemed to only improve, showing he can mix it up with the big boys, with assured displays against Bayern Munich and Manchester United at the Emirates. His impressive start was then halted after he picked up a serious injury in the defeat to West Brom, ruling him out for four months. Recovering earlier than expected and will want to gradually cement his place again in the Arsenal starting XI.
Coquelin’s Season Rating – 7/10
Central Midfielder – Santi Cazorla
Similarly to Coquelin, Cazorla was having a successful season in the middle of the park before his campaign was halted by injury. As he remains sidelined I can only judge his performances from the start of the season till the game against Norwich in November. When he has played he has been the metronome of the team, helping his side tick and controlling the game with his fantastic passing. He has flourished since he has moved to a deep lying midfield role and made the midfield balanced when he started alongside Coquelin, with his technical ability combining well with the Frenchman’s raw power and tough tackling.
Cazorla’s Season Rating – 7/10
Right Midfield/Central Midfielder – Aaron Ramsey
Ramsey hasn’t had a very consistent season on the wing or in the middle of midfield. After starting the season’s proceedings as a right winger he proved to be quite ineffective and since the injuries of Coquelin and Cazorla he was shifted to his favourite position, into the middle of the park. Ramsey hasn’t achieved the goal tally he would be hoping for and has certainly not controlled the game like Cazorla did. He will hope to improve as the season goes on.
Ramsey’s Season Rating – 6/10
Attacking Midfielder – Mesut Özil
Arsenal’s record signing had endured a tough couple of seasons at the Gunners but has finally made his mark this season as he has performed to a fantastic level so far this term. With the most assists in the league, at 17, he has been Arsenal’s most influential and important player. After taking time to adjust to the Premier League Özil has found his feet and looks better than ever. He has unlocked defences with his sublime vision and pin-point passing. After finally showing up in big games and creating 105 chances in the Premier League, almost twice as many as anyone else, and 6 MOTM awards, Özil has a case to be the Premier League player of the season. The German international will hope to win his first ever league title with the Gunners this season.
Özil’s Season Rating – 9/10
Left Winger – Alexis Sánchez
Sánchez, like many in the Arsenal squad has had his season disrupted by injuries. After a stellar first season he has had a bit of a hit and miss campaign so far this time out. All his Premier League goals have come in the space of three consecutive games, however 6 goals from 16 starts is still a solid record. The Chilean international will hope to improve on that and at least reach double figures. His return from injury has come at a perfect time and he will need to be firing on all cylinders if Arsenal are to lift the title in May.
Sánchez’s Season Rating – 7/10
Striker – Olivier Giroud
Possibly the most under-appreciated player by Arsenal fans is Giroud. After constant pleas for Arsène Wenger to sign a new striker, fans were left disappointed with Giroud the only fit out and out striker in the squad. At the beginning of the season he didn’t do much to change the fans’ opinions and was consequently dropped from the starting line-up, with Theo Walcott replacing him as the striker. Then when Walcott was sidelined with an injury, Giroud took his place and has flourished since. Giroud has a respectable 12 league goals and 4 assists in 20 starts. Not only does he bring goals to the side but his hold up play has come on leaps and bounds, as he demonstrated against Liverpool at Anfield. He wins so many knock downs and gives Arsenal’s other forwards time to break forward with his ability to hold up the ball.
Giroud’s Season Rating – 8/10
Best of the rest
Gabriel – Centre Back
Gabriel Paulista has only started nine league games but finally looks to have taken over from Mertesacker since the loss against Chelsea. He has been at the club for just over a year now but is still struggling to learn English and adapt to the fast paced nature of the Premier League. He has had some good games and when partnered with Laurent Koscielny seems comfortable and composed. It is difficult to evaluate his season as he hasn’t had a run of games in the team yet. In addition to this he looks to be injured again, which could prove to be a huge concern for Arsenal, especially with the game against Barcelona approaching. He has looked solid enough, bar a few shaky moments, and will hope to start more games in the near future.
Gabriel’s Season Rating – 6/10
Mathieu Flamini – Defensive Midfield
After Coquelin’s injury Flamini filled in, playing in the middle of midfield alongside Aaron Ramsey for the last few months. The Frenchman definitely looks no more than ordinary for Arsenal, as he often disrupts their free flowing passing. However, his tough tackling approach is welcomed by many Arsenal fans as they may sometimes be considered too soft a team. This could be Flamini’s last season at Arsenal as his contract expires in the summer and he won’t be missed by many.
Flamini’s Season Rating – 5/10
Joel Campbell – Right winger/Left Winger
After Sanchez’s injury Campbell replaced him and did an adequate job. He has started 10 games and has contributed with 2 goals and an assist. His work ethic is excellent as he has tracked back when he needed to, providing cover for the full backs when he has to. His end product in the final third hasn’t been great but at 23 he looks to be a decent prospect.
Campbell’s Season Rating – 6/10
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Right Winger
Chamberlain has had a rough past couple of seasons as he has been plagued by injuries and hasn’t had a good run in the team in a while. This season is no different as some Arsenal fans are starting to get frustrated by his inconsistent performances. People may forget he is only 22 and will need to be patient with the England international. He has made 9 starts and has only scored 1 goal, his first in over 18 months which is a record he will want to improve on. “The Ox” will want to increase his performance level going into the final part of the season as he will want to be on the plane to the Euros with England.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Season Rating – 6/10
Theo Walcott – Right Winger/Left Winger/Striker
Walcott has been utilised in just about every forward position and has failed to hold down a place in any of them. After playing well as the centre forward in the early stages of the season he was injured, again. He came back into the side, and was played on the left, failing to be very effective. Since then he has been used as a bit part player, coming on after the 70th minute mark. He came on against Leicester and scored the equaliser, which was one of the most important goals in Arsenal’s season. Overall he has been unpredictable but when deployed as a striker he seemed to offer something different and gave Jerome Boateng nightmares in the 2-0 defeat of Bayern Munich.
Walcott’s Season Rating – 7/10