Monday, 27 January 2014

Arsenal Player Ratings thus far


I had written this in mid-January, but didn't get the time to post it. However, I feel it's better to get it out now, instead of seeing it rot in my book. Better late than never, huh?

I've done my basic assessment of each Arsenal player's first half of the season, and then given my final verdict in 'Rating' - which will be out of 5 - and 'Commitment' of the player for the club, which will either be 'Bare', 'Fair' or 'High'. Keep in mind that these are my midway ratings of the 2013/14 campaign, and that they will in no way represent their final season analysis. Let's begin.


1. Wojciech Szczesny
Rarely has a bad game, and is proving to be particularly integral this season. Resembles a much younger Jens Lehmann, and after signing a new contract and approaching only 24, he can only get better at Arsenal.
Rating: 4.5
Commitment: High

21. Lukasz Fabianski
Bar that error against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, he's been pretty decent for Arsenal. Since the 2010/11 season, he's worked very hard to wipe off his antics at Porto from the mind of Arsenal supporters. I daresay he has finally managed to pull that off, by being a good backup option.
Rating: 4
Commitment: Fair

13. Emiliano Viviano
A signing merely for depth, it's surprising that he has fallen behind Fabianski in the pecking order. I can only assume that he's not very good in training, and also that he's not exactly having the time of his life here.
Rating: N/A
Commitment: N/A

3. Bacary Sagna
Great player, a loyal servant who has concreted his place at right back with remarkable consistency over the years. He's versatile too - with only 3 center backs in our team, he can fill in seamlessly over there when required. Bould's coaching has worked wonders for him - I think he's currently the best right back in the country at the moment. Clearly he wants Arsenal to win a trophy, and I think that he'll wait and see how the season unfolds before potentially putting pen to paper.
Rating: 4.5
Commitment: Fair

25. Carl Jenkinson
Even though he's a natural athlete capable of sustaining the Premier League's rigours, one would be fair to say that he's doing a simply adequate job for filling in for Bac. With the French right back's future uncertain, Carl needs to perform better more consistently. I think he will, he has the potential to be a special player for Arsenal FC.
Rating: 3.5
Commitment: High

4. Per Mertesacker
It's not easy for a slow center back to make it big in the league, but Mertesacker has achieved it this season, to remarkable consistency. Upon his arrival 3 years ago he looked nervy, slow and far from assured on the ball. However, this season he's been just superb and emerged as a real leader, being the ying to Laurent Koscielny's yang.

Thanks to Per (and Bould), we now have a rock-solid back four. However, it was against Manchester City where Mertesacker became one of my favourite players - yelling at a player like Ozil for not applauding the away fans. He's got the award for the best center back in the league, and deservedly so. In a world with few good center backs, we should consider ourselves fortunate for having an excellent one - Our Big Friendly Giant.
Rating: 5
Commitment: High

6. Laurent Koscielny
Brilliant defender, benefiting from Mertesacker's telepathic connection. Even though he's grown to be a very nice find from the manager, I still feel that he puts in rash tackles in dangerous positions. He's racked up a lot of red cards since arriving at Arsenal, not to mention concede penalties. Still a player I want at this club for years to come, though.
Rating: 4.5
Commitment: High

5. Thomas Vermaelen
He's a good defender, who's unlucky to miss out on a place in the starting XI due to the aforementioned effective Mertescielny partnership. I actually think that he can be pretty compatible with Per if given a chance, but Wenger is understandably reluctant to do so. Even so, Thomas needs and probably deserves more games than the FA Cup. I think he'll leave in the summer at this rate, which would be an undoubted shame.
Rating: 4
Commitment: Fair

28. Kieran Gibbs
He's progressed leaps and bounds after putting his injury days behind him. Competition with Nacho Monreal rather than Andre Santos has also seemed to help, I'd say. He has Arsenal written all over him, but so did Ashley Cole. Let's hope we don't witness another Ca$hley with him.
Rating: 4.5
Commitment: High

17. Nacho Monreal
Must be a bit frustrated due to lack of game time, and might consider his future in the light of it being World Cup year. Maybe it's a good sign that Wenger is giving him game time even with a fit Gibbs - because we cannot afford to lose Nacho. He's a really good backup option, and that's actually a compliment in disguise.
Rating: 4
Commitment: Fair

20. Mathieu Flamini
A good re-find from the manager, Mathieu's doing an outstanding job of being a short-term Patrick Vieira replacement. Honestly, I thought that he would be a fail signing, one mostly for quantity than quality. However, he's become an important member of the team, possibly the best free signing of the season. True, his influence seems to be diminishing a bit, but I think he's done enough to be shielded a bit from criticism... for now.
Rating: 4.5
Commitment: High

8. Mikel Arteta
While players like Ramsey, Wilshere and Flamini have restricted Arteta's appearances for the club, no one would deny that his injury was a big blow for the club. He's stepped up to the task of carrying out defensive duties - the match against Westfalenstadion particularly stands out - and been good, professional when called upon. If I had a complaint, I would say that his square passing should be reduced to some extent. Otherwise, more of the same please.
Rating: 4
Commitment: High

16. Aaron Ramsey
Wow. What a player. I don't even know where to begin with this guy. All I can say - apart from this piece - is that the greatest compliment to him would be calling him the current best Arsenal midfielder. Yes, in a midfield star-studded with Wilshere, Cazorla, Ozil and Rosicky.

He tends to be a bit selfish while scoring goals, but with our current goalscoring crisis, I'd actually WANT that from the Welshman. God I hope he's fit and firing quickly.
Rating: 5
Commitment: High

10. Jack Wilshere
England's biggest hope is having a bit of a mixed season thus far, and maybe needs to show some consistency to really shine. He's being doing that recently, taking up the 'Aaron Ramsey' mantle to put in topnotch performances against Cardiff, Villa and Fulham. Still, that doesn't cover the fact that Jack has had a merely decent first half. More is expected come the crunch part of the campaign, and I think he'll deliver.
Rating: 4
Commitment: High

11. Mesut Ozil
Needs to buck up soon. He shows no passion, no workrate and barely any determination during a game. I've already suggested benching him and playing Cazorla instead, and buy a pacy striker in the meanwhile who can make the runs that Ozil can find.

However, that's barely any consolation for a complete lack of determination and commitment from this player. I don't want to see another Samir Nasri in the making here, but I fear that I am. Still, it's hard to ignore 5 goals and 10 assists.
Rating: 4
Commitment: Bare

7. Tomas Rosicky
A relative lack of injuries in this Arsenal campaign has meant that Tomas has finally blossomed into the player that he long threatened to. Electrifying runs, constant pressure on the opposition and always buzzing with the ball, Rosicky is finally repaying the faith that the manager kept in him. It's time for him to sign an extension and hang up his boots in the future - retire an Arsenal legend.
Rating: 4.5
Commitment: High

14. Theo Walcott
In the 2 months of football that he did play, Walcott had been devastatingly effective, with 6 goals and 4 assists to his name. He's tremendously unlucky to miss out on the rest of the campaign, but he's already shown enough signs that he has matured this season. Godspeed, Theo. We hope we can hand you a trophy as consolation for missing out on the World Cup.
Rating: 4.5
Commitment: High

15. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
After a pretty mediocre 2012/13, a massive season awaited for the Ox. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury which arrested his growth. The flip side obviously is that he's fit now and raring to contribute to the team. Let's hope he will.
Rating: N/A
Commitment: High

44. Serge Gnabry
A player who has really made his mark when called upon to perform, and Walcott's injury means that he will be called upon more often. His contributions against Swansea, Crystal Palace and the Spuds have highlighted his potential, which should blossom now that he's surrounded by players like Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla and Podolski. So far, so good. Let's hope for more.
Rating: 4
Commitment: Full

19. Santi Cazorla
Since mid-December, the Spaniard is slowly getting to his best, but that doesn't cover the fact that he's been merely average in the first half of the season. I have already expressed my views on this - Cazorla needs space in the middle to thrive. I'm dubious as to whether he'll continue this good patch if he's shunted to the wings - I'm afraid we'll always see mixed results from him.
Rating: 4
Commitment: Fair

9. Lukas Podolski
Continuously benched by Wenger, Podolski will doubtless be frustrated and eager to build on the 'super sub' role that he currently occupies. He's raving for games and deservedly so; he has more goals than starts this campaign. I'm afraid that we'll see the back of him in the summer if this continues. Let's hope that it doesn't.
Rating: 4.5
Commitment: Fair

31. Ryo Miyaichi
For a promising talent, he's been plain rusty when called upon. At 21, he needs to impress soon or consider a transfer to another club, especially when we have a lot of options and won't particularly miss him. Looked exciting at first, but I think we need to face reality and get him off our wage budget.
Rating: 3
Commitment: Bare

12. Olivier Giroud
He's been impressive when called upon, but the problem is that he's been called upon far, far too often. He badly needs a striking partner (apart from Bendtner) so that he has the rest he needs to show up in other games. A prime reason of his recent dip in form was down to overplaying, which needs to be solved because I want our HFB to perform well for the club.

Look, the thing with Ollie is that he's good in the departments that he's built for. His control, heading, lay off and workrate is awesome, and he's one of the best in the league in those skills. But he's not a total striker like Thierry or Robin, so we need someone to complete him. A player who has the qualities Giroud doesn't - dribbling, pace and an ability to bury half chances. Kind of how Mertesacker and Koscielny have completed each other to form one unit, we have to find a striking partner for Giroud who can do the same.

Nevertheless, I'll hand it to Giroud, for no one can deny that we've seen a much needed, marked improvement from the Frenchman this campaign.
Rating: 4.5
Commitment: High

23. Nicklas Bendtner
The perfect way to describe this person would be that he is symbolic of Arsenal over the years. Sloppy at first yet rejuvenated now, Bendtner is doing all he can to improve his reputation at the club. However, memorable goals against Hull and Cardiff are giving a false illusion that his form has permanently changed for the better. I'm a bit exasperated of saying that it has NOT, and that we need better backup for Giroud. In four days.
Rating: 3.5
Commitment: Fair

22. Yaya Sanogo
Haven't seen enough of him. Let's just hope that we don't have to call him the next 'Abou Diaby' or something.
Rating: N/A
Commitment: N/A

30. Park Chu Young
Barely made more appearances than Viviano. Enough said.
Rating: N/A
Commitment: Bare.

--

While the ending of the ratings was a bit anti-climactic, the overall conclusion is that we have a very good group of committed, fantastic players who can give any team in the world a good run for their money. In our team, there are 9 players who I feel are fully committed to the club, as well as achieving a high rating (4+) along the way as well. That's really impressive compared to the seasons before, a prime reason of why I'm proud to be calling myself a supporter of these players.

There are small things in this team that cannot, and should not be forgotten. Giroud's never-ending workrate to pacify our striker issues, Flamini's crunching challenges to halt a goal, Mertesacker disciplinary actions on Ozil and Cazorla, the fun filled superhero-themed Christmas celebrations, Santi, Szczesny and Walcott trolling the small club across town are what come to mind immediately.

However, the thing with our team is that it's still incomplete, although not severely lacking in depth. I believe that if Arsene Wenger buys a center back (preferably two) and a striker then we are good to go for the double, and can consider getting past the Bavarians as well. Wenger's stubbornness angers me a lot - he just doesn't realize how close we are from not having a care in the transfer world.

Wenger is making a huge mountain out of a molehill, which is completely unnecessary. He'll be a bit busier in the summer, what with dealing with Sagna's and Rosicky's contracts and the futures of Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Frimpong, Diaby, Podolski, Bendtner and Park. However, if he buys a striker and a center back (PREFERABLY TWO), we'll be a COMPLETE team, at least for the next 6 months.

If we don't buy these players - especially a striker - then we can kiss our title hopes goodbye. I won't rule out the FA Cup (even though we've drawn Liverpool), but I will certainly rule out the Premier League and the Champions League for the time being.

We just need to buy in the next four days. It will save our season, and maybe the season beyond. 

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )