So the season is over and in the words of Alice Cooper ‘school is out for summer.’ And with the end of term comes the dreaded report card. Who’s failed? Who’s got straight As? Here we take a look at the Arsenal squad of 2014/15 and assess their performances.
Before we begin, a few house rules. I have only graded players who have appeared at least 10 times. So the likes of Abou Diaby and Gabriel Paulista have been excused from a dressing down.
As for the marks themselves, they are out of 10 and are my opinion. Abuse for my decisions are welcome, as is the odd flicker of praise.
So, to business…
David Ospina – 8/10
Signed as a back-up but he progressed over the season and finished the campaign as the undeniable number one. The Colombian rarely made mistakes and provided a calming influence over the back four. Add in the fact he cost around £3.5m and the goalkeeper was a great bit of business by Wenger.
Wojciech Szczęsny– 4/10
The Poland international endured a miserable season, seeing his position usurped by Ospina. The low point came against Southampton when a poor performance was followed up by a cheeky fag in the showers. Says he wants to stay this summer but it may not be up to him as talk of Petr Čech’s arrival gathers pace.
Héctor Bellerín – 9/10
An amazing season for the Spaniard who has transformed from talented youngster to arguably the team’s first choice right-back. Blessed with blistering pace and an exquisite final ball, he looks like becoming a regular for years to come. Bounced back superbly from a disappointing game against Borussia Dortmund and topped it off with an FA Cup winners medal.
Calum Chambers – 6/10
A bright start to the season trailed off as his fell down the pecking order. There is undoubted talent there but it maybe the case that he needs to go on loan to develop. Future will most likely be as a centre-back, where he looked more comfortable during his appearances this season. Still only 20-years-old and lots to build on.
Mathieu Debuchy – 5/10
Tormented and ridiculed by injury, the Frenchman had a difficult first season at Arsenal. In the games he did play the right-back showed why Arsène Wenger went out and signed him last summer. Great experience and strong in the tackle, Debuchy still may find himself being Bellerín’s understudy next season.
Kieran Gibbs – 5/10
Failed to hit the heights he showed during the previous season and lost his place in the side to Nacho Monreal. On his day he offers bucket loads going forward, but he is still too susceptible to being caught out of position at the back. Will most likely stay this summer unless someone comes in with an offer too good to turn down.
Laurent Koscielny – 8/10
The Frenchman is quickly becoming one of the best centre-backs in Europe and it is no surprise to see the likes of Bayern Munich linked with a move for him this summer. Quick across the pitch and dominant in the air, Koscielny is largely responsible for Mertesacker performing well this season. Now 29, he should be ready to become the team’s main centre-back.
Per Mertesacker – 7/10
Captain for large parts of the season as regular skipper Mikel Arteta struggled with injuries and fitness. He may not be the quickest but you cannot argue with the German’s positioning and experience. A great leader and clearly someone who carries massive respect among the squad, you can expect the 30-year-old to remain for a few more seasons.
Nacho Monreal – 9/10
Nine out of 10 may seem like a high mark but given the amount of abuse the Spaniard has been dealt during his time at the Emirates it is justified. Prior to the start of the season many saw Gibbs as the first choice left-back, including Wenger, but Monreal proved them all wrong. With his stock now high and 29 years of age, Wenger may cash in on him this summer as he moves into the final 12 months of his contract.
Mikel Arteta – 4/10
Injuries restricted the club’s captain to just 11 appearances in all competitions this season and when he did play the Spaniard looked a little off the pace, leading to concerns he won’t be able to hold down a first-team place next season. Francis Coquelin’s emergence will only add to talk that Arteta maybe moved on this summer.
Santi Cazorla – 9/10
One of the most technically gifted players to ever play for Arsenal, the Spaniard has been a joy to watch all season. Able to pick a pass with either foot, Cazorla orchestrated the midfielder beautifully. Talk of a return to Spain is worrying, simply because there are very players who can match him in that deep-lying playmaker role. A contender for Player of the Season.
Francis Coquelin – 9/10
Well, what is there to say. Quite simply a brilliant season for the Frenchman who returned from a loan spell at Charlton to cement his spot in the first-team. Combative and industrious, the 24-year-old is arguably the player Arsenal have been crying out for years. He signed a new long-term contract early this year and is likely to be a big part of Wenger’s plans next season.
Mathieu Flamini – 4/10
Did very little all season but was always there when called upon. Like Tomáš Rosický, he has agreed to stay on for another year but he will find his chances limited again. Talk of a move to Watford has died down and the Frenchman seems happy to be a squad player at the Emirates.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7/10
Like Jack Wilshere injuries hindered the winger’s season, however when he did play we all saw the talent he has to offer. The goal against Monaco was sublime, but the error which led to the French club’s third showed he still has some learning to do. Next season could be key for him as Theo Walcott looks set to be used centrally by Wenger. The right wing spot is there to be taken.
Mesut Özil – 8/10
Perhaps one of the most divisive players to ever pull on the famous red and white of Arsenal. An injury lay-off actually helped the German in the end as he returned fitter and stronger. He was outstanding in the FA Cup final and it feels as though he is about to come into his own. In August fans moaned after missing out on Cesc Fàbregas, but they have been well and truly silenced.
Aaron Ramsey – 8/10
It is sometimes hard to comprehend that Ramsey is still just 24. His maturity in the midfield can be summed up by the fact he is now comfortable out wide, when three years ago he was booed by his own fans for poor performances there. Not as impressive as he was during the 2013/14 season but still a pivotal part of the side. An Arsenal legend in the making.
Tomáš Rosický– 5/10
With so little game time it is hard to score the Czech playmaker highly. Very much a bit-part player but when he did appear Rosický oozed class. The club have activated the option to extend his stay by one more year so he will have a role to play in next year’s campaign.
Jack Wilshere – 6/10
The midfielder’s season can be summed up in one word – injuries. There is no denying Wilshere’s talent and the final game of the season against West Brom gave a timely reminder to Wenger of it. May struggle to get back in the side now that Coquelin has asserted himself on the scene. Manchester City are reportedly interested but the club would be wise to keep him.
Olivier Giroud – 7/10
Comes under a hell of a lot of stick from the media and supporters but another season has seen him haul a good number of goals. 19 strikes during this campaign follow on from 22 the year before and 17 in his first season. Brilliant at holding the ball up and willing to run himself into the ground, the Frenchman is a valuable component of Arsenal’s attack.
Alexis Sánchez – 10/10
Player of the Season and one of the buys of the summer. Arsenal’s £35m investment has already reaped 25 goals and 12 assists after just one season in North London. The Chilean’s phenomenal work-rate is backed up by his ability to bag goals in the big games. A world-class attacker and surely a mainstay of the Arsenal team for years to come.
Theo Walcott – 6/10
Much of the season was spent nursing himself back from a serious knee injury, however the final few games demonstrated that he is almost back to his best. There is still no more terrifying a sight for a defender than the England international running at full tilt and, if he can keep himself fit, the 26-year-old could find himself finally get his wish of playing through the middle.
Danny Welbeck – 5/10
There was a lot of excitement around him when he signed but the ex-Manchester United man hasn’t quite lived up to the hype. Still a very valuable squad player and there is definitely signs of improvement in his game. His winning goal against Manchester United in the FA Cup – and his celebration – means he will always be loved by the fans.
Arsène Wenger – 8/10
In November he was being booed at Stoke train station as fans called for his head, now he has led the club to back-to-back FA Cups. Bought very well in the summer and has developed youngsters like Bellerín and Coquelin. Third in the league and another trophy in the cabinet has seen the season defined as progress. Now it’s time for the title tilt.
Simon Collings is a Regular Columnist here at #ABW – check him out on Twitter at @sr_collings. He is also part of a Premier League Podcast called All About the 3 Points which we definitely think you should check out.