Arsenal player reviews 18/19
So the PL season has ended, and it’s time to review the players’ performances.
Our star strikers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, have received wide plaudits this season. Auba won the Premier League Golden Boot, shared with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
Bernd Leno has been an able keeper and has cemented himself over Petr Cech, who will be retiring this season.
The defence overall has been poor, though Sokratis, Koscielny, Holding, Bellerin, and Monreal, have been solid in various games. Others still, like Mustafi, have been highly erratic.
Torreira and Guendouzi have been able, though Elneny has brought detractors. Xhaka too has not gained many plaudits, but Kolasinac and Maitland-Niiles have brought good things going forward.
Let’s see how each player did then:
Leno – 7/10 – A strong first season for the “Die Mannschaft” keeper
Cech – 6/10 – Stable in parts
Strengths –Shot-stopping, better penalty-area management
Weaknesses– playing from the back still an issue. More clean sheets needed
Improvements needed – Another #2, as Cech is retiring.
Bellerin – 7/10 – very strong pre-injury. Getting back to the Bellerin who emerged in 14/15 and 15/16.
Monreal – 6/10 – Still Mr Consistent, though now is ageing.
Mustafi – 4/10 – He has been much-maligned, and rightly so. But then it’s clear, due to his many errors and mishaps, that he is not top-level and cannot take us to where we wish to be.
Sokratis – 8/10 – Has looked solid and has brought our defence an added and long-needed edge.
Koscielny – 8/10 – Kos the boss has looked strong, and come back from his bad injury at Atletico Madrid to be as stable as ever.
Holding – 7/10 – Pre-injury he was competent. He can be a top-level defender for years to come.
Mavropanos – 5/10 – Still raw, and to be fair had a season out injured for the most part. He needs more time to adapt to top-level football.
Lichtsteiner – 4/10 – Started off strongly, but dipped towards the season’s end. The Juve form didn’t replicate itself for us.
Medley – 5/10 – Hasn’t featured much but was pretty stable in the games he featured in.
Strengths – good individual performers and performances.
Weaknesses –individual errors, lack of quality, poor organisational skills.
Improvements needed – The ability to mark, coordinate, and not commit the same errors. A commanding centre-half, with strength, pace, agility, and power. A mix of Sokratis and Koscielny, in essence, would be ideal.
Elneny – 5/10 – He is a tidy player who is best suited in a packed midfield. His role is to tide over possession and feed from defence to attack. He may not offer more than this, but he’s a valuable squad player.
Torreira – 7/10 – He has brought a new edge in our midfield, and I don’t agree with the narrative that he’s declined in the latter season. I just feel that we’ve become accustomed to him, and it was the contrast in not having a player like him for years that has dimmed.
Guendouzi – 8/10 – to be a player from French Ligue 2, to the Arsenal, and perform ably, is stellar. He can be a star in years to come, and for navigating this jump, he warrants strong kudos.
Xhaka – 4/10 – I don’t think Xhaka is a bad player. But then we don’t’ play to his strengths, and his talents are wasted. As a regista, we’re not configured to get the best from him. I feel it’s now the end of the road for him at Arsenal.
Maitland-Niles – 7/10 – Has progressed nicely, though more so in an offensive sense than defensive capacity.
Kolasinac – 6/10 – Akin to Maitland-Niles, he has done well going forward, but defensively is weak.
Willock – 6/10 – has looked very good in his few appearances, and could provide a viable box to box role in our side.
Ramsey – 8/10 – despite leaving soon for Juve, he’s been very strong. He has scored goals, and provided assists, and been a vital tool in our midfield pressing. Not a club legend, but a player who has provided his all for the club in his time here.
Strengths – better tenacity via Torreira, and a better overall midfield balance.
Weaknesses – poor off the ball work, and allowing the opposition to bully them in certain games.
Improvements needed – a player who has Torreira’s tenacity, but with better distribution and passing, and more box to box range. This could improve off the ball work.
Welbeck – 7/10 – pre-injury, he did well. He was not prolific, but still providing his telling pace, energy, and pressing.
Aubameyang – 9/10 – the Golden Boot winner, and the sixth time an Arsenal player has won the Premier League era award, he hasn’t even been playing in his optimum position. However, he has adapted well and scored regularly to outdo Kane, Aguero, and rival Salah and Mane for the top scorer award. People cite he is not world class, but for me, I beg to differ. His scoring rate is second to none, whether in France (St. Etienne), Germany (Borussia Dortmund), and now for us in England.
Lacazette – 9/10 – He hasn’t been as prolific as Auba, but his game is all round better than his. He has been pretty much dropping deep a la Bergkamp, and the quality of his goals (notably vs. Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Valencia) has been outstanding. He has a technicality that is not shared amongst many English-based and world forwards at this time.
Ozil – 5/10 – Ozil has done well in parts, but then hasn’t been as consistent as needed.
Iwobi – 6/10 – Iwobi’s issue is a lack of end product. He has improved vis a vis the latter Wenger period. But then whilst he has pace, trickery, and dribbling skills, he also doesn’t have the crossing nor shooting ability to make such capacities telling. If he can sharpen these up, I believe he WILL be world-class.
Mkhitaryan – 4/10 – Mkhi has scored goals and provided assists. But as a creative force, he hasn’t been very productive and is very sporadic in his quality. Like Xhaka, the end of the road is nigh, I feel.
Nketiah – 7/10 – A high score? Perhaps. But for me at least, in his few appearances, he has done well. He’s looked sharp, and needs regular game time to see if he can be a valuable player for us long-term. This could be a loan, as he would play more regularly than as a squad player.
Smith-Rowe – 6/10 – Whilst he’s gone on loan to Germany now, his performances with us this season have been good, especially in the Europa League. It would be interesting to see how he can perform in the coming seasons, or if more loan moves are in store.
Saka – 6/10 – Didn’t feature much, but when he did he looked good in the Europa League games.
Strengths – goal-scoring (naturally…), the joint top-scorer in the league, important goals, and many exciting moments. One of the best attacks in English, European, and possibly world football.
Weaknesses – chance conversion (looking at you Auba, unfortunately…) and inconsistent performances.
Improvements needed – A wide forward, who can lessen reliance on wing-backs for width. Auba can play more centrally, as Laca is left effective from the wings and needs to drop deeper. Auba looks lost in some games playing wide, but then still has scored plenty, so it’s not a major worry. But a wide forward would ease this, and Auba and Laca could be more prolific.
Player of the season – Lacazette
Laca has been the most exciting and explosive player, in my view.
Ramsey, Sokratis, Koscielny, Leno, Torreira, Guendouzi, Auba, amongst others, have been strong performers. But Laca has not only scored the best goals, but then was the most consistently strong, and exuded the quality in most moments against the top sides. His equalizer vs. Liverpool at home was top-class, as was his opener vs. Chelsea at home.
He is arguably our major big game player.
Let’s hope he can do this in Baku very soon – and win us our first European trophy since 1994.
Oh, and I have left out “el jefe” intentionally… Senor Emery will get a piece all to himself, showing where he has succeeded and gone wrong in his opening season.