Saturday, 20 June 2015

Arsenal Player Power Rankings 14/15

This feature has become somewhat of a traditional end of season blog. Hopefully this something different for you to sink your teeth into.

The aim - rank players on actual performance throughout the 14/15 season. Reputations are set aside, favouritism goes out of the window (as one Giroud hater will demonstrate later) and we'll see if there's been either progression or regression.

So without further ado it gives me great pleasure to introduce our panel.

@yorkshiregunner, @goonerdave66, @yankeegunner, @alan_alger_, @mzk90, @attwood10, @k4yn3r, @LucaHelvetica, @modgooner, @kaltume_b, @buxtongooner, @SteveKravetsky, @TC_Gooner and me @mj_afc

They've helped put this blog together and without it that would just leave you with my ramblings, so please give them a follow as they've all been a great help.

Their task was to rate all of our players from 1 (being the best) to 10 and you'll read more from them a bit later.

So here is a quick run down of the Top 10 from the 2013/14 season

10 - Gibbs
9 - Arteta
8 - Sagna
7 - Cazorla
6 - Ozil
5 - Giroud
4 - Szczesny
3 - Mertesacker
2 - Koscielny
1 - Ramsey

There has been lots of movement within the top ten so without further ado, lets get the show on the road.

Hall of Shame - No Votes

Arteta - Once again the club captain (Vermaelen) didn't receive any votes, understandable though due to injury.

Szczesny - From 4th last year to not even receiving a vote. It's been quite the fall from grace for the Pole, as he looked like he'd cemented himself as our number for years to come.

Wilshere & Walcott - England's finest, hampered by injury and not close to receiving a vote. Quite ironic that they find themselves fully fit for the close season. Lets hope they are fresh and ready for a long season next year.

Gibbs - Another player drops out of the top 10. Personally I don't think he's as good as everyone suggests. Rumours that he was going to start the cup final seemed ridiculous but clearly there are fans that still believe he has what it takes. I remember the start of a season when we were unsure of whether our first choice left back was Santos or Gibbs. Says it all really.

Rosicky - If you don't like Rosicky, then you don't like football said Arsene. Well, it appears our manager doesn't rate Tomas as highly as his kind words suggest.

And the rest - Martinez (remember him), Gabriel, Chambers, Flamini, Akpom and Diaby didn't get receive any votes.

Missed the Cut

Debuchy - 1 vote (Highest Ranking - 10th)

Injury hampered the Frenchman's ability to impose himself in his first season with the club. As with all good squad's he now finds himself in a position where despite being France's regular right-back he appears to have lost his position to a youngster.

Welbeck - 2 votes (Highest Ranking - 10th)

Injury derailed his season in the end but his lack of goals has probably cost him votes. Still a useful player and hopefully the suggested rest he needs to recover helps him overcome his injury.

Oxlade-Chamberlain - 3 votes (Highest Ranking - 6th)

He feels like a new age Rosicky at times. Full of drive and purpose but lacking in production. Once again injuries a big factor in his season.

Ospina - 4 votes (Highest Ranking - 9th)

Despite our relative stability at the back for the second stage of the season, Ospina has lots of haters. As is tradition at Arsenal there has to be a hate figure, whilst he is not top of the pile in that pecking order, he is definitely second in command. Some of it is unjustified and some of it is just bang out of order. Looks like he's heading for the exit which suggests Wenger's punishment of Szczesny was quite brutal.

The Top 10

10th - Per Mertesacker (down 7 places)

Without Koscielny he looked lost and despite sporting the armband on many occasions seemed to lack leadership when players around him needed him most highlighted in games against Anderlecht and Stoke.

@alan_alger_ - Played one minute at the end of the World Cup Final to earn a winners medal at the start of last summer then started an Arsenal season which would see him lift the FA Cup at Wembley. As years go it's been a pretty special one for the BFG. Like all of our players he's had his share of nightmare performances in 2014/15, but overall confirms
everything that earned him third place in these rankings last season. You can't doubt his passion for the cause and in the absence of other leaders in the team then he has to come top of the list on that attribute. The real concern is that his peak must be behind him, but we can expect another solid season in 2015/16 and unfortunately a few mistakes that will confirm we possibly need to be looking elsewhere.

@yorkshiregunner - Did well to keep his place after a run of poor form but slowly his form returned. I would expect once Gabriel gets in the team it will be at the expense of Ze German. Good club man who very obviously has the respect of the players.

9th - Aaron Ramsey (down 8 places)

The former Power Ranking number 1 has lost his crown. So for the third season in a row nobody can retain their crown. Ramsey notched a couple of goals early on in the season but his all round game was lacking. Flicks and tricks didn't come off and he seemed to be more of a show man. He scored a great goal against Stoke and then scored our goal of the season against Galatasaray, only for his hamstring to cost him game time and set him back. Currently residing on the right wing and making noises of discontent.

@goonerdave66 - Where to start? He is a very good player but was never the superstar his form of the 14/15 season suggested. His work rate and ability to time his arrival in the box are without doubt but his decision making and passing are below the level of those around him. He reminds me of David Platt at his peak, pre Arsenal where the amount of goals disguised the lack of genuine class.

He is a favourite of the managers's and was shoe horned into the right wing at the end of the campaign. He can play there but he limited the fluidity out there for me and damaged
our width. This was exaggerated further with Alexis cutting in and offering no width on the other flank. The big question for Ramsey and indeed Wilshere is whether they can oust Santi as I feel Coq and Ozil will start the majority of games. With Ox returning I hope he will play, so for me at least Ramsey is not a certain starter for August. Most will disagree but equally will not be able to tell me who should not play.

@modgooner - Dodgy middle part of the season but the latter he has got used to his new role and it suits him.

8th - Hector Bellerin (NEW ENTRY)

Some new blood into the frame. Bellerin was given a baptism of fire away to Dortmund and the manager seemed reluctant to use him away from home until circumstances dictated otherwise and he played at Stoke. However, Hector has been a breath of fresh air and his performance at City was highlighted by Gary Neville. The future is bright and hopefully he doesn't slope off to Barcelona, despite their fans desire to see him return.

@alan_alger_ - wasn't on the winning side in any of his first four starts for the club this season and the usual questions were raised. That put him on the verge of another loan
move - one that didn't materialise. What actually happened was a solid contribution to the team on a par with Francis Coquellin's success in midfield. Has only been on the losing
side three times since the turn of the year - although the supposed upturn in form for the team doesn't take into account that two of those games were the incredibly important Monaco home tie and Tottenham away in the league - two of the ones we'd want to win most. Bellerin has risen to a position of first choice right back in that time and was outstanding at Wembley in the FA Cup final. Surely a better proposition than Chambers (too slow), Debuchy (too erratic) and Jenkinson (not good enough).

@yorkshiregunner - Has played far more games than one would have expected him to this season & on the whole has done v well. Still gets caught out of position too often in the fact that he drifts in field and gets too close to his centre half. Another who's form dipped toward the end of the season but had a good Cup Final game and his searing pace is a great asset going forward and defending also.

7th - Olivier Giroud (down 2 places)

Not a big drop for the Frenchman from last season but still the biggest conversation splitter between fans. Heavily missed during the first part of the season after blocking a clearance from Distin broke his leg after equalising later on against Everton. He was player of the month for March but our lack of options and over-reliance on him playing week in, week out meant the goals dried up and there was nowhere to hide.

@goonerdave66 - I have been amongst his strongest supporters through good and bad and will not change now. However I do feel he has to suffer and pick up the bad headlines
for Arsene's lack on a plan B on occasions. He does toil against teams who park the bus and I think we will see more rotation next season. I think a pacy front 3 will feature more often and that Oli may become the plan B or the alternative based on the opposition. He had a rich vein of goal scoring form that should not be forgotten and I think he suffered through the lack of width and pace on the right flank once Ox was injured.

I think we should also remember that he wears his heart of his sleeve and he will have taken the games against Monaco and Chelsea to heart. However he has scored against the big teams in the last campaign which is a big plus.

@mzk90 - Came back from injury & was bang in form, scoring plenty of goals. Horror show v Monaco, but never hides. Great link up man, but wonder if he should be plan B after a mobile CF who makes runs in behind.

FYI - @yankeegunner voted Giroud as our 10th best player, so clearly he doesn't dislike him as much as he lets on.

6th - Nacho Monreal (NEW ENTRY)

Up there with some of the surprises of the season. Last year he was in the Hall of Shame, probably based on our horror shows at Anfield and The Etihad but he has made left back his own. He seems more comfortable in possession and provides much more of a threat in the final third. Gibbs doesn't come close.

@yankeegunner - Heading into the season anyone would’ve been forgiven for assuming that Kieran Gibbs had a stranglehold on the starting left back place. But apparently no one told Nacho. Monreal did everything asked of him and made himself undroppable as the season wore on. There were some bumps along the way for Nacho; a few goals from back
post headers where he may have done better. But overall he was dependable and added plenty to the attack, including a classy finish to a wonderful team move against United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup. Monreal was also called upon to play CB this season due to Koscielny’s ankle injury, and while he wasn’t always superb, I think he acquitted himself well and helped the team through a very tough period prior to Gabriel’s arrival in January. It’s unclear whether Nacho Monreal will stay at Arsenal, but if he does, it seems clear that the left back position is his thanks to a very competent 2014-2015 season.

@mzk90 - At LCB still felt was a little weak when challenged, but did a job when we had no one else. At LB he grabbed his place back & showed terrific improvement on end of last season. Assured in the tackle, good in possession and going forward.

5th - Mesut Ozil (up one place)

A season that start with Ozil on the wing and struggling to influence games has ended with him having the freedom a number ten craves. He was given that role early on at Villa park as he scored and set up Welbeck in a comfortable away day outing but yet again injury played its part. However since returning he has been sublime and has is now pulling the strings and other players are starting to get on his wavelength.

@kaltume_b - It's been a season of two parts for the German who despite having a successful and winning outing in the World cup still came in for heavy criticism especially in the first half of the season. I personally thought he was pretty decent albeit exhausted and a bit jaded from playing every single game at the world cup. Mesut still put in a decent shift scoring and providing an assist for Welbeck against Aston Villa and he also showed his
brilliance during the Champions League match against Galatasaray. His season was cut short with a partial knee ligament injury that would see him out of action for almost 3 months. His injury was a bit of a blessing in disguise as it gave him the necessary time to recover and also work on his upper body strength, because upon his return Ozil was a totally different beast combining his sublime magical skills with some much needed power. His brilliant ball over the top to set up Alexis's goal against Reading in the FA Cup Semi-final was Ozil at his best. He sees passes and creates space where there are none to the ordinary human eye, and he does it with such effortless grace. He was also able to thrive in his preferred number 10 role plus setting up a connection with another world class player in Alexis that is almost reminiscent of his partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo during his days at Madrid. I salivate simply thinking about how much more prolific and fruitful that partnership will become next season as we build on our back to back FA Cup success. Is it just a coincidence that we've won 3 trophies sine his arrival at Arsenal? He's definitely brought more winning mentality and self-belief to the side.

@k4yn3r - underrated, I don't say that lightly he puts in a shift more than anyone seems to appreciate and he can create from nearly nothing, but man his attacking stats are exactly what we have been looking for. Long may it continue!

4th - Laurent Koscielny (down 2 places)

His lowest placing in three years but he remains our top defender. Sometimes you don't realise how good players are until they're not available and we are so much better with
Koscielny. Rumour mills have linked him with the likes of Bayern and Real Madrid, that tells its own story.

@k4yn3r - simply a rock, all our strength with him all our fears with out him. Personally the best CB in the Premier League.

@kaltume_b - He brings such a wealth of stability, steel and calmness to that Arsenal backline. His understanding and reading of the game is exceptional he is the YIN to BFGs
Yan. Our season changed as soon as he returned to the side after his injury spell during the first half of the season. Koscielny has over the years become a real MVP at the Arsenal.

The Top Three

3rd - Francis Coquelin (NEW ENTRY)

The find of the season. Another case of fans clamouring for a position and being proved right. His discipline has been first class. The big question is do we run with him for next season or do we look to recruit? I have a sneaky suspicion that Wenger will give him the role and save some money.

@attwood10 - He continues to divide opinion, which baffles me beyond belief. Yes, he's limited, but he's recognised those limitations and developed his game accordingly. People laughed when we recalled him from Charlton, but he undoubtedly changed our season. He's not going to open up a defence, but he's hard working, tenacious, aggressive, 
positionally disciplined, strong in the tackle & surprisingly dominant in the air. Although inexperienced, you can tell that he's a winner, and he's added the steel that we've been missing from our midfield since Gilberto left, providing the perfect platform for our more creative players to flourish. A true fairytale season, out of nowhere. The position is his to lose now. A superb contribution this season.

@SteveKravetsky - Seven years after Gilberto last played for the club it was a revelation to have a player willing to sit in the midfield and break up play. Coquelin was everything we all wanted Alex Song to be. If he manages to improve his distribution I think Arsenal have their defensive midfielder for the foreseeable future. My lasting memory of Coquelin this season will be him yelling instructions at everyone within earshot during the Man City match, this after having only been back with team for a month. A future captain.

@yorkshiregunner - No coincidence that Arsenals form dramatically improved when Le Coq was recalled from another loan spell due to injuries to others. He's the type of player a lot of us have been crying out for , since Gilberto left. One happy to sit and destroy with superb positional discipline ( He's the player Alex Song should have been for us). Covers the ground rapidly, takes no shit off anyone and isn't shy in ordering around more experienced team-mates. He's the Canvas which allows the likes of Cazorla and Ozil to paint their masterpieces. Was somewhat fortunate to get a run in the side but has taken his chance by the scruff of the neck. ( Very Ashley Cole like in that respect )

2nd - Santi Cazorla (up 5 places)

Much like with Coquelin he was given a new lease of life. Despite his rather prolific first season at the club this was without doubt his best year to date. He works brilliantly with Coquelin and the speed in which the ball is moved up the field helps us expose the opposition. At present Ramsey & Wilshere can't play in their preferred position because of his level of performances.

@LucaHelvetica - struggled to get into the team early on in the season, but with injuries taking their toll he got a chance in central midfield and boy did he take it. While Alexis got my vote as player of the season, Santi's performance v City away was a masterclass and the performance of the season. Always good on the ball, he has shown some new found grit and determination in his new role. From struggling to get in the team he was almost one of the first names on the team sheet at the end of the season.

@yankeegunner - What can you say about Santi Cazorla that hasn’t been said already? Perhaps the highest praise I can bestow upon him is that, in a season when Alexis stole all the headlines, he would still have to be strongly considered for Arsenal’s player of the season award. After a slight dip in form last season that carried into the early part of the
2014-2015 season, he returned to his magical best. What’s most surprising is that he found his best form in central midfield, even displacing Aaron Ramsey from his preferred role. Cazorla’s quick feet and elusiveness in tight spaces greased the gears of arsenal’s midfield and were especially crucial as the less possession-oriented Francis Coquelin became an ever-present in the holding midfield role after Christmas. Cazorla showed a willingness to help out defensively and start the attacks from a deeper position than he’d previously played for Arsenal. And his performance in the tide-turning victory at the Etihad was nothing short of breathtaking. Heading into this season you could be forgiven for thinking Santi’s place in the starting XI might be at risk. Now he’s made himself one of the first names on the team sheet and an absolutely essential element to the formation and style Arsenal developed during a very successful final 4 months of the season. In short, he’ll probably leave this summer.

@modgooner - Changed positions to play in a deeper role but it seems to suit him, as he is best facing the opposition. City game was performance of the season.

And The Winner is...

1st - Alexis (NEW ENTRY)

Straight in at number one for the Chilean. I didn't have any doubt that he'd nothing other than a success. Actually, that's not strictly true. Do you remember his centre forward display at Goodison Park (he got subbed at HT). His work-rate has proven to be infectious and it was rather fitting that he scored an absolute worldie in the Cup Final as it encapsulated what he has brought to the side. Wonder how he's worth in the transfer market now.

@attwood10 - Not even sure where to start here. He's had the best debut season I can recall (including the King). What he lacks in ball retention skills, he makes up for in nearly everything else. He's quick, strong, technically gifted, determined and, most importantly for some, works his nuts off every single game. He's versatile, having played everywhere
across the front three, plus a stint at number 10, scoring 25 goals. He's a true winner, his attitude is infectious and he's certainly made other players step their game up. Quite simply, the bloke has been phenomenal. And to think, he's been "disappointed" with this season. Can't wait to see what he produces next season then...

@LucaHelvetica - What can be said about his debut season that hasn't already. His goals almost single handedly won us games in the first half of the season, and when the team started to click was still there with an important contribution. Topped off with the stunner in the final, it was probably the best debut season of any Wenger signing.

@SteveKravetsky - Made me remember what it was like having Thierry Henry play for Arsenal. Just knowing we had a player who could pick up the ball anywhere on the pitch and create a goal was a great feeling. What I liked most about Sanchez was the fact that he cared. It was refreshing to see a player lose the ball and instead of sulking hustle to win it back. The 25 goals didn't hurt either. From his opening goal against Besiktas to the FA Cup final against Villa there is no doubt Alexis Sanchez was the Arsenal player of the season.

So there you have it. No real surprises with our number one selection, as all bar one person selected Sanchez as their player of the season. The only exception to that rule being  @yorkshiregunner who elected to go with Coquelin as his player of the season. So send your outrage his way. All comments were made independently and there's lots of consistencies with some selection choice and who'd have thought Gilberto would be 11th in the most mentioned player column.

Thanks for taking the time to read and enjoy your Arsenal free weekend. If you get bored, you could always watch the Cup Final again.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

New Season Same Old Problems

So it’s the morning after the night before. The inquisitions have started, the blame game is in full effect and supporters want answers, including me. We’ve seen last nights performance on far too many occasions and with an alarming frequency. The scars of Anfield, The Etihad and Stamford Bridge are still fresh and lets make no mistake, last night they could have easily had five or six. So what exactly is the issue?

I mentioned this on twitter earlier today that I genuinely believe work rate is an underrated aspect of the game, particularly for top sides. You don’t get by on just ability alone, although we try our best to do just that. There’s a stat floating around that reads Dortmund ran a further 11km more than Arsenal, that's approximately six and half mile. So that can point to two factors:

Did Wenger ask the team to sit deep and absorb pressure? 

Or did we just try and be expansive and therefore susceptible to high octane pressure?

I know you already know the answer but to re-enforce it somewhat, about five to ten minutes in Sanchez went to close down their full back and he gesticulated to the rest of his team mates that he wanted some back up. A key sign that clearly we weren’t set up to sit deep.

Another key aspect would be the lack of cover and protection for the back four. They were yet again, totally exposed. You can’t take your eyes off this team for a second because before you know it there’s Dortmund on the edge of our box, as if they’d teleported.

Wenger seems to have forgotten what makes our sides tick despite achieving unrivalled success in the history of our football club. One aspect is a ability to mix it up in terms of style and the other is adapting formations to survive in Europe. Cast your mind back to the side that got to the Champions League final, there were some sub-standard players in that side but it worked with a 4-5-1 formation. Plenty of legs in the middle of the park and discipline in our play. We went on the road to Real, Juventus and Villarreal and never conceded. We had a clear strategy and a nice blend of players like Gilberto with work horses on the in midfield such as Ljungberg and Hleb. Possession was the name of the game, something Hleb thrived on. Now last night, I don’t recall seeing one player take control and orchestrate his side back into a game. It was scrappy, disjointed and above all naive. It’s the latter aspect of those three that annoys me the most. When will this side ever learn from it’s mistakes? I don’t want apologies, I want progression. Take Szczesny for example, his level of arrogance is so unwarranted, yet here we are getting battered and he’s trying to jink past a forward and taking extremely high risks. Personally, i think he’s struggled this season and when you are struggling you should be keeping your game as simple as possible. That said, he’s isn't the problem merely a case in point.

The Wenger debate will rage on but we’re pretty much wasting our time because he’s as safe as houses. I really wanted some change at Arsenal in the summer and felt Wenger deserved to go out on a high but we continue to repeat the same mistakes year after year. I say this because I have expectations that we will compete for the title. Standards for which the club should review themselves against but elect to ignore this as long as the vault is full of cash and we are playing 26 highly competitive home games. The fact is our record in big games is embarrassing and even if you look as recently as our game v City on Saturday when we are 2-1 up, it’s an absolute clown show and there’s bags of experience on the pitch. Gary Neville tore us a new one on MNF and rightly so, laughable behaviour from the side when we are both in the lead and in possession. Lessons learnt? Not a chance, on the stroke of half time we have a throw and within seconds its in the back of our net and Immobile didn’t have to do a great deal, just keeping running must be the message, because all we do is back off until its too late.

There is a saying that things are never as bad as they appear and that is certainly relevant when it comes to last night, after all it was Dortmund and not, say, Aston Villa but we want to compete and we fall short. Clear deficiencies go undressed and no doubt Wenger will say the right players weren’t available but I can’t believe for one second that there isn’t a defensive midfielder in world football that we feel wouldn’t upgrade us from Arteta and Flamini. I was probably harsh on Arteta last night, after all it was his first game back from injury and he was like a rabbit in the headlights but where was his connection with Wilshere and Ramsey? They played as individuals and weren’t working in tandem. Centre Midfield dictates how well we play, more than any other area of the field. It’s the catalyst for both good and bad and they need to adapt to this high press that has seen us wilt on every single occasion. We don’t have the tools to stop the tide. In Wenger’s old sides, we’d become narrow, soak up pressure and counter but every player seems miles away from on another and they get ratted out. The forward three become isolated and go too far up the field to have an impact. You have to feel for players like Bellerin, huge occasion and absolutely stitched up by his team mates. Ozil tracked in the first half and received credit for doing so but lets be honest, it’s his job to track their fullback. Options on the ball for Hector were limited and it was very much a baptism of fire but again, it’s naivety from our players. You can’t just expect players to hit the ground running, they need to be afforded some protection but it’s as if they all just focus on themselves, nothing else matters.

The defeat last night doesn’t actual bring that much consequence with it as we will qualify from this group, maybe even with a game to spare but these issues will then be unearthed against other top sides away from home.

Quick question when did we last win a knockout game in the Champions League?

Answer 9th March 2010 v Porto, you know the last time Falcao played in the CL.

So when we get to the knockouts we’ll have not won a tie in that stage for five years, now obviously that is masked by the fact we have played Barcelona and Bayern but ultimately it’s a sign our weaknesses in the group, whether it be Dortmund or a killer defeat away to Shakhtar, they’re always present because we aren’t strong enough.

There are a lot of our senior players who could do with having at look at themselves and maybe the reflection that will come with this type of performance will kick start our season. In this bracket i count Szczesny, Mertesacker,  Arteta, Ramsey and Ozil. The team hasn’t performed anywhere near the level expected, so hopefully we can start by winning at Villa on Saturday because it will set us up nicely for two back to back London derbies in the Premier League. On the flip side, we could lose… but that’s no worth considering just yet.

Wenger has a lot of soul searching to do and it would be refreshing for him to ruffle some feathers. I continually harp on about the lack of accountability at our club and when Wenger has axed stars such as Szczesny and Vermaelen, it has worked, particularly in Woijicech’s case. When we blew our 4-0 lead at St James Park this was our line up:

Szczesny Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy Diaby Wilshere Fabregas Walcott Arshavin Van Persie

the following game:

Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Song, Fabregas, Walcott, Arshavin, Van Persie.

One enforced change because Diaby was sent off. How will these players ever learn from mistakes when they are more often than not given undeserved second chances.

Only time will tell but it’s about time we started utilising some squad members when they merit a chance, not just when they are called upon due to injuries.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Is Ramsey Cesc in Disguise?

There has been plenty of kinds words said about Aaron Ramsey this season. Rightly so as well. Although not everyone has been supportive of his career. Ramsey was quite frequently the focus of some of the Emirates crowd, as they channelled their frustrations of the team through one player. In the midst of this Wenger tried to accommodate Ramsey and stuck him on the wing, a trait afforded to some of the Frenchman's favourites like Abou Diaby.

The one aspect of Ramsey's game that needed to improve was his goalscoring. Particularly for a side that has lost a lot of goals from the side in recent years. Did you know that of the 27 goals Aaron has scored for us 11 of those came over the course of the first five seasons? That got me thinking of another midfielder, one that wasn't really noted for his goal getting but then suddenly sparked into life and added a new dimension to his game. Have you guessed who that former Arsenal man is? Yes, it's non other than the infamous Francesc Fabergas Soler. Here's the comparison between him and Ramsey in terms of games to goals.

Now, there is a danger of over analysis with statistics but it can't be denied that there are similarities. In Cesc's fifth season he scored 13 goals, which is what he mustered over the course of the previous four seasons. I've already touched on Ramsey finding his goalscoring touch but I was quite surprised to find there are only two goals separating them over the course of the first six seasons but with Ramsey having over 40 games to make up the difference.

I called upon the Cesc comparison as it reinforces Wenger's beliefs to stick with players. As fans we often judge players by their ability to score goals. You'll see it during the World Cup, just watch the rave reviews for defenders that score. Often it masks deficiencies, take Thomas Vermaelen for example. He scored eight goals in his first season, from quality headers to 30 yard left foot curlers. We were having the wool pulled over our eyes. Joleon Lescott is another,  Everton got a great deal because he scored goals, a great added bonus but defenders need to defend first and foremost. Wenger has been ridiculed for not being able to spot keepers. We may now be on the way to resolving that but it's certainly been a low key season on that front in terms of errors but if there was one area Wenger of the field that Wenger excels in, then it has to be centre midfield. Players like Vieira, Gilberto, Fabregas and now Ramsey. Players that had to learnt the ropes off a more experienced head before taking the reigns themselves. That's what makes Ramsey's upturn in production even more impressive. Ramsey did have Cesc for a bit but over the course of the last three seasons Ramsey's very much learnt the hard way and benefited from Cesc's departure.

The most crucial time for Aaron came when he was trying to get games in order to overcome the physical and mental scars that come with a broken leg. Particularly as we had refused to extend the loan at Forest, as Abou Diaby was injured. Eduardo's Arsenal career took a nose dive after a similar leg break. Something wasn't quite right and he was sold to Shakhtar. Instead Wenger sent Aaron on long to Forest, where he would see little game time mainly due to the inclement weather. Wenger remarked

“We did not get the number of games we wanted from him because of the snow,” said manager. He is a snow victim and we are as well consequently. But I am not tempted to do it [extend his loan]. If Abou Diaby was not injured I would certainly have considered it but not now.Aaron is not completely ready yet [for the Premier League] but he has been practising every day with the group for two months. I hope that when he comes back he should be ready in February.”
Ramsey of course then went on loan to Cardiff towards the end of the January transfer window but was now driven by the challenge of regained his place in the Arsenal team.
“If going out on loan again for a month to get a few more games helps me get back into shape quicker and into the Arsenal team then I will do that”
Usually these quotes are quite generic but if anything, time has taught us that this was actually the case.  Ramsey has gone on to play 125 times for Arsenal since these two loan spells. Wenger got this case spot on. There were many times when Ramsey could have been dropped but Wenger had faith and whilst I'm usually a fan of accountability for poor performances, he never really did anything disastrous, he just needed to get out of the rut he was in.

The future for this side is getting brighter, I have my doubts that the current crop are genuine contenders for a title but there is a transfer window to rectify that (I hold no hope on this front) but what I have seen lately is that we've started adding plenty of goals in other areas. Theo broke the 20 goal barrier in 12/13 and he has a very good understanding with Ramsey and the two are yet to play at the top of their game with each other. So if Ramsey can maintain his 15 goals, Theo with his 20 (difficult returning from injury I know) and Giroud adding a further 20 then we have 55 goals. It's a start, as we've often looked around thinking where are the goals coming from but there are threats now and genuine ones at that.

The foundations are in place for us and with Ozil getting a season under his belt, he's only going to get better. It's been an exceptional season for Aaron but it's whether or not he can maintain this level. Sides will be paying far more attention to him and if he overcomes that then we are in for a real treat. He deserves every penny of whatever salary he is on and it's great that he has the summer off because as the international players return in their drips and drabs from World Cup duty, at least we have our most in-form player ready to hit the ground running and ready to carry the side at the beginning of the new season. Let's not forget that if any of our players get to the World Cup final, history tells us they miss the first couple of games of the season due to little preparation but we have Champions League qualifiers to contend with.

Aaron Ramsey has been a real success story. One we should all enjoy and it was somewhat fitting that he scored THAT goal. Now he's thrilling us with some wonderful goals, amazing stamina and brilliant vision. I haven't even mentioned that we paid 5m for him as well. Maybe this time we've got the type of player we can keep for the rest of his career. Now that would be a turn up for the books.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Arsenal Player Power Rankings 2013/14

So another end of season blog? Have you had you fill? Well for those new to this feature we assess our players based on merit not ability and favouritism is also put to one side. To add to this we have last seasons Power Ranking to refer to and we’ll see if players have improved or regressed over the last twelve months.

So without further ado it gives me great pleasure to introduce our star-studded panel.

@yorkshiregunner, @addy88, @goonerdave66, @yankeegunner, @alan_alger_, @thesquidboylike, @mzk90, @giantgooner, @bradley08, @attwood10, @k4yn3r@LucaHelvetica and me @mj_afc

They all rated our players from 1 (being the best) to 10 and you'll read more from them a bit later.

So here is a quick run down of the Top 10 from the 2012/13 season

10th - Wilshere
9th - Giroud
8th - Podolski
7th - Gibbs
6th - Ramsey
5th - Arteta
4th - Walcott
3rd - Koscielny
2nd - Mertesacker
1st - Cazorla

There has been plenty of movement and only a couple of players remain consistent with last season, which tells me that this is a true reflection of player performance.

Hall of Shame - No Votes

Viviano, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Monreal, Kallstrom, Sanogo, Bendtner and Gnabry didn’t receive one vote between them. Not surprising for the most part but Monreal has regressed more than any other player over the last twelve months.

When I said that none of the above received any votes that’s not strictly true. @yorkshiregunner in his own quirky way kindly voted for one of our players to receive the ‘Contributions to Air Shots’ award and it goes to *drum roll*

Yaya Sonogoal

@yorkshiregunner added “makes Shola Ameobi look like Robbie Fowler. Added an Air Header to an impressive array of air shots too. I look forward to seeing an air penalty from the Postman.”

Poor old Yaya. Maybe he’ll make the top 10 next season. Or maybe not. Hopefully he goes on loan , or even better he is sold.

Missed the Cut

Lukasz Fabianski - He did make @yankeegunner's top 10 but sadly nobody else’s. I think Fab must have made him a fortune in that semi final win over Wigan. It’s the only explanation. Swansea awaits.

Oxlade-Chamberlain - Brazil bound Ox had an injury hit season and didn’t get enough minutes to further his case for a top 10 finish. Maybe next season.

Flamini - Pro’s and con’s to Mathieu’s season. The Flam/Arteta partnership never really delivered but he certainly added a tenacity to our play but that got the better of him on occasions.

Podolski - Poldi got three top 10 nominations, including one from me. I thought he kicked on in the 2nd half of the season but his early season injury cost him his chance to retain a top 10 place.

Wilshere - Jack also received only three votes and despite some particular highlights such as the goal of the season, he’s another player to fall out of the top 10. Injuries have cost Jack but I think the performance of another midfielder has put Jack completely in to the shade.

Rosicky - Sadly Rosicky fans, he doesn’t make the top 10 and I didn’t even need to fix the vote. Three votes and ranked as high as 7th.

Walcott - If it wasn’t for that injury against Spurs, he’d have been well up the board but he isn’t. Lets hope he gets up to speed as soon as possible when he makes his return to the team.

So, you’ve heard who hasn’t made the grade. Now lets see how our top 10 takes shape.

Arsenal 13/14 Power Rankings

10. Gibbs (down 3 places) 

@goonerdave66 - I am genuinely angry at Wenger on the left back rotation this season. Gibbs I see as a very good left back who has the potential to be a great one. Whereas Monreal I see as an average one with no potential. When he decided to give Nacho a run of games when Gibbs was not injured,  I simply did not understand it. The left back debate for the EC became about Shaw v Cole and Gibbs was the forgotten man, yet Shaw himself expected Gibbs to be ahead of him as he was in the previous England squad. However what is done is done and although his own manager may have cost him a seat on the plane to Rio, he will be fresh to Arsenal come August. I want him to play more times than not and personally would not lose any sleep if Nacho was sold. I think Gibbs could be our left back for years to come.

@thesquidboylike - The latest in a long line of good-to-excellent Arsenal left-backs, this was the season where Gibbs truly made the position his own. Having seen off the, ahem, threat of Andre Santos, Gibbs began the campaign as an equal to Nacho Monreal in the eyes of many. But 2013/14 saw the young Englishman cement his place in the team, and included the vital and oft-forgotten opening goal in the CL qualifying tie versus Fenerbahce. Unfortunate to be barely mentioned in contention for England’s World Cup squad, his future for both club and country is bright.

9. Arteta (down four places) 

@goonerdave66 - A few years ago I advocated Arteta for the DM role, a suggestion met with some derision at the time. 2 years on in the main he had no let us down. He reads the game superbly, tackles well and his distribution is top notch. However the one thing he lacks to take us to the next level in this role sadly is pace. He was immense at Wembley and no one deserved the climb the steps and life the trophy more than Mikel but I do think if we are to fight out the EPL we need a younger, stronger model next season. For me Arteta will be, like Rosicky now, a player you are always happy to see, know won't let you down but would not be in your first 11 week in week out.

@attwood10 - A good, reasonably solid season from Arteta. He's such an intelligent player and there's a reason he starts every game when fit. Often criticised because he's not a "big beast of a DM", but his defensive stats for us might surprise some (most tackles per game this season in PL). At 32, he's definitely declined over the past year, but was again a very important player for us this season and certainly played his part. I do, however, suspect he could become more of a "squad" player next season as we look to sign a long term replacement.

8. Sagna (up five places) 

@k4yn3r - versatile rock this year, especially as he had other distractions. Was impressive at CB

@alan_alger_ - The first time Sagna has played over 3000 Premier League minutes for Arsenal in a season, contributed one goal, three assists and took part in games where 15 clean-sheets were kept. On balance that looks like his best ever Arsenal season, although a strange quirk in the stats (possibly due to the increased minutes on the pitch) says it’s his worst season in terms of being on the pitch when Arsenal conceded a goal – 39 in total. My overall feeling is that he is a solid right-back worthy of a place at a top-six club in the division. Although I’m puzzled by the huge clamour from fans at the end of the season for him to stay (far better Arsenal players have been allowed to leave with barely a whimper), especially on increased terms. There must be a better right-back out there for us, I’d be looking for one who contributes more offensively. That said – Jenkinson is NOT the answer.

7. Cazorla (down six places) 

@mzk90 - Bit of an enigma. Has all the skills and the low centre of gravity, but too often can be caught in possession and brushed off the ball if teams make him turn back towards our half. Would see him as a sub if right player comes in or out wide left if they don't. That said, scored probably the most important goal of the last few years at Wembley.

@addy88 - Not as good as last season but especially in the second part of the season the little Spanish magician was magnificent. Cazorlas contribution in this part was quite big, initiating with both goals against Fulham at home and ending with the with the goal which got us one back against Hull giving us the hope and belief to win our first cup in nearly a decade. But everything comes with a downside, Santi tends sometimes to play dangerous passes on the Arsenal side of the field. If Cazorla can stop this bad habit and can connect to the performance of the end of this season, Santi can give so much to the Arsenal and there will be many more happy memories with him.

6. Ozil (*NEW ENTRY*) 

@giantgooner - He doesn't run around like a chicken with his head chopped off so the Ashtons of the world accuse him of laziness, but week in, week out Ozil dictates our play and unleashes moments of pure genius on the
pitch. Even more intelligent commentators seem to have underrated what he brings to our team. Make no mistake, this is a world class player at his peak, and if last year was an adjustment year he was still the most important attacker on the pitch for Arsenal bar Ramsey. But he also needs to stay fit - and staying on till halftime against Munich despite the hamstring injury wasn't helpful for either him or the team.

@yankeegunner, - Mesut Ozil arrived at arsenal amidst expectations that he would play slightly better than a Henry-Fabregas-Vieira hybrid. He may have warranted his transfer fee for the emotional lift he gave the club and the supporters alone. Realistically, it was always going to be impossible for him to measure up to the hype that surrounded him, particularly in his first season and specifically without a world-class centre-forward to finish the chances he could create. Because of the immense expectations, Ozil faced heavy criticism. Some of it was deserved, but most of it was absurd. Ozil improved Arsenal tremendously. He may not have dominated games as often or to the extent that was hoped, but he was always dangerous. His game certainly suffered from a lack of pace in the front three, particularly after Theo Walcott was lost for the season. And it’s fair to say that when Aaron Ramsey when down, he struggled further. His lowest moments came in some of Arsenal’s bigger games, and that added to the criticism he faced. But I think it’s fair to say that he was the least of the strugglers in those performances. It’s also fair to suggest that Ozil faced criticism largely because of his body language and languid style. He’s certainly no Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion on the pitch and he’s a master at conserving energy. He drifts into space intelligently and once in that space, uses his superior control and vision to keep the ball and play the right pass. He doesn’t rely on constant running, which means that his contributions often go unnoticed. Ozil did reserve one of his best performances for the FA cup when he dominated Everton. And he was equally scintillating against Napoli at the Emirates. Ozil finished the season strong which suggests that he was starting to fully acclimate to the style of the premier league and adapt to his new teammates. His statistics were respectable for a first season and when reviewed without the filter of ridiculous expectations I think his first season was an unqualified success. the best news is that there’s surely plenty more to come from him next season. Especially with the return of Walcott’s pace and the addition of all those other world class attacking players the manager will bring in this summer…


5. Giroud (up four places) 

@attwood10- My views on Giroud are well known, but despite my criticism of him, I do admit and recognise that he is very good at what he does. He's a superb link up player and, with the right players around him, he's again proved that he can be very effective. His numbers have improved from last year and, thankfully, he stayed fit all season. He scored some key goals for us and definitely played his part this season. However, his finishing in 1 v 1 situations simply isn't good enough a lot of the time. That should be bread and butter for an international striker and it has cost us this season. Shouldn't be first choice but should be a good option for us.

@mj_afc - Personally I absolutely love Giroud and I think the grief he gets is completely unnecessary , particularly when you consider there are no other viable options and all we do is effect his confidence. He's taken on Aaron Ramsey's boo-boys, who funnily enough have vanished off the face of the earth. Reality is they just picked a new player and when you consider that Giroud's has won more points than any other Premier League player, then I think we can afford him a little bit more room to manoeuvre. He's led the line brilliantly and has worked great as the axis in our attacks. He's not a Suarez by any means but he has his value and scoring over 20 goals this season has proved invaluable. Yes, a world class striker may have scored more but who's to say that would definitely be the case. Giroud showed in the cup final that he looks more of a threat with another striker up there with him and if we can get 'that' player then I think we'll be more potent with two up top.

4. Szczesny (up eight places - top 15 last season)

@yorkshiregunner - Best keeper in the PL last season. Wasn't to blame for the drubbings, really stepped up a level this year. Distribution improved too. Wouldn't swap him for any Keeper in the PL

@alan_alger_- In the past few seasons our keepers have been more likely to be remembered for the mistakes they have made, Wojciech included. Although there was an overall feeling that he was the best of the bunch - he had to prove it. That’s exactly what he has done in 2013/14. At a rough estimate his contribution in league matches has been worth at least ten points. It’s therefore strange that the FA Cup success achieved this season has been with his compatriot Lukas Fabianski in goal. Fabianski’s appearance at Norwich in the final game of the season denied Szczesny the ‘golden glove’ award outright (shared with Petr Cech) for the most clean sheets, still a worthy accolade

3. Mertesacker (down one place) 

@mzk90 - Played 51(+1) games this season which is awesome for such a big man. Leads with calm authority and shows what it means to him without resorting to the antics of WS or Poldi. Ignoring the penalty in SF and the drunken giraffe impression last minutes of final, he was solid as a rock all year.

@thesquidboylike - Show me an Arsenal fan who doesn’t love our BFG, and I’ll wager that they are phonies. Whilst last season saw Per establish himself as a guaranteed starter at the centre of the defence, this one has further embedded him in Arsenal hearts. A seemingly perfect combination with Laurent Koscielny – away day capitulations notwithstanding – plus a vital equaliser in the Cup semi and a genuine love for the Club make him the modern day Mr Arsenal. His leadership skills have blossomed too; whilst he has notionally been third-in-line for the armband, I fully expect him to be bestowed the honour on a full-time basis next season.

@bradley08 - We had a terrier as our pet for over 15 years. He wasn't the prettiest dog in the world, he certainly wasn't a fashion statement like a chihuahua or a poodle. He wasn't exactly brisk either, he once was beaten in a race across our garden by my two year old nephew who fell over three times whilst trying to stay upright. He was not your archetypal "dog". And yet........

He had an uncanny knack of knowing where the optimal place to be in the house was at all times. If dinner was being served, he was under the kitchen table waiting for scraps. If we were going off for a drive, he was sitting outside the car waiting for us.

Also, my mother is deaf, so she needed a visual aid to tell her if someone was at the door. Our dog was so good at this, he was most often found sitting at the window, looking out for any potential visitors so that he could raise the alarm. We didn't need a doorbell, we had him.

Rusty died two years ago. He's still missed to this day. It isn't his presence that we miss, it's the consistency of his input into our lives that's gone. He was there every day, every week, every year. We got so used to him that we took him for granted, it's only now that we look back and see how much he added to our lives.

Per Mertersacker is the Arsenal family pet. Scruffy, slow, awkward, sometimes doesn't wake up before lunchtime (stupid 12:45pm kickoffs) yet at the same time, he's assuring, consistent, always in position to help, and never missing when needed. Just because we get the same solid performance out of him week in and week out, that doesn't mean he shouldn't appreciated for what he brings to the club; consistent, unspectacular consistency.

2. Koscielny (up one place)

@k4yn3r - Kos the boss, dominant and scores the most vital of goals. The Boss has been immense this season.

@addy88 - Koscielny - the second part of the best centerback partnership in the premier league. Quite often the defensive performances get overlooked. But Arsenals defence was the thing, that carried us forward and Koscielny had IMHO the biggest part in this and he further scored the most important goal of the season, the goal that brought 30 more minutes in the FA Cup Final. On the over hand sometimes he likes to make reckless tackles which lead to unnecessary penalties or dangerous free. Kicks for the opponent (but it seems he works on that with Steve Bould).

Overall I still can't believe that Koscielny was four years ago a 2nd division defender and now a France regular. Arsenal can be very lucky to have a player like Koscielny, a true leader which deserves the name Boscielny.

@bradley08 - A picture tells a thousand words, right? How about two pictures? Because to sum up how good Koscielny has been this season, we have to recall this:

Ugh. Imagine that picture burning a hole in your memory. Imagine that picture gnawing away at you every minute of every day. That picture was Koscielny's defining moment at Arsenal. WAS.

Now it's this:
Whenever we look at how good players are, it's very easy to focus on tangibles, like technical ability or statistics. What has separated Koscielny from the rest this season is the intangible stuff that tends to be used as clichés; heart, passion, bravery etc. But to play in the role that Kos plays, as the centre-back who attacks the ball in front of the back line, you can't play scared. If there's a ball to be intercepted, you have to commit to getting there first, without the fear of cocking up making you hesitate. He was 6th in the league this season in interceptions per game, way ahead of other luminaries such as Kompany, Terry, and Vidic, yet he only gave away on average 0.9 fouls per game.

And then there's the second picture above. In one frame, we see the intelligence to make the right decision, the bravery to follow through with it, and the courage to not worry about potential injury. That one frame is a better description of Koscielny's season than any stat or any article will ever be. And most of all, it's what he deserves.

And the Winner Is....

1. Ramsey (Up five places)

@yorkshiregunner - Injury robbed him of the PFA player of the year award, another 10 goals and in all honesty Arsenal a title.

@giantgooner - I don't think I have enough space to describe how amazing Aaron Ramsey's progress was this season and what a special player he has become. Trying to pick Ramsey's goal of the season is a challenge in its own right; I'd be choosing between the volley against Liverpool, dribbling past 3 Norwich defenders in the box in October and the stunning backpedalling volley against Norwich again at the Emirates this spring. But on top of that he does more running than anybody else on the team, is an exceptional defender and is creative to boot. Now all he has to do is do it again, and this time stay healthy for the entire season!

@yankeegunner - Aaron Ramsey was quite simply the best player at Arsenal during the 2013-2014 season. His improvement from the previous season was nothing short of amazing. Ramsey always displayed a tremendous engine but the end product he added to his game was quite stunning. Literally the only downside to Ramsey’s season was the injury that shortened it. Otherwise he was the perfect
player. It’s nearly impossible to think of a poor performance by the Welshman. And when he wasn’t at his absolute best, he still had a habit of delivering the decisive contribution to a match. The FA cup final is a perfect example. It wasn’t his most impressive or impactful display, but there he was, scoring the winner deep in extra time with a sublime finish. That was Aaron Ramsey this season. Ramsey scored so many wonderful goals that it’s hard to choose one as his best, or indeed to choose his finest performance. But for some reason I have a soft spot for the goal he scored against Liverpool in the Premier League. Like all great players, Ramsey made his teammates better. Ozil improved when Ramsey was there to do the running and Giroud improved when Ramsey was there to run on to his trademark flicks and back heels. Ramey’s emergence is a huge fillip for the club and credit to the manager who believed in him enough to extend his contract at a time when many supporters were convinced he wasn’t good enough for Arsenal. The only question about Ramsey now is whether he can continue to play at this level long term and whether he can stay fit for an entire season. If he answers those questions in the affirmative, Arsenal supporters might start to get used to open top bus parades.

@mj_afc - What a turnaround for the player who had his role questioned by a lot of supporters. Who can forget the dark days of Ramsey on the left wing at Everton and QPR. Now he's in the middle and he's thriving. He was a huge loss to our midfield and attack. His willingness to run ahead of the ball has been vital. It's created space for him and others and his return was like a breath of fresh air. When I think of our best moments of 13/14 I think of Liverpool, Dortmund, Hull all of which included Ramsey goals. He has delivered and we just need to ensure there's enough rotation in order to keep him fit throughout the season. If any player deserved to score the winner in a cup final, then that man was Aaron Ramsey and with the armband potentially up for grabs, should he be in contention? I'll leave you with this video of Ramsey from Arsenal Player

So there you have it, do you agree with our top 10? Maybe you could submit a top 10 of your own in the comments box below. It's been an entertaining season and with silverware at the end of it, who can complain? 

To complete the power rankings here is the scoring matrix for the panel. I'd also like to thank all of the panel for taking part in this blog as it wouldn't be half as interesting without the views of others. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Arsenal End of Season Review/Player Awards

Season Review


I’m not sure you’re supposed to have roller coaster months in August but ours certainly was. The lack of signings and defeat at home to Villa meant a summer of fury was unleashed around The Emirates. We even contemplated Fenerbache eliminating us in the Champions League but that ended up being a demolition. So we left the month of August having signed two players, both on frees.


This has been a pretty grim month for us and when it starts against your closest rivals (in terms of locality) and they’ve spent a whopping 100m+ trying to overtake you, then we were very much in squeaky bum territory. Giroud’s sublime finish was enough to ensure all three points and later that evening Wenger confirmed we were talking to Ozil. MESUT FUCKING OZIL as he became known on twitter and the place went umlaut crazy. The only downside was that a poxy international break stood between us and our 42 MILLION POUND signing. Who’d have thought it, us spending money. We were also drawn against tough opponents in the champions league. This led to the inevitable 'arsenal will be eliminated' routine that is becoming somewhat tiresome. We were unbeaten in September, playing six and winning five. The release of positivity was timely, especially given the poisonous atmosphere in August. Were the good times about to return?


It began with a bang in our first big CL game. Napoli were rolled over in a comprehensive 2-0 win and Ozil scored a beauty. 6/6 in our group, a good healthy start.The rich vein of form continued and it saw our joint biggest victory of the league season at home 4-1 v Norwich. Strange to think that we only scored four goals on two occasions in the league. We suffered our first defeat since the opening day of the season at home to Dortmund. Suddenly with a trip to the Signal Iduna our group was looking a lot more difficult than it had at the start of the night. Maybe the media were right? We did however put the defeat behind us, as we went to Palace (probably at the right time) and got 3 points and stayed top of the league. Even an Arteta red card didn’t hamper us. The month did end on a low though, as we went out of the Capital One Cup to Chelsea. I’m never sure what our players gain for the alleged experience on offer, particularly as some don’t play again for the rest of the season. We also introduced Giroud and Ozil from the bench but 1-0 soon became 2-0 and out we went. 


The dreaded November which was nicknamed Death Run 1.0. A week of Liverpool (H), Dortmund (A) and United (A). Would our big game bottlers tag be shaken off? You know the drill, we were fantastic against Liverpool, as Santi noticed his first of the season and Ramsey, well he just continued being Ramsey. Then onto Dortmund and my only European voyage of the season. Little was expected from the game and we offered no threat in the first half and were lucky to go in 0-0. Ozil whipped in a world cross, Giroud knocked it down and Ramsey stooped to head home. 1-0 TO THE ARSENAL. It was to stay that way and suddenly you started to believe that the players could start to take confidence and they could see they could compete against the best. Let’s not forget that six months earlier Dortmund were in the Champions League final. This was definitely the highlight of the month. And just like Arsenal do, one high leads to one mighty low. We seemed to accept that two wins from three was good enough. We were abysmal against United at OT.  It left a sour taste but it was still a positive week. The sides character was again apparent as we won out through the rest of the month. November brought with it nine premier league points and six champions league points. Quite something given some of the November’s we’ve had before. 


Sometimes you can look at some games, not necessarily your worst performances or defeat of the season but Everton still irks me. They played excellently against us but we took the lead with less than 10 minutes to go and for a side that had not conceded in four games it was disappointing to concede so late on. It is often these moments that lead to a poor run of form and that’s exactly we we got. Napoli was far too close for comfort, knowing we could lose didn’t help as it certainly affected our mindset. Callejon netted the 2nd in the 90th minute and we hung on to progress to the knockout stages. So i’ve spoken about our character and ability to bounce back from defeat, well this time it to us to fortress Etihad - The land of the demolition. Free scoring City against high flying Arsenal. We went in at HT 2-1 down and Kosceilny had left the game injured. It was painful viewing as it threatened to get as bad as a game previously played in Manchester some two years sooner. 6-3 it finished and although a lot went against us that day, you have to think there was a bigger picture. We exposed our weaknesses and it was put down as a freak result which may explain we why didn’t have an answer against other similar performances later in the season. We then had the opportunity to beat Chelsea but Mourinho came and loaded up the space and restricted our attack,. A penalty appeal and a red card shout went unnoticed and it was 90 minutes that nobody was getting back. Lukas Podolski rose from the ashes and turned the game on it’s head at Upton Park, as Theo continued his good run of form in front of goal. Then to Newcastle and Giroud glanced home as took the points in a very poor contest but again six point on the road is superb. 


Happy New Year to Arsenal as we got back to grips with our form. Cardiff were beaten, admittedly quite late on and then we had Sp*rs at home in the 3rd Round. Walcott led the line and despite not scoring he looked quite lively but within 48 hours it was confirmed his season was over. Maybe now we’d sign another striker, lets not forget we chased Higuain and Suarez when we had Giroud and Walcott. We were about to become very one dimensional very quickly. Wins followed against Villa, Fulham and Coventry but January was to end on a disappointing note. We fell behind at St Marys in one of our many poor first half performances. However, the team turned the game on its head. Santi equalised and Giroud steered home brilliantly to give us a 2-1 lead but we switched off and Southampton capitalised. It was definitely two points dropped but again at the time it didn’t seem too bad but February was just around the corner. 


Cracks began to appear at Liverpool after we suffered our second drubbing of the season at Anfield. It was a horror show, we invariably raised more questions than answers but we were handed a lesson in terms how ill discipline can lead to utter disaster very quickly. We had the opportunity to right our wrongs against United and we failed to deliver, again. How we never scored against them this season given the amount of joy they’ve given to Premier League fans is beyond me. We went on to extract revenge against Liverpool by eliminating them from the FA Cup, despite fielding what you could say was a weaker side. The CL got underway and Bayern came to town and did a number on us again. Although we missed a pen and gave away one, Szczesny’s sending off changed the game and the tie. We lived to regret a late Koscielny charge forward as we got caught napping. 


The worst month of the season. We lost to Stoke. We lost to Chelsea 6-0. We threw away a last minute lead v Swansea and ended the month without a win in three games. We were also officially eliminated out of the CL. The positives, well, we won at Spurs for the first time in approximately seven years and we remained in the FA Cup, which meant our season had some substance going into April, not just race for 4th.


If we thought March was bad, then April didn’t start any better. We got spanked at Everton. Despite this I still thought we had enough to make top four. Our run-in versus Everton was much more favourable and we’d started to get players back. The disappointment was soon put to bed as we beat Wigan on pens to make the FA Cup final. It was a poor contest and one we made far more difficult than it should have been but hey-ho we made the final, that’s all that counts. The positive trend continue as we netted three goals in three consecutive against West Ham, Hull and Newcastle. Ozil and Ramsey were back in the side and suddenly everything appeared to be a lot better,

Merry Month of May

Champions League qualification was sealed prior to our against WBA. Our league campaign ended with two wins meaning we are actually on a five game winning streak going into next season. Lets be honest though, May was all about the FA Cup and our dramatic comeback to end, as the media would say:





If ever anyone says we celebrate fourth like a trophy, then clearly they have never won one because although I celebrated our last days wins at WBA and NUFC nothing compares to Saturday. Seeing Gooners happy at Wembley, North London and across the globe was brilliant  Seeing the pleasure it brought to the team was just fantastic to see. The celebrations went long into the night. It was just a great day. Everyone has their memories from the weekend, whether you were there, at a pub or at home. It was special and it’s great to see everyone lapping it up.

Overall, the season promised more than it has done for a few years we’ve won silverware and that’s what it’s all about. You can debate long and hard about what is more important re: European Qualification but you don’t get the high we experienced on Saturday. There are ifs, buts and maybes. However, if you were offered 4th and the FA Cup after Villa on the opening day, you’d have taken it. We’ve made progress in some areas and there is still a lot of work ahead but for not it’s all good. 

End of Season Awards

Best Player

Aaron Ramsey - No description needed.

Worst Player

Carl Jenkinson - Lots of effort, lacks ability. Not good enough. However, he’ll soon be our only right back 

Goal of the Season

Tomas Rosicky - Yes, ladies and gentleman. I, the self confessed Rosicky hater I'm given ‘Super Tom’ as some of you refer to him the honour of Goal of the Season. Now, I know Wilshere’s goal is great but it was against Norwich in a 4-1 win. I prefer goals that have bigger meaning, so Rosicky’s effort at WHL swings it for me. An absolute thunder bastard (as Ian MacIntosh would say) and it give us our first win there and in a good few years. 

What If Moment of the Season

January Transfer Window - We had the lead, what had the momentum but we didn’t reinforce in order to see what we could have become. Yes injuries played a part but when the likes of Walcott and Ramsey are injured and you only bring in a broken Kallstrom then you’ll pay the price. I think we could have won had we invested but we didn’t but you always think ‘what if’. 

Most Ridiculous Moment of the Season

Mathieu Flamini - Of course there are many, not just relating to Flamini but his red at Southampton was stupidity at its finest. Not only did he commit a ridiculous challenge but he missed game against Liverpool and Man Utd. Games in which we could have done with him, particularly at Anfiled when we needed defensive shape. Instead we had to throw in a ring rusty Wilshere and the rest is history. 

Biggest Win

Borussia Dortmund - Nobody gave us a chance and in a season where we’ve had a lot of questions asked of us and had little reply, we came up big in Germany. I was lucky enough to go to that game and i can’t say I even contemplated victory but we snatched it courtesy of Aaron Ramsey. 

I’ve done all of these off the top of my head, so feel free to disagree (your thoughts are welcomed). Anyway, that’s all from me for now. I’ll be back some time soon with the Arsenal Power Rankings, drop me a line if you want to be a part to be a part of it. Thanks for reading and until next time, enjoy the fact out of all the Premier League teams, only two have won silverware and one of them is us.