Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The SMR Arsenal Squad Review – Attackers

With the season over and a trophy in the cabinet, I’m going to assess the season for each member of the Arsenal squad and rate them. I’m sure there’ll be some disagreements about some of my ratings, so feel free to comment at the bottom with your thoughts. Finally, it’s the attackers.
9. Lukas Podolski
After a great start to the season with an excellent brace at Fulham, Podolski seriously banjaxed his hamstring and wasn’t seen again until Boxing Day. A goal came on that day, as did other important ones in the run-in. Despite having to spend much of the season as a substitute, he forced his way back into the starting line-up near in the latter stages of the season, going on an excellent scoring run in April.
There are still questions about the best way to use Podolski as his work-rate is often queried on the flank, but his appearances as the lone striker have been pretty anonymous. With more competition for places, he did well to get back in the team, and remains lethal if manoeuvred into position to release that hammer of a left foot.
Season Rating: 6.5/10
12. Olivier Giroud
Giroud remains an easy target for criticism, however a lot of that is born out of the fact that he was the only good quality option as a lone striker in Arsenal’s squad for the whole season. Considering the burden he had to take on in that role, Giroud had a good season.
He is never going to be a player that will beat defenders with pace in behind, which is why his combination play with Theo Walcott was missed so much in the second half of the season, as the two together complemented each other well in the team. Mid-season private life problems did co-inside with an unhelpful loss of form, but overall Giroud put in a good shift as the lead front man all year. He just needs some help to share the load next season.
Season Rating: 7.5/10
14. Theo Walcott
This looked to be the season that we really saw the best of Theo Walcott. He was taking more responsibility in the team, creating more chances and scoring regularly when he was fully fit. Rather than just being a quick player, he was making more intelligent runs in behind defences and the end product was regularly there from him.
It’s just a huge shame that his season was wrecked by injury. Walcott is unique in the Arsenal squad for his raw pace, and even though someone like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is quick and will be an excellent player, Walcott’s added experience and tendency to sit on the shoulder of the last defender was hugely missed in the second half of the season. Hopefully it won’t be long into 2014-2015 that we see Walcott flying down the wing again.
Season Rating: 6/10
22. Yaya Sanogo
In the FA Cup final, whilst it was a surprise to see Sanogo thrown into the action to form a front two with Olivier Giroud, there were signs that this raw striker could be a good player. For the most part, he’s looked a bit out of his depth, and not scoring a goal is hardly ideal.
However, he also suffered from the fact that he shouldn’t have been the only real option as a back-up to Giroud. Sanogo does have a good turn of pace, is strong and can cause defenders problems. There are a lot of technique issues to be ironed out, but he’ll be better for playing in big games in the cup run and the Champions League this season.
Season Rating: 4/10
23. Nicklas Bendtner
I’m staggered that he was even seen in an Arsenal shirt again this season. However, for all his problems, he did score a couple of important goals, especially the late one at home to Cardiff.
However, any professional footballer who goes on a trip abroad that isn’t authorised by the club, drops their trousers and then starts rubbing their junk on a cab needs to have a serious look at themselves. No-one will miss Lord Bendtner next season.
Season Rating: 1.5/10
Listen to the Sam’s Match Reports podcast end-of-season awards special!
Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3