Saturday, June 7, 2014

The SMR Arsenal Squad Review – Midfielders

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. Moving up the pitch, it’s the midfielders.
7. Tomas Rosicky
The Czech has been an excellent player to have around the squad in 2013/2014, and is someone that can be relied on in big games. Rosicky can be brought on to control the tempo of the game if Arsenal are leading, or he can add urgency to the team with direct bursts forward. As he moves towards the latter stages of his career, it’s great to see Rosicky making an impact at the club considering his previous injury problems.
Rosicky is developing an excellent knack of scoring against Tottenham, contributing two crackers this season. The FA Cup goal was a result of his relentless pressing high up the pitch before a calm finish, and the goal at White Hart Lane was a rocket. It was one of the few Arsenal goals that made me stand up and shout THRIKER!
Season Rating: 7/10
8. Mikel Arteta
Arteta is beginning to divide some opinion amongst Arsenal fans, with some suggesting he’s getting a bit old and slows the play down, but others saying he plays a key role in keeping the team ticking over. Arteta is undoubtedly one of the players that Arsene Wenger trusts most as the Spaniard does quietly do a very important job for the team.
He’s not the big destructive defensive midfielder that many want, but Arteta will rarely be found out of position and putting the team under pressure by misplacing a pass. His penalty taking is also excellent, with the twice taken one against Everton in the cup showing his coolness under pressure. He’ll gradually play less as he gets older, but Arteta remains a big part of the Arsenal squad as a respected vice-captain.
Season Rating: 7/10
10. Jack Wilshere
It’s been a strange season for Jack Wilshere. He’s had his fair share of injury problems again, but there have been real signs of improvement. Wilshere hasn’t been dominating games as many fans thought he would do in his career, but like Aaron Ramsey was last season, he’s almost in the consolidating period after a very long injury.
Wilshere has added more goals and assists to his game this season, with the brace against Marseille being particularly impressive, along with the finish at the end of the liquid football goal against Norwich.
Next season will be a big one for Wilshere. If he can stay fit, he can build on the good progress made in 2013/2014.
Season Rating: 6.5/10
11. Mesut Ozil
The German attracted, and still attracts, too much criticism for his performances in 2013/2014. Expectations were always going to be high after arriving for £42 million, and whilst he might not have lived up to them for some people, Ozil still had a huge impact on Arsenal.
He clocked up assists and brought more out of others around him. This season was always going to be about adapting for Ozil, and the signs are good that he’ll be even better next season. His control is incredible, and his passing is not far short of Bergkamp-levels at times. That fact he’s at the club will make Arsenal a more attractive tea, to join for players in the summer transfer window, as they know they’ll get chances with Ozil in the team.
Season Rating: 7.5/10
15. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
It’s been a frustrating season for the Ox. A lengthy injury on the first day of the season was far from ideal, especially after looking dangerous and getting an assist early in that match.
He recovered well to make a difference in the second half of season, especially in the cup run against Liverpool, Everton and Wigan. I’m not sure about the insistence that he’ll ultimately be a central midfielder, as even though Oxlade-Chamberlain is good enough to play there, he’s at his best when committing defenders and running into space. Hopefully he’ll be fit to play at the World Cup, and be fit enough next season to further develop. The Oz is an exciting player and one that makes things happen when he plays.
Season Rating: 6/10
16. Aaron Ramsey
What else is there to say about Aaron Ramsey? The transformation has been incredible. He’s been confident, committed and sensational in almost every game he’s played. It’s just a huge shame he was out for four months of the season. He’s gone from being a semi-reliable squad player to a world class game-changer. More of the same next season please, Rambo.
Season Rating: 9/10
19. Santi Cazorla
Cazorla wasn’t quite at his influential best in 2013/2014, and that was partly from not having much of a summer break following a long first season in the Premier League. His quick feet still dazzled as he was deployed more on the flank than he was in his debut season, because of the arrival of Ozil.
He can occasionally go missing in games, but his technical quality and ability to use both feet mean he’s always a danger in games. The FA Cup final free-kick was also stunning. Forget any criticism of the goalkeeper, that was a hell of strike. At his best, Cazorla is a beautiful player to watch.
Season Rating: 7/10
20. Mathieu Flamini
It seemed like a slightly strange signing at the time, but bringing Mathieu Flamini back to the club was a good move from Arsene Wenger. He brought passion, organisation and commitment to the team at the start of the season, especially when Arsenal seemed fragile at that time.
He appeared less in the second half of the season, and as much as it was funny seeing him get booked every game, the ill-discipline did cost the team with the red card at Southampton. However, anyone who comes on for a second North London derby, kicks lumps out of a lot of Spurs players and pushes someone out the way just to get a clear run-up to fly in for another tackle against Tottenham is an instant hero.
Season Rating: 6.5/10
24. Abou Diaby
It was brilliant to see him even play twenty minutes this season. Any sustained playing time Arsenal get out of him next season will be a bonus. Diaby does have a huge amount of talent, and incredible motivation to comeback from what he’s been through, but his body does not support him being a professional footballer.
Season Rating: 4/10
29. Kim Kallstrom
He was not the striker Arsenal fans wanted in January, and having been signed with a broken back, it was going to be difficult for Kim Kallstrom to make an impact at the club. He made a few useful Premier League appearances and scored his penalty in the FA Cup semi-final. Kallstrom didn’t do much else, but did as much as fans could have hoped for from him.
Season Rating: 5/10
31. Ryo Miyaichi
Made no real impact on the first team except for some Capital One Cup appearances. Unfortunately for him, I can’t see Ryo making it at Arsenal.
Season Rating: 2/10
44. Serge Gnabry
Gnabry did make some encouraging performances in the first team, and scored an excellent first goal at Swansea. He still has a lot to learn but Gnabry is an exciting player for the future. It’s good for him to have a strong German connection at the club as well.
Season Rating: 5.5/10
Listen to the Sam’s Match Reports podcast end-of-season awards special!
Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3