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Arsenal: Player report card for 2017-18 season

Few Gunners can hold their heads high after a campaign that will end without a single major trophy.

Prithviraj Dev | New Delhi | Updated :

Arsene Wenger’s final season at Arsenal ended in bitter despondency as the North Londoners emerged trophy-less and missed out on their target of securing UEFA Champions League qualification as well.

While they were never truly contenders for the Premier League, their title challenge ended fairly early and despite deep runs in two cup competitions (EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League), the Gunners had nought to show for it.

A majority of the fans remained disgruntled with the long-serving tactician, right up until it was announced he would be stepping down after 22 eventful years, but should their ire be directed towards the players?

Highly-paid athletes all and a vast majority of them did let their manager down over the course of yet another forgettable campaign.

Without any further ado, here is The Statesman’s player report card for the 2017-18 season:

Goalkeepers

Petr Cech

Petr Cech, Arsenal F.C., Premier League,
Cech’s gaffe’s have cost the Gunners a few points! (Photo: AFP)

 

It’s not been a good season for custodians in North London, has it?

Cech’s looked way older than 35 this season as a number of high-profile gaffes cost the Gunners precious points.

Apologies on social media followed, but the damage was done.


Key stat: Cech now completed 14 seasons in the English top-flight.

Nobody’s doubting the fact that the Czech shot-stopper is perhaps the finest to have graced the Premier League, but it looks like he’s truly over the hill and it is time for the Gunners to look at options in the summer.

Rating: 5/10

David Ospina

At 29, Ospina still has plenty of football left in him, but how long will he continue to play second fiddle to Cech?

Key stat: Played a crucial role in Arsenal’s EFL Cup final run.

Primarily used in cup competitions and whenever Cech’s been injured, the Colombian actually did a decent job, but it remains to be seen if the new manager will make him the club’s No.1.

Rating: 6/10

Defenders

Sead Kolasinac

The early signs were extremely bright and Gunners fans were excited, understandably so.

Unfortunately that promise hasn’t lived up to expectations, for a plethora of reasons.

Key stat: Got an assist on his Premier League debut, a home fixture against Leicester City which ended in a 4-3 win for the Gunners, on August 11.

However, with this being his debut season, the Bosnian can be cut some slack.

Rating: 6/10

Nacho Monreal

Initially Kolasinac seemed to have gotten ahead of him in the pecking order, but the Spaniard adapted by shifting to central defensive position in their 3-4-3 system and hasn’t looked back.

Key stat: Scored one and helped himself to two assists during a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on January 20.

Still, an obvious lack of pace and physicality are obvious weaknesses, ones that have been exploited on a number of occasions this season.

Rating: 6/10

Per Mertesacker

Per Mertesacker, Petr Cech, Arsenal F.C., Premier Leauge
Mertesacker (L) will be taking charge of the club academy after the season concludes! (Photo: AFP)

 

In his seventh and final season at the club (in a playing capacity), Arsenal’s BFG has reduced to a bit-part player.

At 33, he simply does not have the legs anymore and the younger lot have gotten ahead of him.

Key stat: Managed to score in the Premier League, the FA Cup and the EFL Cup.

Played just once this year, which just about tells you all you need to know.

Rating: 5/10

Calum Chambers

A strange campaign for Chambers, considering he only started to play towards the end of 2017, but the 23-year-old hasn’t exactly cemented his place in the starting XI since then.

Key stat: Primarily used as a centre-back, but deputised at right-back as well.

The upside with him is that he’s still young and can obviously improve, but will the next stage of his development take place in North London, or elsewhere?

Rating: 5/10

Rob Holding

Another young English defender who’s struggled for game time and hasn’t really impressed when afforded a start.

Key stat: Has played across three tiers of the English football pyramid (Premier League, Championship and League One)

Looks likely to stick on after signing a long-term extension, but will have to seriously improve his game if he wants to become a regular.

Rating: 5/10

Laurent Koscielny

Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal F.C., Premier League
Laurent Koscielny is almost certain to miss the World Cup now! (Photo: AFP)

 

 

Arguably Arsenal’s best defender this season, although that isn’t saying much.

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The 32-year-old has had a tendency to implode in big games, but to his credit, acquitted himself well for the most part.

Key stat: Got cautioned just twice and avoided getting sent off over the course of the entire campaign.

A pity he will miss the 2018 FIFA World Cup with an Achilles injury he suffered in May.

Rating: 7/10

Shkodran Mustafi

At the start of the campaign it looked like he was on his way out, but stayed put and it’s largely been Arsenal’s gain.

Key stat: Scored in Arsenal’s memorable 2-0 win over crosstown rivals Tottenham Hotspur in November.

Still, considering he’s in the prime of his career, more was expected from the German.

Some glaring errors in high-profile clashes did cast doubts on his mental fragility but the 26-year-old did recover from then on.

Rating: 6/10

Hector Bellerin

A middling season from the pacey Spaniard as he still looks stuck in between talented prospect and consistent performer.

The 23-year-old still has time on his side, of course, but the fact that he possess all the tools to become the Premier League’s finest fullback makes his inconsistency all the more infuriating.

Key stat: Crossed the milestone of 100 Premier League appearances this season.

Perhaps the new manager can shine this diamond in the rough?

Rating: 6/10

Konstatinos Mavropanos

Considering he’s played just twice, it would be unfair to give him a rating.

Definitely one for the future though.

Key stat: The youngest defender (20) in the senior squad.

He did shackle Romelu Lukaku fairly well on his Premier League debut, however, which has got the Gunners faithful excited for next season.

Rating: N/A

Midfielders

Aaron Ramsey

When fit, the Welshman remains Arsenal’s finest central midfielder.

Fit being the operative word, for Ramsey’s still not been able to complete 40 games this season.

Key stat: Scored 11 times, which is his second-best tally for a season since joining the Gunners from Cardiff City in 2008.

Those niggling injuries prevent him from realising his potential and at 27, he should be bossing games more often.

Rating: 7/10

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

There was a feeling of despair when Alexis Sanchez departed in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January but fast forward to May and the Armenian has made the Gunners faithful almost forget about the Chilean.

Key stat: On his first Premier League start for the North Londoners, racked up a hat-trick of assists in their 5-1 win over Everton on February 3.

Not a like-for-like replacement of course, but the former Red Devils midfielder has looked at home since day one and is primed to explode next season.

Rating: 7/10

Jack Wilshere

Jack Wilshere, Arsenal F.C., Premier League
Has ‘Super Jack’s’ time at Arsenal come to an end? (Photo: AFP)

 

Started the season as a reserve player effectively but after knuckling down, forced himself into Arsene Wenger’s first-team plans.

Key stat: Played 37 times for the Gunners this campaign, which is more than the total of his past three seasons combined.

Still, he’s definitely not become the player he was touted to be, for a variety of reasons, and if he departs the Emirates this summer, it will always be a case of what could have been.

Rating: 7/10

Mesut Ozil

At 29, Ozil should be enthralling audiences on a weekly basis, but the German has blown hot and cold for yet another season.

Key stat: Reportedly the highest earner at the club with weekly wages of £350,000.

Even with the January arrivals of Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan haven’t been enough to get the mercurial midfielder firing on all cylinders.

Rating: 5/10

Santi Cazorla

On the verge of returning to the pitch, but with his contract expiring in the summer, will he remain an Arsenal player?

Key stat: Didn’t play a single game this season as he recovered from a long-term ankle injury.

The smart money says no, which will be a travesty, considering the amount of times he lit up the Premier League with his twinkle-toed displays.

Rating: N/A

Granit Xhaka

Is the Swiss the weak link in the Gunners midfield?

He rarely gets injured, which is a major plus, but his technical abilities are undoubtedly weak and his proclivity towards getting booked is a worrying trait.

Key stat: Picked up 11 cautions (all competitions) this season, the highest for an Arsenal player.

Leaves the likes of Wilshere and Ramsey with a lot to do, especially in crunch clashes, and the new manager will definitely look to add some quality in this position.

Rating: 5/10

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

A versatile modern day footballer, the 20-year-old looks is a star in the making and his display against Manchester United at Old Trafford definitely had plenty of grit.

Key stat: Has played at right-back, in midfield and on the wing for the Gunners this season.

Hopefully the incoming manager will give him more chances in the following campaign.

Rating: N/A

Joe Willock

Yet another Arsenal Academy product who’s shown he can mix it up with the big boys.

Key stat: The youngest member (18) in the senior squad.

Might just be farmed out on loan next season.

Rating: N/A

Mohamed Elneny

The Egyptian was rewarded with a long-term contract earlier in the campaign, a puzzling decision surely for the 25-year-old is a squad player at best.

Key stat: Only Gunners player to get sent off this season.

His work-rate is immense, but doubts remain over whether he can make the grade at the Emirates.

Rating: 6/10

Forwards

Alexandre Lacazette

Started brightly, but faded considerably in the middle before picking up towards the fag end.

Key stat: From December 10 to February 10, scored just one goal in 13 games.

His burgeoning partnership with Aubameyang has fans giddy and the jet-heeled duo could wreak havoc in the Premier League next season.

Rating: 6/10

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Premier League, Arsenal F.C.
‘Pea’ certainly can become a world-beater at Arsenal! (Photo: AFP)

 

Despite having arrived in January, the Gabonese has probably been Arsenal’s player of the season.

The former Borussia Dortmund man is among the biggest names in world football and his acquisition has undoubtedly galvanised the flagging Gunners.

Key stat: With eight goals and four assists in 11 games, it’s safe to say Aubameyang has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.

Despite playing on the left to accommodate Lacazette, the rapid African has been terrific almost each time he’s put on the Arsenal jersey.

Rating: 8/10

Danny Welbeck

Another injury-riddled season for the Englishman and at this stage you begin to wonder if he can ever complete a campaign without missing large chunks of it.

Key stat: With 10 strikes across all competitions, it is his best-ever season in an Arsenal jersey in terms of goals scored.

His goals-to-games record is decent, but a player playing for Arsenal Football Club should be more than decent, shouldn’t he?

Rating: 6/10

Alex Iwobi

How the Nigerian started so many games this season (especially the first-half) has been a mystery.

Key stats: Apart from centre forward, played every position in midfield and attack for the Gunners.

Not to disparage the 22-year-old, who always puts in maximum effort, but his end product is often lacking and with the aforementioned January arrivals, will find it difficult to get regular minutes.

Rating: 6/10