Good morning fellow Gooners!!!
Yids, Orcs, Mugsmashers and Chavs please feel free to FUCK OFF!!!!!
Today I'm writing with a strange feeling. After the excitement and nerve-jangling at the end of the season, I woke up this morning and realised that there's no real football of note for a couple of months!!! This is not good!
So to fix the problem I've swiftly organised a lads FIFA day at my house on Friday. 8 guys, loads of beer and an Xbox. What could possibly go wrong???!!!!!!
The wife and little man will be despatched for the day to a mall (armed with my credit card - which could be where things begin to come unstuck!) and we'll have a full day of uninterrupted FIFA. I say uninterrupted, but as we all know FIFA cheats. It decides who it wants to win and how by basically screwing you over with debatable refereeing and shocking goalkeeping. It's actually a fact that I've never lost a match of FIFA (either online or offline) when the game hasn't cheated!!!! These cheating scandals are usually met with a tirade of foul language from myself (usually including the phrase "I hate this fucking game. It's utter bullshit!") and the very real threat of TVs and controllers being broken!!
The weird thing is, if I get this worked up over a computer game, imagine the stress involved at the higher levels of management!! Just think of your blood pressure as your team enters the 90th minute at Old Trafford, a goal up and Howard Webb gives two penalties in 25 seconds. No wonder so many managers look old before their time (or in the case of Alex McLeish they look like a wrinkled, withered, ginger testicle!!)
Anyway, I digress! Let's crack on with today's blog.
Yesterday I posted a few of my flashpoints of the season. Highs, lows and a few in betweens. Today I wanted to try and do an end-of-season player rating. The thing about player ratings is that nobody will ever agree with what I write here. The truth is we're all experts on the game (although I have a PhD in football punditry so ner-ner!) having sat through countless hours of the game. As an example I love Aaron Ramsey. Virtually no one else shares that viewpoint. I've literally lost hours just staring at his posters on my wall.................. ahem! Anyway my point is that different fans have different checklists when it comes to rating players. Some love the workers, some love the fancy flair players that only show up for 5 minutes in a game, and some................. well to be honest there's no pleasing some fans who will criticise a guy for a poor touch having just scored his 5th of the game!!!
The great thing about rating players individually is that there is usually a very lively debate which follows. Can't wait for that!
So let's stop wasting time and get right on with it then!
Just to clarify I won't be rating players that haven't completed at least 5 competitive games. Simply because believe it or not I do have a job to do, and I'm not sure what my bosses would think of me spending all day writing this!!!!
Wojciech Szczesny - 7.5 out of 10
Definitely a season of two halves for Chez. Looked all over the place at times with poor positioning and awful kicking. Was rightly dropped for the Bayern away game. But for an injury to Fabianski he may not have got back in when he did. When he did return he looked better, more confident and during the run-in he made some massive saves at key points in games. Needs to kick on next year and show the promise he has.
Lukasz Fabianski - 8.5 out of 10
It's hard to criticise Fabianski too much. He dropped down the pecking order early in the season when Mannone was preferred as cover for Chez during a few weeks of injury. However he obviously stuck at it because he was rewarded with a start away at Bayern. I don't need to remind you he kept a clean sheet and made some good saves. Went on to start the next 4 games and we won them all, adding a further clean sheet in the process. At the end of the day he may not be everyone's favourite but it's hard to argue with stats that read played 5 won 5. The only player in the squad to boast a 100% win rate. Got injured after the 5th game and never reclaimed his place.
Vito Mannone - 7 out of 10
Deputised for Sczcesny early in the season. Didn't do a lot wrong, but then didn't do anything out of the ordinary either. Doubts over his ability to command the area and boss the defenders. Could have been more vocal on set pieces, but other than that a fairly standard, and dare I say safe, season.
Bacary Sagna - 7 out of 10
Usually Mr Dependable, Sagna would be the first to admit that this has not been his best season by a long long way. I won't overly criticise him because a lot of the stick he received for errors was unjustified in my opinion. There's no doubt in my mind that because of Sagna's attacking attitude he needs discipline from the guy in front of him, and Theo didn't always give him that. Still I think Bac will be disappointed that the biggest highlight was a return from a double leg break.
Carl Jenkinson - 7 out of 10
Possibly the new 'Mr Arsenal'. Has come on in leaps and bounds yet again. It speaks volumes of Jenkinson that almost the entire Arsenal world wants him to claim a regular first team place. Hard working and deceptively quick. Needs to cut out some sloppy passes but on the whole I'm looking for Jenks to become our first choice right-back next year.
Kieran Gibbs - 8.5 out of 10
What can you say about Gibbs. The biggest weak point to his game is his injury record. A few years ago we were calling him our weakest link but he has improved every single year without fail. He's quick and reads the game well. Has great reactions and isn't often beaten by a winger. Offers a lot in attack and was involved in a few goals this season too. Great season for Gibbs and even with the arrival of Monreal I think Gibbs will be our first choice going forward. I'd like to see him claim a regular England place soon as I think he deserves it.
Nacho Monreal - 7.5 out of 10
Joined at the end of the January transfer window and was given a baptism of fire with a debut against Stoke. Doesn't offer as much attacking threat as Gibbs, and not as quick but arguably a better defender and significantly better in the air. Nacho is solid, dependable and rarely makes mistakes, scary how he looks like a shrunken Peter Crouch though!!
Andre Santos - 2 out of 10
Whilst I do agree that he has received an unfair amount of criticism, the simple fact remains that Santos is nowhere near the standard require of a Premiership full back. Slow, lazy and unable to track runners. Positionally unaware of what's going on around him. Apparently has a lack of football shirts in his wardrobe hence his attempts to take shirts from other players at half time. No doubt he's a character in the dressing room, but so would Tweetie Pie be, and I wouldn't want a big-headed yellow bird playing left back either!!!
Laurent Koscielny - 9 out of 10
Not called Kos the Boss for nothing!! Our most solid defender this season. Ended last season as our most improved player but didn't start the season with Vermaelen and Mertesacker preferred. Had a few shaky games at the start of the season as he struggled to re-capture his form and match fitness. Very quickly established a partnership with Mertesacker that kept our club captain out of the side for the all-important run in. Dominant in the air and not afraid to put his head in where the boots are flying (flying boots? Really??) Incredible tackler and some of his acrobatic clearances are fantastic. Quick, and reads a game well. If I was being ultra critical I'd say he needs to work on his strength, but only if it's not at the expense of his reactions and pace. Nice one Kos. Nice one!
Per Mertesacker - 8 out of 10
Merte's biggest strength is his ability to read the game. Seriously lacking in pace, but then so was Tony Adams and you never noticed it. Brings a calm to the defence and it's no coincidence that we look more solid at the back when the BFG is around. Being critical he gets muscled off the ball far too often in my opinion, and he often lets the ball bounce when he should just head clear. But all things considered out best defensive line-up is one which includes him and that says it all really.
Thomas Vermaelen - 5.5 out of 10
There was a time last season when I was raving about Vermaelen. Popping up with important goals (last minutes against Newcastle) and generally looking like a beast of a defender. Sadly something happened. Like Samson and the cutting of his hair, TV5 has looked a shadow of his former self this year. Perhaps the weight of the captaincy has troubled him, perhaps his goal scoring exploits papered over the cracks of a poor defender. Who knows? Whatever it is though it led to him being dropped and only starting one game since Bayern away (he stepped in for the suspended Mertesacker). He's now only our 3rd choice and for a club captain this must be frustrating. I expect him to leave in the summer to get guaranteed football elsewhere. It's a shame because for all his faults I'd love to see him given a run as a proper, out-and-out defensive midfielder.
Abou Diaby - 5 out of 10
Diaby showed what he is capable of in just the third game of the season when he completely dominated the midfield against Liverpool with powerful running and an all-around presence. Sadly he has become a player that we simply cannot rely on. Every time he is fit and plays he gets injured after 2 or 3 games. It's a real shame because a fully-fit Diaby is a game changing player. Moreover with his direct running and physical presence he brings something to the team that no other player we have can offer. It's such a shame that he's been injured over 20 times since the Dan Smith tackle. In my opinion it's time we released him from his contract. If rumours are to be believed then 60,000 a week is too much to pay someone who never plays.
Aaron Ramsey - 8 out of 10
It never ceases to amaze me that Ramsey is still seen as over-rated. I often wonder if people simply don't see what he brings to the field every time he pulls on the cannon! The first part of the season wasn't great for him. Wenger persisted in playing him in wide positions where he lacks the pace and technical ability to really effect a game. However he still worked his socks off and provided excellent cover for whichever full-back was behind him. The latter part of the year is where he really came into his own. Deployed in his favourite "running midfield" position he provided the link between defence and attack very well. He even deputised at full back on a couple of occasions and did very well. Ramsey is not the most gifted of players, he'll never be on the back pages for a mazy run, or a 30 yard screamer. But every squad needs a player like him. He never tires, never stops working and in a high tempo game he comes into his own. Versatile and, like Jenkinson, deceptively strong and quick he has made the runner position his own. Next year he has to add goals to his games though - though I'm sure this will alarm celebrities world-wide. His shooting technique is largely poor with lots of scuffed efforts and poor contacts. I worry that with some of the names we're linked with that he'll be relegated to the bench too often, but even if that is the case my guess is he'll just work even harder to back into the starting eleven.
Jack Wilshere - 7 out of 10
Came back from 15 months out and instantly looked like he'd never been away! It's hard not to love Wilshere with his combative, aggressive style. I loved the way he squared up to Olssen, Owen and Bale within about a month of each other! He burned out towards the end of the season which is understandable for someone so lacking in match fitness. There's no doubt he will be a future Arsenal and England captain, I just wish he'd protect himself a little better in games. Whilst it's part of the way he plays he does leave himself open for horror tackles and ankle stamps. With a good pre-season under his belt I imagine Wilshere will be a starting player almost immediately. Like Ramsey he must add golas to his game. He gets into good positions but often doesn't shoot, looking instead for a more difficult pass.
Mikel Arteta - 9.5 out of 10
'El Capitan' was my personal choice for player of the season, though in terms of ratings I'm giving him the same as Santi. There's something about the way our midfield plays that underlines Arteta's importance to the club. He's like a puppet master. In his new "defensive midfield" role. He reminds me very much of the way Dunga used to run the show for Brazil in the 90s. Arteta's biggest asset is his ability to move the ball without even looking where he's passing. It's like his brain is a camera and takes snapshots of where everyone is and which direction they're moving. He finished the season on 2517 completed passes at a rate of 91.4% (92.6% according to some sources!) which is a phenomenal achievement. Stepped into the role of Captain and unlike Vermaelen looked like he was born for it. The only thing preventing me from giving him a perfect 10 out of 10 is the silly free-kicks he's prone to conceding, perhaps his lack of pace contributes to this, perhaps is the wear and tear of playing 50 games a season without rest. But either way it's the only part of his game which needs improvement for next year.
Santiago Cazorla - 9.5 out of 10
The only player in the squad to feature in every single premiership game. Despite that fact that we were after Santi as a replacement for Fabregas, I think it's fair to say that few people (myself included) knew a great deal about him. Wow! Were we in for a pleasant surprise!! Possibly the world's most natural two footed player. An eye for a pass and a nightmare to play against. Santi has excelled both behind the striker and also out on the left. Cazorla has such quick feet and great balance that he's almost impossible to dispossess without fouling him. Jamie Redknapp (cunt) was driven to say "You couldn't get the ball off him even in a telephone box!" A strange thing to say no doubt, but we got the meaning. Had an absolutely incredible introduction to English football. Again if I was being overly critical there would be two aspect of his game that I would point fingers at. When playing on the left he often loses the discipline to aid his full back. This has as much to do with the fact that he has a floating role and so often drifts off the wing into the middle of the park, but it still leaves Gibbs/Monreal with no cover in front. A little like Wilshere in that he often appear reluctant to pull the trigger when in decent shooting positions. I'd like to see him be a bit more selfish as we all know what he can do when he lets fly. His pile-driver against West Ham (on his so called-weaker foot) was one of my goals of the season. Last season he started without really knowing his team-mates. Next season he'll be even better!!!
Tomas Rosicky - 8 out of 10
Tomas Rosicky is the new Peter Pan!! There. I've said it! He's like a puppy, energetic and running all over the place trying to force errors and make things happen. This season, just like last season, he came good at the right time. Hampered by injury early on he returned just in time to help us with the run-in. "The Little Mozart" is a fantastic, direct running player. Driving at defences before off loading the ball having pulled players out of position. We defend better with Rosicky in the team because he presses so high up the pitch and forces the rest of the team to follow suit. Loves the outside of the foot pass and shot, but again doesn't score enough for a player in an advanced position. However his movement and running opens up spaces for his teammates to exploit so you could credit him with many "indirect assists'. Frankly I love him and I wish we had more like him.
Francis Coquelin - 6 out of 10
I feel bad for 'Le Coq' because he is a really promising player who simply isn't given enough game time to display his full range of qualities. Unfortunately our midfield is probably our most competitive area of the pitch and he's fighting for a place ahead of some top players. I see Coquelin leaving in the summer to get game time. Personally I think we should loan him out because he'll be a great midfielder in a couple of years.
Gervinho - 6 out of 10
Gervinho's season has been rather like Gervinho himself. Crazily inconsistent! Capable of moments of sheer genius and flair, but equally likely to forget to stop running when getting close to the byline. Started the season well, had a few games as a striker and scored something like 4 in 5 games. Then vanished completely. Came back after the African Cup Of Nations and looked like his spark had returned. Then vanished again. Last seen running through Epping Forest with over a hundred followers, then tripping over a rogue stick. Possibly one player I won't mind being sold!
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - 6 out of 10
The Ox has has a topsy turvy year, the high for him would no doubt have been scoring his first England goal. The low would have to be the failure to kick on from last season. Perhaps the pressure and hype got to him a little. There's no doubting we built him up to an impossible level after last year. He's never really got going this year, partly because Walcott's form has made him difficult to drop, but also because whenever he's played he hasn't taken the game by the scruff of the neck and made things happen like we know he can. The great thing about the Ox is that he's a down-to-earth character and he want to learn and improve. He'll know that he could have had a better season this year, but I'll bet every penny I have that he comes out next year and blows us all away. Can't wait!
Theo Walcott - 9 out of 10
Theeeeeeeoooooooooooooo! What a season. Answered all his critics (including me) with some magical numbers. Everything about Theo is improved from last year. Quicker, stronger, more dangerous and clinical in front of goal. Top scorer this year at the club and I expect even more from him next season. The only minuses (and the reasons why Cazorla and Arteta are ranked higher) are consistency, he still goes missing from time to time. Though it's nowhere near as often as it used to be. Also because he wants to play in the centre he has a tendency to drift infield but lacks the discipline to properly cover the full-back. We saw against Wigan a very disciplined performance from Theo and it virtually nullified the left side of Wigan's attack as Theo and Sagna in tandem dealt with everything. But all too often Sagna is left 2 on 1 and it's because Theo hasn't tracked back. Other than that though a wonderful season from a player I'm delighted to have been proved wrong about. Still not a centre forward though!!!!
Lukas Podolski - 7.5 out of 10
A little known fact about Poldi is that he was named after my son. Who was born 25 years after him. Funny how things work out! Started the season well, scored a beautifully taken goal against Liverpool and everything looked rosy. Formed a wonderful partnership with Giroud and Cazorla that saw some stunning one-touch football from all three of them. Questions must be asked of his fitness though having only completed 90 minutes 4 times this season. The tail end of the season has seen him suffer somewhat, possibly due to tiredness (he is used to a mid-season break in Germany). Either way some of the goals he's scored this season have been nothing short of mesmeric. His left foot carries the same power as Thor's Hammer. When he quits football he'll have a promising career in demolition, simply kicking buildings to bits! I'll be looking for an improvement next season.
Andrey Arshavin - 4 out of 10
The calamitous fall from grace of Andrey Arshavin must go on record as the quickest time a world-class player has become utterly shit. He's fat, he's lazy and he is simply a waste of wages right now. Personally the Arshavin signing was the one which had me more excited than anyone else we've ever bought. When Arsenal bought Bergkamp and Henry they weren't at the top of their game at that point. Arshavin was. He'd almost single handedly guided Russia through a world cup and a European cup campaign. He was one of the brightest talents in world football and I was as giddy as Lulu and Take That (a dog with 5 dicks!!) He scored 4 at Anfield, a couple of quality finishes against Blackburn, he liked to take players on and dribbled through them. Then one night a little alien sneaked into his bedroom, drilled a hole in his head and sucked out his mojo. And added 6 inches to his waistline!!! People argue that he's been played out of position. I argue that all Wenger's players get played on the wing at some time. It's how you learn the defensive aspects of your game. Sorry Andrey, you've let yourself down, the club down and the fans down. We loved you. You cheated on us with a pie named Fray Bentos!
Olivier Giroud - 8 out of 10
Nowhere near the flop that some people think he is. Decent return for his first season in England with 17 goals and 11 assists, including two beautiful flicks for Gibbs and Podolski to volley in. I love his intelligent movement that opens the defence up for others to exploit. Needs some competition for his place though to force him to be less complacent. Also spends too much time whining about free kicks he hasn't got. Hopefully next season he'll kick on. Interestingly he scored more goals from inside the 6 yard box than any other player in the Premiership, which is something we've been lacking for ages!
So there you have it guys and gals. My personal player ratings. Feel free to comment with your thoughts, or point out anything I've missed!
Until the next time.............
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