2013/14 Player report card...

Last updated : 21 June 2014 By Michael Jung

Wojciech Szczesny   46 appearances  B.

For the most part Szczesny was very good this season. He generally commands the area and makes the saves one expects. He has cut the mistakes out of his game, although there were the occasional lapses in concentration. His distribution has improved as well with many of his clearances finding the head of Giroud or Sagna downfield.
I still don’t have much confidence in his ability to save penalty kicks though. He does make some excellent saves, but I felt he could have done better in some of the games. He gets into trouble when he becomes cocky and tries something clever. However, he has made the position his own and is one of the best young goalkeepers in the Premier League.

Lukasz Fabianski  10 (1) appearances  B.

Without Fabianski’s outstanding performance against Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final, we likely would have gone another year without a trophy. Wenger showed integrity and loyalty when he allowed Lukasz to play in the final. Lukasz repaid him by doing an Almunia late in the game, but we won anyway.Other than that late incident, Fabianski had a very good year, but Szczesny didn’t falter and he was unable to displace him from the team this past season. Lukasz now leaves for hopefully greener pastures elsewhere.

Emiliano Viviano  0 appearances  N/A.

Poor Emiliano didn’t appear in an Arsenal game for even a second. I’m sure he won’t be back and will look upon the past season as a learning experience.


Bacary Sagna  47 (1) appearances  1 goal    B+.

A solid final season for Bacary. He avoided any significant injury and played well week after week. He even played as a centre back where his terrific play in the air was an asset and perhaps an indication of where he might end up playing. His attacking ability was inconsistent, sometimes putting in a number of excellent crosses, other times he had trouble putting the ball in the box, but he was better at crossing this season than he had been in the previous two. He combined well with those who played around him and he will be missed.

Carl Jenkinson  13 (9) appearances  1 goal  C+

Jenkinson is one of the most appealing of Gunners, a Gooner at heart. Witness his enthusiastic goal scoring celebration. He tries hard when called upon, but most fans would admit that there’s a large difference between Jenks and Sagna. For starters, he isn’t as dominant in the air as Sagna. One of Carl’s heading errors led to our exit from the Capital One Cup. Second, he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his left foot. His passing is not great because of this reticence. However, Carl crosses the ball well and he has bundles of energy in moving up and down the field.

Kieran Gibbs   34 (7) appearances  1 goal  B

Kieran almost managed to put in a complete shift this season, managing to avoid the catastrophic injuries which have plagued him in the past three seasons. Still, he was unavailable for a number of key games down the stretch and he was missed. He made a difference when he came on in the FA Cup semi-final and he had an impressive Cup Final. Kieran gives the team a strong offensive thrust on the left side, although he still needs to show more composure in front of the goal. His defensive skills have improved and he makes fewer mistakes than he used to. I’m actually happy he isn’t playing in the World Cup as he is one who will benefit from more time off and a full preseason.

Nacho Monreal   20 (16) appearances  0 goals  C+

Nacho became Wenger’s preferred option off the bench late in games, when he wanted to add an extra defender and shut games down. Nacho still managed to start a number of games, due to Kieran’s injuries, although not enough to get a spot on Spain’s World Cup squad. In a number of games he had a tough time; the Bayern Munich and Everton games stand out. I still felt he played well enough in a number of games to earn his place on next year’s squad. He’s tidy on the ball, plays well with Santi, and is adequate defensively.

Per Mertesacker  51 (1) appearances  3 goals  A-

The BFG was regularly mocked just over a year ago. Now fans can see Per is a leader on the team, the lynchpin to our defence, and a key contributor to our success. Sure, he is not the swiftest and he has trouble dealing with fast attackers, but his positioning is excellent and he anticipates situations before they happen. He has formed a strong partnership with Koscielny and the two complement each other. Per also became more important on set pieces this season and his threat at the near post kept teams on their toes. Finally, his longevity was amazing. He played more than anyone else and had no injuries during this past season.

Laurent Koscielny 46 appearances   3 goals  A-

Laurent had an excellent season, so good that Bayern Munich and Barcelona would take him in a heartbeat. What makes Laurent so valuable is his tremendous pace, which allows him to mop up situations that others couldn’t. He is still capable of making mistakes, but these are becoming fewer and fewer. It was poetic justice that he scored the Cup Final equalizer, erasing the memory of the Carling Cup Final mistake, which gifted Birmingham an undeserved Cup.

Thomas Vermaelen  13 (8) appearances  0 goals  C

Our team captain was unable to earn a spot as a starter on the squad, an interesting and strange conundrum. To his credit, he didn’t grumble to the press or to his agent about the situation. Also, he did have several smaller injuries during the campaign. He played well when he did play, particularly in his outings as a left back. I suspect Thomas will be leaving this summer and he will definitely need to be replaced.


Mikel Arteta  38 (5) appearances  3 goals  B-

I have to say that I like Mikel, that he is a positive influence in the dressing room, that he is a leader, and that he continues to always give his best. Arsene has given him the burden of playing out of position and Mikel has done his best, however sometimes it hasn’t been good enough. Against the elite teams our midfield was overrun and Mikel’s age and lack of pace became an issue. We missed him at the start of the season when he was injured at the end of preseason, but he quickly managed to fit right in when he returned. When he played well, we looked very good. When he had a bad game, we struggled.

Matthieu Flamini  25 (11) appearances  2 goals  B

A number of people were skeptical of Flamini returning to the team. He quickly proved the doubters wrong. He provided the bite that our midfield lacks, harried opponents, and barked out orders to the rest of the squad. Physically, he still looks in good shape and he managed to avoid having a long term injury. Sometimes he was a little too aggressive and sometimes gets his yellow cards a little too early in the game. An added bonus though ,was his scoring a couple of important goals as well.

Abou Diaby  (1) appearance  0 goals  F

Poor Abou Diaby. A nightmare season ended with a ray of hope. Hopefully he can manage to contribute to the squad next season, but I’m not holding my breath.

Kim Kallstroem  1 (3) appearances  0 goals  C-

Kim shows us that the most advanced clubs can still screw up transfers, particularly when you only start to do business in the last two days of the transfer window. It wasn’t his fault he was injured, but it was a deal which never provided the kind of cover we needed. Kallstroem played well when called upon and he scored a fine penalty in the FA Cup semi-final shootout. However, I kind of felt sorry for him standing around in his suit in the locker room as the players celebrated. He looked a little out of place. Apparently though, he wants to come back.

Jack Wilshere  28 (7) appearances  5 goals  B-

Jack missed the tail end of the season when the club’s destiny was on the line. Until then he had played quite well during the season, avoided major injuries, and found his scoring touch in front of goal. Yes, Wenger often had to limit his appearances to keep him healthy, but he played a key role in the squad’s rise to the top. When one considers the regular abuse Jack receives from opponents and his own penchant for getting stuck in, the fact he lasted so long seems remarkable. Hopefully, he comes out of the World Cup without an injury.

Aaron Ramsey  30 (4) appearances  16 goals  A

Our best player of the season. Compared to last season, compared to two seasons ago, the transformation of Ramsey is remarkable. We’ve always known about his tremendous engine, but now he is arguably the club’s best scorer, constantly appearing in scoring positions at the right time. Aaron is now more confident, sometimes adding some razzle dazzle to his game and he takes more shots than ever before. The mystery of this season is what would have happened if he’d recovered from his thigh injury on time and not had two setbacks. I wonder

Tomas Rosicky  25 (14) appearances  3 goals  B

Tomas is another player Arsene Wenger manages very carefully. He doesn’t start two games with just a couple of days rest. This strategy seems to work as Tomas managed to avoid a serious injury this past season. As a result of his good health Tomas has had an excellent season. He plays with energy, he presses upfield, and he quickens our passing tempo. He’s a positive force, preferring to attack and keep opponents defending. Tomas also scored some outstanding goals this season, my favorite being the goal he scored against Spurs in the FA Cup.

Mesut Ozil  37 (3) appearances  7 goals  B

Mesut brought so much positive energy to the club when he arrived.  Suddenly, Arsenal were no longer the bargain basement shopper, but were willing to pursue world class talent. Some of Mesut’s early games were outstanding; the Napoli game being the most memorable. Unfortunately, Mesut ran out of gas in late January and looked a little jaded and burnt out. An injury followed and he was missed during a crucial part of the season. He still has to bed in, but he oozes class and he can provide the killer pass when needed. The target of much criticism, fans need to be patient a while longer.

Santi Cazorla  41 (5) appearances  7 goals  B

Santi had a disjointed season. He started well, was hurt in the fall and out for almost two months, then he came back but had trouble playing to his potential, and then he finished pretty strongly. His number of goals dropped and he didn’t play particularly well against the top teams. He seemed a little short on confidence when he missed shots and he was often too easily bundled off the ball. On the other hand he has to be one of the most amazing players to watch, his quick feet and control worth the price of admission.


Theo Walcott  13 (5) appearances  6 goals  C+

Can we count on Theo being healthy for an entire season? Two injuries this past season, the second happening quite innocuously against Spurs (when he’d just played one of his best games of the season). When he went so did the season, it could be argued. Our offence lacked pace from that time on. Theo is determined to rehab properly and to make an impact next season. We need a fast Walcott to make runs that Ozil can exploit.

Ryo Miyaichi  2 (3) appearances  0 goals  D

Unfortunately Ryo has been unable to make any inroads in making the first team squad. Too often he’s injured and that probably means he’s going to be sold this summer.

Serge Gnabry  8 (7) appearances  1 goal  B

Serge was one of the pleasant surprises of the season. Theo’s first injury allowed him to get some playing time and he impressed right away. He has little fear and is not afraid to take on other players. Not only that, he has an eye for goal and, best of all, does not neglect his defensive duties. Unfortunately he was injured down the stretch, probably while playing for the U21’s or the European youth team. Next season could be a big season for him and hopefully he’ll continue to progress.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain  12 (8) appearances  3 goals  C+

Alex had a tough year. A fine pre-season and he was handed a start against Villa in the first game, where he assisted on our first goal of the season. That magical start ended when he landed awkwardly from a physical challenge with a Villa player. This injury cost him more than half the season. When he came back it took awhile to get up to full fitness. He had several excellent matches, especially the Bayern Munich match, but another injury ended his season prematurely. Wenger chose to rest him and let him prepare for the World Cup, rather than risk him getting injured again. He had a nightmare game against Chelsea he’d rather forget, but he showed enough potential for fans to see that he could end up playing in midfield. Next season will be interesting.

Lukas Podolski  20 (7) appearances  12 goals    B-

Poldi started the season in a snit, when he felt he’d lost his place in the squad, but that all ended when the Ox went down. Unfortunately, Poldi became injured shortly after and would end up missing a good third of the season. He still is our most lethal striker, scoring many wicked goals and is probably the biggest and most popular character on the team. Wenger still distrusts his stamina and regularly pulls him out of games early. This makes many believe that Arsenal will let him leave this summer, but he will be hard to replace.

Nicklas Bendtner  4 (10) appearances  2 goals  C-

There’s more action off the field than on it when it comes to Big Nick. Drunken cavorting with a car, intimidating neighbours at his apartment swimming pool, and unsanctioned trips to Copenhagen were the shenanigans our samurai striker couldn’t keep out of the press. On the field Bendtner played hard and scored a memorable goal against Cardiff, where unfortunately, he injured himself in the process. His antics off the field led to Wenger turning to Sanogo and Big Nick drifted off into obscurity.

Yaya Sanogo  4 (10) appearances  0 goals  C

One of the most interesting arrivals of the year, Sanogo came almost free but quickly disappeared when he suffered a back injury. For over half the season we heard nothing about him, but then he reappeared … against Bayern Munich of all teams. Sanogo hasn’t scored for Arsenal yet, but he adds a certain energy to the team. At times he looks clumsy and at other times he looks athletic. He’s physical, confident, and he seems to be popular with his teammates. His performances against Wigan and Hull in the FA Cup helped us win the cup.

Olivier Giroud  46 (5) appearances  22 goals  B+

Olivier was key to our success this past season. He was an iron man, avoiding serious injury while constantly playing. His game is physical and he is a competitor. He led the team in scoring and his delicate passing produced many assists. He played better this past season than he did the first. All in all, a solid year. However, he did appear a little tired near the end of the season and he did lose his place in the team for a short time, courtesy of an extra-marital affair on the eve of one of our most important games. The main knock against Olivier has been his inability to convert his many chances into more goals. Given the number of chances he had, he probably should have had over 30 goals last season.