Arsenal: Mid-season Report Card

Last updated : 15 January 2014 By Michael Jung

A is for excellent, B is for very good, C is for average to good, D is for poor, F is for failure, I is for incomplete.

Wojciech Szczesny  B  Coming into the season Arsene Wenger indicated that the job was up for grabs. Well, Szczesny has grabbed it and he hasn’t relinquished it. He has had a number of excellent games and has made a number of great saves. His distribution has improved and he comes confidently off his line. He usually looks pretty good coming out to gather crosses, although he could still improve. His biggest weakness is himself. He has a reckless or cocky side and he is prone to making careless clearances or charging rashly off his line once in a while.

Lukasz Fabianski  C+  Lukasz has only played three times this season. An injury at the start of the year (a far too common occurrence) hurt his chances to get the main job. Will probably leave at the end of the season.

Emiliano Viviano  I.  Poor Emiliano hasn’t played yet this season.

Bacary Sagna  A-  I’m a Bacary fan and he has played a solid season so far. He even slotted in effectively as a centre-back at the start of the season. So far Arsenal have not managed to convince him to sign a new contract, but I hope they do. He’s a difficult player to replace.

Carl Jenkinson  C+  Carl has played 14 times this season and has usually slotted in just fine. He has had a couple of games he’d rather forget (Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, Napoli away), and he does need to continue to improve, particularly his left foot.

Kieran Gibbs  B+   Kieran has managed to keep Nacho Monreal on the bench, has racked up 24 appearances, and is currently England’s number three. He is much improved this season, his defensive game is more solid, and he is a potent threat on the left flank. Best of all, he has been relatively healthy this season.

Nacho Monreal B-  22 appearances this season, 14 as a substitute. Wenger has made a point of keeping him involved and he often comes in to provide defensive stability. His attacking game isn’t bad either.

Per Mertesacker  A  An inspirational leader at the back, he dominates the air, he reads the game exceptionally well, he puts his foot in when he needs to. Sure he’s a little slow, but he’s effective. The image of him chewing Ozil out after the Man City loss is one of the most compelling of the season.

Laurent Koscielny  A-  He is having an exceptional season and has found his life partner in Per. His speed, his aggression, and his toughness are critical in holding this defence together.

Thomas Vermaelen  C+  Just ten appearances for the team captain. However, he hasn’t bitched to the media, he hasn’t agitated for a move elsewhere, he has just buckled down and worked, waiting for his chance. We’ll definitely need him at some point.

Mikel Arteta  B-   An injury at the end of preseason meant that the Gunners were without him for about two months. Since he has come back he’s been a regular and continues to do the dirty work, breaking up attacks, making interceptions and tackles. He does seem a little slow at times and does give away free kicks too often, but he is one of our leaders out there and his role is essential.

Matthieu Flamini  A-   Flamini came cheap and he definitely was not on our minds when the summer began. However, he has appeared in 18 games and has been critical to our success. Arteta’s injury provided an early opportunity to show his stuff. He organizes, barks instructions, harries opponents, fouls opponents, tackles, and he even scores (once this season so far). He has had one injury so far and Wenger needs to nurse him and Arteta the rest of the way.

Emmanuel Frimpong  Inc.  Missed the preseason with an injury, has been in the doghouse once or twice because of his twitters. Probably soon to leave the club.

Aaron Ramsey  A  13 goals in 26 appearances! Most strikers would be proud to have that rate of scoring. Aaron had an excellent preseason and his confidence has soared as the season has progressed. Along with Liverpool’s Suarez you’d have to consider him for Player of the Season. So many key goals, so many key assists. He also plays great defence and he runs and runs. Easily our best player in the first half of the season.

Jack Wilshere  B+   24 games, 4 goals so far this season. Sure, he’s had a few average games, but the hype about England has blinded people to the fact that Jack has actually been pretty good most of the season. He is typically targeted by opponents and if the referee is not that vigilant he picks up lots of bruises. He’s had to play out of position a number of times, but still is effective on the pitch.

Abou Diaby  Inc.  Will we even see Diaby this season? His return date is now in March.

Santi Cazorla  B   Santi is only just rounding into form. An injury shortly after the season started disrupted his start. Santi has just two goals, but has shown signs of coming to life. I salivated at the thought of Ozil and Cazorla playing together and so far those fantasies haven’t come true.

Tomas Rosicky A-  Tomas has made 19 appearances this season and this is about the best you can get from his fragile body. Wenger tries to limit him to one start every seven days and he seldom starts two consecutive games. What he gives you is energy, positive play, and the ability to pass quickly. While he doesn’t score often, the team usually benefits from having him in the lineup.

Mesut Ozil  B+  Just the energy he provided to the squad after he was purchased was priceless. He has had some amazing games, but he has also had some quiet games. 23 appearances, 5 goals, is a good haul, but one senses that more is to come from Ozil.

Serge Gnabry  B+   Great potential as evidenced in his latest game against Spurs. Just seven appearances but he doesn’t look out of place out there. There are rumours that he might be loaned out to Wigan, but we may just have to keep him.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain  Inc.  The Ox is about to return to training, having missed half the season with his injury picked up in game one (after he’d provided an assist). Hopefully, he’ll have a big impact in the second half of the season.

Theo Walcott  B  An injury to his abdomen resulted in surgery and an extended recovery. He has come back and scored five goals in recent games and looks raring to go (although he hurt himself against Spurs). His pace gives our team an essential element which we need. His health will be essential over the next four months.

Lukas Podolski  C  5 games, 3 goals. Lukas is needed, especially his clinical finishing. However a hamstring injury has kept him sidelined till now. Could be an important cog down the stretch.

Ryo Miyaichi  C-   5 appearances. Ryo continues to struggle with the physical nature of the Premier League. He tends to pick up injuries too readily and hasn’t been able to get an extended run of games. Could be loaned out for the rest of the season.

Chu-Young Park  F   Just one appearance. Have started to see his picture appearing once in awhile, which means he hasn’t completely disappeared.

Yaya Sanogo  F   Sanogo has made two appearances this season so far, but most of the time he’s spent in rehab. So far he looks like another Diaby, but we need to give him time.

Olivier Giroud  A-  27 appearances, 11 goals. Yes, Olivier should have more goals but his performances this season have been massive. He fights for all the high balls, he stands up well to all the punishment and abuse that comes his way, he has a great touch and eye for a pass, plus he can score some big goals. He needs more rest, but hopefully he’ll continue to produce and to continue to improve.

Nicklas Bendtner  C+   Nine appearances, two goals. Arsenal’s super ninja has scored a couple of big goals and has provided a little cover for Olivier Giroud so far. He’s like our prodigal son, the spoilt son who squanders his talents on wine, women, and song. But there is still some talent there and Wenger has managed to coax it out. His injured ankle will hopefully heal and maybe he can continue to provide goals off the bench.

So far we’re at the top of the Premier League, have qualified for the second round of the Champion’s League (with a date against defending champions Bayern Munich), have been eliminated from the Capital One Cup, and are still alive in the FA Cup.

We’ve lost six games this season and tied just three. We’ve been solid away from home and our defence has improved. We lead the league in injuries (check out but we’ve managed to cope with our misfortune.

Will Arsene Wenger add to our squad this January? Perhaps we need a centre forward and maybe a holding midfielder. Will we buy anybody? I doubt it, but maybe someone special will join. Hopefully our squad is strong enough to win a trophy this year.