Saturday, 20 June 2015

Arsenal Player Power Rankings 14/15

This feature has become somewhat of a traditional end of season blog. Hopefully this something different for you to sink your teeth into.

The aim - rank players on actual performance throughout the 14/15 season. Reputations are set aside, favouritism goes out of the window (as one Giroud hater will demonstrate later) and we'll see if there's been either progression or regression.

So without further ado it gives me great pleasure to introduce our panel.

@yorkshiregunner, @goonerdave66, @yankeegunner, @alan_alger_, @mzk90, @attwood10, @k4yn3r, @LucaHelvetica, @modgooner, @kaltume_b, @buxtongooner, @SteveKravetsky, @TC_Gooner and me @mj_afc

They've helped put this blog together and without it that would just leave you with my ramblings, so please give them a follow as they've all been a great help.

Their task was to rate all of our players from 1 (being the best) to 10 and you'll read more from them a bit later.

So here is a quick run down of the Top 10 from the 2013/14 season

10 - Gibbs
9 - Arteta
8 - Sagna
7 - Cazorla
6 - Ozil
5 - Giroud
4 - Szczesny
3 - Mertesacker
2 - Koscielny
1 - Ramsey

There has been lots of movement within the top ten so without further ado, lets get the show on the road.

Hall of Shame - No Votes

Arteta - Once again the club captain (Vermaelen) didn't receive any votes, understandable though due to injury.

Szczesny - From 4th last year to not even receiving a vote. It's been quite the fall from grace for the Pole, as he looked like he'd cemented himself as our number for years to come.

Wilshere & Walcott - England's finest, hampered by injury and not close to receiving a vote. Quite ironic that they find themselves fully fit for the close season. Lets hope they are fresh and ready for a long season next year.

Gibbs - Another player drops out of the top 10. Personally I don't think he's as good as everyone suggests. Rumours that he was going to start the cup final seemed ridiculous but clearly there are fans that still believe he has what it takes. I remember the start of a season when we were unsure of whether our first choice left back was Santos or Gibbs. Says it all really.

Rosicky - If you don't like Rosicky, then you don't like football said Arsene. Well, it appears our manager doesn't rate Tomas as highly as his kind words suggest.

And the rest - Martinez (remember him), Gabriel, Chambers, Flamini, Akpom and Diaby didn't get receive any votes.

Missed the Cut

Debuchy - 1 vote (Highest Ranking - 10th)

Injury hampered the Frenchman's ability to impose himself in his first season with the club. As with all good squad's he now finds himself in a position where despite being France's regular right-back he appears to have lost his position to a youngster.

Welbeck - 2 votes (Highest Ranking - 10th)

Injury derailed his season in the end but his lack of goals has probably cost him votes. Still a useful player and hopefully the suggested rest he needs to recover helps him overcome his injury.

Oxlade-Chamberlain - 3 votes (Highest Ranking - 6th)

He feels like a new age Rosicky at times. Full of drive and purpose but lacking in production. Once again injuries a big factor in his season.

Ospina - 4 votes (Highest Ranking - 9th)

Despite our relative stability at the back for the second stage of the season, Ospina has lots of haters. As is tradition at Arsenal there has to be a hate figure, whilst he is not top of the pile in that pecking order, he is definitely second in command. Some of it is unjustified and some of it is just bang out of order. Looks like he's heading for the exit which suggests Wenger's punishment of Szczesny was quite brutal.

The Top 10

10th - Per Mertesacker (down 7 places)

Without Koscielny he looked lost and despite sporting the armband on many occasions seemed to lack leadership when players around him needed him most highlighted in games against Anderlecht and Stoke.

@alan_alger_ - Played one minute at the end of the World Cup Final to earn a winners medal at the start of last summer then started an Arsenal season which would see him lift the FA Cup at Wembley. As years go it's been a pretty special one for the BFG. Like all of our players he's had his share of nightmare performances in 2014/15, but overall confirms
everything that earned him third place in these rankings last season. You can't doubt his passion for the cause and in the absence of other leaders in the team then he has to come top of the list on that attribute. The real concern is that his peak must be behind him, but we can expect another solid season in 2015/16 and unfortunately a few mistakes that will confirm we possibly need to be looking elsewhere.

@yorkshiregunner - Did well to keep his place after a run of poor form but slowly his form returned. I would expect once Gabriel gets in the team it will be at the expense of Ze German. Good club man who very obviously has the respect of the players.

9th - Aaron Ramsey (down 8 places)

The former Power Ranking number 1 has lost his crown. So for the third season in a row nobody can retain their crown. Ramsey notched a couple of goals early on in the season but his all round game was lacking. Flicks and tricks didn't come off and he seemed to be more of a show man. He scored a great goal against Stoke and then scored our goal of the season against Galatasaray, only for his hamstring to cost him game time and set him back. Currently residing on the right wing and making noises of discontent.

@goonerdave66 - Where to start? He is a very good player but was never the superstar his form of the 14/15 season suggested. His work rate and ability to time his arrival in the box are without doubt but his decision making and passing are below the level of those around him. He reminds me of David Platt at his peak, pre Arsenal where the amount of goals disguised the lack of genuine class.

He is a favourite of the managers's and was shoe horned into the right wing at the end of the campaign. He can play there but he limited the fluidity out there for me and damaged
our width. This was exaggerated further with Alexis cutting in and offering no width on the other flank. The big question for Ramsey and indeed Wilshere is whether they can oust Santi as I feel Coq and Ozil will start the majority of games. With Ox returning I hope he will play, so for me at least Ramsey is not a certain starter for August. Most will disagree but equally will not be able to tell me who should not play.

@modgooner - Dodgy middle part of the season but the latter he has got used to his new role and it suits him.

8th - Hector Bellerin (NEW ENTRY)

Some new blood into the frame. Bellerin was given a baptism of fire away to Dortmund and the manager seemed reluctant to use him away from home until circumstances dictated otherwise and he played at Stoke. However, Hector has been a breath of fresh air and his performance at City was highlighted by Gary Neville. The future is bright and hopefully he doesn't slope off to Barcelona, despite their fans desire to see him return.

@alan_alger_ - wasn't on the winning side in any of his first four starts for the club this season and the usual questions were raised. That put him on the verge of another loan
move - one that didn't materialise. What actually happened was a solid contribution to the team on a par with Francis Coquellin's success in midfield. Has only been on the losing
side three times since the turn of the year - although the supposed upturn in form for the team doesn't take into account that two of those games were the incredibly important Monaco home tie and Tottenham away in the league - two of the ones we'd want to win most. Bellerin has risen to a position of first choice right back in that time and was outstanding at Wembley in the FA Cup final. Surely a better proposition than Chambers (too slow), Debuchy (too erratic) and Jenkinson (not good enough).

@yorkshiregunner - Has played far more games than one would have expected him to this season & on the whole has done v well. Still gets caught out of position too often in the fact that he drifts in field and gets too close to his centre half. Another who's form dipped toward the end of the season but had a good Cup Final game and his searing pace is a great asset going forward and defending also.

7th - Olivier Giroud (down 2 places)

Not a big drop for the Frenchman from last season but still the biggest conversation splitter between fans. Heavily missed during the first part of the season after blocking a clearance from Distin broke his leg after equalising later on against Everton. He was player of the month for March but our lack of options and over-reliance on him playing week in, week out meant the goals dried up and there was nowhere to hide.

@goonerdave66 - I have been amongst his strongest supporters through good and bad and will not change now. However I do feel he has to suffer and pick up the bad headlines
for Arsene's lack on a plan B on occasions. He does toil against teams who park the bus and I think we will see more rotation next season. I think a pacy front 3 will feature more often and that Oli may become the plan B or the alternative based on the opposition. He had a rich vein of goal scoring form that should not be forgotten and I think he suffered through the lack of width and pace on the right flank once Ox was injured.

I think we should also remember that he wears his heart of his sleeve and he will have taken the games against Monaco and Chelsea to heart. However he has scored against the big teams in the last campaign which is a big plus.

@mzk90 - Came back from injury & was bang in form, scoring plenty of goals. Horror show v Monaco, but never hides. Great link up man, but wonder if he should be plan B after a mobile CF who makes runs in behind.

FYI - @yankeegunner voted Giroud as our 10th best player, so clearly he doesn't dislike him as much as he lets on.

6th - Nacho Monreal (NEW ENTRY)

Up there with some of the surprises of the season. Last year he was in the Hall of Shame, probably based on our horror shows at Anfield and The Etihad but he has made left back his own. He seems more comfortable in possession and provides much more of a threat in the final third. Gibbs doesn't come close.

@yankeegunner - Heading into the season anyone would’ve been forgiven for assuming that Kieran Gibbs had a stranglehold on the starting left back place. But apparently no one told Nacho. Monreal did everything asked of him and made himself undroppable as the season wore on. There were some bumps along the way for Nacho; a few goals from back
post headers where he may have done better. But overall he was dependable and added plenty to the attack, including a classy finish to a wonderful team move against United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup. Monreal was also called upon to play CB this season due to Koscielny’s ankle injury, and while he wasn’t always superb, I think he acquitted himself well and helped the team through a very tough period prior to Gabriel’s arrival in January. It’s unclear whether Nacho Monreal will stay at Arsenal, but if he does, it seems clear that the left back position is his thanks to a very competent 2014-2015 season.

@mzk90 - At LCB still felt was a little weak when challenged, but did a job when we had no one else. At LB he grabbed his place back & showed terrific improvement on end of last season. Assured in the tackle, good in possession and going forward.

5th - Mesut Ozil (up one place)

A season that start with Ozil on the wing and struggling to influence games has ended with him having the freedom a number ten craves. He was given that role early on at Villa park as he scored and set up Welbeck in a comfortable away day outing but yet again injury played its part. However since returning he has been sublime and has is now pulling the strings and other players are starting to get on his wavelength.

@kaltume_b - It's been a season of two parts for the German who despite having a successful and winning outing in the World cup still came in for heavy criticism especially in the first half of the season. I personally thought he was pretty decent albeit exhausted and a bit jaded from playing every single game at the world cup. Mesut still put in a decent shift scoring and providing an assist for Welbeck against Aston Villa and he also showed his
brilliance during the Champions League match against Galatasaray. His season was cut short with a partial knee ligament injury that would see him out of action for almost 3 months. His injury was a bit of a blessing in disguise as it gave him the necessary time to recover and also work on his upper body strength, because upon his return Ozil was a totally different beast combining his sublime magical skills with some much needed power. His brilliant ball over the top to set up Alexis's goal against Reading in the FA Cup Semi-final was Ozil at his best. He sees passes and creates space where there are none to the ordinary human eye, and he does it with such effortless grace. He was also able to thrive in his preferred number 10 role plus setting up a connection with another world class player in Alexis that is almost reminiscent of his partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo during his days at Madrid. I salivate simply thinking about how much more prolific and fruitful that partnership will become next season as we build on our back to back FA Cup success. Is it just a coincidence that we've won 3 trophies sine his arrival at Arsenal? He's definitely brought more winning mentality and self-belief to the side.

@k4yn3r - underrated, I don't say that lightly he puts in a shift more than anyone seems to appreciate and he can create from nearly nothing, but man his attacking stats are exactly what we have been looking for. Long may it continue!

4th - Laurent Koscielny (down 2 places)

His lowest placing in three years but he remains our top defender. Sometimes you don't realise how good players are until they're not available and we are so much better with
Koscielny. Rumour mills have linked him with the likes of Bayern and Real Madrid, that tells its own story.

@k4yn3r - simply a rock, all our strength with him all our fears with out him. Personally the best CB in the Premier League.

@kaltume_b - He brings such a wealth of stability, steel and calmness to that Arsenal backline. His understanding and reading of the game is exceptional he is the YIN to BFGs
Yan. Our season changed as soon as he returned to the side after his injury spell during the first half of the season. Koscielny has over the years become a real MVP at the Arsenal.

The Top Three

3rd - Francis Coquelin (NEW ENTRY)

The find of the season. Another case of fans clamouring for a position and being proved right. His discipline has been first class. The big question is do we run with him for next season or do we look to recruit? I have a sneaky suspicion that Wenger will give him the role and save some money.

@attwood10 - He continues to divide opinion, which baffles me beyond belief. Yes, he's limited, but he's recognised those limitations and developed his game accordingly. People laughed when we recalled him from Charlton, but he undoubtedly changed our season. He's not going to open up a defence, but he's hard working, tenacious, aggressive, 
positionally disciplined, strong in the tackle & surprisingly dominant in the air. Although inexperienced, you can tell that he's a winner, and he's added the steel that we've been missing from our midfield since Gilberto left, providing the perfect platform for our more creative players to flourish. A true fairytale season, out of nowhere. The position is his to lose now. A superb contribution this season.

@SteveKravetsky - Seven years after Gilberto last played for the club it was a revelation to have a player willing to sit in the midfield and break up play. Coquelin was everything we all wanted Alex Song to be. If he manages to improve his distribution I think Arsenal have their defensive midfielder for the foreseeable future. My lasting memory of Coquelin this season will be him yelling instructions at everyone within earshot during the Man City match, this after having only been back with team for a month. A future captain.

@yorkshiregunner - No coincidence that Arsenals form dramatically improved when Le Coq was recalled from another loan spell due to injuries to others. He's the type of player a lot of us have been crying out for , since Gilberto left. One happy to sit and destroy with superb positional discipline ( He's the player Alex Song should have been for us). Covers the ground rapidly, takes no shit off anyone and isn't shy in ordering around more experienced team-mates. He's the Canvas which allows the likes of Cazorla and Ozil to paint their masterpieces. Was somewhat fortunate to get a run in the side but has taken his chance by the scruff of the neck. ( Very Ashley Cole like in that respect )

2nd - Santi Cazorla (up 5 places)

Much like with Coquelin he was given a new lease of life. Despite his rather prolific first season at the club this was without doubt his best year to date. He works brilliantly with Coquelin and the speed in which the ball is moved up the field helps us expose the opposition. At present Ramsey & Wilshere can't play in their preferred position because of his level of performances.

@LucaHelvetica - struggled to get into the team early on in the season, but with injuries taking their toll he got a chance in central midfield and boy did he take it. While Alexis got my vote as player of the season, Santi's performance v City away was a masterclass and the performance of the season. Always good on the ball, he has shown some new found grit and determination in his new role. From struggling to get in the team he was almost one of the first names on the team sheet at the end of the season.

@yankeegunner - What can you say about Santi Cazorla that hasn’t been said already? Perhaps the highest praise I can bestow upon him is that, in a season when Alexis stole all the headlines, he would still have to be strongly considered for Arsenal’s player of the season award. After a slight dip in form last season that carried into the early part of the
2014-2015 season, he returned to his magical best. What’s most surprising is that he found his best form in central midfield, even displacing Aaron Ramsey from his preferred role. Cazorla’s quick feet and elusiveness in tight spaces greased the gears of arsenal’s midfield and were especially crucial as the less possession-oriented Francis Coquelin became an ever-present in the holding midfield role after Christmas. Cazorla showed a willingness to help out defensively and start the attacks from a deeper position than he’d previously played for Arsenal. And his performance in the tide-turning victory at the Etihad was nothing short of breathtaking. Heading into this season you could be forgiven for thinking Santi’s place in the starting XI might be at risk. Now he’s made himself one of the first names on the team sheet and an absolutely essential element to the formation and style Arsenal developed during a very successful final 4 months of the season. In short, he’ll probably leave this summer.

@modgooner - Changed positions to play in a deeper role but it seems to suit him, as he is best facing the opposition. City game was performance of the season.

And The Winner is...

1st - Alexis (NEW ENTRY)

Straight in at number one for the Chilean. I didn't have any doubt that he'd nothing other than a success. Actually, that's not strictly true. Do you remember his centre forward display at Goodison Park (he got subbed at HT). His work-rate has proven to be infectious and it was rather fitting that he scored an absolute worldie in the Cup Final as it encapsulated what he has brought to the side. Wonder how he's worth in the transfer market now.

@attwood10 - Not even sure where to start here. He's had the best debut season I can recall (including the King). What he lacks in ball retention skills, he makes up for in nearly everything else. He's quick, strong, technically gifted, determined and, most importantly for some, works his nuts off every single game. He's versatile, having played everywhere
across the front three, plus a stint at number 10, scoring 25 goals. He's a true winner, his attitude is infectious and he's certainly made other players step their game up. Quite simply, the bloke has been phenomenal. And to think, he's been "disappointed" with this season. Can't wait to see what he produces next season then...

@LucaHelvetica - What can be said about his debut season that hasn't already. His goals almost single handedly won us games in the first half of the season, and when the team started to click was still there with an important contribution. Topped off with the stunner in the final, it was probably the best debut season of any Wenger signing.

@SteveKravetsky - Made me remember what it was like having Thierry Henry play for Arsenal. Just knowing we had a player who could pick up the ball anywhere on the pitch and create a goal was a great feeling. What I liked most about Sanchez was the fact that he cared. It was refreshing to see a player lose the ball and instead of sulking hustle to win it back. The 25 goals didn't hurt either. From his opening goal against Besiktas to the FA Cup final against Villa there is no doubt Alexis Sanchez was the Arsenal player of the season.

So there you have it. No real surprises with our number one selection, as all bar one person selected Sanchez as their player of the season. The only exception to that rule being  @yorkshiregunner who elected to go with Coquelin as his player of the season. So send your outrage his way. All comments were made independently and there's lots of consistencies with some selection choice and who'd have thought Gilberto would be 11th in the most mentioned player column.

Thanks for taking the time to read and enjoy your Arsenal free weekend. If you get bored, you could always watch the Cup Final again.

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