5. Santi Cazorla
He had a great start to his Arsenal career and showed his class – he settled in extremely quickly and managed to be at the forefront of all our good attacking play. 12 goals in the league and 13 assists is an impressive return for a debut season in the Premier League and he managed to play every single league game and 48 games overall – showing how highly Arsene Wenger rates him and how important he feels he is to the team.
But in a way, that has hampered him. Towards the end of the season, he was running on empty and that has shown in his performances. Playing the most amount of games than anyone else in the squad is going to be tough on any player, especially on that is having his first season in English football. You could tell in the last 5/6 games he badly needed a rest and although he performance levels were not as impressive as they were at the start of the season, he was still putting in half decent shifts.
The disappointment I felt with his play towards the end of the campaign is from a combination of tiredness, and the excellent performance levels he put in at the beginning of the season – which in turn raises the expectation levels.
Overall, a good first season for Arsenal but he was overplayed and burnt out in the final couple of months.
4. Mikel Arteta
I love Mikel Arteta. He may have been a panic buy at the end of last years transfer window but he gives 110%, gives the team a calming influence and he is a winner. It is well documented how well he played last season in a more advanced position but with the departure of Alex “Give me the trophy Puyol” Song to Barcelona, it is Arteta who has been asked to play as the holding/defensive midfielder.
Personally, I really liked Arteta further up the pitch and although he has changed position, he has carried out the job admirably. He never complains, does the job asked of him and is a leader on the pitch. It was a testament to his value to the team when Arsene started him against Newcastle, knowing that he was only half fit. He organises the team, leads by example and makes so many tackles it’s unreal. The number of times he wins the ball early and starts off attacks is a huge asset to the team.
3. Theo Walcott
It’s been a bit of a strange season for Theo Walcott. His contract situation at the start of the year put a dark cloud over his reputation at the club, and during the “negotiations” his form was fantastic. Once the new contract was signed however it coincided with a drop in form but he managed to regain some of the form he had at the start of the season and end the season very strongly.
He’s managed to score 14 goals in the Premier League, and 21 overall. On top of that, he’s got 13 Premier League assists and 17 overall – so statistically, he’s had his best ever season. But for me, even though he has been excellent this season, I feel he can do even better. If you compare his statistics to Gareth Bale, who has scored 26 goals in all competitions, then he’s not a million miles away from a player considered by some “experts” to be the best in the league. When Theo is on it (like against Newcastle) he is unplayable but the slight frustrating thing is that he can tend to drift out of games and when that happens we struggle. He needs to vary his game a bit more so even when Plan A isn’t working, he can do something else and try and help the team.
2. Aaron Ramsey
With the injury problems to Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere, this season has been Ramsey’s year. He’s played 36 Premier League games this season, and 47 overall. He has an excellent engine, sets the tempo of the team with his tireless running and always gets stuck in. The biggest problem I have with Aaron Ramsey is his distribution and decision-making on the ball and that is something he needs to work on. But in terms of effort, he has been immense.
He is not the most glamous player in our side and if there’s anyone who divides opinion amongst Arsenal fans it’s Ramsey. And while he infuriates at times, for me he has been right up there with our best players.
Aaron is only 22 and has a lot of improvement to come, and done excellently well this season. He gives us some steel in the midfield and his endless running is something some of the other players could learn from. All we want as fans are players that give 110% and effort is something Ramsey has in spades.
1. Laurent Koscielny
Kos the Boss has been immense this season. He is improving all the time and is now the centre-half we cannot be without. His partnership with Per Mertesacker is one of the main reasons for our final 10 game run which saw us win 8 games, draw 2 and lost 0. In all of those games we either kept a clean sheet or only conceded one – which is phenomenal really, and added to that, we had the second best defensive record in the league, second only to Manchester City.
It would be facetious to say that he won the Newcastle game single-handedly but you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. His performance was immense – defensively he was strong, determined and focused, and of course he scored that vital goal to get us into the Top 4. At 27 years of age he still has a good few years at his peak to come and that bodes well for us. If our captain’s curse happens again this summer and Vermaelen does leave, then for me it’s between him or Arteta for the next Arsenal captain. Both are leaders in their own ways and that’s what we need in this Arsenal team.
He also has a habit of scoring big goals, and has scored against Manchester City (in 1-1 draw), Bayern Munich (in a 2-0 win) and against Reading when we came back to win 7-5.