It has been an up and down season for Arsenal, as they started on a good note, but lost the plot at the start of the calender year. However they limped past Tottenham on the final day to second place making it a rather satisfactory end to the season.
So, with the season coming to an end we take a look at our top performers for this season. This first article in the 3 part look-up we will analyse the players who we ranked 9-12.
12. Calum Chambers (CB)
Number of games played: 22 (930 minutes)
Chambers has struggled for game time in the Premier League but when given the chance has done rather well, particularly when thrust into 45 minutes of action against Leicester in February. He is one of Wenger’s go to options as he is a multi-utility player. Primarily a right back he has been converted into a centre back by Wenger and also employed as a central defensive midfielder in certain games.
However, he needs more game time if he is to develop fully. But with Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista above him in the pecking order, he needs to go elsewhere on loan, improve his game by correcting the errors and return strongly.
11. Laurent Koscielny (CB)
Number of games played: 44 (3803 minutes)
He is, without a doubt, the best defender in our squad currently and a possible captain for us in the future since Mikel Arteta had just left Arsenal in search of a coaching role after his contract wasn’t extended. The Frenchman has been perfectly reliable alongside either Per Mertesacker or Gabriel but the lack of consistency in Wenger’s selection has rarely allowed Koscielny to settle. Being a centre back he still is one of Arsenal’s best passing players with an average pass percentage of 87% this season.
He has a ball interception rate of 3.6 interceptions per game and is one of the Premier League’s best ball intercepting defenders. He has definitely developed more as a goal scoring defender this season scoring 4 crucial goals against teams like Everton, Newcastle, West Ham etc. when the team was in dire need. As such, while he has not often put a foot wrong, he has not quite been the dominant defensive presence of past years.
10. Olivier Giroud (ST)
Number of games played: 53 (3373 minutes)
Arsenal’s French forward Olivier Giroud was part of 53 games in all competitions this season which is only two short of Kolo Toure’s all time record of 55 games in a single season for Arsenal during the 2003/04 invincible season. At the halfway stage of the campaign, Arsene Wenger was convinced he had one of Europe’s best forwards. His hat-trick against Olympiakos almost single-handedly kept Arsenal in the Champions League. But then, as is so often the case with Giroud, the minutes took their toll on him and the fatigue factor came into play with experts and fans making him the scapegoat for Arsenal’s woeful slump in form in mid-March and April. He became a shadow of himself, waiting for 881 minutes for a Premier League goal until he found the net against Manchester City on the penultimate game week of this season.
However, he ended the season on a high with his 1st Premier League hat-trick ever and the 2nd hat-trick in an Arsenal shirt against Aston Villa on the final day. The day was already special because three potential Arsenal legends Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini possibly visited the Emirates stadium as an Arsenal player for the last time. And with Giroud’s 2nd hattrick this season the fans had more reasons to rejoice. Giroud finished the season with 24 goals and 6 assists as Arsenal’s top scorer this season scoring a goal every 141 minutes which is quite decent but not the best. He seems to be improving every season as he just experienced his highest goal scoring season for Arsenal this season. He will definitely be a handy player for us in future seasons.
9. Santi Cazorla (CM)
Number of games played: 21 (1821 minutes)
Santi Cazorla’s importance has only been magnified by his absence, with Arsenal lacking any real balance in midfield without Cazorla pulling the strings. Against Manchester United in the Premier league and against Bayern Munich in the Champions League in October he was exceptional. He could have been the difference in the title race. He managed 5 assists in the 21 games he featured in all competitions this season.
He missed more than half of the season due to two injuries namely a minor Achilles irritation and a major knee injury. Without him, the gunners lacked creativity in the central midfield and eventually went from first to fourth in a matter of few weeks. And then the seesaw ride continued as we failed to notch important points in the following months eventually missing more in every passing game. When we look back at the season, finishing second might sound good but finishing 10 points behind champions Leicester doesn’t sound convincing and one of the main reasons for our slump in form were Santi’s injuries.
SMSpecial Mention: David Ospina (GK)
Number of games played: 12 (1080 minutes)
Usually preferred as the second choice to new arrival Petr Cech, Arsenal’s Colombian import David Ospina had very few games under his belt this season to judge his true potential. His calamitous dropped corner against Olympiakos threatened to cost Arsenal their place in the Champions League knockout rounds.
However, he made amends when filling in for Cech in March, making a host of important saves in a draw away to Tottenham. He was an important player for us in the 2014/15 season with impressive performances throughout that season. But now with a more experienced goalkeeper at our helm, 27-year old Ospina might want to leave us seeking first team football at some other club.