Author Archives: enigma106

Rating Arsenal’s Strikers’ Performances in the 2014/15 Season

Arsenal scored 105 goals in the 2014/15 campaign which was a truly magnificent feat.

Gooner Daily analyses the strikers that contributed to that tally

Lukas Podolski (13 appearances, three goals)

Podolski is quite a lovable character off the pitch but on it, he hasn’t been given a chance to prove his worth this season. Whether its simply a case of the manager not having faith in him or the forward not being good enough, it was rather strange. Nonetheless, he scored his three goals in two Champions League games before departing to Inter on loan.

Rating: 4/10

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (36 appearances, three games)

This was a very productive season for the Ox. Ceasing on the opportunity created with Theo Walcott out injured, the Ox featured consistently on the right wing and earned plaudits for his direct style of play even though his end product was quite questionable.

The English speedster made his mark in the North London derby and scored two goals in the Champions League. One of his most telling contributions this season came in Old Trafford when he made mincemeat out of some Manchester United defenders before providing a neat pass to Nacho Monreal. The rest they say was history.

Rating: 7/10

Yaya Sanogo (20 appearances, one goal)

Wenger has shown some measure of faith on this lad but many fans (me included) do not believe that he has what it takes to be in an ambitious club like Arsenal. Maybe I’m wrong but I need Sanogo to prove me wrong. In 20 apps for the Gunners, he managed to score his first goal for the club against Dortmund. He was farmed out on loan to Crystal Palace and scored a goal in 11 appearances for the Eagles.

Rating: 4/10

Theo Walcott (19 appearances, six goals)

It’s never easy being out of the game for so long, especially when things were going well for you before the unfortunate incident happened. Since his return to full fitness, Walcott was introduced slowly into the squad and got a couple of goals but there was a period he was frozen out of the squad.

The hat-trick he bagged against West Brom would give his manager something to think about ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup final.

Rating: 7/10

Joel Campbell (10 appearances, no goal)

After a long wait for him to return to the squad, Campbell finally made his Arsenal debut but failed to make any real impact in the course of the season. He was used a make-weight in getting Gabriel Paulista to North London. In 20 appearances for the Yellow Submarine, he managed to score a goal.

I don’t see him returning to the squad though. He’s clearly not good enough.

Rating: 3/10

Danny Welbeck (34 appearances, eight goals)

Arsenal’s transfer deadline day signing, Welbeck, hit the ground running with a scintillating hat-trick against Galatasaray and did his bit to contribute to Arsenal’s course this season.

He reached his pinnacle this season when he scored the goal that sent Manchester United out of the FA Cup. Yes, there were the misses but Welbz is a player that can improve greatly in the future and he can look back at his achievements this season with some measure of pride.

Rating: 7/10

Olivier Giroud (35 appearances, 18 goals)

The usually-fit Giroud suffered a freak injury at the start of the season and missed a large part of the first half of the season. In his return to fitness, he hit a hot streak of goalscoring form that also saw him win his first BPL Player of the Month award.

Following some comments by ex-Gunner, Thierry Henry, Giroud’s confidence was hit hard and he went on a goal drought that he has quite concerning. With the FA Cup final on the horizon, Arsene Wenger is faced in a dilemma on whether to use to Frenchman in poor form or a Walcott that just scored a hat-trick.

Rating: 8/10

Alexis Sanchez (51 appearances, 24 goals)

Sanchez has been a revelation since signing for the club. His exemplary performances has also rubbed off on his teammates and he’s a no-brainer to win the Player of the Season award.

Rating: 10/10

Sayonara

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Rating Arsenal’s Midfielders’ Performances in the 2014/15 Season

Today, Gooner Daily discusses about the performances of the players that make up Arsenal’s engine room.

Mikel Arteta (11 appearances, one goal, two yellow cards)

With Thomas Vermaelen departing to FC Barcelona, Arsene Wenger continued the succession by giving the captain’s arm band to Mikel Arteta. The new skipper featured in the FA Community Shield and lifted his first trophy. However, Arteta’s campaign was plagued by many injuries and with the emergence of Francis Coquelin, he wasn’t even eased into action when he regained full fitness. The fans would be hoping that he would contribute to the team’s cause next season.

Rating: 4/10

Jack Wishere (22 appearances, two goals, six yellow cards)

For the first time in ages, Wilshere enjoyed a good pre-season campaign and he featured regularly in Arsenal’s 4-1-4-1 tactical setup. His performance against Manchester City was up there with the very best but his season suffered an abrupt dent when he was on the end of a poorly-timed tackle from Manchester United’s Paddy McNair which ruled him out for a considerable chunk of the season.

Arsene Wenger did the right thing to re-introduce him slowly to the thick of things, and Wilshere crowned that with another ‘goal of the season’ when the Gunners played West Brom in the Premier League curtain closer.

Rating: 7/10

Mesut Ozil (23 appearances, five goals, two yellow cards)

Ozil was heavily involved in Germany’s World Cup triumph and was sent back to the rigors of the Premier League as the season progress. He struggled initially with adjusting to playing on the left wing and he put up some concerning performances but he opened his goalscoring account in the game against Aston Villa when he returned to his favored No. 10 role. In October, he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for three months.

He returned a stronger player and added goals to his game with strikes against Brighton and Aston Villa. He opened the scoring in the North London derby and swung in a superb free kick in the thrashing of Liverpool. Ozil has become very integral to the team and he has made his influence known. We can only hope he continues with time.

Rating: 8/10

Aaron Ramsey (40 appearances, 10 goals, seven yellows, one red card)

Following his breakthrough performance last season that saw Ramsey scored 16 goals including the famous winner at Wembley, a lot was expected of the Welsh Jesus this season. He handled that responsibility well by scoring the match winner in the first game of the season but he struggled for fitness and form this season.

After going on a goal drought for three months, Ramsey scored a sumptuous volley in the 3-2 defeat against Stoke and followed it up with an unbelievable left-footed piledriver in the dead-rubber fixture against Galatasaray. Due to the fact that Ramsey is one hell of a complete player, Wenger deployed him on the right flank in a tactical switch that saw some players moved around but as the weeks went by, Ramdey’s influence dwindled on the right. When he returned to the middle, he was back to his best and the fans are hoping that he stays in the middle at Wembley.

Rating: 8/10

Santi Cazorla (52 appearances, eight goals, five yellow cards)

Cazorla was an ever-present player for Arsenal this season and his versatility ensured that he was used by the gaffer in several playing position on the pitch. He also developed a penchant for executing set piece with such ridiculous ease that it was a no brainer on who to select anytime the Gunners had a penalty. Cazorla also raked up his assists count this season, and he put up a lot of stand-out performances in the course of the season.

There has been a lot of speculation regarding a move away from the club but the midfielder is focused on excelling with the club. Good to see him put on the band in a couple of occasions as well.

Rating: 8/10

Mathieu Flamini (32 appearances, one goal, six yellow cards)

Flamini featured as a back up to Arteta and got a run-out when the captain was out injured. However, his performances this season have been fairly inconsistent, and the fans won’t be quick to forget how he lost the ball in the buildup to Tottenham’s goal. Whether it’s been a case of his aging legs or the player not just being good enough, Flamini hasn’t reached the heights he set in the yesterday tear with Arsenal.

It’s very certain that the club would not renew his deal when it expires next summer.

Rating: 3/10

Tomas Rosicky (23 appearances, three goals, two yellow cards)

It’s quite bizarre to know that Rosicky’s first Premier League game came as late as December in the win over QPR, and as you’d expect from the ageless Czech, he scored the match winner. While the games were kinda hard to come by in the league, Rosicky featured in the cup fixtures as he captained the side and got a goal in the 3-2 win over Brighton. His last goal of the campaign arrived in the narrow win over Everton and as expected, he has made a couple of substitute appearances and it’s good to know that he has chose to extend his contract with the squad.

Rating: 7/10

Francis Coquelin (29 appearances, no goal, seven yellow cards)

They say the best things in life are free.

Maybe they were talking about Coquelin. The French man has been the best thing that happened to Arsenal in the second half of the season. Enough said.

Rating: 10/10

Sayonara

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Rating Arsenal’s Defenders Performances in the 2014/15 Season

Arsenal conceded 36 goals in the Premier League (almost a goal per game), four goals in five FA Cup games on the road to the final, nine goals in 10 Champions League games and two goals in the only Capital One Cup fixture they featured in. This ultimately means that the Gunners averaged conceding at least one goal a game in every competition they played this season.

Gooner Daily analyses the performances of the defenders in the course of the campaign.

Nacho Monreal (37 appearances, one goal, six yellow cards)

Monreal has been a transformed player this season. When he arrived in January 2013, it took him a while to get a hang of things before he acclimatized to the rigors of the Premier League. He joined as Kieran Gibbs deputy but injuries to Kieran Gibbs paved the way for the Spaniard to get an extended run of games. This season, Monreal deputized as a center back when the club was faced in a defensive crisis and he played admirably in Laurent Koscielny’s absence.

With Kieran Gibbs suffering more fitness troubles, Monreal marauded the left back position with such confidence and made the role his own, even after Gibbs returned to full fitness. To crown up his efforts in the campaign, he scored a goal in the victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford – a goal any striker would have been proud of.

Rating: 8/10

Mathieu Debuchy (14 appearances, one goal, three yellow cards, one red card)

There was so much speculation about the right back that was coming in to replace Bacary Sagna when he left the club to join Manchester City’s bench. Names like Serge Aurier and Seamus Coleman were mentioned but Arsene Wenger opted for Newcastle’s Matt Debuchy that looked to settle in Arsenal like water off a duck’s back.

However, Debuchy suffered two long-term injuries on his ankle and his shoulder that just reduced him to a merger 14 appearances in his debut season with the Gunners. He showed off his temperamental side when he was sent off in the Champions League playoffs against Galatasaray but he managed to score his first Arsenal goal with his head when he featured in an unorthodox center back position when the Gunners visited Anfield.

With the emergence of Hector Bellerin and Carl Jenkinson returning from loan, Debuchy has it all to do if he wants to retain his status at the club’s primary right back next season.

Rating: 6/10

Kieran Gibbs (31 appearances, one goal, three yellow cards)

At the start of this campaign, Gibbs changed his jersey number to 3, which was vacated due to Sagna’s departure for the petro-greens. Gibbs had featured a career-best 41 times in the previous campaign and the assumption was that his injury problems are now behind him. He featured consistently as the season progressed and even managed to get on the score sheet with a vital equalizer against Anderlecht when it seemed as the Gunners were resigned to a defeat.

However, injury struck again and Gibbs lost his place in the team to Monreal. With the Spaniard in good form, Wenger chose not to feature Gibbs but handed him a couple of starts in the Cup fixtures. With Monreal ending the campaign on a high, Gibbs will face a battle in his hands to win his place back in the team. He has already stated that he’s ready to fight for his place. Such competition will be beneficial to Arsenal.

Rating: 6/10

Per Mertesacker (44 appearances, one goal, no yellow card)

With Mikel Arteta consistently out of the team due to injuries, the BFG has led the Gunners in almost every game he played. After featuring a career-high 52 times last season, the BFG joined his German side to Brazil and won the World Cup, which essentially meant that he didn’t get any time to recharge his batteries with Germany going into the latter stages of the tournament.

This season, the BFG has seen his ardent fans swing to the other direction as he put up some questionable performances with the Round of 16 clash against Monaco being his nadir. Nonetheless, he was efficient as always in his many games and he looked more at home when he featured alongside Laurent Koscielny. Injuries to the French defender saw Mertesacker play alongside the likes of Monreal, Calum Chambers and even Debuchy, but he remained steadfast in his duties.

Now that he has retired from international football, let’s see if his career can be prolonged like John Terry.

Rating: 7/10

Gabriel Paulista (seven appearances, no goal, two yellow cards)

In my honest opinion, it was a travesty not replacing Thomas Vermaelen when he left for FC Barcelona in the summer. Arsenal was just an injury away from disaster in central defense and it happened when Koscielny was out injured. Wenger acknowledged that set back and signed a relatively unknown center back from Villarreal, Gabriel Paulista.

After making his debut for the club in the FA Cup fixture against Middlesbrough, Gabriel featured in his first Premier League game that will forever be remembered for that tackle on Romelu Lukaku. His presence allowed the boss to alternate between his first-choice central pairing as the Brazilian settled in to life in North London.

I’d expect him to feature in more games next season, as well as being a good backup in any injury crisis.

Rating: 7/10

Laurent Koscielny (36 appearances, three goals, four yellow cards)

Koscielny has grown from strength to strength in the heart of Arsenal’s defense, making him indispensable to the team. He scored the opening goal of Arsenal’s Premier League campaign against Crystal Palace and when he suffered an Achilles injury, his absence from the squad was hugely felt. He made his return after several weeks and Mertesacker played better when his rightful partner was available.

Koscielny went on to score against Stoke and Leicester to take his tally to three for the campaign but his all-action, high-octane yet efficient style of play was exemplary all season long.

Rating: 9/10

Calum Chambers (36 appearances, one goal, eight yellow cards, one red card)

For what its worth, this is the first time in Chambers career that he has played this much games. Arsenal’s injury woes allowed him to get a run of games as a center back and he was lauded for his mature performances. He continued that good form and even scored his first professional goal against Burnley.

With Nacho Monreal featuring in the middle alongside Mertesacker, Chambers was drafted to right back and he struggled terribly in the defeat to Swansea. With more off form performances in the coming weeks which included a red card in the defeat to Stoke, he lost his place to Hector Bellerin and spent a considerable chunk of the campaign on the bench.

It’s going to be interesting to see if he’d feature regularly next season when everyone’s fit.

Rating: 6/10

Hector Bellerin (27 appearances, two goals, seven yellow cards)

Like Francis Coquelin, Bellerin has been one of the finds of the season. Injuries to several players paved the way for the young Spaniard to get his debut in the Signal Iduna Park at Dortmund and as the weeks progressed, he made the right back position his own, shoving off the threat of Chambers.

Bellerin has his raw reserves of blistering pace as well as a keen eye for goal, and this season, he found the back of the net on two occasions against Aston Villa and Liverpool. With Jenkinson returning from West Ham and Debuchy on his way back to full fitness, the battle for the right back spot will be very intense but Bellerin must be commended for the great shift he put this season.

Sayonara.

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Rating Arsenal’s Goalkeepers’ Performances in the 2014/15 Season

From a goalkeeping perspective, Arsenal began the 2014/15 campaign with the sale of Lukasz Fabianski to Swansea. He made 78 appearances in the course of seven seasons for the Gunners and when he realized that he couldn’t usurp his compatriot, Wojciech Szczesny, a move away seemed like a plausible move. The Gunners replaced the departed goalie with Colombian shot stopper, David Ospina, that had a good World Cup by his fair standards. As the season progressed, injuries paved the way for young Emiliano Martinez to get a run out.

Gooner Daily analyses the performances of the three goalies.

Wojciech Szczesny (27 appearances, six clean sheets)

With Fabianski gone, Szczesny was the undisputed No. 1 for Arsenal at the start of the season and he kept his first set of clean sheets in the Champions League playoff fixtures against Besiktas. Despite winning the Premier League Golden Glove in the previous season, Szczesny had to wait till late October to keep his first clean sheet in the Premier League when the Gunners visited Sunderland. Earlier in the campaign, his rash challenge on Burak Yilmaz earned him a red card which made David Ospina have his official debut for the club.

Szczesny will not remember this season fondly, especially after his horror show against Southampton on New Year’s day.

The goalie endured a horror outing at St. Mary’s and was caught smoking in the dressing room after the game which obviously incensed his manager and ultimately cost him his place in the first team. With Ospina featuring consistently in the Premier League, Szczesny became the ‘Cup keeper’ and started in Arsenal’s FA Cup wins over Brighton, Middlesbrough, Manchester United and Reading. He’s odds on to start in the FA Cup final against Aston Villa this weekend and I hope he puts up a better performance than the one he put up in the semis.

Rating – 6/10

Emiliano Martinez (six appearances, two clean sheets)

Young Emiliano Martinez joined the Gunners in 2010 but after featuring consistently from the Reserves, he got his big break this season when injuries to Szczesny and Ospina paved the way for him. He made his Arsenal debut in the Champions League win over Anderlecht and featured in the Premier League for the first time when Szczesny clashed with Kieran Gibbs in the home defeat to Manchester United.

With Szczesny set to be sidelined for a couple of weeks with Ospina still nursing an injury, Martinez was to have an extended run out in Arsenal’s goal. So much was made about him in the buildup to Arsenal’s clash with Dortmund but the young Argentinian but up a virtuoso performance against Juergen Klopp’s men, keeping a clean sheet in the process. He went on to keep consecutive clean sheets against West Brom and Southampton before struggling in the away defeat to Stoke.

That turned out to be his last appearance for the team before he was farmed out on loan to Rotherham United. A good breakthrough season for the young lad.

Rating – 7/10

David Ospina (20 appearances, 10 clean sheets)

Featuring in a World Cup will always put you under the spotlight and while James Rodriguez set the stage on fire with his breathtaking performances, a certain David Ospina looked very assured at the back till their quarterfinal loss to Brazil. He had made 196 appearances in six seasons for OGC Nice and when I heard that he was coming to Arsenal, I was hoping that he’d be a better competition to Szczesny as the likes of Manuel Almunia, Vito Mannone and Lukasz Fabianski had all fallen on the road side when challenging the big Pole.

Ospina had injury problems to contend with and was given enough time to heal his wounds. Following Szczesny’s dismal night at Southampton, Wenger promoted Ospina to the first team and he never looked back. Three clean sheets in his first four games was helpful to his course then the fans came up with a brilliant chant that should inspire the goalie. Anytime the Colombian wants to punt a dead ball, the Gooners scream his name which was a reminder of how fans can make players settle quickly.

Some say playing with a balanced back four helped his cause but since Ospina took over from Szczesny, he has been very assured and the defenders trust him. It’s going to be interesting to see how their battle for first team places intensifies next season.

Rating – 8/10

I’d discuss about the defender’s performances tomorrow.

Sayonara.

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Theo Walcott Gives Wenger Something to Think About

Theo Walcott

Arsenal 4 (Walcott 5′, 14′, 37′, Wilshere 17′) – West Brom 1 (McAuley 57′)

Match ReportMatch Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

Following his positive cameo performance against Sunderland a few days ago, Theo Walcott must have been hoping that he had at least done enough in the final League game of the season against a West Brom side that had secured their Premier League status weeks ago. Walcott got his wishes when Arsene Wenger chose to select him in the middle ahead of Olivier Giroud, that has been really shite lately.

In just 37 minutes, Walcott sealed a magnificent hat-trick that earned him a rapturous ovation when Giroud replaced him in the second half. Wenger had a lot to say about Walcott in the press conference (via Arsenal.com),

“He was already sharp when he came on in our midweek game against Sunderland. He was the one who created the chances and I always said that he could play through the middle because he has good movement, good finishing and he did that well today. He’s a good goalscorer but he has been out for a year. A year in football is a long, long time and it takes more time to come back to your best so that you are sharp and confident. Jack is a bit similar. He has been out for six months and now he is coming back. He had a very convincing performance in the first half.

He’s the right age [to play through the middle]. He’s 26 years old, it’s a good age for a footballer. I wish that he stays free of injuries now. He had a few downs on the injury front and that’s never good. You have to be consistently present to express your full potential. Without his hat-trick or with his hat-trick, we want him to stay. We are in negotiations and we have started to speak with his agent. We did that before he scored his hat-trick. Last time he got injured he was playing centre forward in a very convincing game against Tottenham Hotspur in January. He got injured and was out for a year. On that day he was injured playing up front.”

The road to recovery hasn’t been an easy one for Walcott that has had to contend with a career-threatening injury as well as coming back into a team in good vein of form. However, Walcott must have felt really bad losing his place to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as well as Aaron Ramsey, that was deployed on the right wing ahead of the Englishman. With his goalscoring haul in the weekend, will Wenger be tempted to hand him a start against Aston Villa in the FA Cup final?

Walcott actually played through the middle, a position that has been occupied by Giroud all season long but he somehow can’t seem to add to the 17 goals he notched up in such quick succession. Whether Walcott plays in the middle or on the flanks, it’s going to be interesting to see how Wenger manages the situation.

Well, that’s what he’s paid to do.

Sayonara.

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