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Walcott Back in Training: How Much Did Arsenal Miss Him?

Walcott Gnabry

At the end of the 2012/13 season, Theo Walcott had scored 21 goals and created 13 assists – his best output in all his footballing years. This ultimately meant that there was a new wave of expectation surrounding the Arsenal star at the start of last season.

Walcott began the 2013/14 campaign at a rather slow pace in terms of his output in the final third, with his assist to Olivier Giroud in the North London Derby being his most telling contribution in the early part of the campaign. He finally broke his goalscoring duck with a technically astute finish against Olympique Marseille but he suffered an abdominal injury in the build up to the home clash against those goons from Stoke and required a surgery to mitigate the problem. This made him miss two months of action.

With the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Serge Gnabry and Tomas Rosicky in good form, Arsene Wenger took a rather cautious approach with Walcott following his return to full fitness. Following a couple of substitute appearances which included creating an assist despite coming into the pitch with just four minutes to spare, Walcott showed what he was made of in the rather dismal 6-3 capitulation in the hands of Manchester City at the Etihad. The Englishman showed good reactions to score two well-taken goals. He followed this up with another brace against West Ham at Upton Park and he began 2014 with a clipped finish against Cardiff that put the game beyond doubt.

With Olivier Giroud falling ill and Nicklas Bendtner suffering an injury to his ankle, Walcott was afforded a chance can to strut his stuff in the center forward position in the North London Derby against Tottenham on Saturday. His linkup play and movement was brilliant but his finishing was a bit wayward. However, on the 81st minute after Arsene Wenger had made all his substitutions, Walcott was tackled by Danny Rose and he couldn’t get back up.

View image on Twitter

While he was stretched out, he trolled the Spurs fans by reminding them of the scoreline and they pelted coins at him, but the Arsenal fans responded by throwing red and white scarves at their hero while signing his songs. When we had learned that he had suffered an ACL injury, the curtains came down on his 2013/14 and it extended even to the 2014 World Cup.

I can’t stress much about the loss of Walcott without revealing his stats so far last season with some aid from WhoScored,

 

Premier League

Champions League

Appearances (subs)

9 (4)

1 (1)

Goals

5

1

Assists

4

-

Shots (per game)

33 (2.5)

4 (2)

Dribbles (per game)

9 (0.7)

1 (0.5)

Key Passes (per game)

23 (1.8)

1 (0.5)

Total Passes (accurate passes)

258 (210)

28 (24)

Pass Completion percentage

81.4%

85.7%

Bookings (Yellow/Red)

(1/0)

-

In the Premier League, Walcott was in a rich vein of goalscoring form with five goals in his last games and with Nicklas Bendtner and Olivier Giroud out of the equation, he was odds on to get an extended run of games in his favored center forward position that would have led to him scoring more goals.

With Walcott out for the remainder of the campaign, his teammates went on to win the FA Cup but the Gunners crashed out of the Champions League (no thanks to Bayern Munich) and their Premier League title contending flames were doused in March. With Ramsey also out injured for a considerable chunk of the second half of the season, the goals were hard to come by, even though Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski made immense contributions to the team’s cause.

Walcott also offer a threat going forward with his blistering pace a thorn in the flesh of opposition defenders. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has his own reserves of pace as well as a direct style of play but Walcott’s decision making is unbelievably quick and his finishing, boy, is up there with the best in the business. Walcott is the kind of player that might not necessarily have an outstanding game but in the wake of half a chance, the opposition net always ends up with the ball inside it.

With Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck combining well as well as threatening defenses with their pace, having Walcott back would essentially mean that Arsenal’s attacking trio would be a menace to opposition defenders, provided they get the right service from the midfield. With Arsenal going through a spell that has so many of its players on the sidelines, seeing a player return – especially if that player is Theo Walcott is heartwarming.

I hope he gets eased into action slowly and I’m also hoping that he won’t have any setbacks as well. It’s good to have Arsenal’s version of the Flash back in training.

Opposition defenders, beware.

Sayonara.

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Theo Walcott’s Injury: How Will Arsenal Cope in his Absence?

Hi-res-460993535-theo-walcott-of-arsenal-lies-injured-on-the-pitch_crop_north

Get well soon Theo

Injuries, they say, are part and parcel of the beautiful game but like a thief at night, it sneaks on you when you least expect it. Arsenal’s Theo Walcott has had his fair share of injury worries in the past with a dislocated shoulder being a big concern at the early part of his career with the club. He has also had some ankle and hamstring problems as well down the years.

When he managed to stay fit for the entirety of a season, he slammed in 21 goals and many more things were expected of him in the forthcoming campaign for both club and country. Walcott began the 2013/14 campaign at a rather slow pace in terms of his output in the final third, with his assist to Olivier Giroud in the North London Derby being his most telling contribution in the early part of the campaign.

He finally broke his goalscoring duck with a technically astute finish against Olympique Marseille but he suffered an abdominal injury in the build up to the home clash against those goons from Stoke and required a surgery to mitigate the problem.

With Olivier Giroud falling ill and Nicklas Bendtner suffering an injury to his ankle, Walcott was afforded a chance can to strut his stuff in the center forward in the North London Derby against Tottenham on Saturday. His linkup play and movement was brilliant but his finishing was a bit wayward.

However, on the 81st minute after Arsene Wenger had made all his substitutions, Walcott was tackled by Danny Rose and he couldn’t get back up. While he was stretched out, he trolled the Spurs fans by reminding them of the scoreline and they pelted coins at him, but the Arsenal fans responded by throwing red and white scarves at their hero while signing his songs.

View image on Twitter

In his post-match press conference, Wenger wasn’t too sure about how bad the injury was, citing that it might just be a stretched ligament or just a kick, but after an extensive scan on Monday, the club regrettably announced that the speedster has sustained a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee, which means that he’ll be out for at least six months.

If you do your calculations right, you don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that Walcott’s 2013/14 campaign for the Gunners is over and he’ll play no part in England’s quest for glory in the World Cup which is very painful. On the international scene, Sven-Goran Eriksson put him (as a 16-year-old) on the plane to Germany in 2006, Fabio Capello didn’t deem him good enough to join the party in 2010 and now, injury has robbed him of a chance to shine in the big stage this time.

By the time, Russia would be hosting the World Cup in 2018, Walcott will be around 28/29-year-old, which ultimately means that it would probably be his last World Cup.

I can’t stress much about the loss of Walcott in these upcoming crucial clashes without revealing his stats so far this season with some aid from WhoScored,

 

Premier League

Champions League

Appearances (subs)

9 (4)

1 (1)

Goals

5

1

Assists

4

-

Shots (per game)

33 (2.5)

4 (2)

Dribbles (per game)

9 (0.7)

1 (0.5)

Key Passes (per game)

23 (1.8)

1 (0.5)

Total Passes (accurate passes)

258 (210)

28 (24)

Pass Completion percentage

81.4%

85.7%

Bookings (Yellow/Red)

(1/0)

-

In the Premier League, Walcott was in a rich vein of goalscoring form with five goals in his last games and with Nicklas Bendtner and Olivier Giroud out of the equation, he was odds on to get an extended run of games in his favored center forward position that would have led to him scoring more goals.

Bleacher Report’s Sports Injuries Lead Writer, Will Carroll, has discussed at length about the short term and long term consequences of Walcott’s injury lay-off and according to PhysioRoom.com, seven players are currently out recovering from ACL injuries.

In the wake of Walcott’s loss, Arsene Wenger would have to count on the services of other players in the squad to do the job on the right wing, and there’s also the wildcard of going into the transfer market to get a new attacker in the mold of Walcott. Names like Ezequiel Lavezzi and Alexandre Pato come to mind.

Arsenal has a vast array of personnel that can be deployed in Walcott’s right wing position and I can look no further than Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and even Jack Wilshere – attacking midfielders that can cut in-field from the position. If Wenger chooses a direct approach, he can call on the services of Serge Gnabry and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that can supplement Walcott’s style of play in terms of pace, but they also bring their dribbling skills, raw power, strong shots and crossing ability to support the attack.

Serge Gnabry

Gnabry had a great game against Tottenham

Even if Walcott seems to be covered on the right wing in terms of personnel that can take his place, questions are still raised whether his injury, coupled with Bendtner’s ankle injury, would force the manager’s hand to delve into the transfer market to sign a new forward.

Olivier Giroud is recovering from an illness and with a week’s rest, he’ll be odds on to return to the pitch against Aston Villa on Monday night. Beyond Giroud, Wenger can only summon the services of Lukas Podolski that hasn’t really impressed when he was deployed as a center forward. Podolski is another player with injury worries of his own, so can he be relied upon to stay fit for the remainder of the campaign?

It’s a big shame that the Gunners would miss a player of Walcott’s immense qualities because he offered Arsenal what no other winger in the team could – those raw reserves of blistering pace that they could use to exploit defenses.

I feel very sad for Walcott and I wish him a speedy recovery.

Let’s just hope that he’d do a Ramsey when he returns, rather than an Eduardo da Silva.

Sayonara.

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Theo Walcott: Thoughts on his Injury and its Impact on the Team

Just when we thought that Arsenal had sacrificed enough players to the injury gods of North London, the annoying deities have ravaged the squad again to claim a new victim – Theo Walcott. The Englishman was included in the starting lineup for last weekend’s clash against Stoke but he was replaced on the 11th hour by young winger, Serge Gnabry.

Arsenal went on to win the game without Walcott’s services but when Arsene Wenger was asked about the nature and extent of his injury, the manager could only give the nature, an abdominal muscle strain, but he had no idea of when the speedster was going to return to full fitness (via Sky Sports),

“He had an abdominal muscle problem, I don’t really know what it is. Nobody can tell me whether it is just a question of days.

He had a test before the game and I decided to play him but he had a little problem before the Marseille game (last week) and it then became a bit worse.

It’s a bit mysterious, because we don’t really know what it is.”

The Gunners have a very busy treatment table but with Walcott joining the never-ending injury list, Arsenal will be desperately short of options on the right wing as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla, two players that have manned the right flanks in recent times, are still out injured.

The Ox had a fine game against Aston Villa and even created a chance for Olivier Giroud but a clash with Antonio Luna resulted in the winger wearing clutches, as he damaged his knee. Cazorla also has an ankle injury and it has been mentioned that he would return around the next international break.

Arsenal’s run of fixtures in the run-in will be another cause for concern, as the Gunners take on West Brom in the Capital One Cup (a game Walcott would have been rested) and this would be followed by a trip to an in-form Swansea side, a heated Champions League clash against Napoli, another away trip to West Brom in the league, a home clash against Norwich, one of the first of two games against Borussia Dortmund, an away clash with Crystal Palace and the month of October ends with a Capital One fourth round fixture.

Theo Walcott has grown to become an indispensable member of the squad, and his vital strikes in his 21-goal campaign were important in Arsenal’s surge for a Champions League berth. This season, he hasn’t hit the ground running in terms of goals but it was his assist that was enough for Arsenal to win the North London Derby against their free-spending fierce rivals, Tottenham.

Following the record acquisition of Mesut Ozil, Walcott would have easily bagged himself a hat-trick in the Stadium of Light if he came with his shooting boots.

Walcott was surprisingly profligate against Sunderland

However, he provided a good outlet for Ozil to thread his inch-perfect passes and at some point it was more of a case of how good Westwood’s goalkeeping was rather than how poor Walcott’s finishing was. He opened his goalscoring account for the season with a technically-proficient finish against Olympique Marseille and we can only hope that the floodgates with open from there.

Walcott’s blistering pace remains his key asset but his overall game has vastly improved as he has become a good team player, creates a lot of assists for his teammates, clinical with his finishing (bar Sunderland, this season) and like Aaron Ramsey, he always wants to improve more on his game. He also has the ability to stretch defenses, which is a very asset for the team especially during counter attacks.

With Walcott, the Ox and Cazorla not available for selection, Arsenal might hand an extended run of games to Serge Gnabry or Ryo Miyaichi. The young German didn’t really impress me against Stoke and besides his long range effort, he didn’t really stamp his authority on the game as he was always quick to pass the ball to a senior teammate. The Capital One clash against West Brom will offer him another chance to prove his worth and I’m sure he would want to take it with open arms.

Ryo Miyaichi is another player that will come into the fray as the season progresses. After successful loan spells at Feyernoord and Bolton, the young Japanese winger had a torrid time in Wigan as he suffered a lot of injuries, and he couldn’t make his mark on the recently-relegated outfit.

Arsene Wenger can certainly do without Walcott in the Capital One cup encounter tomorrow but if he fails to make the starting XI against Swansea this weekend, I see the manager lining up a formation like this,

Injuries are part and parcel of the beautiful game and I wish Walcott a speedy recovery.

Sayonara.

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A Statistical Review of Walcott’s and Bale’s Performances Last Season

Youth products of Southampton’s academy

Since 1996, Arsenal fans have always celebrated St. Tottenringham’s Day, which is that joyous day when Tottenham can’t go above the Gunners in the Premier League, but the pendulum has swung both sides in recent encounters. While Arsene Wenger remained steadfast in his role as Arsenal’s gaffer, their North London rivals have used a plethora of managers with the latest recruit being Andre Villas-Boas that returned to Premier League football after a disappointing spell with Chelsea.

The games between both clubs are always very intense and last season was no different.

In the North London derby that took place in November 2012, an early Spurs goal was cancelled out by a Per Mertesacker equalizer. Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla extended Arsenal’s lead before Gareth Bale scored a consolation goal to reduce the deficit. Right at the death, Theo Walcott scored the match clincher that was the icing of a well-baked cake. In the return fixture in March 2013, two quickfire goals from Aaron Lennon and Bale were enough to seal victory as Mertesacker’s headed effort was nothing more than a consolation.

Shortly after the Tottenham victory, AVB was quick to blow his trumpet on how Arsenal was in a downward spiral. The Gunners picked themselves up from the precarious situation of being seven points below Tottenham but they went on a spirited run that saw them 26 points from a possible 30 but with that kind of championship form, Arsenal only had a fourth place finish show for their efforts.

With Robin van Persie departing the Emirates for greener pastures, Arsenal needed some players to step up their game and while Olivier GIroud and Lukas Podolski should be commended for their performances in the 2012/13, Theo Walcott was the star that shone the brightest. On the other end of North London, it was undoubtedly the Gareth Bale show as he was fresh from winning the PFA Player of the Award in the 2011/12 campaign.

Both players plied their trades on the wings and there were also periods when their roles were changed with Walcott getting a brief stint as a center forward while Bale had some game time on the right wing as well as the hole behind the forward line. Bale arguably matured so well, became Tottenham’s and his influence grew in the Tottenham squad while Walcott went from strength to strength, fighting his personal demons, his protracted contract saga and his fair share of critics.

However, both players were outstanding in their outputs to their teams last season and I’m going to focus on these stats juxtaposing between Tottenham’s messiah and Arsenal’s own version of the Flash. All stats were provided by Who Scored, Index Football, EPL Index and 101 Great Goals.

STAT

Gareth Bale

Theo Walcott

Appearances (Subs)

41 (0)

27 (10)

Goals Scored (All competitions)

24

21

Goals Scored (Premier League)

21

14

Overall shots (Shots per Game)

165 (4.7)

87 (2.4)

Shot to Goal Conversion %

15.8

22.6

Assists (All competitions)

8

15

Assists (Premier League)

4

10

Total Passes (Key Passes)

1131 (75)

531 (38)

Pass Completion %

78.4

83.1

Headers (Won/Attempted)

57/139

7/24

Total Crosses (Accurate Crosses)

272 (62)

173 (29)

Interesting isn’t it?

In as much as Gareth Bale was regarded as the next best thing in the Premier League, these stats clearly show that Theo Walcott certainly gives him a run for his money but you wouldn’t hear people signing Walcott’s songs. Except when we all wanted him to sign da ting.

As long as Bale was fit, he was the first name you would expect to see on the Spurs team sheet but there was a period Walcott was frozen out of the squad by Arsene Wenger when he rejected the initial £75,000 per week deal Arsenal offered him early in the season. Bale scored 24 goals in 41 games while Walcott scored a career best 21 goals in 37 games, with him coming off the bench in 10 of those matches. Even if Bale managed to shoot more balls than Walcott in each game, the Englishman had a better conversion ratio than his Welsh counterpart.

Soccer - Premier League - Arsenal v Tottenham Hostspur - Emirates Stadium

Moving over to passes, Walcott was certainly going to have an edge over Bale as he’s widely renowned as a selfless player unlike Bale, that’s also a team player but he takes the selfish approach, which ends up having devastating effects, like his goal against Norwich for instance. Notwithstanding, Bale’s pass completion percentage is not far off from Walcott but the Englishman had 10 assists in the Premier League alone in contrast to Bale’s eight assists in all competitions.

On the air, there is no comparison between both players as Walcott’s hobbit-like frame would certainly not give him any edge that’s why I was a bit puzzled when he was wailing to get a stint as a center forward.

There are other football attributes both players possess and I’ll assess them using my own unbiased judgment, as I’ve been opportuned to watch them week-in week-out in the Premier League and in their European outings as well. These ratings will be done on a scale of 1 – 10.

ATTRIBUTE

Gareth Bale

Theo Walcott

Set Piece Taking

9

7

Crossing

9

7

Dribbling

8

7

Technique

8

8

Flair

8

8

Pace

8

First Touch

8

9

Composure in front of goal

8

9

Creativity

7

8

Many may dispute these set of stats because they aren’t in sites like Who Scored, SqwakwaIndex Football and EPL Index but I tried my best to be as unbiased as possible even if I’m a die-hard Arsenal fan.

When it comes to dead ball situations, crossing and dribbling, Bale is better than Walcott but the Englishman’s composure in front of goal has drastically improved and his first touch is legendary.

There’s certainly no point in trying to make a case for Bale over Walcott when it comes to pace. Bale may be Tottenham’s Superman, but he’s can’t be as fast as Arsenal’s own Flash.

Both players had awesome performances in the last campaign and while Walcott is set to stay at the Emirates a long while, Bale’s future at Tottenham hangs by a thin thread.

Sayonara.

Bonus Reading

Gareth Bale from an Arsenal fan’s Perspective – Straight Talking Gooners

Statistically there are none more effective than Walcott at 24 – One Nil Down Two One Up

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Rating Arsenal’s Attackers’ Performances in the 2012/13 Season

Both players hit double figures and had great campaigns

Last season, Arsenal notched up to a century of goals with 72 goals scored in the Premier League, 13 in the Champions League, 14 in the Capital One Cup and six goals in the FA Cup.

Despite this somewhat impressive goal count, it’s disheartening to know that they were hard to come by when the Gunners played against their rivals at the top as well as some key fixtures in the course of the season, with the games against Bayern (first leg) Blackburn and Bradford coming to mind.

If the Gunners had managed to dispatch the League Two outfit, they would’ve geared themselves up for a two-legged semifinal berth against Aston Villa, and if they were successful against the Midlands outfit, a potential final against Chelsea or Swansea would have beckoned. Had the Gunners went one step forward in this season’s Capital One Cup final, the trophy bells would have been ringing.

The FA Cup offered a different proposition as the Gunners crashed out following an appalling performance against Blackburn. Had Arsene Wenger’s side won the team they successfully slammed seven goals at home last season, a sixth round clash against Millwall would have been on the cards before a semifinal clash against eventual winners, Wigan. If Arsenal beat all the aforementioned teams on the road to Wembley, a potential final clash against Chelsea or Manchester City would have followed.

So much for wishful thinking.

This is the final installment of a four-post series focused on Arsenal’s performances in the 2012/13 season. I’ve already published my ratings on the performances of the goalkeepersdefenders and midfielders but today’s post is focused on Arsenal’s goal getters.

Feel free to share your comments.

Andrey Arshavin: 11 Apps, One Goal, Five Assists

…The first goal on the night was from a Cesc Fabregas pass after some good work by Samir Nasri, he worked the second himself after some poor Liverpool defending, his hat-trick was gifted to him on a platter thanks to more atrocious defending from Liverpool and his fourth came from a brilliant counter attack that was started by Walcott.

That night, the Russian magician was simply four-midable and the Gunners were disappointed to know that he couldn’t be part of their impressive Champions League campaign because he was cup-tied from his involvement with his previous and only club, Zenit St. Petersburg.

After scoring six goals and supplying nine assists in just 15 games for Arsenal, Arshavin came second in Arsenal’s 2009 Player of the Season Poll despite coming in the second half of the campaign. Arsene Wenger, his teammates and most importantly, the fans waited anxiously to see what he could accomplish in a full season with the club… enigma106

Four years on and this is only a distant memory.

After an extremely disappointing campaign, Arshavin’s time with Arsenal is up as the club chose not to renew his contract. He was reduced to spending a lot of time in the dugout and when he came on, he looked rather uninterested.

He was pretty impressive in the Capital One Cup last season and his only significant Premier League moments include his late cross into the box that led to the goal against Queens Park Rangers and the penalty he won for his team against Fulham.

In what became his final appearance for the club, Arsene Wenger summoned him with 15 minutes left to play when the Gunners visited Stamford Bridge. With the Gunners trailing, they needed inspiration from anywhere but when the ball came to Arshavin’s path, he was found wanting.

Some say that he was played out of position, others said that his attitude was lackadaisical. I say that he’s a technically proficient player that began his career in the club like a house on fire but plummeted into mediocrity due to his lethargy and lack of work ethic.

Rating: 1/10

Gervinho: 26 Apps, Seven Goals, Five Assists

Gervinho will always be remembered for his penalty miss against Zambia in the 2012 African Cup of Nations. He returned to North London like a player haunted with his own demons and he couldn’t exorcise them for the remainder of the campaign.

After a decent preseason that was epitomized with a wonder goal against FC Cologne, Arsenal’s toothless nature in front of goal afforded the Ivorian a chance to start as a center forward.

He repaid his manager’s faith almost immediately with a well-taken brace against Southampton. The goals kept ramping up for Gervinho with Montpellier, Chelsea and Olympiakos on the receiving end of some Ivorian magic.

Shortly afterwards, a horrible run of form followed with Gervinho putting up appalling performances on a weekly basis. Then this happened…

Miss of the season

After that shocking miss against Bradford, Gervinho spent a lot of time on the bench and was given another chance to redeem himself when Wenger played him in the FA Cup tie against Blackburn with half an eye on the Bayern Munich fixture. Gervinho missed another glaring chance in that game as well, which Arsenal rued.

When we all thought his season was done, Gervinho came off the bench to score the match winner against Swansea before a Man of the Match performance against Reading where he scored a goal and created two assists. He continued his good form creating a goal for Tomas Rosicky against West Brom then he went on free fall again with another putrid performance against Norwich.

When Gervinho stated that he wants to remain at Arsenal and fight for his place, I can bet that a faction of the Arsenal faithful gnashed their teeth in anguish – including me. -_________-

Rating: 5/10

Marouane Chamakh: Three Apps, Two Goals, One Assist

There was a certain Moroccan sensation that played his entire career in Girondins de Bordeaux before switching to the Red half of North London. He started with a few goals during the preseason before forcing Pepe Reina to score an own goal on the opening day of last season in Anfield.

He scored his first goal on his home debut against recently relegated Blackpool before joining the party when Arsenal thrashed Bolton by 4-1 in September. He also scored on his Champions League debut in the 6-0 spanking of eventual Europa League finalists SC Braga and continued his personal scoring record in the competition that extended from his Bordeaux days.

He scored in his Arsenal’s second Champions League tie against Partizan before scoring the match winner against Birmingham City in mid-October. He scored again in Arsenal’s third Champions League game against Shakhtar and it seemed as if he was destined to score in every game of the Champions League as long as he played.

The goals dried up a bit but he found some form again in November scoring a brace against Wolves before scoring Tottenham and Aston Villa. Marouane Chamakh’s toe poke in Villa Park was his 10th goal in just 21 appearances averaging a goal every two games then Robin van Persie came along and Chamakh found himself relegated to the bench and featured in lowly Cup ties.

After going through 19 games two seasons ago and scoring only one goal, Chamakh was understandably frozen out last season because he had become a liability to the team rather than an asset.

Chamakh’s first appearance last season was rather perplexing, as he managed to score two goals from outside the box – a feat I don’t think he had ever achieved for the club. He featured for the Gunners in the dead-rubber fixture against Olympiakos in Athens and he was a rather peripheral figure, no different from his performance against Bradford.

Arsenal took a rather bold step to part ways with Denilson, I really hope they follow suit with Chamakh.

Rating: 1/10

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 33 Apps, Two Goals, Three Assists

It’s fair to say that the Ox suffered the well-renowned “second season syndrome” as he clearly failed to live up to the hype surrounding him in his first campaign in the Premier League.

The idea of Oxlade-Chamberlain expressing himself on a football pitch is something that has petrified many opposition defences since his arrival to the Premier League two seasons ago. The 19-year-old’s pace and ability to find a pass has already transformed him into an Arsenal regular and, should he continue his fine progression up the Gunners ranks, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a starter in the England XI come next summer.

Last season, the Ox failed to assert himself and his chances diminished with Theo Walcott’s growing importance to the team. There was even a point when he was further down the pecking order behind Gervinho.

Despite his shortcomings, the Ox showed some glimpses of his undoubtedly quality and his wonder strike against Coventry City was a friendly reminder of what he was made of. He also scored a goal in that 7-3 thumping of Newcastle and his most important contribution last season was his neat cutback to Giroud the 3-1 win over Norwich.

Just went a draw seemed on the cards, the Ox popped up with an improvised flash of brilliance and whether it was a Giroud goal or Seb Bassong own goal, the ball entered the net thanks to the Ox.

The Ox is an unearthed talent and he’s one for the future.

Rating: 6/10

Lukas Podolski: 42 Apps, 16 Goals, 11 Assists

Lukas Podolski is a renowned center forward but his versatility ensures that he can be deployed in other attacking positions, as he can play in the hole behind the striker as well as the left wing position, where he has played for throughout his time at Arsenal with the exception of his debut against Sunderland, where he put up a disappointing show.

From then onwards, the manager deployed him on the left hand side and he bonded with that position, putting up stellar performances  as well as forging a telepathic understanding with Kieran Gibbs. However, there’s something that’s more certain than death, taxes and England losing on penalties – Lukas Podolski being substituted.

In all my years as a football fan, I’ve never seen a player more substituted than Podolski. Ever.

Arsenal’s Freddie Ljungberg had the unwanted record of being the most substituted player (21 times) in a season but Podolski made it look like child’s play. Whether he was downright unfit or carrying an injury as most cynics, it didn’t change the fact that it was a good debut season for the German.

The German machine scored all kinds of goals this season. Several placed efforts, headers, a lob against Wigan, a free kick against Southampton, a piledriver against West Ham and of course, this…

Rating: 8/10

Olivier Giroud: 47 Apps, 17 Goals, 12 Assists

I can vividly remember when a published an article on 10 things you need to know about Giroud, after he had completed his move from Montpellier in June 2012. 12 months on, let’s see if he ticked all the boxes in that article.

  • He’s a massive threat in the air – He proved this all season long supporting the team from set pieces defensively as well as scoring some goals with his head (Liverpool and Fulham)
  • He’s a classic target man – Holding up play, flick-ons, bringing others to the game, through balls and aerial duels were part and parcel of Giroud’s game last season.
  • He’s not injury prone - Out of 38 available Premier League games, Giroud missed three through a red card. He was an ever-present figure this season and his 47 appearances throughout the campaign is a testament of that.
  • He has his fair share of silverware – *coughs profusely* He won that in Montpellier :D
  • He’s close friends with Koscielny – You don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that
  • He’s highly rated by Wenger – The boss spoke about him in volumes and hopes for more next season.
  • He’s on Twitter – You can follow him @_OlivierGiroud_
  • He fits into Arsenal’s style of play – Check!
  • He offers Arsenal options in attack – Every fan saw how the attack crumbled following Giroud’s red card against Fulham.
  • He worked his way to the top – Grenoble – Istres – Tours – Montpellier – Arsenal…do the math.

Despite checking all these boxes and adding 17 goals to his name, Giroud struggled for form this season in patches and his record against the top four sides was quite disappointing. I don’t even want to start with the glaring misses.

He could do with some competition though.

Rating: 8/10

Theo Walcott: 43 Apps, 21 Goals, 17 Assists

I would describe Theo Walcott as fine wine – getting better with each passing season.

Arsenal’s top goalscorer, Theo Walcott, will look back to this season with a keen sense of pride. With Robin van Persie departing for greener pastures, Arsenal needed some players to step their games up and in all fairness, Walcott fell into that category.

The entertaining, enthralling and epic encounter between Reading and Arsenal in the Capital One cup would go down as one of the most pulsating matches in English football history but Walcott placed his mark on that fixture, scoring a stunning hat-trick. There was the brace against Coventry and a consistent run of goals in the course of the season, but when Walcott was deployed as a center forward against Newcastle in December, he rewarded his manager with another scintillating hat-trick.

Some may label the forward as a one-trick pony but Walcott’s efficiency in front of goal has been very clinical and the nature of his goals last season is a testament of these claims.

He opened his goalscoring account in the rout against Southampton before scoring a Thierry Henry-esque goal as well as another in the Coventry romp. He scored a decisive goal in the away victory over West Ham and followed it up with a scintillating hat-trick against Reading. The goals kept piling up as he opened the scoring against Schalke, got in on the act in the North London Derby and opened the scoring against Everton. There was still time for another goal against Reading before another hat-trick against Newcastle.

His hot streak continued against Chelsea, West Ham, Brighton and Liverpool then his goalscoring well dried up as he failed to record a single goal in February and March. At the tail end of April, he scored Manchester United before hitting the 20-goal mark against Queens Park Rangers. His final goal against Wigan contributed to their relegation.

However, Walcott struggled a bit when he was deployed as a center forward at Giroud’s expense last winter. His height was clearly an issue as he offered no threat from the air and wasn’t able to bring his teammate’s into the game with nice flicks and linkup moves.

The issue of his contract was also a very big thorn in Arsenal’s flesh but I’m glad he signed da ting.

This has been a great campaign for Walcott and I certainly hopes his builds on it because he’s one of the central figures at the club right about now.

Rating: 9/10

This is where the curtain closes on these series. I hope you enjoyed reading the articles as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The voting sequence for the 2012/13 End of Season awards is still ongoing, so feel free to make your votes count in the polls.

Happy Birthday Wilson Dike!!!

Sayonara.

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