Theo Walcott – 6.82 (43 appearances, 40 rated games)
32 appearances in Premiership, 30 rated games – 6.8
5 appearances in Champions’ League, 4 rated games – 6.38
4 appearances in FA Cup – 6.88
2 appearances in Capital One Cup – 8.0
Despite the fact he started the season from the bench due to an unresolved contract status, Walcott managed to grab the Gunners’ golden boot as he was Arsenal’s top goal-scorer in both the Premiership and overall. 21 goals and 16 assists in all competitions says a lot about how Walcott stepped it up and improved this season. Although he claims that he feels much better in centre forward role, it was visible that – despite a drastic improvement in terms of composure and finishing – Walcott still lacks the physical abilities to play as central striker in the 4-3-3 formation.
Without Walcott our team suffered a lot – he was absent for our gutless defeat against Norwich due to an injury against San Marino and perhaps his presence would have made our attack less shameful against Schalke only a few days later. That home defeat determined our European campaign as we fell down to second place in the Group Stage and, therefore, ended playing against the best European team Bayern Muenchen. The importance of Walcott in the first half of the season was best measured when you take a look at the stats and notice that the first time we lost a part of any game we were defeated in with Walcott on the pitch was against Swansea at home in December. He scored a lot of important goals as well as created them – a winner against QPR, an opener against United, a goal and an assist in the half-hour cameo against West Ham away, an assist for the winning goal against Sunderland…
It’s hard to pick the best goal of Walcott’s best season so far – whether it was the Messi-esque goal to complete a fine hat-trick against Newcastle, Henry-esque goal that gave us a life-line against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge or the powerful finish that hammered Liverpool’s lead at the Emirates – so it might be the best to say that penning a new three-and-half-year-contract with Arsenal as a sort of Walcott’s promise of a lot of goals to come in an Arsenal shirt beats all other rivals. Walcott has been with us for 7.5 seasons already so people tend to forget he is only 24 and not a finished article yet. For instance, his free-kicks – when it comes to direct shots on goal – should improve.
Gervinho – 5.94 (26 appearances, 24 rated games)
18 appearances in Premiership, 17 rated games – 5.88
6 appearances in Champions’ League, 5 rated games – 6.5
1 appearance in FA Cup – 5.0
1 appearance in Capital One Cup – 4.5
There are reports that say Gervinho might return to France where he has already won the title (with Lille) and – if that really happens – there won’t be too many tears on Gooners’ faces all over the world. It’s a pity that Gervinho – who can give width to our game as he is a natural winger who can run at defense and use his pace to beat his opponent – hasn’t given his best at Arsenal. He started this season in an impressive way scoring in two Champions’ League games and netting three goals in the Premiership before his problems with composure and decisions took a bite on both his and Arsenal’s behind. With Walcott’s return had he scored a match-winning chance at Etihad, perhaps both Arsenal and Gervinho would have enjoyed a better season. He did perform well in some games as our run-in started but after another terrible performance against Norwich in which he started a counter-attack for the visitors’ goal by pick-pocketing Ramsey just outside the opponents’ box, it seems he has lost all confidence Wenger had in him. If there are going to be any more departures from the team, Gervinho is a top candidate.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6.52 (33 appearances, 29 rated games)
25 appearances in Premiership, 21 rated game – 6.62
4 appearances in Champions’ League – 6.25
2 appearances in FA Cup – 5.5
2 appearances in Capital One Cup – 7.0
If there is a player that is destined to have a huge career in our team it’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. His energy, pace and technique have written “wonder-kid” all over it. It’s not that his season was bad – after all, his ratings suggest that he had an average season. However, for a player that possesses such an astonishing talent, being average is an insult. It seems that his position in the team remains unknown – The Ox considers himself as a central midfielder while he was mostly played on either wing by Wenger. Next season has to be where The Ox will prove his worth no matter where he is played.
Lukas Podolski – 6.44 (43 appearances, 42 rated games)
34 appearances in Premiership, 33 rated games – 6.42
6 appearances in Champions’ League – 6.5
2 appearances in FA Cup – 6.75
1 appearance in Capital One Cup – 4.0
The German striker was the earliest signing we made last summer. He can even say that he was welcomed by Van Persie on the Dutchman’s Twitter-account a few months before he discovered a little kid screaming inside of him. Podolski’s arrival to Arsenal had a shadow of the failure the German striker suffered for the other big club he played with (Bayern). Fortunately, Podolski was almost an instant hit at Emirates as he scored some impressive goals at the start of the season (it’s hard to pick whether the counter-attack goal against Liverpool or a free-kick against Southampton were more powerful) including two goals in two Champions’ League opening matches. Unfortunately, his fitness level didn’t let him adjust to the Premiership completely. Perhaps due to the fact England – unlike Germany – don’t have winter-break, Podolski had problems with fitness during the entire season and it comes as no surprise that he spent all 90 minutes on the pitch in the Premiership on just two occasions. Still, despite his problems, the fact he was one of the four players that reached double digits in terms of goals and assists (16 goals and 12 assists in all competitions) gives us hope that – after he settles his problems with fitness during the holidays – Podolski will return and bang goals for fun next season. He was the only Arsenal player that managed to score a free-kick this season – he scored a stunner against Southampton and the deflected winner against Stoke. With less hot’n’cold-performances and better contribution in big games, Podolski can prove that Bayern were wrong for not holding onto him.
Andrey Arshavin – 6.28 (11 appearances, 9 rated games)
7 appearances in Premiership, 6 rated games – 5.92
2 appearances in Champions’ League, 1 rated game – 5.0
2 appearances in Capital One Cup – 8.25
It’s sad to take a look at Arshavin’s Premiership statistics – he deserved his ratings in his 6 games as he usually injected some creative energy to our team but he collected only 87 minutes on the pitch. His performances in the Capital One Cup suggested that he still might be a very useful player but it seems that Wenger didn’t want to rely too much on a player who was in his last year of a 90,000 pounds-per-week contract. He was destined for huge things with Arsenal but failed to meet the expectations. His four-goal-haul at Anfield as well as the winning goal against Barcelona will remain in our memories.
Serge Gnabry – 6.0 (3 appearances)
1 appearance in Premiership – 6.0
1 appearance n Champions’ League – 6.0
1 appearance in Capital One Cup – 6.0
The German winger of Ivorian descent is – alongside Oxlade-Chamberlain – the most exciting Arsenal youngster. His skills, pace and creativity were seen more in the NextGen campaign than in the Arsenal senior squad but his potential and talent are non-disputable. He deserved a special mention after our gutless defeat to Schalke at Emirates – it was Gnabry who fired the first shot on target against the German side and it was deep in injury time of the second half.
Olivier Giroud – 6.23 (47 appearances, 42 rated games)
34 appearances in Premiership, 31 rated games – 6.0
7 appearances in Champions’ League, 5 rated games – 6.4
4 appearances in FA Cup – 7.13
2 appearances in Capital One Cup – 7.5
His performances at the start of his Arsenal career – especially due to the fact he missed a sitter on debut against Sunderland which cost us two points – drew a rather pointless comparisons with Marouane Chamakh as they both came from Ligue 1 to Arsenal with the experience of winning the league. However, Giroud – despite his slow start – has proven that he has qualities our team needs – he is strong, especially in the air, and capable of creating very decent link-up play with his team-mates. He reached double digits in goals and assists (17 goals and 12 assists in all competitions) and it’s obvious that – despite a lack of pace – he can play a very important role in the Premiership. However, he didn’t prove that he can lead Arsenal to victories in big matches – his missed sitters against Chelsea (twice), Spuds (away) and Everton (home) were the main reason that we won just one point out of a possible twelve in the aforementioned games. He must prove his worth in big matches next season. A goal against Bayern in the consolation victory in Munich might be a step in the right direction.
Marouane Chamakh – 5.8 (3 appearances)
1 appearance in Champions’ League – 6.0
2 appearances in Capital One Cup – 5.75
The Moroccan striker gave a glimpse of hope that he might be useful for Arsenal after scoring a brace in the 7:5 victory over Reading to conclude a brilliant Gunners’ come-back. He gave an average performance in the second string side that lost to Olympiacos but missed his big chance as well as the penalty in the shoot-out against Bradford in Capital One Cup defeat. He was loaned out to West Ham in January but failed to produce anything in three matches for Big Fat Sam’s Hammers. With one year left on his unbelievable 93,000 pounds-per-week contract, it’s very likely that he is going to do a Squillaci by sitting on the bench and waiting for his contract to expire unless we do a Denilson on him.