Note: Ratings are out of 10 and are compiled from the seasons player ratings.
Bacary Sagna – 7.12 (48 appearances, 47 rated games)
Premier League: 35 appearances, 34 rated games – 7.01
Champions League: 9 appearances (including qualifiers) – 7.44
FA Cup: 4 appearances – 7.37
If there is any bitterness added to the sweet taste of our FA Cup victory, it’s the fact that we knew it was Sagna’s last match for Arsenal. Arguably the best right full-back in the league, and the one I’ve rated as the best full-back in the world (when he is 100 % fit and in form), Sagna had a really good season, especially comparing it to the previous one. It’s no wonder that he had a better season, given that he had gone with the team to Asia on the preseason tour, and had an injury-free season. I put him among the full-backs even if it wasn’t the only position in the team he covered – he was also a central defender on a few occasions. We might have seen what we would lose with his departure at the home game against Sunderland. Sagna started as a right full-back but moved to the opposite flank when Monreal got injured. He finished the game as a central defender because Koscielny had picked up a knock. Given that he will be leaving, we’ll either need at least two bodies to replace his versatility, aerial prowess and strength or a player similar to Sagna.
Premier League: 14 appearances in Premiership, 11 rated games – 6.41
Champions League: 3 appearances – 6.67
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FA Cup: 3 appearances in FA Cup, 2 rated games – 6.87
Capital One Cup: 2 appearances – 6.5
Apart from scoring his first goal for Arsenal (actually, it was his second goal for Arsenal, but the linesman didn’t see that Jenkinson’s shot crossed the goal-line against Reading in the Capital One Cup in 2012-13) Jenkinson won’t have too many reasons to fondly remember his third season at Arsenal. The English youngster’s improvement has stalled for a while, and it seems that most of the confidence he had had in 2012-13 disappeared. Still, Jenko is a young, athletic player that may get a prolonged chance in the first team next season if Arsene Wenger decides to replace Sagna with Jenkinson and Bellerin.
Capital One Cup: 1 appearance – 6.5
One for the future. He was played out of position against West Brom in the League Cup, and hasn’t featured for the first team since that game, but he is one young player that has the words “GREAT EXPECTATIONS” written all over him.
Kieran Gibbs – 7.04 (41 appearances, 39 rated games)
Premier League: 28 appearances in Premiership, 26 rated games – 6.95
Champions League: 8 appearances (including qualifiers) – 7.34
FA Cup: 5 appearances in FA Cup – 7.00
If there was one player whose absence was a huge reason for a number of big defeats, it was Kieran Gibbs. He didn’t play against Manchester City (6:3) – we were overrun on our left flank by Zabaleta and Jesus Navas. He didn’t play against Liverpool (5:1) – we were thrashed mostly down Liverpool’s right flank. He was wrongly sent off at 2:0 against Chelsea and it ended 6:0 (he had been poor before he was sent off though). He didn’t play against Everton (3:0) – Coleman and Lukaku ran riot down our left flank. He got injured against Bayern at 0:0 – things started to go downhill after that. It remains unclear whether Gibbs has been that good, his deputies (Santos until January 2013 and Monreal during 2013-14) have been terrible, or our left winger doesn’t help the defence enough. While being pretty solid at the back, Gibbs is a member of the “British Core”, and has many playing years ahead of him; at the moment though his final product leaves a lot to be desired. He scored just once (against Fenerbahče in Champions’ League qualifiers) and for someone who spent so much time in the opponents’ half, he didn’t create too many goals either – a single assist, the one for Lukas Podolski’s goal against Swansea, in 28 games is a rather poor return. If injuries stop bugging him every now and then, Gibbs might wipe Ashley Cole out of all Gooners’ memories.
Nacho Monreal – 6.39 (36 appearances, 33 rated games)
Premier League: 23 appearances in Premiership – 6.27
Champions League: 8 appearances, 6 rated games (including qualifiers) – 6.58
FA Cup: 3 appearances, 2 rated games – 6.33
Capital One Cup: 2 appearances – 7.25
It was a rather disappointing season for the Spaniard. His performances in big matches were abysmal (he was the worst Arsenal player on the pitch in our big defeats against Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton) and made him look out of his depth. He looked more comfortable against weaker opponents but it seems that he is not good enough to be a reliable option for a title contending Arsenal.
Per Mertesacker – 7.14 (52 appearances)
Premier League: 35 appearances – 6,99
Champions League: 10 appearances (including qualifiers) – 7.55
FA Cup: 6 appearances – 7.17
Capital One Cup: 1 appearance – 8.0
Vermaelen might be the club captain, and Arteta might be his deputy, but it is the BFG who has been a real leader on the pitch. Our minister of defence has proved many times that he should wear the armband – he has been a Gooner since childhood, and his lesson to Özil after our defeat against City proved that he understands the fans’ feelings. He managed to contribute a handful of goals in offence as well – his equalizer against Wigan in the FA Cup semifinal being the most important. He might have been overplayed though, and Wenger should find a player that can give the BFG a rest next season; especially given that Mertesacker is going to play a vital role in Germany’s defence in the World Cup. 52 appearances plus a World Cup during the summer means the German will be left exhausted. It should be said (and that can be applied for Koscielny as well) that some of Mertesacker’s poor performances were a consequence of poor performances from Arteta and/or Monreal, who left their central defenders unprotected. It was exactly what happened against Aston Villa, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton respectively in which we conceded 23 out of 41 total goals conceded.
Premier League: 32 appearances in Premiership – 7.39
Champions League: 9 appearances (including qualifiers) – 7.75
FA Cup: 4 appearances in FA Cup – 7.56
Capital One Cup: 1 appearance – 7.5
This was a season in which Koscielny flourished, turning from a very good defender to a world-class one. He was Arsenal’s best defender as his ratings proved, and a real defensive rock. His partnership with Mertesacker was impressive for the better part of he season – away matches against the rest of the top 5 clubs showing that they were not infallible. Still, his Champions’ League ratings were especially impressive, as we didn’t have any easy opponents during our campaign. He played an important role offensively as well – scoring a vital equalizer against Hull in the FA Cup Final, and it was his goal that secured St. Totteringham’s Day for third year in a row. Luckily for us, he extended his contract until 2019 which should keep annoying flies from Barcelona, Bayern and Manchester United away from him!
Premier League – 14 appearances, 11 rated games – 6.14
Champions’ League: 2 appearances, 1 rated game (including qualifiers) – 7.75
FA Cup: 3 appearances – 6.92
Capital One Cup: 2 appearances – 7.0
If there is one thing that will make Thomas Vermaelen happy, it’s the fact that he will be remembered as the first club captain that lifted a trophy after Patrick Vieira in 2005. A feat Thierry Henry, Gilberto Silva, William Gallas, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie couldn’t match. Aside from that, it was one of the worst seasons for Vermaelen since he joined Arsenal from Ajax – he couldn’t restore his place in the starting eleven that he lost in the last ten matches of 2012-13, he suffered problems with injuries, and when he was given a rare chance to show his qualities, he usually failed to deliver. The thing is, as much as I love Thomas as a model professional and obviously a strong personality, it’s hard to find a place for him in Arsenal. His partnership with Mertesacker hasn’t been as good as that of the BFG and Koscielny, and the partnership between Koscielny and Vermaelen has usually led to a disaster. To make things worse, the Belgian doesn’t offer enough pace and agility down the left flank when he is deployed as a left full-back. His rare good performances in 2013-14 were when he was deployed as some sort of “a wide central defender” (West Ham, Bayern). He might be on his way out of the club this summer.