Some days back, we began our review of how the players fared in the just concluded season. My colleague, Eweobaja Olumuyiwa began with the goalkeepers and the defenders. Today, I am going to give my honest opinion on the performace of our midfielders in a season filled with rage, disappointments, clamour for change and so on. I’ll also give my verdict on which player the club should retain and the one they should let go.
This article focuses majorly on our midfield department and without mincing words, it was a very disappointing season as the team yet again couldn’t stake any claim on the league title and also failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in over 20years under Arsène Wenger.
Straight to the business, here is my view and rating of our Midfielders for the entire campaign:
A highly talented maestro who can be said to be the “glue” binding our team together; players like Mesut Ozil and Coquelin benefit the most from his all round class-filled game play. Sadly, injury took our little magician away earlier in the season and this really had a big adverse effect on our season. It’s so hard to rate Santi because of how long he has been out injured. That said, I’ll give him a 5/10 rating.
Did you know: Arsenal’s Premier League win percentage with Santi Cazorla starting this season 86% while the win percentage dropped to 46% without him. Since 2013, Arsenal has a 66% win with him in the team. Without him 44%.
Verdict: Think we should release him(provided we will bring in a replacement for him) as he can’t guarantee 20 league games a season again. Moreso, he’s out injured for yet another 5 months now. Leave.
Talented, energetic, versatile but highly inconsistent – this summarizes our dear Aaron. Injuries had a big effect on his season, a fact which made him sit out a number of games at the early stage of the season. His performance wasn’t always convincing when he played. Personally, Ramsey is that one player that gives you headache but will still find his way into the team whenever he’s fit. I’ll rate him 6/10.
Verdict: We should keep him, who knows he might be the one to win the Europa league for us. Aaron is crucial to our team. Stay.
Alex Oxlade – Chamberlain
He is definitely my man of the season as he has had to play in a number of positions and yet still shone with some eye-catching and jaw-dropping performances. In all honesty, the change in formation also helped bring out the best in him. He’s definitely one to keep as it is now very clear that Alex when fit is one of the best players we have in the team. 8/10
Verdict: We need to give him a long term contract. Stay.
Putting aside the fact that he is a new signing and the crackers he scored earlier in the season, Xhaka has had a torrid debut season in England. Some of the treatment meted out to him by the English media were unfair but of a truth, discipline-wise he’s not one to put money on as he’s always a suspect when diving into tackles.
That said, one thing we can’t take away from Xhaka is the accuracy of his passes. He also came to life in the new 3-4-3 formation towards the tail end of the season. We can only expect better things from the talented Swiss come next season as he has shown that he’s got the quality needed of him. I’ll give him 6/10.
Verdict: It can only get better for him, let’s find him a regular partner. Stay.
Coquelin is probably the disappointment of the season. A lot was expected of the Frenchman. but he couldn’t reproduce his 2015/2016 season performance. The absence of Santi Cazorla also didn’t help his cause as both of them have forged a formidable partnership together. Based on the season he had, I’ll rate him 4/10.
Verdict: I won’t think twice before letting him go. He should be sold!
Our German maestro is talented and undoubtedly one of the best passers of the ball in the world. Ozil also didn’t have a great season and you can’t help thinking what would have been if Cazorla was available. He personally missed Santi Cazorla’s ingenuity in the midfield which was one of the reasons he had a frustrating season.
Although, he showed flashes of what he’s capable of doing and also had double figures in goals and assists but yet a player of Ozil’s calibre should be doing better. 7/10
Verdict: He’s one of our most prized asset both on-field and off-field(image-wise), so we should do all we can to make him sign a new contract. Stay.
In all fairness, it is hard to rate Elneny as he was barely given much chance in the cause of the season. In my opinion, I think Elneny was decent whenever he was given a chance. Due to the season he had, I’ll give him 5/10.