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    Arseblog’s end of season player ratings (+ manager ratings) 2020

    As promised here is the traditional end of season players ratings post, which also gives a rating to the performances of Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta as managers. A couple of things to point out.

    1 – I’m using a 1-10 rating system – like in the player ratings on Arseblog News. In this, 6 is considered the baseline/average, the starting point at which performance levels go up or down.

    2 – The ratings are individual, based on expectations of them and what they’re capable of, rather than comparable with teammates. So don’t say ‘How can you give X this when you gave Y that?’. I haven’t included Nacho Monreal or Henrikh Mkhitaryan due to their departures, nor Dinos Mavropanos or Emile Smith Rowe who played most of their football on loan.

    3 – It’s been a very average season, so there isn’t as much variety in the ratings as their might normally be. The FA Cup has had a positive influence on some of them, because ultimately winning things is what it’s about and we have done that.

    In the end there’s no right or wrong, these are subjective ratings. Don’t get personally offended by them. I don’t hate your favourite player. Feel free to discuss and debate them in the arses. So let’s get on with it, starting with:

    GOALKEEPERS

    NFL Betting

    Bernd Leno

    Began the season as the undisputed number 1, and would have ended it that way but for the unfortunate injury sustained after Neal Maupay’s sly shove in the defeat to Brighton. He makes lots of saves, primarily because he is playing behind a porous defence, and does that part of his job very well. Occasional doubts about his command of the area and distribution surface, but consistently one of our best players this season.

    Rating: 8

    Emi Martinez

    Thrust into regular action after the injury to Leno, he was outstanding after the restart, and like his colleague, he needed to be. Arsenal’s defensive issues mean our goalkeepers are always going to be busy, and it’s a testament to his performance level that conversations about who should stay in goal once the German returns are reasonable. The FA Cup final win and his role in it was a lovely way to finish his season, in which it’s fair to say he exceeded expectations.

    Rating: 8.5

    DEFENDERS

    Hector Bellerin

    Just 25 appearances due to his late start following the ACL injury last January, and subsequent minor complaints as a consequence. Never got a real run of games to get himself back to full fitness/sharpness, and it’s hard to worry he’s lost a yard of pace and some physicality. Had some good games, some indifferent games, but did score a vital goal against Chelsea, and looked much more like his old self in the FA Cup semi-final and final.

    Rating: 6

    Ainsley Maitland-Niles

    I have him in the defence section because that’s where he’s played most often. Fell out of favour with Mikel Arteta, so much so we signed an injured player from Southampton rather than use him. However, he had some impressive late season cameos which suggested there’s some renewed faith and a chance for him to remain a solid squad option after he got another 33 first team appearances under his belt, including the FA Cup final. You don’t get picked for that as a favour, so it suggests he’s someone the manager would want to keep. What the player wants, we’ll have to wait and see.

    Rating: 6.5

    Cedric Soares

    It’s impossible to give him a rating, he’s barely played since his loan move from Southampton, after which he became a permanent Arsenal player with a nice four year contract.

    Rating: N/A

    Sokratis

    Has made just 10 appearances since Mikel Arteta took over, and played only 3 minutes – plus a brief cameo in the cup final – since the restart. He was deployed more at right-back than at centre-half, and although he has been far less error prone than David Luiz this season, and generally more solid than Shkodran Mustafi since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, he’s been the one left by the wayside. It’s clear the manager doesn’t really fancy him. Less than 12 months left on his contract, someone we surely want to shift.

    Rating: 5

    Shkodran Mustafi

    Just eight appearances before Arteta took over, and only one in the Premier League. Since then, he’s been almost ever-present under the new manager, and although there were brief signings of Classic Mustafi – that horrible back-pass at Chelsea, the last 20 minutes in the North London derby – he was probably our most consistent defender. It says a lot about the defensive options we have, but credit where it’s due, he played well. Like Sokratis, his contractual situation demands some action, but his recent injury complicates things.

    Rating: 7

    Calum Chambers

    Played at right back under Emery, where his shortcomings are more easily exposed, and only made one appearance under Arteta in which he ruptured his ACL. This is now his 6th campaign as an Arsenal player, and it’s hard to judge just how much progress he’s made as a player. The impact of a serious injury is another worry, and he’s one over which there is a question mark.

    Rating: 6

    Rob Holding

    His season was badly impacted by the knock-on effects from his own ACL, suffered in December 2018. This season in general he has looked a long way from the promising player he was back then, and like Chambers there is a big question mark over his ability to make it at this level. Won his second FA Cup though, so ended on a positive note, but whispers abound that he’s a potential sale during this transfer window.

    Rating: 6

    David Luiz

    On his day, very good. Unfortunately, what lies between those days varies so greatly. He is very popular in the dressing room, and has had a positive influence on the young players, but if David Luiz the player was half as good as David Luiz the man is nice, we’d be in better shape. Conceded a Premier League record number of penalties, picked up two red cards too, and considering the very expensive outlay it’s hard to make the argument it’s been a success. But he’s not a normal player, there’s something fundamentally weird about him, he’s been genuinely terrible at times, and then he saved his two best performances for the FA Cup semi and final, making a telling contribution to the cup success. What will happen with him if we move to a back four next season will be interesting because he definitely doesn’t look comfortable in that system.

    Rating: 5.5

    Pablo Mari

    Like Soares, it’s impossible to give him a rating because he’s played so little. Did establish himself as an Arsenal player by picking up a serious injury though.

    Rating: N/A

    Sead Kolasinac

    He’s just a very limited footballer whose place as a left-back, a left wing-back, and as the left side of a back three has been taken a player who is far better than him. Perhaps has a future as back-up, but given he was a free transfer, he’s got to be one of the strongest candidates for a departure this summer. My money is on him being one of the first out the door.

    Rating: 5

    Kieran Tierney

    Although his season was afflicted by injury early on, and then stopped again because of his dislocated shoulder, he has shown since the restart what a valuable asset he will be. Plays with such character and determination, defends very well, and although he hasn’t contributed as often in the attacking end, it’s still a strong part of his game. Someone to really look forward to next season now that he’s fully fit and properly settled.

    Rating: 7

    MIDFIELDERS

    Dani Ceballos

    Began with a flourish against Burnley, which raised excitement levels about him. Struggled through the same malaise as most during the period in which Emery lost more and more control, then picked up a serious hamstring injury. Responded brilliantly to Arteta’s challenge, ‘trained like an animal’ instead of cutting short his loan in January, and in the final part of the season became an integral and impressive part of midfield. It remains to be seen if he’ll be with us next season. He sounds open to it, but can Arsenal find an agreement with Real Madrid to bring him back?

    Rating: 7.5

    Lucas Torreira

    Had a solid, if unspectacular first season, but unfortunately couldn’t build on it. In some ways a victim of circumstance – the way he was used by Emery really didn’t suit him, and then picked up a nasty ankle break when he was beginning to find his way under Arteta. Rumours of a return to Italy are never too far away, and with cash to be found this summer, he could be sold.

    Rating: 6

    Granit Xhaka

    What an eventful season he’s had. Not helped by Emery’s ludicrous prevarication over the captaincy, he became a lightning rod for a lot of things that weren’t his fault, but reacted badly during the Crystal Palace game. He wanted to go, Arteta convinced him there was a second chance for him, and to be fair he took it very well. Plays an important role in our midfield, his experience and leadership is useful in this current squad, but similarly to Mustafi and the defence, that does shine something of a light on our midfield options.

    Rating: 6.5

    Joe Willock

    At 20 years of age he got 44 appearances under his belt this season, and with five goals was our highest scoring central midfield player in all competitions. He is obviously still raw, and there are questions as to what exactly his best position is, but considering his age this could well be a formative season for him. It’s too early to be definitive about him.

    Rating: 6

    Matteo Guendouzi

    One of the casualties of Mikel Arteta’s no-nonsense approach, he looks certain to leave after falling out of favour in spectacular style. He could have been part of this new Arsenal under the Spaniard; he could have looked at the likes of Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi and Ceballos who responded to what the manager asked of them. Instead his petulance and hubris pulled down the curtain on a brief Arsenal career in which he only ever impressed in flashes. Won’t be missed. Cheerio.

    Rating: 3

    Mesut Ozil

    What is there left to say? There were issues with Emery. There were issues with Freddie Ljungberg despite his very brief time in the managerial hot-seat. And now there are issues with Mikel Arteta who, despite knowing Ozil’s talent as well as anyone, doesn’t pick a player who could potentially add creativity to a team that really needs it. He is the common denominator. It’s a real shame the way it’s gone, but it has to end. As a club we can’t continue to have this scenario hanging over us week after week. Arsenal have to find a solution before the new season, and it seems the only possible one is Ozil’s departure – which is rather easier said than done though.

    Rating: 4

    Bukayo Saka

    A breakthrough season for the 18 year old resulted in a well deserved new contract. Faded towards the end of the campaign, but ended up as our most creative outlet with 11 assists in all competitions. The talent and potential is obvious, and it seems like Mikel Arteta is keen to develop him steadily and slowly. Should build on this campaign, and it will be fascinating to see where exactly he’s going to play in the long-term.

    Rating: 8

    FORWARDS

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

    To end up with 29 goals in all competitions while playing a team that lacks so much in terms of creativity and chance creation is a testament to the captain’s quality and striking instincts. Sometimes questioned over his contribution in big games, he put that to bed with a brace in both the semi-final and final of the FA Cup. His winner against Chelsea was the perfect way to end what was a superb season for him, and despite his age you can understand why Arteta wants so badly to keep him.

    Rating: 9

    Alexandre Lacazette

    Began the season with an ankle injury, and being honest never really looked fully fit or sharp at any point. He did score 12 times, and his experience was something the manager leaned on towards the end of the season when it was really needed, Arteta wringing some decent tactical performances out of him in certain games. Overall a disappointing campaign all things considered. With two years left on his contract, it’s decision time, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he were to depart – especially as he bring in funds for rebuilding. Juventus are said to be interested.

    Rating: 5.5

    Nicolas Pepe

    Arsenal didn’t get a £72m return on last summer’s investment, but taking into account the fact he came to a new country with a new language and all that adaptation; played in a team which was dismal under Emery; and was used in a very differently to the way he was so effectively at Lille; it’s understandable why he didn’t quite meet expectations. Seemed to click with what Arteta wanted as the season went on, ended up with 8 goals and 10 assists, had one of his best games yet in the cup final, and there’s definitely something to build on ahead of 2020-21.

    Rating: 6.5

    Eddie Nketiah

    Had a slightly disappointing loan spell at Leeds cut short, and was surprisingly retained by Mikel Arteta in January rather than sent out again. Scored a few goals, but it’s hard not think he’s in need of more regular playing time somewhere to really gauge his potential.

    Rating: 6

    Gabriel Martinelli

    During the darkest times of the season, the young Brazilian was the bright spark. Showed his quality early on with some exceptional goals, and the run and finish against Chelsea was one of the big highlights, but sadly ended with an injury which will keep him out until next year. Fingers crossed he can return to pick up where he left of, because he’s such an exciting prospect. Getting into double figures for goals in your first season in England having come from the Brazilian 4th division at 18 years of age is not to be sniffed at.

    Rating: 8

    Reiss Nelson

    22 appearances, 3 goals and 3 assists, but had injury problems during the season. Will probably be disappointed not to have made more of an impact, and like Eddie may need a season out on loan to really make progress given his age.

    Rating: 6

    Managers

    Unai Emery

    There’s little point going over old ground, the season has been long enough without having to relive the end-days of the Emery era. In truth, while he was increasingly out of his depth and lost the dressing room, he wasn’t solely to blame for what went wrong. The executives who continued to back him despite the obvious and growing problems have to take some of the blame – that Raul Sanllehi wanted to extend his contract even though last season ended with such abject failure demonstrates as much.

    Not a bad man, just never the right man, his desperation to find something that worked just made things worse, and ultimately lost his job. That’s how it goes for football managers. Now has a new job at Villarreal.

    Rating: 3

    Mikel Arteta

    When you consider what a mess he walked into, to have finished the season with a trophy and qualification for Europe can’t be seen as anything other than success. The sheer volume and variety of issues he’s had to deal with – from Granit Xhaka to Covid-19, from a team that was a complete mess to player challenges like Ozil and Guendouzi – is incredible. To have come through all that in his first managerial job, contending with the cessation of football, contracting the virus, playing behind closed doors, and everything else, is a remarkable way to begin a career in management.

    His communication has been stellar, he has fostered a sense of togetherness and unity that was missing, and is now the figurehead of a club he wants to bring back to the top. It’s easy for fans to connect with what he says, and after winning the FA Cup, also with what he does. The players – most of them anyway – have bought in too, and all in all it’s an extremely positive first half season in the most trying circumstances imaginable.

    The cup win is obviously a huge thing for the club, but also for him on a personal level as it validates his methods and what he says he’s trying to do.

    Rating: 8

    So, there you go. No doubt plenty to discuss and debate, ratings always spark conversation, so you can do that in the Arses (our comment system). Have at it!

    For Patreon Members, we’ll have a podcast later on: the first of our transfer specials, discussing the various ins and outs we’re looking at right now, gauging the veracity of some of the rumours and more. If you’re not a member, you can sign up and get instant access for just €5 a month at patreon.com/arseblog.

    More here tomorrow, and breaking news all day on Arseblog News. Have a good one.

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