Season Rating: 1/10
7. Tomas Rosicky
I’m sure that when the sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were completed, Arsene Wenger didn’t plan for Tomas Rosicky to be the long term successor in the attacking midfield role behind the striker. However after Ramsey’s excellent early season form tailed off, Tomas Rosicky came to the fore with a series of brilliant performances. He didn’t feature regularly in the first half of the season, with his second half cameo at Udinese being his only major contribution.
However as the season went on, Rosicky became influential to the team, with his attitude, as well as his footballing ability, making him stand out in the team. His performance in the home North London derby was sensational, and he continued that to the end of the season. He contributed a few important goals, and helped galvanise the team in his direct running, chasing back, tackling, and improved array of passes. He finally looked like the exciting attacking midfielder we signed in 2006. He’s not the long term answer to the attacking midfield position, but he deserved his new contract, and hopefully he will be a valuable player to have in the squad to help with the development of younger players, whilst being able to make an impact when on the pitch himself.
Season Rating: 7/10
8. Mikel Arteta
The fact we didn’t win a Premier League game without the Spaniard until the last day of the season, says a lot about how important Mikel Arteta was to Arsenal last season. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking we signed him to play behind Robin van Persie as a direct replacement for Cesc Fabregas, however he excelled in the deeper role alongside Alex Song. It enabled Song to be more attacking on occasions, and gave the team a solid base as he rarely misplaced a pass, and didn’t fall into the trap of the Denilson sideways pass in that position.
Arteta always looked forward, and was able to dictate the pace of match. Defensively, he did some invaluable work by sweeping up in front of the back four and using his experience to read the game well.
I’d like to see him score a few more goals, but he often sacrificed some of his attacking ability to do some of the hard yards for the team. He still contributed a decent number of goals for a central midfielder, with some of them being stunners from outside the area. The Manchester City strike was his obvious highlight, but I don’t think there was a better free kick in the Premier League last season than Arteta’s against Aston Villa.
He was the most important signing we made on deadline day, and has established himself as a vital part of the team. Everyone wants to see Jack Wilshere back in the team, but he’ll have to work seriously hard to displace the Spaniard. Whether he was a long term transfer target or not, Arsene Wenger made a great signing in Arteta.
Season Rating: 8/10
14. Theo Walcott
I think Theo Walcott still receives more criticism than most players from Arsenal fans, purely because of the expectations of him due to the fee we paid when he was a 16 year old. He was our second highest goal scorer last season, and contributed a good number of assists. I think the frustration with Theo comes in situations where we see him produce a fantastic cross or finish, but then he won’t do the same the next time he has a chance. He’s still inconsistent, and unfortunately I think some fans will still have a negative view of him until he eradicates that from his game.
He’s a player that is highly dependent on confidence, as we saw against Spurs. He was struggling in the first half, scored in the second, and then looked a different player. He didn’t have to think when scoring his second goal in that match because of the confidence he’d gained.
We should be encouraged that Walcott clearly still has a lot of room for improvement, and is still making a significant contribution to the team. It’s gained less publicity, but Theo is in the same situation as Robin van Persie, with his contract up at the end of next season. Personally, I hope he extends it as he is still improving.
Season Rating: 6/10
15. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
I don’t think the Ox was signed to make a huge impact in 2011/12, but such is the talent he has, he did anyway. I could see Oxlade-Chamberlain being used more in the centre in the next few years, but for the moment, he can become a regular on the wing. He’s got competition with Theo Walcott, Gervinho, Lukas Podolski, and possibly Andrey Arshavin, however he’s shown that nothing fazes him.
It was a shame that we didn’t see more of the Ox last season, however I can understand why Arsene Wenger was keen to protect him given the injury suffered by Jack Wilshere because of overworking him in the previous campaign. When Oxlade-Chamberlain did get a chance in the first team, he usually made a difference. He was superb in his first Premier League start against Manchester United, showed a clinical side against Blackburn, and was a warrior in central midfield against AC Milan.
After some good performances in Euro 2012, we need to make sure we don’t expect too much from Oxlade-Chamberlain as he’s still a teenager, and won’t be awesome in every game.
However he’s an exciting player, and hopefully we’ll see more of him next season.
Season Rating: 6/10
16. Aaron Ramsey
I got the feeling near the end of the season that Aaron Ramsey became a scapegoat amongst supporters for some poor performances from the team. It’s worth remembering that Ramsey was an important part of the team in the first half of the season, before gradually being replaced by Rosicky as fatigue set in.
His passing was good in the first half of the season, and he had some excellent games. Against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, he was influential in helping us control that match. He also scored a few vital goals, such as the winner away at Marseille.
It was a shame that his form tailed off, but it’s worth remembering that it was his first full season because of the broken leg. Like Walcott, he needs confidence. Ramsey needs to quicken his decision making and improve his finishing, but he doesn’t hide when on the pitch. He always wants the ball and tries to make a difference. I think he will improve, and will be a lot better for having had a few struggles last season.
Season Rating: 5/10
17. Alex Song
I still can’t work out what Alex Song’s best position is, or what he thinks it is. I’ve always thought of him as defensive midfielder, however he pushed forward a lot more in 2011/12, and generally did quite well. He got some great assists, and is becoming a master of the chipped pass over the top of the defence. He was helped by the excellent movement of Robin van Persie, but still had to deliver the passes.
However he still has a tendency to over play certain situations. This can lead to him getting into trouble and then leaving us light in midfield with teams on the break. Song does need to take more responsibility within the team, but we’re noticeably weaker when he isn’t there. He’s got a strong defensive game, and has undoubtedly improved his attacking play.
If he can learn from the positioning of someone like Arteta, I still think Song can become a superb holding midfielder. He had a good season, and I’m surprised that the rumours about Yann M’Vila joining the club have persisted, because honestly, I’d rather have Alex Song.
Season Rating: 7/10
19. Jack Wilshere
Jack doesn’t get a rating as he didn’t play a minute of first team football during the season. We can only hope that the year out doesn’t majorly affect his development as a player. We shouldn’t expect miracles from him when he returns as he’ll need time to settle back into the team, but he can still become a superb player. It could also take him time to work his way back into the team because of the midfield players that are now ahead of him. Wilshere just has to get fit and then go from there.
Season Rating: n/a
23. Andrey Arshavin
I was surprised that Arshavin was allowed to go to Zenit St Petersberg on loan. He’d had a frustrating season and wasn’t getting a lot of first team action, but he often made a difference when he was on the pitch. We know he doesn’t like to track back, and as much as we can moan and shout at the Russian, I doubt there is much people can do to change that because he doesn’t seem to naturally have the fitness levels of other wingers. However with a ball at his feet, he proved on occasions that he can made the difference in tight situations.
He’s definitely a luxury player, as proven by Wenger not appearing to trust him in big matches, but he still got some important assists; none more so than his cross for Thierry Henry away at Sunderland. Like Walcott, Arshavin needs confidence if he’s going to perform. Hopefully he can have a good pre-season, and will challenge for a place in the starting line-up. I’m not sure if his best position is behind the striker because I don’t think he’s strong enough to play there in the Premier League, but without a definite answer as to who is going to play there, Arshavin might get a second chance to prove himself at Arsenal.
Season Rating: 5/10
26. Emmanuel Frimpong
After the sale of Emmanuel Eboue, Emmanuel Frimpong took on the cult hero mantle last season, with his committed performances, somewhat interesting tweets and for being DENCH. It was a shame that his loan move to Wolves was cut short with another bad knee injury, as Frimpong needs an extended spell of first team competitive football to mature as a player.
He definitely helped improve the team spirit of the squad at a difficult time near the start of the season, and filled in for Song well on a few occasions during the campaign. Frimpong plays with passion, and a lot of players would do well to follow that example. He just needs to rein it in sometimes and be able to control his emotions on the field. His end of season rating does gain an extra mark for the way he wound up Samir Nasri in the Carling Cup match. I know that’s a bit petty but it was hilarious.
Season Rating: 4/10
The Ivorian had a solid, if unspectacular, first season. His form really suffered after the African Cup of Nations, but before that tournament, his pace on the wing was a major reason for us recovering from our dreadful start to the season. Along with Walcott, we were able to adjust our style of play by focusing on attacking the full backs, with Gervinho regularly running round the outside of them and setting up chances for van Persie.
When in a position to score himself, Gervinho’s finishing still needs a lot of improvement. We’ve had players join Arsenal from European leagues in the past and have a similar first season to Gervinho, and then have gone on to have an excellent second campaign. Hopefully the competition for places, and the year of adaption, will mean we see a better Gervinho next season.
Season Rating: 6/10
30. Yossi Benayoun
I’m disappointed that we won’t see more of Yossi Benayoun playing for Arsenal now his loan has ended. Initially, I thought bringing him in on deadline day was a strange move, especially as we didn’t really use him in the first half of the season. However he became increasingly important after Arshavin was loaned up, and became Wenger’s go-to man for the big games.
His attitude appeared to be great as he put in some superb shifts for the team. He might not have the pace of other wingers, but he made up for it by using the ball well and being willing to close players down and track back for the team. He was a real professional, and some of the younger players will have learnt a lot from having him around the club last season. Thanks Yossi.
Season Rating: 6/10
31. Ryo Miyaichi
Ryo didn’t get as many first team outings last season as I thought he would do. Going on loan to Bolton will have been beneficial, but he didn’t start as many games as I expected him to there either. He obviously has lightning quick pace, but when compared to someone like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he’s still a long way behind in his development.
I think Ryo needs a season on loan to gain regular experience, because at the moment, I think he’ll struggle to break into the first team.
Season Rating: 2/10
39. Francis Coquelin
At the start of the season, I didn’t see Francis Coquelin getting much first team action at all. It’s to his credit that when the chances came, he played really well. Frimpong was considered ahead of him in the pecking order at the start of the campaign, but Coquelin forced himself up the queue with some dynamic performances. He was also willing to fill in at both right back and left back when we were struggling for numbers.
He’s a good second choice holding midfielder, but with the return from injury of Jack Wilshere, I could see Coquelin being a promising player that doesn’t fulfil their potential with Arsenal because of those in front of him. He would have got a higher season rating he had been given more opportunities.
Season Rating: 5/10