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A review of the Arsenal's title assault so far

Top of the table after 14 games, with 34 points. If you predicted that at the start of the season you’d be lying. Today’s article is an individual review of each player involved this season, giving you my opinion into players individual performances and their contribution to the team for the first third of the season.

Wojciech Szczesny

Apps – 22            Clean Sheets – 10
Performance of the season – Fulham (A)

I have been a fan of Chesney for many a year, ever since I saw him play for Brentford a few times whilst he was on loan there a few years ago. The kid has an arrogance about him that I like, sometimes I think that same arrogance and self-confidence portrays Wojciech as somebody who has an unserious attitude. With Woj it has never been a question of ability, he has always had that in abundance, it’s the mental side to his game that has been questioned. I think we forget sometimes that Woj is still only 23 years old; now in goalkeeping years he is still a baby, the equivalent of a 19 year old outfielder. Mental strength comes with age and experience, it’s not just about shot stopping, the best goalkeepers are separated from the rest by their decision making.


We have seen a more consistent Szczesny this season, being dropped towards the end of last season really showed him that he is replaceable as complacency started to creep into his game, which led to errors. Now Szczesny knows he has to work for his place, the signing of Viviano may seem like a pointless one at first instance but, Szczesny will know all about Viviano’s ability and any lapse in form could see him out of the first XI just like last season. Since giving away a penalty against Villa on the opening day, we have seen a man who is probably the most in-form keeper in the League. He is making correct decisions, he is quicker off his line, he is stopping the unstoppable, sooner or later people are going to have to start labelling Woj as world class.

Bacary Sagna

Apps – 20            Goals – 1             Assists - 1
Performance of the season – Crystal Palace (A)

We saw a Sagna on the periphery of good form towards the end of last season after 2 injury plagued campaigns. Sagna has hardly put a foot wrong this season and has returned to his old form where he was literally Mr Reliable. We have seen an improvement from Sagna in an offensive point of view, we all make jabs at Sagna’s incapability of being able to deliver a cross, but this season he has thrown in a few balls that stunned us all, it may sound bizarre but I actually think Carl Jenkinson has had a positive impact on Sagna in that part of his game. We have also seen Sagna fill in at CB for a few games where a few people felt as though he wasn’t up for the job. He certainly silenced all the critics and looked like he had played CB all his life. The contract situation is certainly a cause for concern for us, and as the season goes on we’re seeing it is absolutely imperative we hold on to Sagna. Jenkinson is not ready; neither is Bellerin, and searching for a Right Back of Sagna’s calibre and experience will be an extremely difficult task. Everybody is talking about a signing of a striker in January; well arguably the signing of Sagna’s new deal is just as important.

Carl Jenkinson

Apps – 12            Goals – 0             Assists - 2
Performance of the season – Spurs (H)

If you follow me on Twitter or converse with me regularly about Arsenal you’d know by now that I am not Jenkinson’s biggest fan. I love the kids’ passion for Arsenal and the game but I am not convinced he is Arsenal material. Defensively he scares the shit out of me and I feel like I am watching the Arsenal of this stage last season again whenever he plays. Don’t get me wrong he has produced some outstanding displays over the last 2 years, but there is just a vibe of incompetence about him. I know that sounds absolutely absurd after I just said Szczesny is still a kid, and Jenkinson is 2 years Woj’s junior, but Woj has always had something special, I don’t feel the same way about Jenkinson.


As I mentioned with Sagna, I feel Jenkinson has had a positive influence on Sagna’s offensive game. One thing that does impress me about Jenkinson is his ability going forward, he is a delight to watch sometimes, tall, gangly and quick, capable of producing a fantastic delivery. Who knows maybe Sagna can help Jenkinson out defensively and Jenkinson can continue to help Sagna offensively. I would love to be proved wrong about Jenkinson; I would love for him to succeed at this football club.

Kieran Gibbs

Apps -   20           Goals – 1             Assists - 1
Performance of the season – Marseille (A)

If you can find me a more in-form left back in the country right now I’d love to know who he is. For the past few seasons Gibbs has been going about his business rather quietly, avoiding media attention and finally he is getting the credit he deserves with an England call up. Gibbs going forward gives us something on that left hand side Sagna doesn’t offer from the right, the ability to get in behind, to escape unawares, it’s a skill that Gibbs has somewhat mastered over the past 18 months.

Defensively Gibbs grows stronger and stronger game by game, we’re no longer worried about what wingers we face, its ok Gibbs will have him. Surely his displays this season should put him above both Baines and Cole in the England reckoning but I won’t scream it too loudly, especially with Kieran’s injury record. At 24 years old he is already better than Clichy was and arguably just as good, if not better than Ashley Cole was at 24. An absolute masterstroke from Wenger turning this talented, skilful left winger into one of the best left backs in the country, now just stay fit Keiran.


Nacho Monreal

Apps - 18             Goals – 0             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Marseille (H)

In terms of left back options, arguably we have the best in Europe. Monreal signed in the January window raised a few eyebrows at first. I personally had never seen him play, I only knew about him because of football manager, but he looks to be an absolute steal. Monreal despite only starting a few games this season due to Gibbs’ form, has played his part in our charge to the top of the table, making a total of 12 substitute appearances already this season in all competitions. Monreal not only sures up the left hand side when we’re winning but he is an extremely competent outlet on the ball.

Being an experienced Spanish international Monreal finds it easy to slot in also, which is such a necessity in today’s game, something that Jenkinson struggles with as he needs a run of games to find his form, which is to be expected as he is so young. The worrying thing about Monreal is how long is he going to sit around and be content with the role he currently has in the team? A few rumours circulating he could be on his way in January, and I can understand being World Cup year and all. There is no doubt Monreal will get game time this season, Gibbs will need to be rested, he will continue to play his role as a substitute, hopefully that is enough to see Nacho stay at the club.

Per Mertesacker

Apps - 21             Goals – 1             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Dortmund (A)

Our Big F***ing German just goes from strength to strength. Remember when other clubs used to take this piss out of Mertesacker, he was a laughing stock. ‘Too slow, too immobile’. Those criticisms didn’t just come from outside the Arsenal fan base mind you, many Arsenal fans were also unconvinced, me being one of them. Over the last year Per has basically cemented his place in the team, he is the first name on the team sheet, he is the glue that holds our defence together.

Mertesacker - BFG

The presence of Per alone makes me feel so confident we can see games out this season, I’m no longer worried, those old stereotypes of Arsenal ballsing up leads, are slowly disappearing in to yesteryear. I am still absolutely convinced that if Mertesacker had been on the pitch at Old Trafford, the cunt doesn’t get his shoulder to that ball. But oh well. His partnership with Koscielny right now is the best in the Premier League, there is no partnership better, not by a mile. For years we have struggled with our CB pairings, playing like with like, but now Wenger has found out that opposites do attract and has formed something masterful.

Laurent Koscielny

Apps - 21             Goals – 0             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Liverpool (H)

I have been a huge fan of Laurent ever since he joined the club, he has all the attributes to be one of the best defenders in the world, but it has always been a rash decision of a lapse in concentration which has stopped him from becoming that world class defender. We saw it against Villa and Sunderland this season, moments of slipped concentration costing us goals.

For the last two years I have not seen one Centre Forward comprehensively get the better of Koscielny. He seems to have everybody worked out, a real student of the game. Wouldn’t surprise me if he watches hours upon hours of footage of his opponents. This season he has been a colossus despite the few hiccups at the start of the campaign, confidence is high, the presence of Mertesacker calms Koscielny down and on his day he is up there with Kompany as the Premier League’s best.


Thomas Vermaelen

Apps - 6                Goals – 0             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Man Utd (A)

Our Belgian skipper has had to take a backseat so far this season and rightly so after being relatively poor for at least the last season or so. Whilst only starting a few games this season, he looks like he is back to his old form. I was very impressed with him against Chelsea in the Carling Cup and hardly put a foot wrong against United, ok he did make one mistake, but at least he didn’t pass it to C*** this time.

In terms of 3rd choice CB’s you won’t get many better than Vermaelen and is a perfectly competent replacement for Mertesacker or Koscielny if they were to get injured. The chocker for Vermaelen is unless something drastic happens to those two, he is not going to get a look in, despite how well he plays in one off games. The pairing of Mert and Kosc is working so well right now, Vermaelen’s role this season is to be a leader off the pitch and get straight back in to the swing of things when called upon.

Mathieu Flamini

Apps - 13             Goals – 1             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Napoli (H)

What an excellent signing Flamini has been for us. I wasn’t one of the ones kicking up a fuss at the signing of Flamini, Wenger knows Mathieu very well and as he says it was a ‘no brainer’. Flamini isn’t the DM most people were yearning for, but has really put the ‘we need a DM’ topic to bed. The use of Flamini isn’t needed for every game, Flamini suits games where we need to press the opposition and be tenacious in our tackling pushing their midfield back, like we saw against Napoli.

Arteta is still firmly the number one choice in the double pivot role with Ramsey, but Flamini will give Arteta the rest he needs, as well as the option for Wenger to start both of them in games which suits the pair. We really do have an abundance of quality in the midfield, options to suit many game situations.


Mikel Arteta

Apps – 16            Goals – 1             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Cardiff (A)

Arteta has been a revelation for us since joining the club, he has been one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League over the past 2 seasons for Arsenal and has been Arsenal’s very own Mr Dependable. Arteta’s performance against Cardiff typified his role in the team, breaking up play, restarting play quickly, passing efficiently, all things you would die for your DM to have.

He may not be the most athletic bloke in the team, but he doesn’t need to be, his head gets him out of sticky situations and very rarely gets overrun, especially with the energy of Ramsey or Flamini supporting him. Last season we saw Arteta being played every game, relying on him solely to keep the team ticking, which was an unfair request to be made, this season we’re already seeing the benefits of being able to switch up our midfield and keep our legs fresh for a hopefully long season.

Aaron Ramsey

Apps - 23             Goals – 13           Assists - 6
Performance of the season – Swansea (A)

In all honesty not much needs to be said about the man, an absolute beast in midfield, surely one of the most in form players in the world football. I actually need to stop referring to Ramsey’s performances as form, it is no longer form it is ability. Form is for a few games, class and ability is something Ramsey has been displaying since March last season.


Confidence breed’s success and Ramsey must feel like superman right now. The world is his oyster, he is capable of absolutely anything, the sky is the limit and there is no reason why he can’t be considered as one of the most complete midfielders in world football if he carries on improving. There are a couple players who can rival Aaron Ramsey’s engine, but to also be able to score goals, set them up and break up the play, is a set of skills that even fewer can display week in week out.

Tomas Rosicky

Apps - 14             Goals – 0             Assists - 1
Performance of the season -  Liverpool (H)

Every year Rosicky comes back into the team he feels like a new signing, the extra dimension he gives to our team is mesmerizing. Another player with a superb engine, with a directness about him that unlocks defences so easily. You could be mistaken for thinking Rosicky was younger than 33 years old, especially with his energy, all of his injuries means he becomes somewhat of a forgotten man by pundits and fans from outside the arsenal fan base.

His best performances have all come in the big games we’ve had this year, Spurs, Liverpool, Napoli and Dortmund (away), where he was exceptional, unfortunately missing out against United where we could have done with himself, Mertesacker and Walcott, I’m convinced the result would’ve been different if those 3 had been fit to play, but that is neither here nor there. I think we have a few more years left in Tomas Rosicky, he is going to be imperative in crucial games this season.

Jack Wilshere

Apps - 21             Goals – 4             Assists - 1
Performance of the season – Marseille (H)

It’s been a difficult start to the season for Jack, showing indifferent form and lack of sharpness in the majority of games. That being said Jack has largely had to play out of position, either wide right or wide left, a bit like Ramsey had to endure for the 2/3 of last season. That has definitely not helped Jack, but in recent weeks we have seen an improvement in Jack’s performances and he certainly looks like he is getting back to his best.

Jack Wilshere

The problem Wenger now has is deciding where Jack is going to permanently play? A debate can be had as to what is Jack’s best position, is he a box to box? Is he a deep lying playmaker? Can he be utilised in an advanced playmaker role? Or maybe Wenger has high hopes for him out wide (doubt it though). One thing is for certain, an inform Jack Wilshere is hard to leave out of the team and definitely gives Wenger a nice problem to have in team selection.

Mesut Özil

Apps - 18             Goals – 4             Assists - 8
Performance of the season – Sunderland (A)

The Genius, club record signing has had a decent start to English football, 8 assists and 4 goals for somebody who has hardly broken sweat as of yet is pretty impressive to be honest. The lad has obviously given the squad new found self-belief and confidence that anything is possible. We haven’t really seen a consistent run of outstanding performances from Mesut yet, but what we have seen is the ability to change any game in an instant.

He could be playing like Gervinho but still produce a moment of brilliance to win us the game, having someone like that in the squad releases the pressure from the likes of Cazorla, Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere etc who previously may have felt like they needed to be the match winners, something we lacked in the big games last term. Mesut is on course for another 20+ assist season, if he could add a few more goals to his game as well then I wouldn’t complain.


Santi Cazorla

Apps - 17             Goals – 1             Assists - 1
Performance of the season – Fulham (A)

Other than his moment of brilliance against Liverpool, we have hardly seen the Santi Cazorla from last season as of yet this term. Cazorla looks as though he is just trying to find his feet again after missing a few games this season, as well as settling in with Özil. It is bound to take time, it’s not going to happen overnight, we have seen bits and bobs so far with their interchanging play and clever flicks, I’m not too worried about Cazorla not finding form yet, we all know he has the ability.

The resurgence of Ramsey, the return of Walcott and Mesut Özil being Mesut Özil will be enough to release the pressure that Cazorla had on his shoulders last season where he was basically our only match winner, now we have multiple match winners which should enable Cazorla to really excel and play without that huge pressure on his shoulders.

Theo Walcott

Apps - 11            Goals – 1             Assists - 2
Performance of the season – Fulham (A)

Never has a game been so evident of how much we miss Theo Walcott in some games and that game was against United. After missing the majority of the season so far we haven’t seen much of Theo. His return to fitness gives us the mouth-watering prospect of Walcott-Özil link up which we saw against Sunderland and Marseille, but haven’t seen since. Hopefully Theo can get back into the swing of things reasonably quickly and start getting on the score sheet again. To be top of the League without our top scorer from last year is quite impressive, so with the added goals of Theo hopefully we can start turning these 2-0 wins into 3 or 4-0 wins.

Lukasz Podolski

Apps - 4                Goals – 2             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Fulham (A)

Not sure there are many teams across world football that would be top of their league without their second highest goal scorer from the previous year for practically the whole season thus far. Podolski’s presence on social networking sites makes it feel like he has hardly been away, we see him in so many pictures we don’t really miss him that much.


After scoring 16 goals and grabbing 11 assists in his first season, Podolski managed to become a fans favourite without producing too many dazzling displays. I have spoken to a few people who are concerned that Podolski may disrupt the rhythm of the squad when he returns. I find it hard to offer any reassurances as to whether this will happen or not, simply because I’m not sure we’re a better team with Podolski in it.

Podolski would not make our strongest XI that is for certain now, but that is not to say he doesn’t have an important role to play when he returns in the upcoming weeks. There will be games where we need a clinical presence up top and Podolski is arguably our most clinical forward. Also depending on whether Wenger signs a striker or not, Podolski could be used up top to give Giroud a rest, maybe Podolski’s returning form could be the decisive factor into whether Wenger actually goes for a striker in January.

Serge Gnabry

Apps - 7                Goals – 1             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Swansea (A)

Serge Gnabry at the moment has reached that part of his development where he is miles too good for U21/youth level but not quite ready to hold down a regular first team spot. That is not to say that he is not ready at all because I firmly believe he is. His cameo appearance against United may not have meant much to some, but I saw belief in that performance, he scared Evra shitless and showed everybody how much potential he really does have. Wenger has used him sparingly thus far this season, which of course is to protect him.

His performances whilst sporadic have not escaped attention for his national team manager Joachim Low. As the season goes on we’re going to see more and more of Gnabry I’m sure, but mainly as an impact player. I very much doubt he will be sent out on loan as I’m pretty sure Wenger would like to have a more personal impact on his development.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Apps - 1                Goals – 0             Assists - 1
Performance of the season – Aston Villa (H)

This was supposed to be The Ox’s season. It all started off so well for him personally, assisting Giroud for his goal but was then taken off at half time with his injury which has kept him out of the side until now. I have long said Alex is our brightest prospect at the club and out of all our British starlets has the most raw, natural talent.

My last statement is obviously debatable with Ramsey and Wilshere, but I stand by it. Hopefully Alex will be back in the new year and will get back to where he left off after that first half against Villa where he was mesmerizing.

Olivier Giroud

Apps - 21             Goals – 10           Assists - 5
Performance of the season – Spurs (H)

Olivier Giroud is somebody who really does split the Arsenal fan base in half, most people I speak to either really love him or can’t stand him. Those of you who follow me on twitter will see I am constantly defending Giroud, however I will speak up when I feel Giroud is having a poor game. I can understand why many don’t fancy Giroud, he isn’t the striker we’ve become accustomed to in the Wenger era, he is no Henry, Bergkamp or Van Persie, but to the game we play he has a vital role.


I can respect any player who gives 110% week in week out. The man puts his body on the line for 50 games a season, I for one can hardly fathom how a striker in today’s modern game can get through the work Giroud does and not get injured (touches wood).  He does so much dirty work that he barely gets any credit for, he may not have the quality of somebody like Van Persie but football is a team game and right now Giroud is doing a job, and a pretty good job as well for a team that is top of the table, I can live with that. Of course I am open to the idea of a signing another striker, but I would not see much point in signing somebody who is similar to Giroud (Dzeko, Benteke etc).

Anybody we sign must give us a different dimension, I think Wenger is working on the same level of thought as I am, after trying to sign Suarez in the Summer. I said at the start of the season Giroud will get 25 in all competitions, he is already on 10 so is already nearly half way there after just a third of the season. I am very much in the Giroud fan camp and value highly everything he gives for this club week in week out and long may it continue.

Yaya Sanogo

Apps - 2                Goals – 0             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Fenerbahce (H)

We haven’t seen much of the tall lad from France, in actual fact we’ve probably seen more minutes of YouTube clips than minutes on the pitch for Arsenal. Obviously the typical Arsenal tradition of coming to the club and missing half a season through injury has hit Yaya, so we’ll probably have to wait until next season to see the best from our new world class striker.

On the few substitute appearances Sanogo has made he has looked off the pace and a bit lethargic if I’m being brutally honest, but I won’t judge him on that, he is 20 years old, new country, new club he needs time. But if I was to stick my neck on the line and say whether I feel he has what it takes, I would be inclined to say ‘no’ purely based on what I have seen, although I do look forward to his recovery so I can see more of him in the new year, let’s hope Wenger has pulled off a masterstroke.

Nicklas Bendtner

Apps - 8                Goals – 1             Assists - 0
Performance of the season – Hull (H)

I wrote this article just before the Hull game, so my piece on Bendtner has slightly changed obviously because of his goal. My overall opinion has not changed of the man himself, but that goal has changed my outlook slightly on his performance review. At the start of the season I bought into the idea that Bendtner was a changed man. His performance against West Brom really made me feel like he was ready to work hard, his head seemed in the right place and judging by the way he celebrated after we won that shootout, I felt as though he actually wanted to be at the club. In recent weeks he has looked lethargic and I wasn’t getting the same feeling about him when he came on as a substitute.


Now it would be completely unjust to judge a man off of a few substitute appearances and a start against Chelsea, but the least I expect of a player who comes off the bench is 100% effort. I don’t get that vibe off of Bendtner, the vibe that I am used to from watching Giroud week in week out. His goal against Hull was well taken and he did ok in a match that was over inside the first few minutes. Wenger’s persistence with him seems to me a ploy to put Bendtner in the shop window for January, his goal against Hull may have just added a few pounds to his price tag and may have caught the attention of some newly interested clubs.

In an ideal world I’d rather give Akpom a few games off of the bench, he has shown me that he is more deserving than Bendtner. Akpom may only be 18 years old but his performances in pre-season and the U21 league have convinced me that he is ready for 15 minutes here or there. Surely the development of Akpom is more important than getting a few more extra quid for Bendtner in January? Maybe I am wrong, maybe Wenger actually feels Bendtner has a role to play in this team and could fill the void of the second striker we’ve been yearning for. I seriously hope not, but I will still support him when he pulls on that Arsenal top, as long as he shows me he wants it.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have enjoyed. Feel free to leave any feedback or discuss any points with me on Twitter

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