Although international breaks are so dreadfully boring, they’re also a good time for analyzing and studying the squad. There’s hardly time to stop and take stock of things during the season considering how many fixtures are played nowadays. Especially once we get going again it’ll be up to 13 games in 46 days, or around 1 game every 3.5 days. Before we head to the end of the season at breakneck speed, let’s see how each player has performed so far.
Petr Cech – 4.5
With 6 errors resulting in goals, Petr Cech is the leader in this category throughout the top 5 European leagues! Compounded by defensive woes, Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper has had an up and (mostly) down season. Besides good performances against Watford, Spurs, and Red Star Belgrade, he’s been a clear step below the younger crop of PL goalkeepers.
David Ospina – 5.5
The Colombian has made all of his starts in non-Premier League action. Sometimes his decision-making and passing when under pressure can be shaky, but he’s been a decent second-choice keeper.
Hector Bellerin – 5
Bellerin is a hard one to rate. On one hand, he’s the clear starting right-back and has a good work rate, but on the other hand, his end product in the final third leaves a lot to be desired. With AMN now a possible challenger for his position, maybe this will give him something to fight for.
Rob Holding – 5
Holding burst onto the scene at the end of last year particularly with a stellar performance in the FA Cup Final. When the new season began, he was looking to cement his place in the back three. However, after the disastrous Liverpool game, he lost his place in the side. Since then, he’s won trust back in the Europa League and had a fantastic game when called into action against Watford recently.
Laurent Koscielny – 5
The captain has been somewhat of a controversial figure this year among fans. It’s true that his injuries are causing a long-term impact on his speed. But, I think he’s been more solid than people care to give him credit for. He’s averaging 1.6 tackles, 2.2 interceptions, and 5.3 clearances per game. As long as he’s given a good amount of rest, he’s still a solid defender.
Calum Chambers – 5.5
Just like Holding, Chambers is at a great age to develop and learn from the likes of Koscielny and Mustafi before he is ready to be a starter. He’s had some solid performances in the Europa League and hopefully, the two young English defenders earn some game time in the Premier League.
Sead Kolasinac – 6
Kolasinac was making waves at the beginning of the season. Including the Community Shield win over Chelsea, he had 2 goals and 2 assists in his first five matches. A promising, free transfer with speed and tenacity…things were looking great. But an injury and perhaps too much focus on getting forward saw him replaced by AMN for several games. If he can continue to complete his defensive duties and not get caught too far upfield, he will be a great danger to opponents on the wings.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 6
Before the season started if you would’ve told me that AMN would start over 5 PL matches at left-back I would’ve thought you were crazy. But that’s just how versatile AMN truly is. He’s also made an appearance at right-back and in the midfield. Sometimes he’s been a little too ambitious in possession and loses the ball in costly areas, but considering he’s not a conventional defensive-back and only 20 years old, he’s been impressive.
Shkodran Mustafi – 6.5
Minus some bad performances against the Manchester clubs, Mustafi has quietly been one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League this season. He leads the league in tackles per game, is 3rd in interceptions and aerial duels won, and is in the top 20 for clearances. It’s exciting to think of what exactly he can achieve in a better defensive structure.
Per Mertesacker – 7
Not being called into action all that much, it seems Per is enjoying an early retirement. When he has made an appearance, we’ve seen flashes of the old Per that we all miss. Despite losing 2-1 to Watford, he had an inspired performance (1 goal, 13 aerial duels won, and 12 clearances) back in October. His 2 starts against Cologne also saw him rack up 15 aerial duels won, 3 clearances, and 8 interceptions. Bonus points added for him being an absolute class act and great role model for young athletes.
Nacho Monreal – 7.5
Of course, Nacho Monreal had to be the best-rated defender for Arsenal so far this season. Technically, this honour could belong to Mustafi, but that span of 6 games where Monreal scored 3 and assisted 2 is on the level of an experienced striker. He is a blast to watch and shows so much passion when he gets on the scoreboard. Not to mention that he was a defensive beast when he was playing as the third centre-back.
Jack Wilshere – 5
The much-anticipated return of Super Jack has whittled down from its original fanfare. It’s great to see him back in the squad fighting for his place and staying healthy. However, in a World Cup year more is needed from the Englishman. He’s always guaranteed to earn some oohs and ahhs for his dribbles in the middle of the park, but if he’s going to cement his place in the starting lineup, he needs more end-product. He only has 2 goals and 3 assists in 30 appearances so far.
Mohamed Elneny – 6
Elneny proves that it’s important for teams to not only invest in their starters but in their squad players as well. He’s totally deserving of his newly signed contract. Whenever he’s on the field he works hard. He won’t score goals or create great chances, but that’s quite alright because he doesn’t need to be flashy. He’s incredibly cool on the ball and defensively-minded.
Granit Xhaka – 6.5
If you look back to the 2017 Community Shield, you’ll see how Xhaka is meant to fit into the team. In that match, he had more touches or passes than any other player, 91% passing, 4 key passes, and some defensive stats as well. He is not a Rosicky or Coquelin, but he will flow between those two personas. His stats typically reflect that performance but with fewer key passes. Unfortunately, when you work so closely with the defence (the worst in recent Arsenal history), you will have to shoulder a lot of that work. It’s true that he has been caught staring in defence, but I’ve seen improvement in the last few games. There’s a reason why he has more minutes than any Gunner this season besides Cech.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 7
Two months after the Mkhitaryan-Sanchez swap, it appears that the Gunners got the better end of the bargain. Mkhitaryan made an instant impact with a hat-trick of assists in his first start, but a dropoff in execution during Arsenal’s three straight losses was a troubling sign. He’s had a great work rate and is always trying to pick out a killer pass. The only issue is that when he’s off, his work rate translates into multiple losses of possession.
Mesut Ozil – 7
Having re-signed with the Gunners until 2021, Ozil has surely staked his claim as one of the most recent Arsenal greats. The quickest player to 50 PL assists has racked up 10 (leads Arsenal) for his club this season. While not being known for his goal scoring, he’s racked up 5 of those as well. His only criticism is laziness of the ball which can invite pressure on our weak defence. A recently improved defence has allowed him to run freely through the final third, picking out passes and opening space for others.
Aaron Ramsey – 7.5
Aaron Ramsey has been one of the most effective players for Arsenal this season. Despite missing a chunk of time due to injury, he’s racked up 7 goals and 7 assists between the Europa League and Premier League. That puts him behind just Lacazette in goals and Ozil in assists. When the defence has been clicking and mistakes are minimized in games, he’s been free to exploit the space between and behind defenders. His hat-trick against Everton was a perfect example of his great off-the-ball movement. Here’s to hoping he finishes the season strong and signs a new contract!
Alex Iwobi – 4.5
The lowest-rated player so far, alongside Cech, Iwobi has not taken advantage of the numerous opportunities he’s been given. With Welbeck frequently nursing injuries, other wingers on loan, and Walcott and Sanchez now gone, this should’ve been Iwobi’s time to make his mark. He’s made 29 appearances but only yielded 2 goals and 4 assists. At 21 years of age, this is a crucial time. Let’s hope a good finish to the season and World Cup this summer gets Iwobi back on track.
Danny Welbeck – 5
Welbeck had a decent start to the season when Sanchez wasn’t playing, but his ineffectiveness in front of goal has shown. Welbeck has been his same clumsy self when it comes down to opportunities on goal and that probably won’t change.
Alexandre Lacazette – 6
Lacazette has the potential to score 25+ goals a season. He’s lethal in front of goal. Most of his trouble earlier in the season was due to bad service from the midfield and wingers, not him. Although it was reported that he had a lingering injury that is being worked on now, so maybe it was slowing him down. However, everything changed when Aubameyang was signed. Now Lacazette will either be crammed back into the side alongside him, or he will become just another great French striker to sit on Arsenal’s bench undeservedly.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6
Three goals and an assist isn’t a bad haul in six games, but he could’ve had more. Aubameyang dealt with some limited service like Lacazette, but he is starting to adjust. There’s not too much to go off, but he’s held his own while trying to adapt to the Premier League.