Arsenal Mid-Season Evaluation – Wingers and Strikers by Jonn Hirons
Alexis Sanchez – Alexis Sanchez is the best winger at our club, he is also probably the best dribbler, the best finisher and the hardest working. As of the time of writing Sanchez has missed exactly one month of football, although he is expected to return in the coming weeks. He has been sorely missed, he is our second top scorer with 6 in his 14 premier league appearances, his direct running often causes havoc in the opposition half, and on the break he makes us so much more dangerous and incisive on the break. Alexis usually finds the right pass and if we have the choice of which of our players will get a chance, I’d say 99% of us would pick Sanchez. He is also the only member of our side who is more than willing to shoot from outside the box, which has led to some superb goals from the Chilean. Alexis gets an 8/10.
Joel Campbell – Finally given a run in the side due to injuries to practically all of our wingers, and I feel he has taken it well. He has popped up with a couple of goals and generally plays well, I do feel however that he is holding back. When playing for Costa Rica or back at Olympiakos he played with a refreshing freedom which he does not seem to have here yet. Perhaps the lad is just afraid to make a mistake that costs the team and then ultimately his place. Despite clearly not possessing the talent of Alexis Sanchez, there is one department where he matches him; his work rate. The amount of running and tracking back that Campbell gets through in a game is astonishing and he is also very effective in winning back the ball to. I just wish he would get a little more confident when faced with a ful-lback and try and beat his man, something he does not do enough. Campbell gets a 6/10
Oxlade Chamberlain – The Ox is loved by almost all Arsenal fans, always playing at break neck speed, giving his all, always prepared to take on his man. But injuries have once again hit the Ox in a bad way. Many predicted this would be the year of the Ox, his goal vs Chelsea had us all hoping, but yet again injury struck and when he has played he has been inconsistent at best. He has over 100 games in the League and Champions league for Arsenal, but is still yet to hit double figures in those competitions. His 13 appearances in the league this year have brought no goals and no assists, his end product is simply not good enough. Just 4 goals and 4 assists in the last 3 seasons in the premier league is a record that is not worthy of a 22 year old at arsenal football club, the Ox is running out of time. Chamberlain gets a 5/10.
Olivier Giroud – The man that splits football fans around the country, he has an excellent scoring record, and in the last year he has taken those goals into the big games against City, United and Bayern twice. You can’t accuse Giroud of shying away in the bigger games, there are, however, numerous occasions where Giroud doesn’t seem to turn up. He will have games where nothing goes right, he will have games where he will miss 2,3,4 chances and Arsenal will pay and every finger will be pointed at him. For just over £10 million he has been spectacular value, he has a goal scoring ratio of 1 goal for every 5 shots, which sounds like a decent return, but I can’t think of many times where Giroud has taken a shot without it being a decent chance, he very rarely just decides to have a crack, so the majority of his shots will be decent opportunities which unfortunately he has failed to take. Alan Shearer said recently, any striker playing ahead of Mesut Ozil should score 25 league goals minimum, and it’s hard to argue, A top striker for Arsenal would score more than at most clubs because Ozil will give him so many chances. Giroud has once again had a mixed season, games where he has disappeared but also games where he has looked every bit the striker we need. I give Giroud a 7/10.
Theo Walcott – Theo is another tough one for me to judge. His movement is superb, it is perfect for Mesut Ozil who seems to pick him out over and over again. When he plays up top in place of Giroud I feel we play as a team so much better, a faster buildup with unmatched pace on the break. It also allows us to press much higher and with a lot more energy, but then we come to his finishing, Theo is capable of scoring stunning goals like the one vs City, but then he can miss absolute sitters like the ones vs Bournemouth and Newcastle, Theo has aspirations to be a striker, well 3 goals in 13 appearnces isn’t good enough. Theo has 34 shots in the league this year, meaning he scores on average one in every 11 shots, this is not good enough. He must improve in the second stage of the season if he is to have any hope of being our first choice striker. Theo gets a 6/10.
Arsenal are top of the league for the New Year. Hopefully the players that have room to improve will do so, also Wilshere and Welbeck can come back and have a good impact. I will do a full season review at the end of the year, I hope that I am doing a review of the Premier League champions at that point. I hope that some of the grades go up and that Mohamed Elneny earns himself 8 plus, and who knows hopefully I will have a few more to evaluate.
What do you guys think? Do you agree with my scores? Are there any you think are too nice? Or even too harsh?