Ok Okay I know it’s not quite half way through the season but with there being a break from the Premiership, I thought now a good time to give Unai Emery and his squad their first assessment of the season.
Let the debate commence ….
Unai Emery – 7/10
Some would rate him higher simply because his name’s not Arsene Wenger. The fact is though the level of performances has not been great. That’s a compliment as much as a criticism. He’s improved the mentality of his players, evidenced by their ability to win games when not playing well. That’s something these players couldn’t do in the last two years. Individual talent has improved based on him changing the comfort zone that existed by having the same boss for over two decades. The Spaniard is smart enough to know we won’t keep getting away with not being consistent for a whole 90 minutes. Statistics such as yet to be leading at half time need to change.
Bellerin – 8
One of the players to benefit the most from a new manager. Some feel he’s improved due to some competition for the right back spot. I believe though that he’s been greatly let down by some of his senior peers in the last 24 months. Professionals paid thousands to be dressing room leaders didn’t support youngsters when they were having a loss of confidence. Most noticeable is the Spaniard is now crossing the ball. He’s not always getting it right but trying is better than a fear of failure. Observers of our warm ups will often see him on his own delivering the ball into an empty space. Clearly, he’s being coached 1 on 1 which is the sign of a good manager
Apparently not happy about his time on the bench. Understandable for someone who for years domestically dominated with Juventus. The consensus is that he’s having a massive influence off the pitch. A harmless free signing, the type we needed more of over the years.
Score will go up once he gets a run of games. Our player of the season last year who has grown into one of our few leaders. Over the last two campaigns has added goals to his game
Kolasinac – 5
Only featured a couple of times due to injury. Had one of his poorest games against Wolves. Need longer to see if Emery can work on his weaknesses like he’s managed with others.
Still struggles for consistency which is meant to be the difference between a good player to a great one. What separates an individual being at a mid-table club compared to a top 4 side is having the mentality to maintain high standards every week. The German oddly seems to strive on stakes being high. For example, when pundits assumed Liverpool’s attack would be too hot to handle, he looked like a World Cup winner. It’s the easier games on paper where his concentration lets him down. I feel after a few transfer windows, Emery has his own ideas for the type of defenders he wants. Mustafi’s not one of them.
Sokratis – 7
I was worried about him in pre- season. Lower League sides were exploiting his pace. He’s got better with every game though and his latest injury has slowed down his momentum. I’m not sure any of our back 4 are comfortable with building from the back but he makes up for it by being physically dominant. Unlike a Mustafi, doesn’t just look after his own game. The more he settles the bigger leader he will become.
Many were surprised when Chambers was chosen ahead of Holding to go out on loan. That’s not the pecking order Arsene Wenger had in mind last season so his promotion is purely based on what Emery has seen in training. Like in his run to the FA Cup Final he’s benefitting from consecutive starts. Deserves to stay in the first team until he does something wrong.
Jenkinson – 5
Included him just to acknowledge his professionalism. Clinging to his dream by a thread he knows his employers want to sell him but can’t find anyone who will pay his wages. Credit to Emery for involving him and not leaving him to rot. Knowing it’s when and not if he must leave the club he supports and asked to play as a makeshift left back, it be easy for him to go through the motions. He’s done enough to be trusted for a few more cup ties.
One of the fascinating things about having a new manager is observing his outlook compared to Arsene Wenger. Clearly, they disagree on where Xhaka should be playing. Unlike the man he’s replaced, the Spaniard does not see the Swiss as a defensive midfielder. By having protection behind him he’s more comfortable in building attacks and dictating the pace of our game. Even his body language is more confident. People still talk about him giving possession away in dangerous areas but he’s the one brave enough to attempt the ambitious pass.
Gunner of the season so far. Only reason I haven’t given him 10 is I don’t believe anyone is perfect, there’s always room to improve. The biggest compliment I can give the Uruguayan is his presence has made so many of his peers more confident. Others have been our defensive midfielders before, but he seems to love the role. Remember he was benched for the start of the campaign. That suggests his manager feels the South American needs to learn the physical nature of the League. My only concern is at this rate how long until we are fighting off interest from the biggest clubs in the world.
Seriously he’s that good.
Plays with youthful exuberance. You can tell he’s so young by the way he plays without fear, showing zero limitations. It feels odd to say this about a teenager but can see him being a future captain. Based on age will have moments where his form will dip but at the moment, he is a joy to watch. Some of his fellow midfielders could learn from his work ethic and they are meant to be teaching him.
I don’t subscribe to the view that there is any positive in Ramsey being allowed to run down his contract but sorry Rambo I can’t defend your form this season. While no one can question the Welshmen’s professionalism, he’s done little to change the club’s perception that’s he’s not worth the 200 000 pound he’s asked for. While Unai Emery insists he has nothing to do with the saga, the Spaniard was having to play him out of position just to get him into his team. It’s hard to justify such a salary if the player isn’t first choice in his preferred role.
Elneny – 6
Reliable squad player who contributed to our advancements in the cups. The type of individual you need, someone to fill in when there’s an injury or suspension.
Many have commented about Iwobi looking like a different player under Emery. That’s not hard though as the Nigerian’s form has been poor for a couple of years now to the point he was lucky to be offered a contract extension. Overall his record in terms of goals/assists is poor, which when you’re a creative midfielder doesn’t leave you with a lot else. His pace has been used as a weapon to hurt the opposition but being very much a confidence player, I still trust a Ramsey or Ozil in the crucial moments.
Seems to be floating under the radar, escaping any criticism. While everyone refers to wages when Ramsey and Ozil don’t perform, the Armenian is just going through the motions. The midfielder would have wanted his Man United salary at least matched when agreeing to swap with Sanchez, a sum which won’t be too far away from the one some gooners are happy we are not giving to Rambo. Since he’s arrived in the Premiership, he’s yet to show he can adapt to the physical demands of English football. Even in the Europa League and Carabao Cup he hasn’t impressed.
Ozil will always divide opinion. Every time we drop points, his 300 000 pound a week wages is a stick to beat him with.
Some gooners argue, the highest earner in our history should do more in the big games and goes missing when things are tough. One week he’s stealing the show against Leicester, the next he’s in a strop when subbed at Palace. At this stage of his career, the German’s not going to change. He’s not suddenly going to be sprinting back with tackles or showing off new body language. The facts are he was brought to Arsenal to assist goals, statistics show he’s done that more than any other man in this country. To judge him defensively is harsh as it’s not his fault others can’t do their jobs.
Emery has been credited for dropping him when Arsene Wenger might not have. That’s fine as long as it’s quality you are replacing him with. I think his legacy will always be one that divides opinion.
Smith Rowe- 6
Looks like the most likely to be promoted from the youth side – part of the Job specification. Impressed Emery in pre-season and has shown the character not to be daunted by starts in the cup ties, contributing goals.
May have played his last game for the club although still awaiting official time frame of how long he will miss. Even if Arsenal feel he will recover well enough to offer him an extension, he has a decision to make regarding how much he wants to start regular. He’s simply not a good enough finisher for this level but a decent squad player. His contribution has still been vital. He’s led the attack well enough to get us into the QF of the Carabao and the knock out stages of the Europa, allowing us to rest individuals in the process.
This might not be popular, but I feel there’s more to come. Scoring goals is a good thing but that’s all he does, he’s not offering anything else compared to a Lacazette. In 2018, it’s very rare you can just be a goal poacher. Part of the reason might be he’s starting sometimes on the left. Only when we are chasing games does Emery put him and Lacazette both up front. With the bromance they have quickly developed more is to come from this partnership.
Seems to be happier this season. Perhaps when he joined last summer, he was aware of the sagas involving Sanchez and Ozil and he was unsettled trying to form an understanding with two men he wasn’t sure would be around for long. Now it’s like being the main man has made him want to be a leader. We have to see if he can maintain this level for a whole campaign but so far, his attitude has been one of the noticeable changes. Both he and Aubameyang will challenge for the golden boot but it’s his work ethic and desire which gives him the higher rating so far.
I haven’t rated some players who I felt haven’t featured enough due to injuries.