JustArsenal End Of Season Awards by Dan Smith
So, a lot of clubs are starting to announce their end of season awards for various categories. I thought it be nice if we put our votes for the JustArsenal End Of Season Awards in the comment section and tally them up in a couple of days.
Here are my choices….
Player Of The Season – Aubameyang
Aubameyang could have a quiet game but then take the one chance he gets in a match. That’s not a bad quality to have but that was all that he was doing under Unai Emery. He became a better player under Arteta who unlike his previous manager had a clear ethos in how he wanted his team to play.
Arteta admitted he had doubts if his striker could do what he wanted from his forward. From his new boss’s first game he was defending from the front, the new regime realising everyone had to be fitter to press, which was part of his principles.
That our captain brought into these fresh ideas perhaps highlighted how unhappy he had become under Emery, who wouldn’t have had the man management to teach Auba a new way to play.
The 31-year old’s body language was poor in the dark days of November and December, often not hiding his frustration if there was a misplaced pass, not the leader he needed to be to a young squad who lacked confidence.
Under a new coach he has found his smile on and off the field, supporting the likes of Saka.
There was a theory he didn’t score in the big games. He proved that a myth with a brace in both the FA Cup semi-final and Final.
Best trophy lift of all time?
Performance Of The Season – FA Cup Semi Final v Man City
Many gooners will pick the FA Cup Final which is understandable but for me our other performance at Wembley just nudges it out. It was strange to see Arsenal approach a big game with tactics specifically set up to stop the opposition.
Having grown up with Arsene Wenger I was used to the Gunners playing one way. Such was the Frenchman’s belief in how the game should be played, he would rarely sacrifice those principles no matter the opposition.
Arteta was smart enough to know his side’s limitations so allowed City to have the ball and hit them on the break. That our manager out-thought his mentor has given many of us hope for the future.
Young Player Of The Season– Saka
Out of our academy graduates Reiss Nelson was getting most buzz, the irony being he’s probably the most disappointing of our youngsters. All of them have to be talented to make it this far, but what you want to see next is who has the right mentality?
Who has the personality to want the ball and not be scared to take risks?
That’s what has separated Saka from his peers, he’s taken the initiative at grounds like Old Trafford to assist goals.
In the first part of the campaign he mostly impressed in the League Cup and Europa League, but under Arteta injuries saw him get a run at full back. With us then switching to a back 3, this put big pressure on young shoulders as full backs became a huge part of our attack.
He has shown versatility by also playing anywhere across the front three.
The next step will be to add goals to his game and maybe put on a bit more muscle but that will come the older he gets.
The biggest challenge will be dealing with the hype and expectations and not getting carried away.
We seen other teenagers not cope once they became rich and told how great they are. It’s crucial that he has the correct support network around him.
Goal Of The Season – Aubameyang – v Man City in the FA Cup Semi Final
This is subjective in terms of how do you like your goals?
If you like long range efforts, you would probably choose Willock’s strike at Anfield in the Carobao Cup, but to me anyone can hit a worldie once in a while.
I appreciate team goals and counter attacking football. That’s what we did for our opening against Man City in the FA Cup. We soaked up the pressure then hit them on the break in a move where you could count the passes. To round off the move, it wasn’t an easy finish for Auba either.
Given the quality of football we had played earlier in the season it was a comfort to see us with an identity again.
Most Improved Of The Season – Mustafi
Okay hear me out …….
First of all, we finished in our worst League position in 25 years so logically not many players have dramatically improved.
The form of Martinez shocked many but what am I comparing his displays too?
I just feel Mustafi deserves acknowledgement for turning around his season.
After too many errors last season, the fanbase turned on him, some even verbally abusing him in pre-season and trolling him online.
Unai Emery was hardly supportive, letting the public know that if he had his way Mustafi would have been sold. Under Emery, Mustafi only played in the League Cup and Europa League, not a second in the Prem.
One of the first things Arteta did (and briefly Freddie) was to bring back the defender, not understanding how the German wasn’t being picked considering the competition.
Until his injury he was the first defender on the team sheet. He wasn’t perfect and still made mistakes, but not as many as the likes of David Luiz. Essentially, he was our best centre back out of a bad bunch. We might not have won the FA Cup without his performance in the semi Final.
Signing Of The Season – Martinelli
If not for niggling injuries I would have gone for Tierney yet I kind of always felt he was going to be class based on what he had done at Celtic.
Martinelli on the other hand was an unknown quantity, we had even been warned not to expect too much too soon from the teenager, with suggestions he was a capture for the long term and not necessarily instantly brought in for the first team.
This was an 18-year-old who had been playing in the third division in Brazil asked to move around the world to learn a new language and culture.
Maybe because his more experienced peers were doing so badly and he played so well in the cups, managers simply couldn’t ignore him.
Most impressive is that he’s fearless, not afraid to want the ball and try things.
When our campaign was at its lowest, he was one of the few players who showed the personality to try and make things better.
If he can shake off this injury, he could be the one to watch next season.
Worst Signing Of The Season – David Luiz
Yes, I know he was awesome in the Cup Final, but I have to consider the whole season. Last summer fans wanted us to improve the centre back position. We essentially swapped our captain for David Luiz.
Maybe it was our anger with Koscielny or the excitement of getting Pepe, but the club escaped much criticism for making our defence weaker.
Because no one should have been shocked by Luiz having lapses in concentration. To be fair to the Brazilian he’s been doing that his whole career. It’s not like we didn’t know what we were buying.
He set a record for penalties and red cards in a season and I’m sorry, I can’t let him off based on two great games at Wembley.
I can see why he would be popular in our dressing room and it makes sense that he would be helpful to the likes of Martinelli settling in, but I don’t understand how he got a new contract.
Worst Player – Kolasinac
I thought for a while he had stayed under the radar.
If managers have to change their formation because they don’t trust you defensively to play in a back 4 then maybe you shouldn’t be a left back at the highest level? It’s not like we sacrifice his limitations for the sake of world class delivery either.
Bizarrely Monreal was trusted to start ahead of him then sold. We would have got a bigger fee for the younger Kolasinac while keeping Monreal, the better of the two.
Arteta came up with an interesting proposal seeing if he would be comfortable in a back 3.
Yet unlike when left back Tierney played in the middle and had the tactical awareness to know when to stay, when to bomb down the wing, Kolasinac just gets his feet muddled up.
Something tells me there will be a few contenders for this category.
Worst Performance – Arsenal 1-2 Brighton
It’s sad that when I said a 2-1 defeat to Brighton, I have to clarify which one, I’m referring to the one at the Emirates when Freddie was in charge.
Confidence was so low on the pitch, in the stands, that I see this as our rock bottom. I remember even Aubameyang getting criticized for his body language towards Willock.
2-1 flattered Brighton.
We have seen poor results over the years, but the one thing you associate Arsenal is they will always make chances.
Apart from a brief flurry at the start of the second half we did nothing and when the visitors took the lead, we all just waited for us to throw the kitchen sink at the Seagulls, but it never happened. It was odd to get into the final 10 minutes of a home match against strugglers and see them more likely to get the next goal…
Put your choices for the JustArsenal End Of Season Awards below ….