Arsenal: Breaking down the end of season player ratings

Arsenal (Photo by CATHERINE IVILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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Arsenal (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images) /

Arsenal Midfielders

Granit Xhaka – 7.5

What a turnaround for the Swiss international. Having been stripped of the captaincy following an embarrassing spat with the fans in the Crystal Palace game, Xhaka looked set to leave in the January transfer window. Yet Arteta convinced him to stay, and his experience and leadership have proved vital ever since. He’s still far from perfect, but he was integral in Arsenal’s strong finish to the season and remains the club’s most important midfielder.

Dani Ceballos – 7.5

Another player who turned things around in 2020 following the head coach change (see a trend here?). Ceballos struggled with form and injuries, but “trained like an animal” to force himself into Arteta’s plans. He was Arsenal’s most improved player during Project Restart, as he and Xhaka formed a strong partnership in the middle of the park. Hopefully, Arsenal can find an agreement with Real Madrid and he’ll be back next season.

Lucas Torreira – 5

You have to feel for the little Uruguayan as he inexplicably found himself used in an attacking midfield role under Emery. He then suffered a serious ankle injury early into Arteta’s reign and has since struggled to get back into the team. It’s possible that Torreira will be sold (or perhaps swapped) if funds are needed to bring in a player like Thomas Partey.

Joe Willock – 6

He has many positive attributes that the rest of our midfield lacks completely, namely, the ability to score goals from midfield. But Willock is still quite raw, and he struggled to make much of an impact in the games that he started. Towards the end of the season, he became a workhorse as one of Arteta’s favorite subs, coming into the game with 20 or so minutes left and running himself into the ground. He seems like a player who could really benefit from a loan, though, especially if a new midfielder is brought in.

Matteo Guendouzi – 4

While most players dramatically improved in the second half of the season, Guendouzi was the lone exception. His talent has never been in question, but attitude issues have come up on multiple occasions, most recently following the game at Brighton. The young Frenchman lacks discipline on and off the pitch and has seemingly refused to buy into Arteta’s rebuild project. It’s a shame because he still has so much potential, but hopefully, Arsenal can get a decent fee for him this summer.

Mesut Ozil – 4

We know all about Emery’s dislike for the German, but Ozil looked rejuvenated under Arteta prior to Project Restart, with some vintage performances against Chelsea and Manchester United. However, he hasn’t featured since March, not even making the 20-man squad for Arsenal’s final few games of the season. It’s unclear whether this is down to attitude or tactical reasons or perhaps even the board trying to force him out. Regardless of the reason, the club must do whatever they can to get his wages off the books this summer. It’s time to move on.

Bukayo Saka – 8

One of the highlights of the season was when the 18-year old put pen to paper on a new contract, and that really says it all. Saka has been a joy to watch wherever he’s been deployed on the pitch: on either wing, in central midfield, or filling in at left-back when called upon. With 11 assists in all competitions, he was also one of our most productive players, which is remarkable considering his age and lack of previous first-team experience. It will be fascinating to see how Arteta wants to use him next season.

Arsenal Forwards

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  • Alexandre Lacazette – 6

    He finished the season with 12 goals in all competitions, which is not an awful tally, but there was a noticeable drop-off in his performances from a year ago.

    He looked sluggish and slower, but he worked hard off the ball and contributed in a few big games to end the season. With two years left on his deal, Arsenal must surely decide whether to cash in now or extend his contract.

    My gut tells me we may have seen the last of Lacazette in an Arsenal jersey; at least he’ll have an FA Cup winners’ medal to depart with.

    Nicolas Pepe – 6.5

    He finished the season strong with 8 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, which is not a bad return for your first season in English football considering all the turmoil around the club.

    People will point to his price tag and say that Arsenal hasn’t gotten a return on their investment, but Pepe is still only 25. He is undeniably a world-class talent as he showed at Wembley; it’s really just about performing consistently at this point. Overall, he showed plenty of encouraging signs and there’s something to build on next season for the Ivorian.

    Reiss Nelson – 6

    In some ways, Saka has had the breakout season that many would have expected Nelson to, as there had been a lot of hype surrounding him for a couple of years. His situation is actually quite similar to Willock’s; Arteta has counted on Nelson for his work rate, but apart from that he hasn’t made the impact he would have hoped for. A loan could be his best option, particularly if Willian arrives.

    Eddie Nketiah – 6

    Nketiah had his loan spell at Leeds cut short before impressing Arteta in training, so much so that he favored the youngster over Lacazette on many occasions. He makes clever runs in the box and scored a few nice goals, but he’ll need more consistent playing time before we can really assess his full potential.

    Gabriel Martinelli – 8

    It was an extremely impressive first season for Martinelli, considering he was pretty unknown when Arsenal signed him from the fourth division in Brazil. With 10 goals and 4 assists in only 26 appearances, he was dangerous as both a winger and striker. He and Saka are both real gems, and the future looks bright with those two at the helm. Unfortunately, he suffered a serious knee injury in training, so hopefully, he picks up where he left off in 2021.

    Next. Breaking down every battle in the FA Cup Final. dark

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 9

    2 goals against Manchester City and 2 goals against Chelsea. What more can be said about the Arsenal captain? With 29 goals in all competitions, Aubameyang is Arsenal’s one true elite player, one of the best strikers in world football, and is showing zero signs of slowing down, even at age 31. There were some doubts about his ability to deliver in big games, but he has put those concerns to bed for good. The only thing missing is a new contract; if he decides to stay then it’s a perfect 10!