Friday, March 1, 2024

Squad assessment in 140 characters or less (ish) – 2022

It’s time for the end of season squad assessment/player ratings.

I’m using the grading system we have in school where A is the best, obviously; D is a passing grade; and anything below that a fail. I’m trying to combine their performances with their overall influence, and how the season went for them.

Their marks are individual, based on expectations of them, rather than comparable with teammates, so if you’re thinking ‘How can you give X that when you gave Y this?!’, that’s why.

And in the end there’s no right or wrong, these are subjective ratings. Don’t get personally offended by them.

Players who left the club, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari etc, are not rated, because we don’t rate players from other clubs and some of them basically didn’t play anyway. Let’s begin.


Aaron Ramsdale: A genuine breath of fresh air when he made the team earlier than everyone expected, even himself. Outstanding saves, fantastic with his feet, but it’s fair to say the second half of the campaign wasn’t quite at the same level. B

Bernd Leno: It’s hard to even give him a rating when you consider that he only made 8 appearances, and only played once in the league after losing his place to Ramsdale. That save and the celebration against Villa was still a moment though. C


Takehiro Tomiyasu: I will point out this grade is based entirely on the performances we saw from him when he was available, and on that basis I find it hard to find any real fault. A real defender, I love watching him, and hopefully he can stay fit throughout next season. A

Cedric Soares: He tries his best but for me, at least, there are too many aspects of his game which frustrate me. The gap between him and Tomiyasu is simply too big and that’s something we have to think about this summer. D-

Ben White: Began the season in the spotlight after his big money move, unfairly maligned way too publicly after that opening game, but only Bukayo Saka played more outfield minutes than him this season, and although there were some minor errors I think he showed plenty to be encouraged about in terms of performance and character. Not least in how he pushed himself to be available in the late stages of the season. B+

Gabriel: I can only really remember one game when he was off the pace, and it came a few days after he’d become a dad, so the distraction was understandable. Excellent on the ball, gave us physical presence which was important, and chipped in with 5 goals in the league. B+

Rob Holding: Played second fiddle most of the season to the two men above, but fulfilled an important role at times helping us shore up the defence as we hung onto a lead. Unfortunately, that atypical performance in the North London derby is still fresh in the mind, and raises some doubts about his ability to provide the kind of back-up we need. C-

Kieran Tierney: The early season concerns about his lack of forward contribution were soon offset by the realisation that his defensive solidity was a key factor in building on that difficult start. Lost his place, won it back, but once more there was a significant injury at the worst possible time and that has to be quite high up there on the manager’s list of worries. B-

Nuno Tavares: There’s no question he’s got something to his game when he’s going forward, even if a lot of the time it ends up with a shot whacked over the bar. He still has a lot to learn defensively, and I understood Arteta’s concerns about him after some high profile errors in big games. His future may well depend on how fixable the manager and staff believe those lapses can be coached out of him. C-


Thomas Partey: Mid-season he provided his own rating of himself (a 4/10) having come back from an injury in pre-season, but from January onwards was exactly the player we all thought he’d be when we signed him from Atletico Madrid. His importance in midfield was underlined by how much we missed him when he was injured again – those fitness issues require some redundancy via the market this summer. B-

Granit Xhaka: As always there were a couple of Xhaka-esque moments but in general I thought he was really consistent, and when Partey was in his pomp, played that slightly more advanced role really well. The goal against Man Utd was a great moment. B

Albert Sambi Lokonga: There was some early promise, but he featured very little in the second half of the season. For understandable reasons, the manager turned to experience at a crucial period, but I think we’ll see more from him next season and I do think his absence led people to forget some of the promising aspects of his performances when he did play. C-

Mohamed Elneny: Despite being very much peripheral all season, came in and did a good job when needed – his rating his based on his performances alone. However, I do think it’s fair to ask about the depth in the squad that required his mini renaissance in the first place. C+

Martin Odegaard: Finished the season with 7 goals and 5 assists, and it’s hard not to think that second figure would have been much better if we’d had real presence up front. His relationship with Bukayo Saka developed really well, and while there are sometimes games which pass him by and there’s obviously room for improvement, he’s been a real positive this season. B+

Emile Smith Rowe: When he took the 10 shirt, people wondered if he could bring the kind of end product that number demands. Ended up with 11 goals and 2 assists, when you consider last season those totals were 2 and 4 respectively, the improvement is obvious. Struggled for full fitness in the second half of the campaign but it shouldn’t take away from what he did when he was available. B+

Bukayo Saka: Nobody played more outfield minutes, nobody got kicked more, nobody got as little protection from referees and, crucially, no Arsenal player scored more goals than he did. He also got 7 assists, making 19 goal contributions and that’s a big step forward from the 8 he made last season. Like Odegaard, I can’t help but feel he’ll improve more with a ‘real’ centre-forward. A


Gabriel Martinelli: In terms of numbers there’s been an improvement, with 6 goals and 6 assists, and he had some excellent performances this season. Still feels like there’s more to come, especially with regards his finishing, but a mostly positive season all round. B

Alexandre Lacazette: There’s no doubt he made a decent contribution straight after the Aubameyang departure, but for me his almost complete lack of goal threat and Arteta’s reluctance to accept that huge flaw in his game was one of the big mistakes of the season. Granted we didn’t have a lot to choose from, but Eddie Nketiah showed how important mobility was, and how much more threat you pose when the striker doesn’t drop so deep he can’t get forward again. E

Eddie Nketiah: Came in and did well, scored goals that nobody else in the current squad could because they required working legs, and finished with 10 in all competitions – a healthy number when you look his minutes. His future is obviously in big doubt given his contractual situation, but he might well have given himself a few extra options based on what he did. B-

Nicolas Pepe: It’s a bit hard to judge because of how little he played, but how little he played tells you a lot about where he stood in the manager’s pecking order. There were some flashes of good stuff, but everything else was hugely indifferent. His future clearly lies elsewhere. E

Loan players

I’m not going to rate them, but just a quick few words on their futures.

Hector Bellerin: Had a good season at Betis, wants to stay there, and I think the club will help facilitate that, even if I’d prefer him to Cedric.

William Saliba: Did very well at Marseille, but Arteta made it clear yesterday he wants him back next season after the playing time they wanted for him brought exactly the benefit to us it was designed for.

Pablo Mari: I don’t really see any future for him with us. Can Udinese afford the fee we might want? Let’s see.

Lucas Torreira: It looks as if the deal arranged with Fiorentina has been complicated, but even so I think he’ll move on permanently this summer.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles: The averageness of his loan spell at Roma probably raises more questions about why we sanctioned it in the first place, but with a year left on his contract and the ‘English tax’ raising the possibility of a half-decent fee, I think we’ll sell this summer.

Reiss Nelson: Ended his loan spell at Feyenoord pretty well but like Maitland-Niles has just a year left on his deal, and it’s probably time to cash in.

Flo Balogun: 3 goals and 3 assists in 21 appearances for Middlesbrough will have been beneficial to him, but in truth it feels like he might need another season on loan to really develop. Could possibly be a first half of the season Europa League player with January earmarked for a loan though.

Ok, that’s it. Please feel free to use the Arses (the comment system) to discuss and disagree, you can leave your own ratings, tell me I’m deluded and wrong and all the rest.

For now, I’ll leave you with the podcast version of the Arseblog & Arsenal Vision live event recorded on Saturday night.


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