Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Player of the season

Morning all.

Not a lot going on this morning, but Arsenal’s Player of the Season – as voted by supporters – was revealed to be Martin Odegaard. It’s the second successive season he has won it, and I don’t think anyone can argue that he doesn’t deserve it. He’s such an example to the rest of the team in terms of how he plays, the perfect combination of intelligence, technique, commitment to his work on the pitch, and there are things he can do with the ball that leave you breathless at times.

I also think it’s fair to say that if it had been Declan Rice (who finished second) or William Saliba (third), it’d be hard to argue with that too. Both of them had outstanding campaigns, and could easily have merited top spot. There were so many players performing at very high level, you could go beyond that too. Personally, as much as I love all three of those guys – and I really, really do – if I’d voted I’d have gone with Bukayo Saka as my choice.

Perhaps it says something about what we have come to expect from him that a season in which he scored 20 goals and made 14 assists didn’t see him crack the top three. Let’s be honest here, those are incredible numbers for a 22 year old to produce in a season, and I don’t want to hear anything about how goals have been boosted by penalties, because it’s not as if it’s a free goal. He still had step up, hold his nerve, and slot that ball home in key moments.

Bukayo Saka still can’t take a penalty without the England miss, and the miss against West Ham last season, being mentioned. It’s 0-0 at home against Bournemouth, the third last game of the season, and just before half-time we get a penalty. Saka takes it, cool as you like, 1-0. 0-0 away at Brighton in early April, he breaks the deadlock from the spot. In the penalty shoot-out against Porto, bam, keeper doesn’t even get close. A penalty away at West Ham to make it 2-0, sends the keeper the wrong way. One in the North London derby at home to put us 2-1 up, right down the middle as Vicario jumps out of the way. 1-0 down at home to Fulham in August, he makes it 1-1.

Not everyone can take penalties. Even someone as brilliant as Dennis Bergkamp wouldn’t do it after his miss against Man Utd in 1999, so I’m not having any downplaying of Saka’s numbers because he’s good at something lots of players don’t even have the nerve to try. Perhaps the thing is with him, our expectations of him are such that we’re looking for 9/10 performances every week, and obviously that doesn’t happen. It didn’t happen for the players in the top three either, they had their off-days, but rightly or wrongly, if Arsenal struggle a little bit, the first place people look to is Saka.

His talent, his quality and his consistency have made him something of an emblem for this team, because more than anyone else over the last two/three seasons, he has been the driving force of our on-pitch progression. He now has players like Odegaard, Rice, Saliba and others who share some of that burden and who have taken the spotlight off him a little bit, but I maintain those numbers for a player of his age are remarkable. This was his first ever season of Champions League football, he had 4 goals and 4 assists in 9 matches, and was denied an obvious penalty against Bayern which I’d have backed him to score and which would have given that second leg a different flavour.

So, as much as its worth to him, he’d have been my Player of the Season. As I said though, Odegaard was a worthy winner too, and the best thing about this from an Arsenal perspective is that these guys will come back next season ready to do it all over again, and to have that much quality at our disposal is an enticing and exciting thought.

Righto, have a great Saturday folks. I’m going to stroll into town, and seek out the optimal sandwich. I don’t know exactly what that is yet, but I know that’s what I want to eat today.

Have a good one.

Related articles

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast