Welcome back to our countdown of the Arsenal players based on their performance from the 2019-20 season. Yes, even with the recent steps towards a potential return, a wrap up on the past season doesn’t seem out of place as we close in on June. We had the TSF staff individually rank the Gunners’ squad 1 through 30 and then averaged the scores. Four of the five players today appeared in someone’s top 10, but on average fell just outside of that group.
15th - Shkodran Mustafi
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 15.0 (9 / 21)
Those aren’t typos. One voter had Mustafi as the 21st (out of the 30) best player for Arsenal this year, while someone else said he was the 9th best player. (There is an even bigger discrepancy coming up in the next edition.) One goal, one assist and a passing accuracy rate of 85.8% (11th best). However, Mustafi led the team in clearances per 90, with 7.28, and aerial duels won with 76.3%. Will he see a resurgence under Mikel Arteta’s leadership next season or is his exit inevitable?
14th - Dani Ceballos
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 13.33 (11 / 16)
Arsenal’s loanee from Real Madrid split opinions for much of the season as he had a solid start, missed significant time with an injury and then had a bright return before the season halted. He contributed one goal and two assists as Unai Emery continually rotated the midfield, Ceballos playing either as one of the two holding midfielders or at times the more advanced #10 role. He led Arsenal in passes completed per 90 minutes played (57.4) and was 2nd on progressive passes completed (6.49), just behind Granit Xhaka. We likely didn’t see the best of Ceballos this past year, and Arteta could help unlock that. With funds limited, might Real Madrid be convinced to let Arsenal take him on loan for another season rather than being forced to decide on a long term purchase.
13th - Matteo Guendouzi
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 13.0 (8 / 19)
Like the majority of this set of players, there are widely differing opinions on Guendouzi. Still just 21 and with 80 appearances already for Arsenal, Matteo still has plenty of upside to his game to unlock. He was 2nd on the team in progressive passes (145) and led the midfield in moving the ball up the field (distance & progression towards the opponent’s goal). However, he only produced one assist this year and has just one career goal for Arsenal. Both will need to improve if he is retain a regular role in Arteta’s reimagined side. 2020-21 will be Guendouzi’s third campaign with Arsenal and third season starting with a new head coach - it feels like it will be a pivotal one regarding his long term future at the Emirates.
12th - Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 12.67 (7 / 16)
Again a notable distance between individual rankings as Sokratis had several costly blunders this season while also appearing as the most composed centerback Arsenal had at times. With Koscielny and Monreal out, Papa took up an important leadership role, even with the experienced David Luiz coming in to join him at the end of the transfer window. He led defenders in goals (3) - and was ahead of attacking minded players such as Ozil and Nelson - and led the entire team in passing accuracy (90.8%). The Arsenal backline will likely remain in flux next season, but Sokratis should be a regular feature among Arteta’s centerback selections.
11th - Alexandre Lacazette
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 12.33 (6 / 17)
Was Lacazette in the bottom half of Arsenal players this past year? Was he the 6th best? Someone thinks so on both accounts. He had many wasteful games and with the season cut short it was his lowest output since the 2012-13 season. But with nine goals (3rd best on the team) and three assists he was still an important piece on what little productivity the Gunners managed this season. He led the team in shots and shots on target per 90 minutes, but then fell below Sokratis and Hector Bellerin when considering goals against shots taken. He is often linked with a move away from North London as Martinelli looks set to take on a larger role next season. Are we more likely to see a return to his typical 20~ goals per season or will the leadership as Arsenal decide it’s time to move on from Aubameyang’s strike partner?
That concludes the squad that fell outside of the top 10. How many of these players will be with Arsenal at the start next season - or the one after that? But who from this group could see an uptick in the 2020-21 season and become a sure top 10 player for the Gunners? And who are you most surprised has yet to appear in this countdown of Arsenal players?