We may be just under three weeks away until the return of the Premier League and the chance for Arsenal to resume what was the start of a turnaround under Mikel Arteta. Hopefully, things continue to progress in the battle against COVID-19 and the league’s eventual return, but for now we will press on with our player rankings for the 2019-20 season. Today we start to look at the players who had solid years, accordingly to at least some voters.
Interestingly enough players six through eight all tied on aggregate scores, so look at them comparably. The tie-breaker went to the player who had the highest individual ranking.
10th - Calum Chambers
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 11.0 (9 / 14)
Since joining Arsenal in 2014, Chambers has been out on loan twice, and wouldn’t have been expected to break into the top 10 in our player rankings back in August. Perhaps those low expectations are one reason he was ranked so high despite just 18 matches. But with 4 assists, tied for third on the team, Calum filled in nicely at right back as Hector Bellerin worked towards his return from injury. In fact, add in his goal for the Gunners in the Premier League and it was his most productive attacking season in senior football. His spot in Mikel Arteta’s future team remains in doubt, but no one can question his commitment to the club.
9th - Lucas Torreira
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 9.67 (4 / 18)
We’ve arrived at our biggest discrepancy in the voting process. Someone had Lucas as Arsenal’s 4th best player this year, while another had him in the bottom half of the team. Torreira featured in more matches so far this season, 33, than any other Arsenal player. However, his goals+assists/90 was at .14 (15th), after getting two goals and one assists this year. But he excelled where you’d expect - second in tackles, up in the passing completion % charts and led Arsenal in interceptions. Like most of the players in the top 10, a lot of the rankings likely comes down to how someone views the player, what their expectations of them are, and how their performances on the pitch this season compared. Lucas has the ability to be a top five player at Arsenal, and next season until Arteta’s leadership will go a long way in determine if that reality is a possibility.
8th - David Luiz
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 8.67 (7 / 11)
Many were surprised when the former Chelsea man was a late summer transfer for Arsenal, but he became a mainstay with Sokratis as the Gunner’s primary CB duo. He is a defender that’s always liked the flair and pressing forward into the attack, as his two goals and assist demonstrate. Only Leno moved the ball farther, collectively, this season than Luiz, who finished second in passes completed and was top in clearances. He had a few costly blunders - but then again, most of Arsenal’s defense had a few of those this season. Rumors have him possibly exiting the Emirates after just one year, but he provided a solid stop-gap for an Arsenal backline in turmoil (Nacho exits, Holding returning from injury, Mustafi’s confidence shaken, and prior to Mari’s arrival).
7th - Mesut Özil
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 8.67 (5 / 13)
One of Arsenal’s more controversial figures over the past few seasons, Ozil’s output, value to the team and importance to the club are all debatable topics. And even as his position begins to fade out of favor across the the game, the Gunners don’t really have anyone else that can do what Ozil can. One goal and three assists is not what you’d want from a player of his ability - and paycheck - but like many of Arsenal’s players, their years have been choppy with a disorganized team under Unai Emery to finding a new foundation as Arteta arrived. Even so he still produced where you would expect - passes into the box (2nd), progressive passes (3rd), shot-creating actions (2nd), and goal-creating actions (4th). Can he rediscover his magic next season, given a full year with this new head coach and philosophy, or will the club finally find an exit strategy to remove his high wage bill?
6th - Nicolas Pépé
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 8.67 (4 / 12)
Surely there will be thoughts on Pepe at 6. Coming in on the back being Arsenal’s record breaking transfer (£72 million) expectations were high. But Pepe walked into a team in fragments and with a coach that conflicted with much of its DNA. And yet he still produced six goals (4th on the team) and eight assists (2nd), as well as leading the club in creating shot opportunities (71) and moments that led to goals (10 - 2nd best). We have not seen the best of Pepe, but much of that was not entirely his fault. He will continue to have the heavy burden of the transfer fee hanging over him as we go into next season, but is easily a player that can have 10 goals / 10 assists per season as the minimum bar.
Now it’s your turn. Let’s hear your thoughts on these five players and where they fell in our ranking. With Luiz, Ozil and Pepe in this set, surely their will be a few comments on who should have been higher or lower. And at this point you can piece together our top 5.