When the action came to a halt in the spring, we were straddling the two ideas of ‘the Premier League will come back eventually to finish the season’ and ‘the league might be over for this campaign’. During the break we ranked all 30 senior Arsenal players. Now that is the season is officially over, we are revisiting the rankings to give our final grades and see how perceptions of players changed during this final window.
We had five writers from The Short Fuse weigh in with their individual rankings and then based the final scores on the average. The structure of the listing is ‘Name - Average Ranking (Best Ranking / Worst Ranking) - (Player Average during the COVID break).
31. Matt Macey - 30.80 (30/31) - (Prior: 29th)
30. Konstantinos Mavropanos - 29.80 (29/30) - (Prior: 30th)
29. Henrikh Mkhitaryan - 28.80 (28/29) - (Prior: 28th)
28. Emile Smith Rowe - 27.40 (27/28) - (Prior: 26th)
27. Nacho Monreal - 26.60 (25/28) - (Prior: 27th)
26. Cedric Soares - 26.0 (25/27) - (Prior: N/A)
Not a lot of movement here, except for shifting down a spot or two with the arrival of Cedric Soares. Cedric didn’t appear until after the break, so he didn’t make the initial list. With Mavropanos already out on loan next year, Smith Rowe and Cedric are the two from this group with the biggest chance to gain next season.
25. Pablo Mari - 25.20 (24/26) - (Prior: 25th)
24. Sead Kolašinac - 22.80 (19/24) - (Prior: 23rd)
23. Matteo Guendouzi - 21.60 (17/31) - (Prior: 13th)
22. Sokratis Papastathopoulos - 21.40 (19/24) - (Prior: 12th)
21. Rob Holding - 20.60 (18/22) - (Prior: 21st)
Mari got injured quickly after the return, while Kolasinac wasn’t utilized as often as he had been earlier in the year. Guendouzi fell 10 spots following his fallout with Mikel Arteta, even earning a 31st ranking - likely from the personality side vs. contributions over the entire year. Sokratis was around, but clearly seen as the last CB option, and fell 10 spots as well.
20. Mesut Özil - 20.40 (18/23) - (Prior: 7th)
19. Reiss Nelson - 19.40 (17/22) - (Prior: 17th)
18. Calum Chambers - 18.80 (15/23) - (Prior: 10th)
17. Eddie Nketiah - 17.0 (15/20) - (Prior: 19th)
16. Joe Willock - 16.80 (13/20) - (Prior: 18th)
Ozil had the biggest drop (13 spots) after he was left out during the final stretch of the season. Despite his contributions in the first two-thirds of the campaign, the ending left a bad taste in several voters’ mouth. Three academy products (Nelson, Nketiah, & Willock) all held their relative place, while Chambers dropped due to his injury and inability to build on a solid first half of the year.
15. Lucas Torreira - 15.20 (14/17) - (Prior: 9th)
14. Ainsley Maitland-Niles - 14.40 (13/17) - (Prior: 22nd)
13. Héctor Bellerín - 11.20 (7/15) - (Prior: 16th)
12. Shkodran Mustafi - 10.20 (8/13) - (Prior: 15th)
11. Alexandre Lacazette - 9.80 (7/12) - (Prior: 11th)
Torreira fell after minor knocks saw his contributions limited in the final set of games, while Maitland-Niles and Bellerin’s continued improvement raised their average score since the break. Mustafi was one of the most notable improvements on the pitch under Arteta before and after the halt in action. He likely would have made the top ten if not for his late injury. Despite being Arsenal’s second highest goalscorer, Lacazette (12 goals) missed out on the top 10.
10. David Luiz - 9.80 (6/12) - (Prior: 8th)
9. Gabriel Martinelli - 9.80 (6/12) - (Prior: 3rd)
8. Nicolas Pépé - 8.40 (3/13) - (Prior: 6th)
7. Dani Ceballos - 7.80 (7/9) - (Prior: 14th)
6. Emiliano Martínez - 5.40 (3/10) - (Prior: 24th)
Who thought Luiz would be a top ten player for Arsenal last summer? Or even after the Manchester City debacle? Martinelli (10 goals / 4 assists) had a fantastic debut season, but fell after his late season injury ruled him out. Only Guendouzi had a bigger variation in individual scores than Pepe. The $72m man had eight goals and ten assists, but was clearly weighed down by Arsenal’s fee for him. Ceballos cemented himself as Xhaka’s partner down the stretch and is a player Arteta wants back next year. Finally, we have the biggest gainer, Martinez, up 18 spots! When Leno went down many thought it was the end of the season for Arsenal, but Emi stepped up as the starter, and got some positive marks for his late season heroics, FA Cup win, and expectations vs. results differential.
5. Kieran Tierney - 5.20 (2/8) - (Prior: 20th)
4. Granit Xhaka - 4.80 (3/7) - (Prior: 5th)
3. Bernd Leno - 3.20 (2/4) - (Prior: 2nd)
2. Bukayo Saka - 2.60 (2/4) - (Prior: 4th)
1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - 1.0 (1/1) - (Prior: 1st)
Aubameyang, as expected, tops the list and was the only player all five TSF voters agreed on. Leno was a clear top five player as season and remained in the top three despite his unfortunate late season injury. Saka was the surprise player of the year, going from academy player to emergency left back to assist leader to please sign a contract extension. Xhaka meanwhile had a dramatic back half of the season from his confrontation with fans at the Emirates to becoming a centerpiece of Arteta’s revival of the squad. Then we have Tierney who bolted up 15 spots thanks for the final portion of the season. After two injuries interrupted his debut season in North London, by the FA Cup final everyone was back on board with the player that Arsenal and fans were so excited about last summer.
If you were ranking the Arsenal squad based on the entire 2019/20 season would you have any players that differ greatly from TSF’s average place? Who’s final place is the most surprising, good or bad, based on preseason expectations? Let us know in the comment section below.