When you have player rankings and you break them into three sets of ten, you can expect that there will be several players at the bottom that most everyone agrees belongs there. The same thing applies for the top ten, we all know who Arsenal’s key players were this season, even if there is some disagreement about individual placement.
But it’s here in this middle section that can lead to some interesting different perspectives on a player and how they performed during this difficult season at the club. So let's take a look at the Arsenal players who had solid, but not standout seasons.
Part 1 - Players 30 through 21.
20th - Eddie Nketiah
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 20.25 (17 / 24)
If we had done mid-season rankings, Eddie would have surely been higher. He was starting most non-Premier League matches and had five goals with one assist by Christmas. But once we got into the knockout rounds of the Europa League and the back half of the league season, his action was limited and added just one more goal. He hasn’t made the case to supplant Lacazette, and with Balogun’s new deal at Arsenal, you have to wonder if his future at the club is limited.
19th - Joe Willock
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 16.75 (12 / 20)
Willock did have a standout season, just not at Arsenal. After three goals and three assists in the Europa League, Willock made his half-season loan move to Newcastle, and surely you know the rest. Eight goals, seven straight in his final seven appearances, earning him Premier League Player of the Month for May. With Newcastle seemingly eager to sign for another loan or permanently, should Arsenal cash in or can Arteta find a way to utilize that goal-scoring threat back at the Emirates next season?
18th - Gabriel Martinelli
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 16.75 (11 / 22)
How exactly does someone with 2 goals + 2 assists, less than Willock or Nketiah, end up higher on the list? My best guess is the excitement around him, the energy he brings, and future expectations. It was a step back this season for Martinelli, both in terms of production and minutes, after missing the first few months recovering from his knee injury. Expect him to feature a lot more next season and hopefully back to his ‘19-20 form of 10 goals/4 assists.
17th - Calum Chambers
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 16.50 (12 / 20)
Like Martinelli, Calum missed the first half of the season and didn’t get his first Premier League minutes until March. From there on out he was the prominent right-back in league matches as Hector Bellerin slowly faded out of the picture (and presumably towards a transfer this summer). Chambers contributed three assists and would be the ideal backup for the right fullback position - homegrown status, experienced but still just 26 and on lower wages than Bellerin or Cedric.
16th - Mohamed Elneny
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 15.25 (14 / 16)
Arsenal’s comeback player of the season? Probably. Who would have guessed a year ago that Elneny would feature in 41 matches, starting 27 times, and score three goals? He has a safe approach to the game, leading Arsenal in passing completion percentage (92.8%), but that surely benefited the Gunners’ defense, plus the team averaged 2.04 points per match when Elneny played in the Premier League this season.
15th - Martin Odegaard
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 15.0 (13 / 19)
Willock’s exit opened up space for Arsenal to bring Odegaard in for the back half of the season. After limited action at Real Madrid, Martin was a bright spot for Arsenal’s attack, adding two goals and two assists. He led the team in completed passes in the 18-yard box, was second in actions that led to shots, and third in actions that led to goals (all per 90 minutes played). You would think Arsenal would love to get him back on loan for a full season next year, but that comes down to Madrid’s roster plans and their ability to do any movement in the summer window because Arsenal surely can’t afford a straight purchase, right? Perhaps a player plus cash deal?
14th - Pablo Mari
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 14.75 (8 / 18)
Of Arsenal’s four primary centerbacks this season, Mari comes in as the only one who is not in the TSF top ten. The team was +21 in goal difference when Mari was on the field, leading all the CBs, and keep in mind he only played in a handful of Europa League matches. Perhaps his lower ranking is down to the fact that he started and played in less than half what Gabriel, Holding or Luiz did, due to ankle and calf injuries hampering the start of his season. 10 wins, 3 draws, and just 3 losses (all by just a single goal) when he played.
13th - Héctor Bellerín
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 13.50 (12/16)
A solid but not notable season for Bellerin, that is a bit overshadowed now by the expectation of his departure. He contributed one goal, three assists, but featured in just three of the final 13 Premier League matches. Arteta appears to be ready to move on as does Hector, but after more than 200 appearances for Arsenal, it’s a tough way to see another fan favorite from the past decade (potentially) end his time in North London.
12th - Bernd Leno
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 12.50 (10/15)
Despite the error or two this season, Leno had another solid year at Arsenal. But like Bellerin, you wouldn’t be surprised to see a headline this summer announcing his departure. Leno finished 5th in the Premier League in wins and goals allowed per 90 (1.06). With more pressing needs elsewhere on the team, Leno remains a safe top ten keeper, but after a disappointing season if the right offer comes in will he push for an exit?
11th - Thomas Partey
Average Ranking (High / Low) - 11.0 (8/19)
Brought in at the end of the extended summer window for $55 million, Partey had a start-stop first half of the season due to numerous injuries and setbacks. His success came, as you would suspect in tackles won, interceptions, and progressive passes, but we haven’t seen the best of Partey yet. Entering next season rested and fit, hopefully, we can see him not only continue to help improve Arsenal’s defense but add in a few more goals and assists as he did at Atletico Madrid.
Fun fact: Partey’s shots on target percent (15.2, 5 from 33 shots), was not Arsenal’s worst this season. Willian (14.3%), Chambers (0% from 12 shots) and Mustafi (0% from 4 shots) were all worse.
Let us know your thoughts on how this season went for these ten players. Any from the list that you feel should have been in the top ten or the bottom ten? Check back later this week for the conclusion of this series as we count down TSF’s top ten players of the season for Arsenal.