Blog | Arsenal Player Rankings | 2017/18 Season
Reminder: these scores are based on a scoring system that prioritises end product and what a player actually does to help their team win a game and achieve group success. Individual contributions do count, but players only receive the highest marks if their efforts actually help the team.
The 2017/18 season was pretty terrible for Arsenal, falling further behind not just Manchester City, the runaway winners of the Premier League, but also getting pasted by them at Wembley; suffering a shocking defeat away to Nottingham Forest to be eliminated from the FA Cup; and not even coming close to regaining a Champions’ League spot.
It was also the season that finally saw Arsene Wenger step away from his role as manager, publicly by mutual agreement, although more likely because he didn’t want to be sacked. I’ve thought for quite a long time now that Wenger was very much a manager of his time, who revolutionised the English game, but then failed completely to evolve with it and was left behind.
As a result, I do feel a lot of pity for Unai Emery, as he’s going to have his work cut out to clean up the mess left behind by Wenger before he can really stamp his own mark on the team. In fact, it’s very similar to what Klopp had to deal with upon joining Liverpool: stabilise, build, then strengthen. Exactly what Emery should be doing if things go well.
Let’s get the bad out of the way first…
Worst Team Performances of the Season
Liverpool (away), 0-4, team rating: 4.2
Man City (neutral), 0-3, team rating: 4.3
Man City (home), 0-3, team rating: 4.4
One away game, one game at Wembley, and one at home – a perfect hat-trick of disastrous performances. It’s no real surprise that it’s against other teams that should be rivals, but Arsenal are simply too far behind both Liverpool and Man City to consider themselves competitors right now.
And now on to slightly more pleasant reading...
Best Team Performances of the Season
Huddersfield (home), 5-0, team rating: 9.3
BATE (home) 6-0, team rating: 9.1
Burnley (home) 5-0, team rating: 9.1
Equally unsurprising is seeing that Arsenal’s best performances came against ‘lesser’ teams. Huddersfield were the only genuinely poor team, with BATE coming close to getting something in the return match, and Burnley pushing Arsenal almost all the way until the end of the season.
Arsenal were actually fairly dominant at home, with only Man City having a better home Premier League record, plus it was quite nice for Wenger’s final home game against Burnley to be such a comprehensive win while playing some wonderful football.
Top Eleven Players
As before, the players are listed in reverse order counting down to Arsenal’s best player of the 2017/18 season. I wouldn't try and make a team out of this lot though...
10=. David Ospina – average rating: 6.48
Yes, yes, I know that Arsenal fans like to make jokes about how he’s not good enough, but the fact remains that he actually had a better season than Cech (6.36). Ospina suffered with a porous defence in front of him, and probably won’t even be at the club for the new season, so no need to worry.
10=. Danny Welbeck – average rating: 6.48
It says something when someone with the reputation of Welbeck for his inadequacy for the team can still end up as one of the best eleven players of the season. He’s only really here because of a couple of streaky runs helping him to double figures for the season.
9. Shkodran Mustafi – average rating: 6.59
It’s such a shame to see the German so low, especially as he started the season so well. Hell, even past the halfway point he was still near the top of this list. Unfortunately his form completely collapsed in the second half of the season which is why the talk of him leaving is so commonplace.
8. Calum Chambers – average rating: 6.67
A bit of a surprise, this one – although having been offered an improved contract recently with Emery praising him highly, maybe there’s more to expect from Chambers with a coach that wants to strengthen a defence rather than leave them to their own devices?
7. Nacho Monreal – average rating: 6.68
Narrowly, narrowly squeaking in ahead of Chambers, I’m actually fairly surprised to see Nacho this low, although being part of such a leaky defence certainly won’t have helped. Again, maybe an improvement next season with a Spanish-speaking, tactically-driven manager?
6. Sead Kolasinac – average rating: 6.71
Again, not a huge jump in performance, although the Serbian did start off the season really well. Injury issues and constant positional changes thank to semi-regular formation alterations certainly won’t have helped settle him in his first season in English football.
5. Mesut Ozil – average rating: 6.93
A bigger jump in quality, but another lower-than-expected result for someone of Ozil’s quality. Injury issues resulting in missing lots of games certainly won’t have helped, and he still ended up as Arsenal’s best goal creator across the season.
4. Aaron Ramsey – average rating: 6.94
Much like Monreal and Chambers, a ludicrously small gap exists between Ramsey and Ozil. Though I do get the impression that the Welshman’s injury issues were a bigger hindrance than Ozil’s, and I think the gap would have been bigger if they’d both played more, thanks to Ramsey's eye for goal.
3. Alexandre Lacazette – average rating: 7.05
Isn’t it a little disturbing that only the top three Arsenal players scored higher than a seven out of ten overall? Regardless, Lacazette adapted pretty well to English football all things considered, and –again – only injury issues prevented him from breaking the 20-goal barrier in his debut season.
2. Henrikh Mkhitaryan – average rating: 7.20
Right now, the swap deal for Mkhitaryan replacing Sanchez looks like a steal. He arguably still wasn’t up to speed by the end of the season after joining in January, but still managed to create a lot of goals for other players and was able to immediately able to re-forge his Dortmund link with Aubameyang.
1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – average rating: 7.43
And speaking of the Gabonese striker, he was comfortably the best player of Arsenal’s 2017/18 season - even if he barely played any part in it! The number of goals he racked up in such a short space of time was absolutely astonishing and he looks set to be a vital player for the immediate future.
There’s a couple of observations to be made about those rankings, the first of which is three of the new boys at the top, with a fourth only a little behind them. Maybe this is just more evidence that longer-serving players maybe got more than a little complacent if they were shown up so easily?
Saying that, I have to acknowledge that I did choose to restrict the list to players still at the club; if I hadn’t done that, then Sanchez, Walcott and Giroud would still have been in there. That makes the performances of the players who were there for the entire season look even worse!
More than anything else, it just confirms how poor of a season Arsenal had in Wenger’s last campaign and him leaving was completely the right thing to do. I don’t expect the team to catch up immediately, but I would be very surprised if this list doesn’t have much higher scores at the end of next season.