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May 24, 2013

The Arsenal end-of-season awards

With the season over, Arsenal bloggers Andrew Mangan and Sam Limbert have collaborated to hand out their prestigious end-of-season awards.

- Robson: Win trophies or sack Wenger

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

AM -- Santi Cazorla -- Although he faded a bit towards the end, he got 12 goals and 13 assists and was the only player to appear in every Premier League game. A great first season in English football.

SL -- Santi Cazorla -- The Spaniard was a constant attacking threat and instantly became the creative hub of the team. He's comfortably the best attacking player Arsene Wenger has signed in the last few years and, albeit a year late, filled the Cesc Fabregas-shaped hole in the middle.

RUNNER-UP

AM -- Per Mertesacker -- The big German established himself as the most consistent and reliable of Arsenal's centre-halves, and even if Laurent Koscielny caught the eye in the final part of the season, Mertesacker's consistency gives him the edge

SL -- Per Mertesacker -- I'm in agreement again because of how important Mertesacker is in leading the defence. For all of Arsenal's defensive criticisms, they had the second best defence in the league and the best record away from home. Mertesacker has been at the heart of that.

GOAL OF THE SEASON

AM -- Lukas Podolski v Montpellier in the Champions League -- A brilliant volley from a Olivier Giroud pass.

SL -- Lukas Podolski v West Ham in the Premier League -- I was fortunate to be right behind this 30-yard rocket in the stands. One of the sweetest strikes of a football I've seen.

SAVE OF THE SEASON

AM -- Wojciech Szczesny v QPR -- A big, strong left-hand denied Loic Remy and saved Arsenal from dropping two points which would have proved fatal to Champions League qualification.

SL -- Wojciech Szczesny v Manchester United -- While not quite as vital as the Remy one, I loved Szczesny's star-jump to deny Robin van Persie with his face.

BEST TEAM PERFORMANCE

AM -- It's hard to look past Bayern 0-2 Arsenal -- not exactly the most thrilling, expansive game of the season, but to dig out that result under the circumstances at the time was fantastic.

SL -- Dismantling West Ham 5-1 -- undoubtedly the Munich performance was superb, but for the attacking play, I've chosen the home win against West Ham. The 15 minutes after halftime were the closest I've seen an Arsenal team be to the 2004 side in a long time. Almost every attack produced a goal.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

AM -- Two winners for me: First part of the season -- Carl Jenkinson, who looked to grow considerably as a player. Second part of the season -- the much maligned Aaron Ramsey who proved his worth and without whose energy and work-rate the Gunners would have struggled to put that final run of games together.

SL -- Theo Walcott is often an easy target for criticism, and did go through a lean patch during the season, but 14 goals and 11 assists in the Premier League and 21 goals in all competitions is a big improvement. He's made some key contributions during the season.

BEST GAME

AM -- Arsenal 5-2 Spurs -- A second successive 5-2 win at home over the old enemy, made all the sweeter by an Emmanuel Adebayor sending off.

SL -- Reading 5-7 Arsenal -- The craziest match I've ever been to. During the game, everyone forgot it was a Capital One Cup fourth round match and was caught up in the emotions of an incredible comeback. Swung from the worst performance I've probably ever seen from a Wenger team to the one of the greatest away days possible.

DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE SEASON

AM -- Going out of both domestic cups to lower league opposition. Once is bad, twice is just horrible.

SL -- In agreement with Andrew. Having fought so hard to comeback against Reading, the Bradford exit was bizarre and so tough to take.

MOST ANNOYING MEME OF THE SEASON

AM -- Arsene Wenger's zip. Who cares?!

THE SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH AWARD

AM -- Shared between Andrei Arshavin and Sebastian Squillaci. Oh, and Marouane Chamakh. And Park Ju Young. And ... *sigh*

THE ABOU DIABY GET WELL SOON AWARD

AM -- Jack Wilshere's ankle. Hopefully he can stay fit for the duration of next season.

THE MIKEL ARTETA BEST HAIR AWARD

AM -- Mikel Arteta.

THE GERVINHO WORST HAIR AWARD

AM -- Gervinho.

FLOP OF THE SEASON

AM -- Thomas Vermaelen, from proudly becoming skipper to benched for the final few months.

DRIVER OF THE SEASON

SL -- Andre Santos. His ban for speeding meant someone had to drive him out the club when he left.

MISINFORMATION OF THE SEASON

SL -- Spurs fans believing Newcastle had equalised. It made that final 1-0 win that bit sweeter.

DANCER OF THE SEASON

SL -- Per Mertesacker. It was technically in pre-season, but no one can rival Per's shape-busting in Nigeria.

QUOTE OF THE SEASON

SL -- Andre Villas Boas -- "They are in a negative spiral in terms of results -- and to be out of that spiral is extremely difficult." In fairness to AVB, when he said this after Spurs won the North London derby to move seven points ahead of the Gunners, it was understandable given Arsenal's run of form. However, the Gunners didn't lose for the rest of the season after his wise words.