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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 10 hours ago
Read
May 18, 2010

Arsenal player ratings

With another term coming to end, and a summer holiday dominated by the World Cup fast approaching, it seems an appropriate time to deliver those all-important report cards for the Premier League elite. So which players excelled themselves, and which were left fearing the hairdryer treatment on a weekly basis? Soccernet's team of writers deliver their marks out of ten. Cesc Fabregas - 9. Fabregas has been a brilliant talent and the beating heart of the Arsenal team since his first full season at the club, but his tally of 15 goals and 13 assists in 27 league games took him onto a new level entirely. Flourishing in an advanced role, the captain led by example before injury cut his season short. Gunners fans are now praying Barcelona do not do the same to his Arsenal career.

Thomas Vermaelen - 8.5. One of the signings of the season following his move from Ajax, Vermaelen became an instant hit with the Arsenal fans thanks to a flurry of goals and some commanding performances at the back. His uncompromising nature and aerial prowess brought some steel to the defence and he was sorely missed when injury ruled him out of the conclusion of the season.

Alex Song - 8.5. This season completed Song's transformation from a utility player treated with suspicion by supporters to a midfield powerhouse who demands a place in Arsene Wenger's starting XI. One of the leading exponents of the 'Makelele role' in the top flight, Song also boasts impressive ability on the ball and his authority is a valuable commodity for a side that has failed to shake accusations that they are susceptible to bullying.

Robin van Persie - 8.5. Either side of a hugely frustrating five-month absence due to injury, Van Persie was an irrepressible presence, inevitably sparking thoughts of what might have been. The Dutchman was in the form of his career before joining up with the Netherlands and suffering injury in November, his link-up play matching his potency in front of goal as he revelled in his position as a lone striker.

William Gallas - 8. Gallas avoided controversy this season, adopting a guarded persona following his loss of the captaincy in 2008-09, and it benefitted the Frenchman no end as he performed to a high level on a consistent basis. He dovetailed quickly with Vermaelen and, despite not being the most well-liked player in the dressing room, he will be sorely missed should he decide against signing a new contract.

Sol Campbell - 8. It is remarkable enough that Campbell's name features on this list at all, but to see the veteran defender somewhere near the top of class is bizarre indeed. Though he started the season in League Two with Notts County, Campbell ended it by making a strong case for a new contract at Arsenal following some impressive performances and he is a positive influence on his young colleagues.

Nicklas Bendtner - 7.5. After a season that ended in such disappointing fashion, one of the most obvious bright spots for Arsenal has been the improved form of Bendtner, who finished the campaign with a run of nine goals in 13 games. Though the Dane is not yet as good as he undoubtedly thinks he is, his propensity for scoring crucial late goals is priceless and you could never accuse him of mental weakness.

Emmanuel Eboue - 7.5. Last season, Eboue was described by Wenger as a "danger" to the team after he was roundly abused by frustrated supporters and substituted against Wigan, but his redemption is now complete. A true cult hero - who attracts chants of "you only came to see Eboue!" - he has proved a valuable asset either at right-back or in midfield, even if his playacting is a constant source of frustration.

Aaron Ramsey - 7.5. The image of Ramsey lying in agony on the pitch at the Britannia Stadium is a hard one to shake, and it would be a travesty if this talented midfielder's progression is irreparably harmed by that moment. Ramsey had enjoyed a fine season until his trip to Stoke and looked like the heir apparent to Cesc Fabregas, particularly with an astonishingly mature performance away at Olympiakos that showcased his skill and vision.

Samir Nasri - 7. Asked to deputise for Cesc Fabregas in an advanced role against Porto in March, Nasri scored a wonder goal and pulled the strings in a 5-0 thumping. Those heights were rarely matched though and while he is undoubtedly a player of real substance - whether in a central role, out wide or in behind the strikers - there is room for improvement. His excellent close control and superior technique make him a typical player for an Arsene Wenger side, but then so do concerns regarding style over substance.

Abou Diaby - 7. A move to 4-3-3 has suited Diaby, who enjoyed his best season in the Arsenal midfield. The Frenchman demonstrated his unerring ability to float away from his markers with his languid style on numerous occasions, but remains infuriatingly inconsistent, a trademark sloppy pass invariably generating familiar groans from a demanding Emirates crowd.

Bacary Sagna - 6.5. Ever since his arrival at the club in 2007, Sagna has been a model of consistency for Arsenal. That admirable quality continued this season, even if his crossing remains as consistently bad as his defending is impressive. A renewed challenge from Emmanuel Eboue has given him food for thought though.

Andrei Arshavin - 6.5. An enigma to the end, Arshavin's season has been difficult to dissect, especially given he spent a large portion of it in an unfamiliar role as a lone striker. With 11 goals and six assists he has made a valuable contribution and is a genuinely unique talent - as superb goals against Liverpool and Manchester United demonstrated. However, the suspicion remains that he could produce even more magic and his body language leads to accusations of laziness.

Gael Clichy - 6.5. The Frenchman missed two-and-a-half months between November and January due to persistent injury problems and his form upon his return was hugely unconvincing. However, he improved in the latter stages of the season and was Arsenal's best player in their 4-1 defeat at Camp Nou, underlining his value to the team as he became more comfortable in a 4-3-3 formation.

Kieran Gibbs - 6.5. In November, Fabio Capello described Gibbs as "really interesting for the future of the England team", but just two weeks later, his season was cut brutally short by a nasty foot injury in a Champions League victory over Standard Liege.

Denilson - 6. He developed a taste for spectacular goals - starting on the opening day rout of Everton - but Denilson continues to divide opinion amongst supporters. Is he dynamic enough to form part of a three-man midfield? Back injuries undoubtedly restricted his impact but the Brazilian looks like an understudy, not a leading man.

Vito Mannone - 6. The Italian was handed a surprise chance in the first team at the start of the season with Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski absent, and initially impressed, particularly in a 1-0 victory at Fulham. He returned to the bench and did not feature after October, but Mannone can be pleased with his season.

Manuel Almunia - 5. It is telling that for most Arsenal supporters, recruiting a top-class goalkeeper would be the one piece of advice they would impart to their manager this summer. While a combination of family tragedy and illness hampered his contribution in the early part of the season, Almunia has failed to palpably improve this year and is the weak link in a fully-fit Arsenal team.

Tomas Rosicky - 5. Like Eduardo, Rosicky has failed to reach his previous level having returned from a long-term absence. Though he scored on his first appearance in 20 months - the 4-2 defeat to Manchester City in September - Rosicky completed 90 minutes on just three occasions, all too often flitting in and out of games.

Theo Walcott - 5. The forward scored against Barcelona and will go to the World Cup, but injuries and a loss of form meant this was a difficult season for Walcott. Chris Waddle said he "doesn't understand the game" in an outspoken attack in March, and after scoring only three league goals and betraying a lack of a final product, he still has much to prove, despite his electric pace.

Armand Traore - 4.5. The Frenchman has failed to progress following a loan spell with Portsmouth last season and saw his stock slip to become only the club's third-choice left back, behind Gael Clichy and Kieran Gibbs. Only a spate of injuries allowed him to rack up nine league starts, to little effect.

Carlos Vela - 4.5. A quite wonderful goal on the final day against Fulham should not cloud what has been a disappointing season for the Mexican - indeed it was his first goal since his first game of the campaign against West Brom in September. Fitness problems have taken their toll, but, with a number of colleagues also hampered by injury, Vela has missed a good chance to impose himself on the first team.

Mikael Silvestre - 4.5. The Frenchman has always suffered from his association with Manchester United and a disappointing season did little to improve his reputation amongst supporters. The fact he started in the 4-1 defeat at Barcelona and featured in subsequent losses to Spurs, Wigan and Blackburn certainly did not help. His almost certain departure will not be lamented.

Eduardo - 4. Three goals in his first five games of the season promised so much for a player who suffered such a horrendous injury in February 2008, but Eduardo, it is sad to say, is not the same player following that leg break, lacking his previous deadly touch in front of goal. He scored just three league goals and appeared to fall behind Carlos Vela in the pecking order at the end of the season.

Lukasz Fabianski - 2. A more unconvincing campaign could hardly be envisaged. Fabianski was hoping to cast aside the memory of his horror show in the FA Cup against Chelsea last season; instead he compiled a DVD's-worth of new errors. Stoke, Porto, Wigan and Blackburn all benefitted from his comical 'keeping, and even Arsenal fans greeted any successful touch with ironic cheers on the final day. Surely his time is up.

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