Here are our votes for Arsenal’s Player of the Season and why it makes sense
Arsenal didn’t have the season many expected of them. A glut of promising and expensive summer signings, and a narrow miss on UCL the seasons before left hopes running high as the Gunners keyed up to compete for top four.
Poor management, from coaches and owners alike, hampered our early momentum, and led to a string of draws and losses, characterized by abysmal runs of form in every area of the team. From there, even Mikel Arteta‘s passion couldn’t prevent an early Europa League exit, although his Arsenal didn’t lose a game until after the restart.
The FA Cup final is a fantastic win and sprinkles some good feeling on Arsenal’s worst finish in 25 years. And our good run of form—16 wins, 5 draws, and 5 losses since New Years Day—has left some Gooners, myself included, hopeful for the 2020/21 season.
But first, I’d like to pause and reflect on this season’s performances, and the players who characterized the best bits of our season. Nobody was perfect, but some stood head-and-shoulders above the rest. Let’s begin at number 5.
5. Matteo Guendouzi
I reckon most of you are shaking your hands—or maybe fists—at this suggestion, but before you write it off, let me explain. In order to assume the noble title of “the American with asinine hot takes,” I had to come up with a Player of the Season candidate so ludicrous, you would all hate me. But the more I thought about Matteo Guendouzi, the more it made sense.
What seems like a decade ago under Unai Emery, Guendouzi was the only player who impressed on a weekly basis. When Arsenal’s midfield crumbled, he held them aloft. He put fire and passion into every touch of the ball, and when Granit Xhaka was dismissed during the infamous Crystal Palace game, he took up the bruiser role too.
Now, I don’t nominate him because I particularly like Guendouzi (anymore), nor to vindicate Unai Emery’s management of the team. Frankly, they’re a bit similar for me: Inconsistent, positionally unaware, and more prone to fighting after the match than during it.
But at the same time, there were enough games where Guendouzi saved us points at the beginning of the season that I have to give him credit. And even if he leaves us at the end of the season—for a whopping pile of cash I hope—he served the Gunners well during the first half of the season, and he deserves to be recognized.
On to number four, and somebody who I think is a bit more reasonable.