We’ve all been there at one point. When you break something expensive and try to piece it together or get rid of the evidence. Then Mom or Dad comes in the room, you act like nothing happened and think you’re in the clear. But, you end up getting in trouble anyway either because what you pieced together broke apart or you didn’t hide the evidence well enough, leading to you being spanked or grounded.
That throwback to childhood essentially sums up Arsenal’s season. Lots of cracks exposed that the players and Arsène Wenger tried so desperately to hide, and won a trophy to fix those cracks to some degree, but ultimately got them in big trouble. This season was a mess, one that was self-created and resulted in the most turbulent season in the Wenger era. A record 13th FA Cup title on Saturday certainly relieved some tension, but the stark realisation of not qualifying for the the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 19 years, as well as anxiety over the possible departures of Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil this coming transfer window ensures that relief will be short-lived.
Before offering a quick school of thought on what an uncertain summer holds, the time has come to decide which players made the grade this season and who’s in need of some extra lessons? Class is in session Gunners!
Petr Čech: B-
Played much better the last month and a half of the season and had the second best save percentage in the Premier League, but it’s clear at age 35 that his days as a regular starter are done as his reflexes and distribution senses worsen.
David Ospina: B
Played well in the Champions League (even in the Bayern battering) and was sturdy when needed most in the FA Cup final. Surely set to leave in the summer window, the Colombian has been a steady hand despite occasional shaky moments.
Emiliano Martinez: C-
Didn’t make the most of his league cameo when Cech and Ospina missed time and it remains to be seen whether the Argentinian will ever be more than a league cup regular as time evolves.
Hector Bellerin: D
Looking at one point like he was going a Justin Timberlake-esque phase sporting braids, the Spaniard was hardly in sync on both sides of the ball, taking a big step back this season.
Carl Jenkinson and Mathieu Debuchy: IC
Both need to be let go and probably should have been already.
Laurent Koscielny: B+
Still one of the best centre backs in the league, but looked shakier than normal and relies more on instinct now in his 30s. Cup final aside, his absences were most crippling as the back line looked shambolic without their talisman.
Shkodran Mustafi: C
First half of the season, he looked like he was worth every penny shelled out last summer. Post-injury, he was simply shelled, positionally lost off the ball and clumsy on it.
Per Mertesacker: IC
Played just 125 minutes all season (in the last two weeks), but BFG’s excellent cup final performance showed he still has some quality left in that big frame.
Rob Holding: B+
Did this kid do much wrong all season? Holding his own (sorry, couldn’t help it) against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea while possessing calmour on the ball and in the tackle, the 21-year-old has much promise that needs to be built on. Just sucks he didn’t cost more, right Arsène?
Wenger on Rob Holding! 😱😱😱😱😱 pic.twitter.com/bNzprzsaDM
— The Arsenal (@ArsenalGoals) May 28, 2017
A rough season for the Brazilian. Two bad injuries and an ill-fated spell at right back. Put in the odd performance, but still struggling to recapture his 2014/15 form.
Nacho Monreal: C+
Spotty form at best. The last two months reminded fans of his quality and versatility, but average wingers roasted Nacho for fun much of the season. Look for a possible, full-time centre back conversion for the Spaniard going forward given his strong performances there.
Kieran Gibbs: B-
Largely solid but often injured. With Sead Kolišinac apparently on his way soon, Gibbs’ extended Arsenal tenure appears done as the English international seeks more playing time.