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Season in Review: Midfield
Quick reviews of each position for Arsenal
As the season is entirely wrapped up now and before we turn our attention to the transfer market and next season, I want to go through the squad and look back at how each position performed.
Today we are looking at the Arsenal midfielders.
Arsenal got a ton from this midfield group this season, way more than I thought would have been possible and maybe more than can be expected in the future, seeing as they seem to be in the middle of a pretty big revamp of the group.
One of the really big positives was that Arsenal got 22 goals from players playing in a midfield role this season.
The goals that Arsenal got from midfield ended up being the 4th highest per 90 among Premier League players and it was certainly not something that I expected at the start of the season. There ended up being some air in these numbers with the group over-performing the expected numbers.
That led to one of the most obvious areas for improvement in the first eleven on a talent/fit perspective with the area that Granit Xhaka occupied in the left midfield/eight. In addition, this is also the area of the team that has the most obvious need for an age reset, with Partey, Xhaka, Jorginho, and Elneny all leaving the typical prime years for a midfielder.
There seems to be a lot of change coming but before we get too far into that, lets look at what the players did this season.
For parts of this season Partey looked like the best midfielder in the Premier League. For stretches, he also looked lost and invited speculation that he was playing with an injury.
He played roughly once a week again, being given most Europa and Cup games off but still ended up playing just 73% of the available minutes for Arsenal.
Overall at the end of the season, he was essentially the 4th best defensive midfielder in the Premier League, ranking behind Casemiro, Rodri, and Caicedo.
I am probably being harsh on him but I continue to be frustrated that he cannot be depended upon to play in the pivotal matches at his best. With the addition of the Champions League, that feels like it is even less likely to happen again next season. The lack of dependability really knocks down my rating for him this season.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 total for the season.
Martin Ødegaard was Arsenal’s player of the season and I think he absolutely deserved the recognition. One of the things that came out of last season was that he played well but it felt like that there was still more in the tank that he could extract as an attacking threat.
This season he did get more, really fulfilling a lot of the potentially that made him one of the most sought-after wonderkids in the World. He added additional shots, more passes into the penalty areas, more progressive passes, more carries, and more just all-around attacking threat.
He went from a very good player to an elite player and perhaps on the verge of taking the mantle from Kevin De Bruyne as the best creative playmaker in the Premier League for the coming season.
There really isn’t more that I think you could have realistically asked from the Arsenal captain this season.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10 total for the season.
I will raise my hand and say that I did not see this type of production coming from Granit Xhaka.
He ended up playing exceptionally in a role that I am not sure many thought he could do. He still left things to be desired but he showed excellent attacking instincts for when he should be in the box and when he should stay more reserved and help cover for other players.
I still think that this is the most obvious area for Arsenal to improve in the first eleven and it makes sense that this might be the high for Granit Xhaka to ride off into the sunset for his time with Arsenal, really completing the arc that started years ago.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 total for the season.
Jorginho came in mid-season and he was controversial when he signed.
Arsenal fans do not like players that come from Chelsea and that really seemed to cloud the move for Jorginho. It also didn’t help that it came off the chase of Moises Caicedo and it felt like quite a drop in the level of excitement around the transfer.
That being acknowledged I think he came in and I think played better than most would have expected. He had some moments where his lack of speed were exposed but he was able to step into the midfield role and give adequate cover.
This was never a long-term fix but should he be needed to be called upon next season I would feel comfortable seeing his name on the teamsheet right now.
Rating: 7 out of 10 total for the season.
It was a tough first season for Fabio Vieira. I think that if you asked him he would agree on that, with his ability to influence the game limited and a few high visibility moments where he looked timid and perhaps overawed by the moment and physicality of the Premier League.
Adam and I wrote up a longer thoughts on him and what comes next here if you want to go further into his season.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10 total for the season.