It’s that time of year again!
Welcome, one and all, to the fifth edition of the Annual Arsenal Associated Awards Relating to Greatness and God-awful Hilarity!!! (or AAAARGGH! for short) Over the next few minutes, we’ll reflect back on a season full of highs and lows, and I’ll be handing out AAAARGGHs along the way.
So, we begin the festivities with…
The Cesc Fabregas Award for Most Likely to be Tapped Up by Barcelona
To Hector Bellerin.
He’s been by far the best right back in the Premier League this season, even though he has been learning on the job pretty much all year. And he’s only 21.
He’s going to be ridiculously good in two or three years time, just as Dani Alves reaches retirement. It’s not a question of if Barcelona will come back for the former La Masia student, but when.
Let’s just hope he isn’t a Formula 1 fan……..
The Conor McGregor Award for Most Over-Hyped Waste of our Time
To the protest at the home game versus Norwich.
For all the bluster and hullabaloo that was raised in the media and on social media during the week before the game, the end result was the equivalent of someone blowing a raspberry into a jet engine.
It has been curious to see that virtually all talk of revolt has ended, now that the bandwagon has been demolished and set on fire. There is still a large minority that want to see Arsene Wenger replaced, but for now, the hostility in the arguments seem to have disappeared, which is nice.
Honourable mentions go to Tottenham’s title chances, (they needed a win to overhaul their highest ever Premier League points total, set in 2012-13 with Andre Villas-Boas as manager. He was sacked five months later…just saying.) Memphis Depay (he won the Dutch League by himself last season!) and both managers that started the season managing a club in the city of Liverpool.
The Piers Morgan Award for Most Obvious Thing to Shoot At If Given An Opportunity To
To Petr Cech’s near post.
There’s no question that Cech is an outstanding goalkeeper, and was a huge upgrade on what we’ve had at the club since Jens Lehmann left. He might not have won us fifteen points in the season like John Terry said he would, but he’s singlehandedly kept us in games that we should have lost.
This award is in no shape or form a suggestion that he needs to be replaced…….yet.
Go back and have a look at the last few goals Cech has conceded and you’ll find a pattern; Everyone is shooting low and to his near post.
Man City scored twice by doing it just last week.
All goalkeepers have flaws, but most of them can be covered up by having a solid defence in front of them.
Arsenal’s defence can be described in many ways, but ‘solid’ is not one of them. And as good as Cech is, he’s only going to deteriorate from here on.
The John Cena Award for Making Half a Crowd Love Him and Half a Crowd Hate Him at the Same Time
To Arsene Wenger.
For as little as the protest mentioned above actually accomplished, the mere fact that it was organised by three leading Arsenal fan groups should speak volumes as to how split the fan base is on this.
It was virtually impossible to finish this season in a manner that left both sides feeling that they’re right, yet Wenger did it. Second in the league and no trophies is just about the bare minimum that Arsenal fans should be entitled to expect, and he delivered it.
Are the issues at the club that need remedying? Absolutely.
A new striker is a must, now that Danny Welbeck has been well and truly Arsenalised (no games missed in five years at Manchester United, then comes to Arsenal and screws up BOTH knees…sigh).
Decisions are going to have to be made on a lot of squad players as to whether they have a future at the club -Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell to name four. Another midfielder is needed after three of our elder statesmen walk out the door. Speaking of which…
The Clarkson, Hammond and May Award for Best Loved Group of Three Rapidly Aging Men
To Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky.
This is a bittersweet award, because as much as it disappoints me to see them leave, Arsenal do need to replace them in order to upgrade the squad.
Their best days are behind them and Arsenal can’t afford to carry three players through a season that they can’t rely on to make valuable contributions on a regular basis.
Arteta’s value in the dressing room is one that will be hard to replace, whilst Flamini and Rosicky’s penchant for scoring important goals against Tottenham will always live long in the memory.
But Arsenal were left woefully short of numbers in central midfield all year, and none of these three were able to help when called upon. As much as we will miss them, it is important to move on as quickly as possible.
The Mesut Özil Award
To Mesut Özil. Here’s a question; How do you silence 45,000 people with one touch?
That’s how. The man is ridiculously good.
The Dennis Bergkamp Award for Doing Something that is Barely Believable But Not a Fluke in Any Way
To Leicester City.
The league table never lies. They won the league by ten points. They have three of the five best players in the league this season. They’re really, really good.
But to illustrate how completely insane this whole season has been, let me just outline the following;
- Claudio Ranieri would not be managing Leicester City if Nigel Pearson’s son hadn’t made racially insensitive comments whilst filming a sex tape with a Thai prostitute.
- Claudio Ranieri would not be managing Leicester City if Greece hadn’t lost to the Faroe Islands, a loss he was in charge for.
- Riyad Mahrez should be playing for St.Mirren right now.
And that’s not including the whole Jamie Vardy story, how Robert Huth metamorphosed into Jaap Stam, how Christian Fuchs became more than just a funny name, etc, etc, etc.
This should never have happened, just like clipping a ball with the instep of your left foot to spin it around a defender and then score with your right foot shouldn’t happen.
Only Dennis could dream of a goal like that. Only Leicester dreamed of a season like this.
The ‘Hi, my parents aren’t home right now.’ Award for Best Twenty Minutes of the Season
To the opening twenty minutes at home versus Manchester United.
They were so good, I needed a cigarette afterwards, and I don’t even smoke.
Pace, power, movement, skill, everything that we hoped the Arsenal attack could be, was there.
Even Theo Walcott looked like a competent striker, it was that good.
For a glorious moment, we thought we were capable of anything.
We never really got back to that level for the rest of the season, but it was nice to see, even if only fleetingly.
We just need to find that level more often, really. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?
The John Jensen Award for Goal of the Season
To Eden Hazard. Because I’m petty.
If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of thousands of delusional Tottenham fans retreating back into the shadows from which they lived in for so long. St. Totteringham’s Day arrived late this year, but don’t forget we also knocked them out of a cup despite handicapping ourselves by only being able to score through Mathieu Flamini.
We win again.
The Gus Caeser Award for Player of the Season
When you create 141 scoring chances in a league season (before Villa), smashing the previous record, but your team scores ten fewer goals than xG charts suggest they should have, then it’s clear that one player has done his part of the bargain whilst others failed to pick up their share.
Mesut Özil has been, by far and away, Arsenal’s best player this season.
Alexis Sanchez missed two months through injury and two months more to get back into form.
Santi Cazorla was having a great season up until getting injured in November.
After that, who has stood out? Bellerin? Monreal? Iwobi? Cech? That’s about it.
In a season that has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, in both good ways and bad, only Özil has been consistently superb all year.
Hopefully next year, there will be someone at the club to finish off all his hard work.