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Rating Arsenal’s Performances In The 2012/13 Season –The Attackers & Strikers
Arsenal blogger Gooner Daily looks over last season’s performances from the clubs attackers and strikers and gives each an overall season rating out of ten.
Last season, Arsenal notched up to a century of goals with 72 goals scored in the Premier League, 13 in the Champions League, 14 in the Capital One Cup and six goals in the FA Cup.
Despite this somewhat impressive goal count, it’s disheartening to know that they were hard to come by when the Gunners played against their rivals at the top as well as some key fixtures over the course of the season, with the games against Bayern (first leg), Swansea at home, Blackburn and Bradford coming to mind.
If the Gunners had managed to dispatch the League Two outfit, they would’ve geared themselves up for a two-legged semi-final berth against Aston Villa, and if they were successful against the Midlands outfit a final against Swansea would have beckoned. Had the Gunners went one step forward in this season’s Capital One Cup final, the trophy bells would have been ringing.
The FA Cup offered a different proposition as the Gunners crashed out following an appalling performance against Blackburn. Had Arsene Wenger’s side won against the team they successfully slammed seven goals against at home last season, a sixth round clash against Millwall would have been on the cards before a semi-final clash against eventual winners, Wigan. If Arsenal beat all the aforementioned teams on the road to Wembley, a potential final clash against Chelsea or Manchester City would have followed. So much for wishful thinking…..
This is the final installment of a four-post series focused on Arsenal’s performances in the 2012/13 season. I’ve already published my ratings on the performances of the goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders but today’s post is focused on Arsenal’s goal getters. Here goes…
Andrey Arshavin: 11 Apps, One Goal, Five Assists
…The first goal on the night was from a Cesc Fabregas pass after some good work by Samir Nasri, he worked the second himself after some poor Liverpool defending, his hat-trick was gifted to him on a platter thanks to more atrocious defending from Liverpool and his fourth came from a brilliant counter attack that was started by Walcott.
That night, the Russian magician was simply four-midable and the Gunners were disappointed to know that he couldn’t be part of their impressive Champions League campaign because he was cup-tied from his involvement with his previous and only club, Zenit St. Petersburg.
After scoring six goals and supplying nine assists in just 15 games for Arsenal, Arshavin came second in Arsenal’s 2009 Player of the Season Poll despite coming in the second half of the campaign. Arsene Wenger, his teammates and most importantly, the fans, waited anxiously to see what he could accomplish in a full season with the club.
Four years on and his four-goal performance against Liverpool is only a distant memory. After an extremely disappointing campaign last season, Arshavin’s time with Arsenal is up as the club chose not to renew his contract. He was reduced to spending a lot of time in the dugout and when he came on, he looked rather uninterested.
He was pretty impressive in the Capital One Cup last season and his only significant Premier League moments include his late cross into the box that led to the goal against Queens Park Rangers and the penalty he won for his team against Fulham.
In what became his final appearance for the club, Arsene Wenger summoned him with 15 minutes left to play when the Gunners visited Stamford Bridge. With the Gunners trailing, they needed inspiration from anywhere but when the ball came to Arshavin’s path, he was found wanting.
Some say that he was played out of position, others said that his attitude was lackadaisical. I say that he’s a technically proficient player that began his career at the club like a house on fire but plummeted into mediocrity due to his lethargy and lack of work ethic.
Gervinho: 26 Apps, Seven Goals, Five Assists
Gervinho will always be remembered for his penalty miss against Zambia in the 2012 African Cup of Nations. He returned to North London like a player haunted with his own demons and he couldn’t exorcise them for the remainder of the campaign.
After a decent pre-season that was epitomized with a wonder goal against FC Cologne, Arsenal’s toothless nature in front of goal afforded the Ivorian a chance to start as a center forward.
He repaid his manager’s faith almost immediately with a well-taken brace against Southampton. The goals kept ramping up for Gervinho with Montpellier, Chelsea and Olympiakos on the receiving end of some Ivorian magic.
Shortly afterwards, a horrible run of form followed with Gervinho putting up appalling performances on a weekly basis. Then came the shocking miss against Bradford, and Gervinho subsequently spent a lot of time on the bench before he was given another chance to redeem himself when Wenger played him in the FA Cup tie against Blackburn with half an eye on the Bayern Munich fixture. Gervinho missed another glaring chance in that game as well, which Arsenal rued.
When we all thought his season was done, Gervinho came off the bench to score the match winner against Swansea before a Man of the Match performance against Reading where he scored a goal and created two assists. He continued his good late form creating a goal for Tomas Rosicky against West Brom then he went on free fall again with another putrid performance against Norwich.
When Gervinho stated that he wants to remain at Arsenal and fight for his place, I can bet that a faction of the Arsenal faithful gnashed their teeth in anguish – including me.
Marouane Chamakh: Three Apps, Two Goals, One Assist
After going through 19 games two seasons ago and scoring only one goal, Chamakh was understandably frozen out last season because he had become a liability to the team rather than an asset.
Chamakh’s first appearance last season was rather perplexing, as he managed to score two goals from outside the box – a feat I don’t think he had ever achieved for the club. He featured for the Gunners in the dead-rubber fixture against Olympiakos in Athens and he was a rather peripheral figure, no different from his performance against Bradford.
Arsenal took a rather bold step to part ways with Denilson, I really hope they follow suit with Chamakh.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 33 Apps, Two Goals, Three Assists
It’s fair to say that the Ox suffered the well-renowned “second season syndrome” as he clearly failed to live up to the hype surrounding him in his first campaign in the Premier League.
The idea of Oxlade-Chamberlain expressing himself on a football pitch is something that has petrified many opposition defences since his arrival to the Premier League two seasons ago. The 19-year-old’s pace and ability to find a pass has already transformed him into an Arsenal regular and, should he continue his fine progression up the Gunners ranks, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a starter in the England XI come next summer.
Last season, the Ox failed to assert himself and his chances diminished with Theo Walcott’s growing importance to the team. There was even a point when he was further down the pecking order behind Gervinho.
Despite his shortcomings, the Ox showed some glimpses of his undoubtedly quality and his wonder strike against Coventry City was a friendly reminder of what he was made of. He also scored a goal in that 7-3 thumping of Newcastle and his most important contribution last season was his neat cutback to Giroud the 3-1 win over Norwich.
Just went a draw seemed on the cards, the Ox popped up with an improvised flash of brilliance and whether it was a Giroud goal or Seb Bassong own goal, the ball entered the net thanks to the Ox.
The Ox is an unearthed talent and he’s one for the future.
Lukas Podolski: 42 Apps, 16 Goals, 11 Assists
Lukas Podolski is a renowned center forward but his versatility ensures that he can be deployed in other attacking positions, as he can play in the hole behind the striker as well as the left wing position, where he has played for throughout his time at Arsenal with the exception of his debut against Sunderland, where he put up a disappointing show.
From then onwards, the manager deployed him on the left hand side and he bonded with that position, putting up stellar performances as well as forging a telepathic understanding with Kieran Gibbs. However, there’s something that’s more certain than death, taxes and England losing on penalties – Lukas Podolski being substituted. In all my years as a football fan, I’ve never seen a player more substituted than Podolski. Ever.
Arsenal’s Freddie Ljungberg had the unwanted record of being the most substituted player (21 times) in a season but Podolski made it look like child’s play. Whether he was downright unfit or carrying an injury, it didn’t change the fact that it was a good debut season for the German.
The German machine scored all kinds of goals this season. Several placed efforts, headers, a lob against Wigan, a free kick against Southampton, a piledriver against West Ham and of course his volley against Montpellier.
Olivier Giroud: 47 Apps, 17 Goals, 12 Assists
I can vividly remember when I published an article on 10 things you need to know about Giroud, after he had completed his move from Montpellier in June 2012. 12 months on, let’s see if he ticked all the boxes in that article.
- He’s a massive threat in the air – He proved this all season long supporting the team from set pieces defensively as well as scoring some goals with his head (Liverpool and Fulham)
- He’s a classic target man – Holding up play, flick-ons, bringing others to the game, through balls and aerial duels were part and parcel of Giroud’s game last season.
- He’s not injury prone – Out of 38 available Premier League games, Giroud missed three through a red card. He was an ever-present figure this season and his 47 appearances throughout the campaign is a testament of that.
- He has his fair share of silverware – *coughs profusely* He won that in Montpellier
- He’s close friends with Koscielny – You don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that
- He’s highly rated by Wenger – The boss spoke about him in volumes and hopes for more next season.
- He’s on Twitter – You can follow him @_OlivierGiroud_
- He fits into Arsenal’s style of play – Check!
- He offers Arsenal options in attack – Every fan saw how the attack crumbled following Giroud’s red card against Fulham.
- He worked his way to the top – Grenoble – Istres – Tours – Montpellier – Arsenal…do the math.
Despite checking all these boxes and adding 17 goals to his name, Giroud struggled for form this season in patches and his record against the top four sides was quite disappointing. I don’t even want to start with the glaring misses. A decent season but he could do with some competition up front.
Theo Walcott: 43 Apps, 21 Goals, 17 Assists
I would describe Theo Walcott as fine wine – getting better with each passing season. Arsenal’s top goalscorer, Theo Walcott, will look back to last season with a keen sense of pride. With Robin van Persie departing for greener pastures, Arsenal needed some players to step their games up and in all fairness, Walcott fell into that category.
The entertaining, enthralling and epic encounter between Reading and Arsenal in the Capital One cup would go down as one of the most pulsating matches in English football history but Walcott placed his mark on that fixture, scoring a stunning hat-trick. There was the brace against Coventry and a consistent run of goals in the course of the season, but when Walcott was deployed as a center forward against Newcastle in December, he rewarded his manager with another scintillating hat-trick.
Some may label the forward as a one-trick pony but Walcott’s efficiency in front of goal has been very clinical and the nature of his goals last season is a testament of these claims.
He opened his goalscoring account in the rout against Southampton before scoring a Thierry Henry-esque goal as well as another in the Coventry romp. He scored a decisive goal in the away victory over West Ham and followed it up with a scintillating hat-trick against Reading. The goals kept piling up as he opened the scoring against Schalke, got in on the act in the North London Derby and opened the scoring against Everton. There was still time for another goal against Reading before another hat-trick against Newcastle.
His hot streak continued against Chelsea, West Ham, Brighton and Liverpool then his goal-scoring dried up as he failed to record a single goal in February and March. At the tail end of April, he scored Manchester United before hitting the 20-goal mark against Queens Park Rangers. His final goal against Wigan contributed to their relegation.
However, Walcott struggled a bit when he was deployed as a center forward at Giroud’s expense last winter. His height was clearly an issue as he offered no threat from the air and wasn’t able to bring his teammate’s into the game with nice flicks and linkup moves.
The issue of his contract was also a very big thorn in Arsenal’s flesh but I’m glad he ‘signed da ting’. Overall, this has been a great campaign for Walcott and I certainly hopes his builds on it because he’s one of the central figures at the club right about now.
This is where the curtain closes on this series. I hope you enjoyed reading the articles as much as I enjoyed writing them. Thanks for reading and feel free to share your views on my ratings in the comments section below.