Arsenal’s record-breaking 13th FA Cup trophy may have delighted the club’s fans, but it could scarcely offset the disappointment of their performance in the Premier League this season.
Arsenal finished outside of the top four for the first time since Arsene Wenger’s first season in charge, and echoes of discontent have been heard drifting across the Emirates for much of the season.
While their goalscoring exploits were a pleasure to witness at times, defence has been the weakest link in the side. They conceded more goals than anyone else in the top seven – well, tied with Everton – on 44, and a disappointing nine defeats throughout the campaign have helped make the anti-Wenger chants much louder.
His regular first choice defence consisted of Héctor Bellerín, Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, with Gabriel Paulista being the regular go-to stand in. Unfortunately for the Gunners supporters, these guys just didn’t quite gel as well as many would have hoped. The team’s flair moving forward was clear to see, but the quality at the back let them down at times.
Of these defenders, Bellerín was easily the best – at least in terms of EFL. His 50 points was a decent(ish) return, but his value at 8.00m gives him a Performance / Price ratio of 6.8. While that isn’t too bad, it seems hardly at the level you’d be hoping for in potential honour chasers. Not unless his price was sky high of course.
Nacho Monreal wasn’t too far behind him on 40 points, but also being valued at 8.00m puts him behind Bellerin on the P/P Index, with a return of 5.6.
Koscielny was arguably the biggest under-performer of the Gunners’ backline, with an 8.50m value and 38 points from his 33 starts. That puts him at a P/P result of 4.2, the lowest of the regular starters. He is also valued the highest along with Per Mertesacker, but the tall German didn’t start a single match all season.
Mustafi’s final P/P score of 5.0 is better than Koscielny’s, but still a way below the full backs. Mustafi also tended to be Koscielny’s central defensive partner for much of the season, so this would highlight a particular area of concern if Wenger is to celebrate his new two year contract with an improved finish next term.
The Frenchman has favoured a three-man defence at times this season, and that has been the primary contributor to Mustafi’s lower tally of starts compared to his colleagues. Again, this is a trend that could continue into next season, and should Wenger decide to take that route then he could well be searching for a new man to take the helm in the middle. Koscielny and Mertesacker are both quality players, but someone with added reliability likely wouldn’t go amiss at the Emirates – neither on the field nor in the stands.
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