Sunday, 22 May 2016

2015-16 Post Season Review

(Pic : Sky Sports)


Season verdict C. Progress stalled. It sounds silly to give it that rating when Arsenal have just finished runners-up – their best position in 9 years - but considering this was also the best chance to win the title since 2004 the season can only go down as an anti-climax. It's been the usual problem of Arsene Wenger failing to fill holes in the squad (he seemed to be the only person in football who thought Arsenal didn't need any outfield players last summer) and placing too much faith in players who are either inconsistent or injury prone.

Player of the season – Mesut Özil. His best season in an Arsenal shirt and he's shown why he was worth the £40million price tag after some criticism in previous seasons. He's created more league goals (19) than any other player this season – twelve more than Cesc Fabrecunt - and was close to matching or bettering Thierry Henry's Premier League record of 20 assists.

Most Improved Player – Nacho Monreal. There were rumours he might've been off in January, but he's since become a solid first choice left-back and with Kieran Gibbs' injury problems, of the two it now looks more likely that Gibbs will leave the club if he can't force his way back into the team.

Breakthrough Player – Alex Iwobi. Should've been given a chance much sooner based on what I've seen at the end of the season, but he was never mentioned in the same light as other, more hyped, youth players. With a few senior midfielders leaving I'd expect him to feature more next season.

Goal of the Season – I've opted for Danny Welbeck's last minute header against Leicester at home. It's not the greatest goal ever scored and on technical ability Alexis Sanchez v Man United probably would've been the winner. Why did I choose this one? It provided hope – a player who had been out for months scoring the winner in what looked to be the game that made Arsenal genuine title favourites....didn't last though did it?

Best Moments – St Totteringham's Day 2016 will go down in legend and is up there with Marriot Lasagna 2006 in terms of shear Spurs implosion. Beating Man United 3-0 at home. The two Leicester games, particularly the home game. Beating Bayern Munich at home 2-0. Flamini's goal to knock Spurs out of the League Cup.

Worst Moments
– Where to start....Seeing yet another title challenge collapse with a string of poor results in January, followed by defeats to Swansea, Man United and drawing at Spurs; all Arsenal had to do is win a few of those games and the title was theirs. Going out in the FA Cup to Watford in March.
Losing 4-0 at Southampton. The Champions League campaign as a whole was a disaster and I wish Arsenal had gone out in the group stage than prolong the nightmare. Joe Allen is dead to me after the equaliser at Anfield which marked the moment the wheels started to come off.

Work for 2016-17 – With the new injection of TV money there are no excuses for Arsenal to not go out and fill the holes in the squad. In particular : an out-and-out 20-30 goal a season striker, a midfield enforcer/ball winner (it looks like a deal for the appropriately-named Granit Xhaka is close if not already done) and a medium-term replacement for Per Mertesacker at centre back.


Team of the Season

Player of the Season – Riyad Mahrez (Leicester). Signed for just £400,000 in 2014, he's gone on to establish himself as one of the best wingers in the Premier League and one of the most consistently well-performing players of any team. He's easily matched, if not exceeded, the exploits of Alexis Sanchez last season and is also remarkably well-behaved, picking up just one booking all season.

Young Player of the Year – Dele Alli (Spurs). He's petulant, but what a player. Reminds me of a more graceful version of Patrick Vieira (sadly). A mention also has to go to Marcus Rashford (Man United), who seemingly came out of nowhere to become the latest homegrown talent for the Mancs.

Manager of the Season – Claudio Ranieri (Leicester). What he's done matches, if not exceeds, Blackburn's title win in 1995, Man United's treble and Arsenal's Invincibles season.
I'd expect a statue of him to be built in Leicester. After the way Claudio was treated at Chelsea, I'm genuinely pleased for him; doubly so as it coincided with Mourinho proving to the world just how much of a cunt he is.

Honourable mention goes to Slaven Bilic. West Ham faded towards the end of the season after some impressive results against the top sides. They could be genuine contenders for the top-four next season if they can adapt to the Olympic Stadium. Eddie Howe also confounded all expectations at Bournemouth and if Leicester hadn't overshadowed it, Bournemouth staying up is a magnificent achievement in its own right.

Best Signings – Riyad Mahrez, obviously. N'Golo Kante too. Toby Alderweireld (Spurs) was a bargain at under £12million. Dimitri Payet (West Ham) has been impressive since an under-valued £10million move from Marseille last summer and there are rumours abound that Real Madrid are sniffing around. Petr Cech (Arsenal) had a wobbly start, but has since proven himself to be a bargain at around £10million and was subsequent winner of the Golden Gloves. He's the reason Arsenal finished second instead of sixth.

Biggest Flops – Take your pick from Newcastle : Florian Thauvin, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Jonjo Shelvey. Memphis Depay (Man United) has always seemed like he couldn't be bothered. Christian Benteke (Liverpool) – I still rate him as a player generally and think he's just had an off-year, but the £33million pricetag : Aston Villa's biggest victory of the season there. Raheem Sterling (Man City) built up his bank balance as the record English signing, but there's little to show for it.

Goal of the Season -
Dele Alli again, with a Bergkamp-esque finish at Crystal Palace.