By Mac Johnson (Deputy Editor)

I believe most Arsenal followers would have relished a real award for this Arsenal squad this season. A trophy was almost unattainable, given their lack of European participation, and the way troublesome it’s to win the FA Cup with out a hopeless league marketing campaign or a super-team. We’ve got neither, and since we have didn’t qualify for the Champions League, there is a barely bitter style that involves the tongue when contemplating the scope of this season.

Fortuitously, I am right here to alter all that! Presenting, WeLoveYouArsenal’s 2021-22 season awards for Arsenal Soccer Membership.

Participant of the Season: Bukayo Saka

Who else.

Like Manchester CIty’s Phil Foden, who has earned the accolade of PL Younger Participant of the Yr for 2 seasons operating, so has Saka received our POTS award this yr and final.

In contrast to final season, the place he was a vibrant spark in a dismal marketing campaign, Bukayo Saka’s 21/22 confirmed an incredible quantity of progress, maturity, and improvement. He took final season on the chin together with the crushing defeat of EURO 2020, and advanced into a brand new man. He refined his ending and goalscoring, started to develop his one-on-one abilities in isolation, moderately than merely in transition, and earned a cemented place within the England squad. To not point out, he tallied 11 targets and 7 assists this season, main the facet in each classes.

Final yr, WLYA author Max Mishcon used the phrase “tranquility” to explain Saka, and although it is true that he nonetheless brings a splendidly stage head to proceedings, I need to spotlight his fireplace and need this season. He has develop into a talisman, a pacesetter, and a figurehead of this squad.

The only method is up for our Starboy.

Signing of the Season: Martin Ødegaard

Sure, he counts.

This was probably the most troublesome choice I’ve made on this checklist, as a result of our summer time window was unbelievably profitable. Between Aaron Ramsdale and Martin Ødegaard, the competitors is stiff, and Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu had a toe within the door as effectively. Neither Albert Sambi Lokonga nor Nuno Tavares scratched the competitors, although each had good moments.

However I selected Ødegaard for 2 causes: first, his affect on the squad, and second, his particular person potential. I will start with the latter. Signed for round £35m after a really profitable loan spell on the again half of final season, he instantly stepped into the squad and made a distinction, incomes a locked-on beginning berth earlier than his true colours began to flash via.

He ranked second within the league for key passes and within the prime 5 for probabilities created. For a participant inside a staff sitting fifth, that is an unbelievable fee of success. He grew to become our chief creator, our central ball-progressor, and ultimately, the captain of the squad.

And that is the most important cause I’ve picked him over Ramsdale. Although the Englishman is a yr older, it is Norway’s captain who has doubled his feat, and donned the armband for the Gunners as effectively. For a participant to perform that in his first full season with the club is staggering.

Disappointment of the Season: Winter Recruitment

I will hold this brief. It was a make-or-break season for Nicolas Pépé, and he broke. It was Alexandre Lacazette’s final likelihood to remain on the club, and he’ll depart come subsequent Tuesday. Even Kieran Tierney might be in that dialogue, due to how a lot time he spent out of the squad—sure, I do know, accidents are unavoidable, however he must cease pushing himself to the breaking level. Cédric could be in for being Cédric, and none will disagree.

However no, the actual disappointment this season was the January transfer window. High quality apart, Arsenal took a bloated 25-man squad with about six potential reserves and turned it right into a squad with a most of 20 gamers who’ve first staff expertise. That on the floor is optimistic.

Sadly, Arsenal most definitely misplaced out on prime 4 due to a scarcity of winter recruitment. We entered probably the most essential artwork of the season understaffed and injured, and I believe Arteta struggles mightily to adapt his ways to a squad that can’t play them to the extent which he calls for.

This summer time might pay totally different dividends, however it should if Arsenal are to proceed their upward climb.

Most Improved Participant: Gabriel Martinelli

In 2019-20, Gabi gave us an incredible cameo of his talents, hitting double digits for targets in his first season with the club principally as a result of graces of the Europa League and league cup. Nonetheless, all of them rely. Then accidents derailed that season. Final season, he nonetheless managed to point out us his staggering potential in flashes, together with his wonder-goal towards Chelsea, however with only 14 appearances, his time within the highlight was restricted.

This season, although, Martinelli made himself unattainable to disregard. With an excellent steadiness of six targets and 6 assists within the league, he ties Smith Rowe for the second-most purpose contributions within the squad, only wanting Bukayo Saka’s 18. Smith Rowe, coincidentally, was the opposite participant up for this accolade, however he was set for a brekaout yr—Martinelli has caught us all off guard. However greater than that, he made 29 league appearances, together with 21 begins, establishing consistency the place earlier than there was none.

At all times an adept scorer, his passing has come on in leaps and bounds, and his choice making has parted methods along with his aggression—each used to supply parts of helter-skelter and chaos right into a match; now, his tempo causes opposition defenders no finish of issues, whereas his choice making has been among the many finest within the squad. His dribbling is fearsome, too.

In contrast to Nicolas Pépé, who earned this accolade final season, Martinelli has an actual and tangible future within the league and with this staff. His enchancment is a mark of his starvation and drive, one thing we lauded Pépé for final season that he appears to have misplaced. I can not await what’s subsequent.

Unsung Hero: Rob Holding

My goodness, I needed to offer this to Granit Xhaka. I actually did. Xhaka had an incredible season in his personal proper, main the midfield virtually singlehandedly within the absence of Thomas Partey, and exhibiting us all how a lot he cares about Arsenal Soccer Membership. That stated, followers additionally acknowledge that. Not probably the most unsung.

It is not a “Mac Johnson: Deputy Editor” article with out some Rob Holding love. Neglect the red card towards Spurs for a minute, and let’s indulge in an actual renaissance for Holding. And never only for his hairline.

He was compelled right into a beginning function final season, and although he wasn’t horrible, he typically left followers wanting extra. Nothing might be farther from the reality this season. Crimson card apart, he proved pivotal in a variety of tactical tweaks and massive wins this season, offering a glut of stability and calm on the again. When Arsenal wanted him most, he got here to the decision.

He is not glamorous, or flashy, however I can consider no one extra deserving of a little bit further love than Rob Holding.

Objective of the Season: Alexandre Lacazette towards Southampton

The second-hardest choice I needed to make, as a result of it was between this wondrous purpose, Xhaka’s howitzer towards Manchester United, Ødegaard’s free kick towards Burnley, and Martinelli’s blinders towards Watford and Newcastle. 5 very contentious choices, however this one is especially particular.

Although all 4 of the runners-up had been particular, there’s one high quality that units Lacazette’s purpose aside: it’s scored by the staff, moderately than from a second of particular person brilliance from a single participant. Martinelli’s strike towards Watford comes shut, however it’s the sheer threat concerned within the Southampton purpose, and the distinctive, press-resistant and system-centric nature of Laca’s strike towards Southampton that units it aside.

Arsenal have been at their finest this season when unified as a staff, and this purpose exemplifies that. Seven gamers contact the ball in buildup that begins from Aaron Ramsdale’s touchline, till a dizzying collection of passes slices Southampton to shreds on the counter. Saka finds Lacazette expertly with the kind of slipped cut-back that’s shortly changing into a trademark, and the highest nook ripples. An ostentatious end for an ostentatious transfer, and a deserving purpose of the season.

Match of the Season: Arsenal 3, Spurs 1

Although wins towards Chelsea and Manchester United really feel nice, there isn’t any higher feeling as an Arsenal fan than to conquer Tottenham. However to do it below these circumstances was past startling. Coming off three losses from three matches to start out the season, and sitting twentieth, plumb final, with a -9 purpose distinction, Arsenal seemed a sinking ship.

Arteta was provided a deal: he had 5 matches to show the season round or he was gone. The primary two matches of these had been at dwelling towards Norwich—my first Arsenal match, by the way—and away at Burnley. Two shaky 1-0 wins adopted go well with, and Arsenal returned to the Emirates to face a Spurs facet who had been, at the moment, prime of the league, or had been throughout the final week.

We emerged 3-1 victors from a dominating efficiency. It saved Arteta’s job, and catapulted Arsenal into each a mindet of self-belief and right into a run of success that launched them up the desk. We might have completed fifth, however it may have been infinitely worse had that match gone the alternative method, as many thought it could. Now all we now have to do is conquer them at the bathroom bowl, simply as soon as.

And that is it! I hope you loved the WLYA Arsenal Awards for 2021/22. Please, give us a comply with on socials, and take a look at our YouTube Channel, now up and operating with transfer content material, unique stories, full podcasts, and extra! Thanks for studying, and COYG <3.

Author: Londonlad

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