SMR end-of-season review 2014-2015: The Forwards

In the final end-of-season review post, it’s time to assess how the forwards did for Arsenal in 2014-2015. As with the rest of these posts, each player will get a review, a one-word summary and a rating.
9. Lukas Podolski
The German’s thunderous left foot wasn’t seen much in 2014-2015 as he was shipped off to Inter Milan on loan in January. Podolski is an incredibly frustrating player as he can rip the net out the ground with the power in his left foot, but he can drift through games and you’ll forget he’s playing. That ability to disappear may ultimately mean he leaves the club permanently, but he did offer a few reminders of his finishing in the Champions League with a vital winner at Anderlecht and a thunderous strike at Galatasaray.
One-word summary: #OnLoan #Aha
Rating: 4/10
12. Olivier Giroud
Despite a good goal-scoring season, Olivier Giroud continues to divide opinion among some Arsenal supporters. Most seem to be behind the Frenchman now, but he can be an easy target for criticism if things start going badly. Giroud also has the ability that when things go badly for him, he can look like a pub player, as happened in the game at home to Monaco. But that was just a blip in an otherwise excellent season. He recovered quicker than expected from his freak injury against Everton and contributed vital goals, including the header away to Manchester City. He also went on a superb scoring-run as the season headed towards spring time. He has been helped by other taking some of the goal scoring burden off him in the last season, and he’s played better without as much pressure on him. Arsenal now have different options in the squad if Giroud does have one of his off-days.
One-word summary: Sexy-and-he-knows-it
Rating: 7/10
14. Theo Walcott
Due to a combination of injury recovery and the good form of others in the squad, Theo Walcott had to be patient in 2014-2015. The season overall didn’t reveal anything we didn’t already know about Walcott; he’s lightning quick, needs confidence to play well and he’d prefer to play as a central striker. When he did get his chance to play during the season, there were quite a few anonymous performances, but after getting the confidence of a deflected cross going in against Manchester United, Walcott looked transformed as he banged in an excellent hat-trick against West Brom and opened the scoring in the FA Cup final.
One-word summary: Patient
Rating: 5/10
17. Alexis Sanchez
I can’t remember a new arrival into the Premier League having such an impact in their first season. Alexis Sanchez came with a good reputation, but as he was always over-shadowed by Messi et al at Barcelona, it was difficult to know quite what to expect. It turned out that the Premier League was very much to his liking. His all-action displays carried the team in the first part of the season before they contributed to the winning run in the second half of the season as others around him picked up the slack. His attitude and effort around the pitch have been an inspiration to others, and a nightmare to opposing teams. He’d already had a great season, but Alexis saved his best for last with that serving rocket he unleashed at Wembley in the FA Cup final. What a player.
One-word summary: Awesome
Rating: 9/10
22. Yaya Sanogo
Well, he scored a goal. Not just in Emirates Cup either, an actual first-team Champions League goal. Apart from that, we didn’t see much from Yaya Sanogo as he went for a rather uneventful loan spell to Crystal Palace in January. The effort is always there from him when he plays, but still has a lot to do to convince people he has a future at Arsenal.
One-word summary: Limited
Rating: 3/10
23. Danny Welbeck
It’s hard to know how to rate Danny Welbeck’s first season at Arsenal because a glance at the stats shows less than 10 goals, which isn’t great for a £16 million forward, but my overall feeling when watching him play has been positive. He’s quick, works hard for the team and always looks to contribute and get involved in the play. I think goals will come as the rest of his game is developing well. It was also good to have a different option to Olivier Giroud up front.
Gains an extra half mark for scoring the winner at Old Trafford.
One-word summary: Encouraging
Rating: 6.5/10
28. Joel Campbell
Despite a good World Cup, Joel Campbell didn’t get much of an opportunity in the Arsenal first-team after a going out on a series of loan spells to become eligible to play. When he did get some minutes, there were a few good touches, but nothing to really set a game on fire despite quite a lot of hype over him in the past. He then went on a rather unspectacular loan spell in the second half of the season, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he heads off permanently in the summer.
One-word summary: Anti-climatic
Rating: 3/10


The SMR Arsenal Squad Review – Attackers

With the season over and a trophy in the cabinet, I’m going to assess the season for each member of the Arsenal squad and rate them. I’m sure there’ll be some disagreements about some of my ratings, so feel free to comment at the bottom with your thoughts. Finally, it’s the attackers.
9. Lukas Podolski
After a great start to the season with an excellent brace at Fulham, Podolski seriously banjaxed his hamstring and wasn’t seen again until Boxing Day. A goal came on that day, as did other important ones in the run-in. Despite having to spend much of the season as a substitute, he forced his way back into the starting line-up near in the latter stages of the season, going on an excellent scoring run in April.
There are still questions about the best way to use Podolski as his work-rate is often queried on the flank, but his appearances as the lone striker have been pretty anonymous. With more competition for places, he did well to get back in the team, and remains lethal if manoeuvred into position to release that hammer of a left foot.
Season Rating: 6.5/10
12. Olivier Giroud
Giroud remains an easy target for criticism, however a lot of that is born out of the fact that he was the only good quality option as a lone striker in Arsenal’s squad for the whole season. Considering the burden he had to take on in that role, Giroud had a good season.
He is never going to be a player that will beat defenders with pace in behind, which is why his combination play with Theo Walcott was missed so much in the second half of the season, as the two together complemented each other well in the team. Mid-season private life problems did co-inside with an unhelpful loss of form, but overall Giroud put in a good shift as the lead front man all year. He just needs some help to share the load next season.
Season Rating: 7.5/10
14. Theo Walcott
This looked to be the season that we really saw the best of Theo Walcott. He was taking more responsibility in the team, creating more chances and scoring regularly when he was fully fit. Rather than just being a quick player, he was making more intelligent runs in behind defences and the end product was regularly there from him.
It’s just a huge shame that his season was wrecked by injury. Walcott is unique in the Arsenal squad for his raw pace, and even though someone like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is quick and will be an excellent player, Walcott’s added experience and tendency to sit on the shoulder of the last defender was hugely missed in the second half of the season. Hopefully it won’t be long into 2014-2015 that we see Walcott flying down the wing again.
Season Rating: 6/10
22. Yaya Sanogo
In the FA Cup final, whilst it was a surprise to see Sanogo thrown into the action to form a front two with Olivier Giroud, there were signs that this raw striker could be a good player. For the most part, he’s looked a bit out of his depth, and not scoring a goal is hardly ideal.
However, he also suffered from the fact that he shouldn’t have been the only real option as a back-up to Giroud. Sanogo does have a good turn of pace, is strong and can cause defenders problems. There are a lot of technique issues to be ironed out, but he’ll be better for playing in big games in the cup run and the Champions League this season.
Season Rating: 4/10
23. Nicklas Bendtner
I’m staggered that he was even seen in an Arsenal shirt again this season. However, for all his problems, he did score a couple of important goals, especially the late one at home to Cardiff.
However, any professional footballer who goes on a trip abroad that isn’t authorised by the club, drops their trousers and then starts rubbing their junk on a cab needs to have a serious look at themselves. No-one will miss Lord Bendtner next season.
Season Rating: 1.5/10
Listen to the Sam’s Match Reports podcast end-of-season awards special!
Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3