Power Ranking Arsenal's Premier League Squad Player-by-Player

Charlie Melman@@charliemelmanCorrespondent IINovember 22, 2013

Power Ranking Arsenal's Premier League Squad Player-by-Player

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    Determining who Arsenal's best players are is more difficult now than in seasons past.

    We must see how the Gunners do during the rest of the season of course, but, after years of frustrating failure, Arsene Wenger's team looks to finally be turning into a title contender.

    Whereas there existed a clearly discernible dichotomy in quality between Arsenal's best players and its benchwarmers in recent years, the distinction is now not quite so clear.

    Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal have all started one or both of the club's last two games—against Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United—on the bench.

    So let's endeavor on a problematic task: ranking everyone in Arsenal's Premier League squad.


    Note: In this article, "Premier League squad" will encompass all players listed under "first team" on Arsenal.com.

29: Emmanuel Frimpong

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    Frimpong seemed to be near a first team breakthrough in 2010, but he has made only six Premier League appearances for Arsenal thus far.

    He has not been included in a single 18-man squad this season.

    The really unfortunate part about Frimpong's foundering is that there is obviously a quality player under all the noise on social media and the multiple cruciate ligament injuries.

    Yet at 21 years old and with only 17 Premier League appearances to his name, there does not seem to be a place for him in Arsenal's crowded midfield.

28: Park Chu-Young

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    In over two years, Park has made exactly one Premier League appearance for Arsenal. So why on Earth did Arsenal make such an effort to snatch him from under the nose of Lille on transfer deadline day?

    Unfortunately, fans will probably never receive an answer. The question ultimately does not hold much significance, for Park has been relegated to the bench for years.

    At 28 years old, the age when players usually reach their prime, he is simply collecting a paycheck and showing up to training.

    It's quite a shame really, because a player who made more than 100 appearances for Monaco and was the former captain of the South Korean national team certainly possesses his fair share of quality.

27: Ryo Miyaichi

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    Arsenal took the unusual step of signing Miyaichi straight out of high school. His performances for Feyenoord were extraordinarily productive, and he was labeled "Ryodinho" by Dutch fans after his first few professional appearances.

    Unfortunately, he has not been able to replicate that sort of explosive success with Arsenal. Promising loan spells at Bolton and Wigan ended in injury, but Miyaichi was given the opportunity to break into Arsenal's first team this season.

    He hasn't done anything with it so far. Arsene Wenger has given him opportunities against Premier League opposition, but, especially against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, Miyaichi has appeared utterly out of his depth at the relatively advanced age of 20.

26: Yaya Sanogo

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    Despite Arsenal fans' wailing about Nicklas Bendtner's ineptitude in front of goal, the club has a very promising young player who has been injured for much of the season.

    That man is the highly-touted and oft-injured Yaya Sanogo, who had the misfortune of being included in every transfer story that referenced Arsenal's initial thriftiness last summer.

    Sanogo has not been able to take advantage of Arsenal's scarcity of strikers because a back injury has kept him on the sidelines for almost all of this season. That was his big problem at Auxerre, and something he will have to overcome if he is to succeed at Arsenal.

    Until he demonstrates his talent, Sanogo will be nothing more than a prospect.

25: Gedion Zelalem

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    Zelalem has not appeared yet for Arsenal in competitive play due to injury, but his stunning performance on this season's preseason tour indicates that there is much to come from the young German.

    At just 16 years of age, the German sliced every defence he saw apart with the calmness, ruthlessness and maturity of a player over a decade his senior.

    He's unlucky that he injured himself before he could appear in any of Arsenal's Capital One Cup games, but he has oodles of time and will be given many opportunities to make up for it.

    He obviously has the talent.

24: Emiliano Viviano

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    When he agreed to a loan move on transfer deadline day, Viviano must have known that playing time would be scarce, at best.

    Wojciech Szczesny has remained uninjured and in top form throughout the season, and has played every single minute of Arsenal's Premier League and Champions League campaigns. When Arsene Wenger has switched things up in cup games, he has preferred Lukasz Fabianski between the posts.

    His resume speaks for itself, though. He played 32 times for Fiorentina in Serie A last season, and has been capped six times in the Italian national team, which features Gianluigi Buffon.

    Fans must appreciate that Arsenal have tremendous strength in depth (unlike in previous seasons) but it's too bad that Viviano is wasting some of the best years of his career watching from home.

23: Nicklas Bendtner

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    For all the recent bellyaching about Nicklas Bendtner's ineptitude, Arsenal actually have a decent backup striker.

    Of course he's going to be rusty and poor after struggling to play on even a semi-regular basis for the last two years. But Bendtner possesses an impressive combination of size, speed and technical ability—not a cocktail sufficiently potent to merit a starting spot, but certainly one that warrants consideration as a short-term option.

    The Dane is not even close to the top of the pack at an Arsenal side stocked with talent, but he is not as much a disaster as some would have you believe.

22: Abou Diaby

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    One cannot help but feel for Abou Diaby on an emotional level, regardless of one's preferred club.

    He obviously possesses an abundance of talent, and an extremely rare combination at that: Height, power, positional versatility and superb technical ability.

    Yet Diaby's career has been ravaged by injuries since Sunderland's Dan Smith mangled his ankle seven years ago. He has suffered innumerable maladies since, and has had surgery on the ankle multiple times. Seemingly every time he begins to build fitness and establish himself in Arsenal's first team, his body fails him.

21: Carl Jenkinson

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    When Bacary Sagna seemed to be beginning a process of permanent slowing last season, Jenkinson's stock rose quickly.

    Yet the roles have been reversed this season. Sagna is back to being the consistent defensive stalwart he always has been for Arsenal and Jenkinson's play has been inconsistent and immature.

    Quality opposition easily gets the best of him. He frequently strays out of position and his heading ability is noticeably subpar.

    Yet no one can question Jenkinson's tremendous stamina, work ethic and devotion to Arsenal. He just has to hone his raw talent.

20: Lukasz Fabianski

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    Perhaps Fabianski could have salvaged his Arsenal career if Wojciech Szczesny had not taken his chance so well at the end of last season.

    Arsene Wenger unceremoniously dropped Szczesny after the latter's performances plateaued at a mediocre level. Fabianski did very well in his compatriot's absence, but a minor injury gave Szczesny his chance and he has started in goal ever since.

    It's a shame for Fabianski because he seemed to have finally kicked the "Flappyhandski" sobriquet and found confidence to match his undoubted talent.

    He'll almost certainly have to play the rest of his career somewhere other than the Emirates Stadium, but Fabianski is a quality player nonetheless.

19: Serge Gnabry

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    In the absence of Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski, Gnabry has exploded onto the scene and is now one of the most-watched young players in the Premier League.

    The German actually made his competitive debut last year against Norwich City, but was only mature enough to play consistently during this campaign. When given opportunities of any kind, he has grabbed them with both feet, as it were.

    Gnabry is a strapping youth but possesses explosive pace and, above all, supreme technique. His dribbling ability and eye for a killer pass are far beyond his meager 18 years.

    It's no surprise then, that Arsenal recently tied him down to a long-term contract.

18: Nacho Monreal

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    Monreal is a victim of Arsenal's push to build squad depth. The Spanish international was somewhat surprisingly purchased on the final day of last January's transfer window to replace Andre Santos, and virtually all will agree that the Gunners upgraded significantly.

    Monreal is not as exciting or dynamic as Kieran Gibbs, who is Arsene Wenger's established first choice at the moment. But Monreal is a very composed and defensively sound player who will not give fans periodic heart attacks like Santos used to.

    He definitely has the quality to be Arsenal's regular starter at left-back, but he does not have as much pace as Gibbs and is not as much of a threat going forward.

    One would not begrudge Monreal a desire to move to another club in search of the consistent playing time he would almost certainly receive.

17: Mathieu Flamini

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    Flamini is not the most technically skilled or tactically refined player in the team, but he fills a very specific niche that no one else on Arsenal's payroll does.

    He is a true enforcer. Flamini is always willing to stick himself into physical confrontations and use sheer physical might, rather than Arsenal's usual guile, to win football matches in whatever way possible.

    The Frenchman has obviously returned from Serie A with a mastery of the dark side of football, and that is exactly what he said (in The Guardian) he is happy to practice to allow his more technically skilled teammates to flourish.

    Sure, he'll get suspended once in a while (as he is for this weekend's game against Southampton) but that's just what one gets with Mathieu Flamini.

16: Thomas Vermaelen

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    Vermaelen's case is a complicated one. Arsenal's captain obviously is superbly technically skilled for a centre-back, but has not been able to marry that unusual talent with defensive consistency.

    Arsene Wenger gave him an unusually long leash last season because of the prestige of the captaincy, but finally had enough when Vermaelen's performances became wildly erratic and often just inexcusably poor.

    Due to Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker's stunning success in his absence, Vermaelen has barely gotten a sniff at the starting XI this season. But he was solid against Manchester United, and will get his chances during the squad's typical rotation throughout the season.

    Still, questions about whether he can consistently excel at the apex of the Premier League persist.

15: Lukas Podolski

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    Podolski has been limited to a mere two Premier League games this season due to a severe hamstring injury that Arsene Wenger recently said would keep him out for another three weeks.

    The German is not the best option Arsenal have on the wing, and was dropped toward the end of last season. But he possesses a skillset that is markedly different from those of his teammates.

    Podolski's primary weapon is a left foot that can strike a football with the power of Thor's hammer. That provides Arsenal a more direct outlet on the left wing and gives the opposition one more thing to plan for.

    His ability to fill in at striker is also a tremendous asset to a side with only one credible option to lead the line, though Podolski's performances up front for Arsenal have been mediocre at best.

14: Tomas Rosicky

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    A couple of years ago, many had written Rosicky off as an aging has-been whose career was wrecked by injury. The Czech then became a vital cog in Arsenal's push to qualify for the Champions League at the end of the 2011-12 season, and has remained an integral part of the team since.

    It's astonishing to see a 33-year-old run ceaselessly around the pitch like Rosicky does every single time he plays. Often, he is Arsenal's only player willing to press the opposition high up the pitch; in this way, he is an example to his teammates.

    Perhaps the long spell Rosicky spent on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury have left some life in his legs. The Gunners are lucky that he still has some gas left, because his remarkably energy and ability to play on the wing or through the middle have tremendously boosted Arsenal.

13: Kieran Gibbs

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    Just like Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy before him, Gibbs has overcome an injury-prone period at the very beginning of his career to firmly establish himself as Arsenal's left-back.

    This season has been Gibbs' first without a significant spell on the sidelines, though there are many games left to play. He has used his fitness and Arsene Wenger's confidence as best he could, displaying extraordinary stamina to excel in attack and defence.

    Gibbs will occasionally err in defence, but he has done extremely well to compensate for Arsenal's paucity of wingers while not letting his guard down where it really matters.

12: Wojciech Szczesny

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    Szczesny exploded to prominence in 2010 after stunning performances in the League Cup and a very impressive display in his Premier League debut against Manchester United.

    He has been Arsenal's starting goalkeeper in the vast majority of the games since.

    After a brief but noticeable slip last season that caused Arsene Wenger to drop him in favour of Lukasz Fabianski, Szczesny has responded with numerous composed and mature displays that have saved Arsenal invaluable points.

    He is now a force in goal who commands the respect of his defenders and intimidates opposing players. Szczesny has just the right amount of madness required of a goalkeeper, and is just as capable of making a stunning reflex save as he is coming out to collect a dangerous cross.

11: Theo Walcott

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    For years after he arrived at Arsenal as a skinny 16-year-old, Walcott relied on three attributes to get the better of defenders: pace, pace and pace.

    Though one would be justified for having a nagging feeling that his development is not yet complete, Walcott has morphed into a potent weapon for Arsenal on the right wing.

    Never mind his desire to be a striker: His best position is on the right, where he can eviscerate left-backs with his speed and cut inside to use his new eye for goal.

    Walcott might not have the physical stature or all-around skillset to be a central striker, but he is now a goal-poaching threat from his position on the flank. He was, remarkably, Arsenal's top goalscorer last season.

10: Bacary Sagna

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    Suggestions that Sagna was slowing last season crescendoed when the 30-year-old stalwart was vivisected by Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

    This season, he has returned to being the rock on the right side of Arsenal's defence. When the Gunners were reduced by one centre-back early in the season, Sagna stepped in and filled the gap with aplomb.

    It has been incredible to see him storm down the right flank without any cover from a natural winger like Theo Walcott. Sagna is stronger than he has ever been with arguably less help than he has ever had.

    It would behoove Arsenal to agree terms with him on a new contract as soon as possible. Sagna is out of contract at the end of the season.

9: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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    Arsenal fans have not seen much of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this season, as he suffered a nasty knee injury that will keep him out for another month, according to Arsene Wenger.

    Yet he is still one of the best young talents in Europe, and his return will provide a massive lift to an Arsenal side bereft of options on the wing.

    Oxlade-Chamberlain is much more than a winger, though. He is devastatingly effective in midfield, where he marries his searing pace with fine dribbling ability and an eye for a killer pass.

    He is one of the few players that gives Arsenal a truly dynamic option wherever he plays, and is also in a small group that has the ability—and is willing to—rip a shot from almost anywhere in the attacking third.

8: Olivier Giroud

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    Giroud has developed a clinical touch in front of goal since moving to Arsenal two summers ago, but the most remarkable and aesthetically pleasing aspect of Giroud's recent maturation is his link-up play.

    He frequently drops off into midfield to keep alive attacks that often look moribund. Doing so requires superb technical skill, which Giroud showed flashes of last season but never displayed on a consistent basis.

    Now, he flicks the ball back to midfielders or outside to wingers with remarkable precision, oiling the gears of Arsenal’s attack.

    Giroud plays nearly every game for Arsenal because the Gunners have no other player who can replicate what he can do up front. It's extremely rare to find a player who is as capable of physically dominating centre-backs as he is sidestepping them using fleet feet.

    Arsenal need to purchase a backup to relieve Giroud's burden, but they are lucky to have him in the first place.

7: Per Mertesacker

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    A healthy Per Mertesacker will almost always be included in Arsenal's starting XI because there is simply no other player like him in the team.

    He is the only one who is willing to stay back and play the role of calm distributor, letting his more pugnacious partner (now almost exclusively Laurent Koscielny) pursue the current attacking threat.

    Mertesacker's presence has helped form the bedrock of Arsenal's defensive revival, and his inclusion in matchday squads is now not even a matter of debate.

    I cannot help but feel proud about the fact that I called Mertesacker "the most perfect of all defensive solutions" in my second-ever Bleacher Report article. That was worth digging through the archives for.

6: Laurent Koscielny

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    Koscielny's genius lies in his ability to combine the talents of Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen in a way that the former is physically incapable of doing and the latter has only done inconsistently.

    Koscielny is both patient and aggressive; positionally aware and willing to leave his post to snuff out a threat; agile and yet firm.

    He is the reason why Vermaelen has not been able to regain his spot as Arsenal's leftmost centre-back. Koscielny has been too good for too long.

    The Frenchman is just as excellent in the air as he is when chasing an opponent who has the ball at his feet. His leaping ability is extraordinary, and he has the technical skill to distribute the ball effectively and surge up the pitch, as necessary. He is in many ways a complete central defender.

5: Mikel Arteta

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    With each game he serves as the beating heart of Arsenal's midfield, Arteta makes Vicente del Bosque's continuing stubborn refusal to leave him out of Spain's national team even harder to explain.

    When he was Everton's talisman, Arteta operated as an attacking, goalscoring midfielder. During his first season at Arsenal, he filled a similar role, though a little more withdrawn. There he excelled.

    But we have really seen Arteta blossom as a complete footballer since Arsene Wenger saw fit to move him to the very back of midfield and use him as a protector of the defence. Arteta must fill two roles in this position: that of the defensive midfielder and the distributor.

    He does both every week with class and grace. Without him, Arsenal's midfield seems disjointed and unable to hold onto possession, while the defence cannot rely on a disciplined player to assist them.

    Arteta has accomplished all this while taking on a significant leadership role in Thomas Vermaelen's absence.

4: Jack Wilshere

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    Wilshere might no longer be the hottest young commodity in English football (that title now goes to a player who has yet to appear on this list). Yet doubting his extraordinary all-around excellence is foolish.

    He is still just 21 years old and has not yet completely overcome the ankle trouble that has plagued him throughout his young career. Even when he has not appeared fully fit though, Wilshere is capable of producing a masterclass in any area of midfield.

    Wilshere is a true box-to-box midfielder at his best, and when Arsene Wenger gives him the opportunity to roam. He has often found himself moored on the right or left wing this season due to Arsenal's new surfeit of midfield talent.

    Still, even there he has achieved some success. There is little doubt that Wilshere's special combination of tenacity, dribbling ability, passing vision and love for Arsenal will bring him a long, productive career at the club.

3: Aaron Ramsey

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    We all know the story of Aaron Ramsey's remarkable rise by now. But I'll give you a refresher anyway.

    The Welshman was a prodigious talent before his leg was snapped by Ryan Shawcross a few years ago. Almost a year later, he came back to the first team, but was reviled for his inability to create chances or score.

    At the end of last season, though, he began to blossom, and this season Ramsey has exploded into the beast he is now.

    The elements of Ramsey's tremendous success are these: oodles of energy to support a superhuman work rate, intelligent passing, excellent technical finesse and, above all, a vat of confidence.

    Ramsey has put these together to become arguably the best player in the Premier League this season, and a potent threat for Arsenal in all areas, whenever he touches the ball.

2: Mesut Ozil

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    The man whose signing shattered Arsenal's transfer record on transfer deadline day this past summer has been excellent since his arrival. And perhaps, in time, Mesut Ozil will establish himself as Arsenal's best player. But he is not quite there right now.

    Anyone who witnessed his wizardry at Real Madrid knows that Ozil has not quite been able to scale the heights he did with Los Blancos. He has appeared to have been burdened with sickness and fatigue at different points, and is not yet the talisman that he probably will become in time.

    Yet Ozil's excellence even under these circumstances indicates his tremendous quality. Despite the fact that he arrived late to the party, Ozil is tied for the Premier League lead in assists, and has netted several goals since his arrival.

    He is not at his peak yet, though. He will almost certainly get there, but Arsenal have not yet gotten the best out of Ozil.

1: Santi Cazorla

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    Right now, Santi Cazorla is the best player Arsenal have.

    An injury has prevented the little Spanish wizard from hitting his best form this season, but he has more than proven his ability to excel at the highest levels of European football.

    Cazorla can embarrass the opposition on the left wing, right wing or in his best position, as a central attacking midfielder.

    He is multitudinously talented, and can blow through a defence in any number of ways. He is technically right-footed, but is so ambidextrous that he can take excellent free-kicks with his left. He can dribble through any defender, pick a killer pass to split an entire defence or have an accurate pop at goal from distance.

    Cazorla does it all with a beaming smile on his face. He is eminently lovable to everyone except the team that has the misfortune of trying to stop him. He is the consummate Arsenal player, and none of his teammates are better.