Arsenal Player of the Year: Top 3 candidates ranked
It’s fair to say that the 2018/19 campaign wasn’t the season Arsenal fans were hoping for or expecting. A shambolic collapse in the final weeks of the season saw the Gunners finish outside the top four and lose a one-sided Europa League final. The arrival of a meticulous and results-driven Unai Emery was meant to usher in a new era for the club, however, many are struggling to see any improvements across the team.
What they do see is a squad filled with players that aren’t good enough to wear the shirt. Arsenal have several average players on big wage contracts that are proving hard to move on. These were the same players that caused the downfall of the club’s greatest ever manager, now they’ve slapped egg in the face of Unai Emery.
Without a major rebuild in the summer, it's hard to see how the Gunners will break the top four next season. It's rumoured the higher-ups are looking at bringing in three or four players to bolster Emery's philosophy. However, failure to secure Champions League qualification has left the club with a measly £40 million transfer budget before sales. Now the Gunners must readjust their transfer target bracket, looking to sign players like Ryan Fraser instead of Wilfred Zaha.
Thankfully, not everything has to be negative, as there were some shining lights amongst a dim season. The Gunners were certainly more competitive against the league’s top six, while in the Europa League they went one step further and reached the final. This season has also seen the emergence of young players like Matteo Geundouzi and Lucas Torreira. In addition to that, a couple of senior players have stood up to the task despite their teammates not returning the favour.
Here is Arsenal’s Player of the Year Candidates ranked.
#3 Granit Xhaka
Often berated for his lack of awareness and lapses in concentration, Grant Xhaka has made vast improvements this season. The Swiss international has grown into the role of a leader as one of Emery’s five captains. Xhaka’s worth to the team has become so undeniable that his absences were blatantly evident. So much so that the Gunner didn’t lose 75% of the games he played in the league.
From a deep-lying position, Granit Xhaka was able to provide five assists in all competitions, two more than Arsenal’s highest paid player. In the build-up phase of play, the 26-year-old maintained an impressive 85.7% pass accuracy as he aided Arsenal’s quick transition from the defensive third.
The Unai Emery revolution has been built around the leadership qualities of Granit Xhaka in midfield. If the Gunners are to make any progress next season, they better pray Inter Milan don’t pursue their interest in the tough-tackling midfielder.