Arsenal Football Club’s season ends in May. How the remaining fixtures will play out remains total guesswork. Injuries, luck, and signings could still radically change the narrative that defines the Gunners’ 2019/20 season.
However, if you think that’s going to stop 90min from prematurely crowning Arsenal’s Player of the Season in January, you’ve got another thing coming.
In Arsenal’s most difficult season in recent memory, we run down the four candidates that have been the outstanding players for the men in red (and sometimes yellow).
If there’s any Arsenal player who would make it into most Premier League sides, it’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. For the 2019/20 season, Aubameyang has continued to do what he’s done throughout his entire footballing career. He’s scored goals.
Even in a severely underperforming side, Aubameyang sits three goals off Premier League leader Jamie Vardy (17). It’s also important to remember that this Arsenal team is no longer a free-flowing one. Norwich, Watford and Aston Villa have all created more chances than Arsenal this season. Yet, Pierre is converting his chances at a steady clip.
Last year, Arsenal broke the record for the highest percentage of efficiency in scoring in the Premier League. It’s no coincidence that Aubameyang was the club’s top scorer last year. He’s a player that has a ridiculous knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Amid trying times and Barcelona rumours swirling, it would be a bitter pill to swallow to watch the Gabonese striker leave. Aubameyang has easily been one of Arsenal’s standout performers and without him, the club would be in a much worse position.
A totally unknown entity going in this season, Martinelli has immediately become a fan favourite with some brilliant performances.
Joining from the Brazilian fourth division, even the most optimistic of fans couldn’t have had any expectations for such an immediate response. Usually, Arsenal players who have been signed from such small clubs are termed as ‘projects’. They’ll get loaned out for four consecutive years to never actually make an appearance for the club. Players such as Wellington Silva, Ryo Miyachi and Kelechi Nwakali spring to mind.
However, Martinelli has been a total delight to watch this season. Not overawed by the intensity or physicality of this level of football, the Brazilian has sparkled with his clinical finishing, endless engine and smart movement.
So good has Gabriel been that he’s been invoking the memory of former brilliant youngsters that have also donned the red and white. His terrific run and finish against Chelsea was one of the moments of the season, in a game that brought back a lot of goodwill with fans.
If Arteta is smart, he’ll build his team with Gabriel as an integral part of it. Quite simply, Martinelli is one of the few reasons why fans can remain optimistic for the rest of this season.
Bernt Leno is an enigma. Outstanding occasionally, perplexing often.
In his two years at the club, Leno has committed the most errors leading to goals in the Premier League (7).
However, there have been games that without him, Arsenal would have been humiliated or wouldn’t have got a result. Leno’s reflexes are second to none and this 2019/20 season, Leno has added to his personal shot-stopping highlights reel. Leno’s save to stop a De Bruyne hat-trick at the Emirates in December was a particularly outstanding moment.
Perhaps the best game to illustrate the up-and-down nature of the German is the 2-2 draw against Spurs. A fumble by Leno allowed Christian Eriksen to break the deadlock for Tottenham. It was then followed up by one of the save’s of the season from Son Heung-Min.
It’s emblematic of Arsenal’s season that a player who has had notable poor performances is a Player of the Season candidate. Leno has been a positive in what’s been a negative season but he’ll need a stronger second half of the campaign to make sure he’s taking home the top prize.
A proud product of the Hale End academy, Saka has been the standout player from Arsenal’s youth contingent. Each youngster has had their moment this season; Joe Willock’s screamer at Anfield, Reiss Nelson’s winner against Leeds, Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ assist against Newcastle. However, Saka has been the player that looks the most ready to contribute at the highest level.
Before the season, Saka was not expected to push for first-team selection. A surprise call-up to the first team at Old Trafford signified how highly regarded Saka was at the club. The diminutive winger topped off his selection that night in September by setting up Aubameyang’s equaliser.
Most recently, injuries have shown the adaptability of the player as Saka has had to play at left-back. Surprisingly, he hasn’t looked out of place in that position and whilst he has tired as games wear on, he looks an outstanding prospect.