Here are our top five...
Arsene Wenger has always said there was money to spend if he thought there was a player out there worth splashing out on, and that’s exactly what Arsenal did this summer. They swooped on Malaga, who were struggling financially, and picked up possibly the signing of the summer in Santa Cazorla for €16 million. Cazorla’s hat trick against Reading was the high point in season that has seen him become central to Arsenal’s attacking play, and assuage some of the doubts that Arsenal fans have about their manager’s transfer policy.
Arsenal’s defence has gone from being lauded to the rafters after the first few games, to being derided as useless for a long spell, before now settling once again. The one constant has been Per Mertesacker at centre back, and he has stood out as the reliable man in a back four that has been hampered by injuries and poor form.
Though he hasn’t been as consistent as some would have hoped, Podolski has brought a level of experience to Arsenal’s attack that complements the exuberance of their battalion of wingers. Podolski may have sometimes grumbled about his position on the left flank, but he has been effective there, and should embrace the role as it complements his talents.
Despite a lengthy injury lay off, Gibbs has already proven his importance to the side on several occasions this season. His attacking play allows Arsenal’s adaptable frontline to cut inside without sacrificing the side’s width, and he is the stand out defender available in his position, with Vermaelen seeming uncomfortable out wide and Andre Santos simply not good enough for Arsenal.
Aside from a horror show against Fulham, Arteta has perhaps been Arsenal’s most consistent performer. The Spanish midfielder has generally sat deep in Arsenal’s formation, screening the back four and supporting his side’s attacks with slick, clever passing. No-one has made more passes than Arteta in the Premier League this season, and he also makes the top ten tacklers in the league in what has been a very accomplished first half of the season.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald