It's the end of another season and although football is a team game, I feel some player ratings are necessary to highlight the obvious deficiencies in this team.
Full details of how the rating system (out of ten) works are here, but essentially, 6 is average, 8 is excellent and anything below 5 is pretty abysmal.
I've put last year's rating in brackets by way of comparison.
Manuel Almunia: 6 (8.5)
Sometimes using clean sheet statistics can be somewhat crude. For a keeper can have a brilliant game - like say Marcus Hahnemann did when Wolves came to play us - and not get a clean sheet, and yet Fabianski was credited with one in the home game against Man City without really doing anything.
But the point I want to make here is two-fold: first, Almunia made 19 clean sheets in 2008-9 compared to just thirteen in the season which has just finished. But more pertinently, those 19 clean sheets were as well as conceding a series of wonder goals which were just downright unfortunate. So in a sense it is a double whammy - not only have Arsenal conceded more goals this season, not only did Almunia keep far fewer clean sheets, but couple that with the fact that it wasn't as if the goals he c0nceded were of the highest caliber and it all points to a goalkeeper who isn't quite good enough.
I think what Almunia has shown with his patchy form over the last two years is that he is good enough to be a back-up keeper but he has been promoted above his station. Whether he would want to go back to bench-warming is something I can only speculate about. But what I can declare unequivocally, is that Manuel Almunia should not be Arsenal no.1 next season.
Lukasz Fabianski 5 (6)
In a sense I think Fabianski has been a little hard done by. Very few keepers could have coped with the aerial bombardment Sam Allardcye' team of thugs put in for 90 minutes without dropping one cross.
But that only happened because of the perception (and reality) that Fabianski can't deal with crosses. And that is the big problem with Fabianski. He's a good shot-stopper and he's made a couple of gaffes but aside from crosses he isn't a dreadful keeper. That still isn't enough though, because the opposition can just exploit his weakness ruthlessly.
Frankly, I can't see Arsenal making any money from selling Fabianski this summer and supposedly he is always excellent in training. It makes sense to loan him out and give him a chance to rebuild his confidence. That said, I can't see a long-term future for him at Arsenal.
Vito Mannone 7 (6.5)
Mannone put in probably the one stand-out outstanding performance by an Arsenal goalkeeper this season against Fulham. On a larger scale it highlights the problem: none of the goalkeepers have consistently won us matches or even kept us in them.
Mannone's future is bright: as well as having an important role in the UN security council (Vito, geddit?) he has shown himself to be a competent keeper. He made a mistake against West Ham but that is only natural amongst young keepers. My only doubt is that he has never played particularly inspiringly for the reserves but that may just be my perception. But he's a young keeper who needs to go out on loan and play forty games and develop his game. It is testament to the paucity of goalkeeping options at Arsenal that he has been forced to play.
Wojciech Szczesny 7.5 (N/A)
He put in an excellent performance in the Carling Cup against Liverpool. From what I've heard he did very well on loan at Brentford and has enormous potential. But he's just turned 20. He's not ready for first-team football at Arsenal and that's the bottom line.
Conclusion: There is far more hope for Szczesny and Mannone than Fabianski or Almunia. But despite my protestations this time last year, goalkeeper is the one position we really must invest in.
Over to you Arsene...