END OF SEASON REPORT CARD: Arsenal's strikers

Well, that's that then. Another season done and the only thing we have to look forward to in the next couple of months is the fixture list for the next Premier League campaign coming out: June 17 at 10am, for those of you who are Addicted as we are.

But with nothing but endless tittle tattle about who might be coming in and who might be departing the Arsenal, we thought to ourselves, what better a time to rate each of our first team players with an end of term report card.

So feel free to post your views on each of our players as we analyse their contribution in the past season - we'll be covering keepers, defenders, midfielders, strikers, coaching staff and the board of directors and major shareholders, so I reckon we'll catch everyone over the next few days.

Today it's the turn of the strikers to be put in the spotlight:


Theo Walcott
End of season mark: B

Now before you all go shouting at me, I know. Theo Walcott has not played a single game as an out and out striker in the past season for Arsenal. But the fact is that the club still names Theo as one of its six first team strikers, so bear with me.
For any of you who have been tuning in to Arsenal Addict for some time, you will know that I’ve never been Walcott’s biggest fan. I’m not saying that he lacks talent, but I’m frustrated that he, above any other fringe player, has been allowed an extended run in the first team line-up. But as William Gallas infamously pointed out, Theo has not fulfilled his potential.
Yet more shoulder injuries saw him on the sidelines for prolonged periods this season, but I have to admit that I’ve seen progress. His ability to beat players to the byline has improved a lot. What has not stepped up to the same degree is his final ball into the box. And his finishing remains patchy, to put it kindly.
But Theo is just 20 years old, he’s arguably playing out of position and nonetheless he scored six goals this season in 27 starts and eight appearances from the bench. He’s become a lot more difficult for opposing players to muscle off the ball and unlike some of his club colleagues, he has signed a new long term deal to keep him at the club.
And the one thing I really like about Walcott is that he is a big game player - he scores in big games and hopefully he’ll get the opportunity to do that again as the Gunners go on to win some much overdue silverware in the seasons to come.

Carlos Vela

End of season mark: B-

Our young Mexican star began only 10 games in his first season at the club, plus came off the bench 19 times. His final goal tally of six doesn’t tell the full story though, as his sublime chipped goals against Sheffield United and Wigan showed us what a cool finisher he can be. Like Walcott, Vela was often deployed as a winger this season and to be honest in certain games he disappeared, but I still hope to see Carlos getting a prolonged run up front to see what he really can do.
What did hold Vela back this season was his seemingly constant trips to North America for international games with Mexico. Those flights almost always made him the last player to report back for training and with Wenger having a track record of dropping players who arrive back late, it meant he was instantly ruled out of a number of games.
Any time I’ve seen Vela play I’ve been excited to see what he’s going to do and in the coming season I’m hoping I’ll see a lot more of the 20-year-old.

Eduardo
End of season mark: A-

Ok, I’ll declare my bias straight away: I think Eduardo is one of the best strikers in the world and I’m praying he comes back fully fit for the start of next season to prove that point.
Enough has been written about his horrendous leg injury to fell a small forest. His fight to come back from that potential career-ending setback was remarkable, but the niggles and strains associated with such a lenghty absence have frustrated both Dudu and us Gooners.
His Arsenal career to date reads 24 starts and 15 goals. In the year prior to arriving in London his stats for Dinamo Zagreb were played 32, goals 34. And lest we forget, a great number of Adebayor’s goals last season were courtesy of Eduardo assists. When Dudu was sidelined, Manu endured a scoring drought.
So with less than a handful of appearances to judge him on, an A- might seem a bit high a grade for some of you. But based on what I saw of him and the fact he scored despite not being fully match fit, I think the score is merited.

Robin van Persie
End of season mark: A

A haul of 20 goals and more assists than anyone else in the Premier League says it all really. And yet why are we all left feeling a bit cheated by RvP?
His team mates say that he’s the most gifted player they’ve ever seen in training and occasionally we get to see a glimpse of that in competitive football. But it is few and far between and even though he finished the campaign as our top scorer, we all feel a bit short changed. Actually, maybe that’s just some of us, as I guess a few of you will be delighted with RvP’s contributions this season - and the fact that his chocolate leg didn't melt for once.
Now though he’s playing hardball in his negotiation stance with the club over a new contract. On that score, I can’t really blame him, as he obviously wants to win some medals and he wants to see who the club will bring in to strengthen our challenge before putting pen to paper.
Next season, however, I hope to be writing that his grade a degree with firstclass honours and that several Man of the Match performances had propelled RvP into contention as one of the world’s top strikers.

Emmanuel Adebayor
End of season mark: C+

Actually that mark is probably a little harsh. Yes, he underperformed compared to last season, but if we’re all honest with ourselves nobody thought he would repeat the form that saw him notch 30 last season.
16 goals in 30 starts isn’t shabby but it’s the manner in which Ade-cool carried himself this season that has upset most of his detractors. A lack of application and urgency and spending most of the season offside didn’t help his cause but a summer of courting other clubs for a move abroad didn’t exactly see him welcomed back at Emirates Stadium after the break.
The accusation is that he worked hard to get himself his new deal and a big pay day and that now he’s done it, he’s become a lazy over-rated superstar who is far too big for his boots.
But I stand alone among my fellow Addict editors in hoping that the Togo hitman will stay at Arsenal next season. The return to fitness of Eduardo - with whom he was forming a formidable double act last year - could provide us with a strike force that is the envy of Europe.

Nicklas Bendtner

End of season mark: B

This is a tough one. Nicklas Bendtner frustrates the hell out of me. No other striker at our club manages to find the space in front of goal that the Big Dane finds. That ability in itself is a gift. It's just a pity that his finishing stinks.
In terms of the way he has progressed, consider this: last season Nick scored nine goals from a total of 17 starts and 23 appearances as a sub; this season is was 15 goals from 27 starts and 24 subs. I’m not too sure if that’s progress or not.
However, I do like the player’s never say die attitude. It reminds me of a certain Emmanuel Adebayor a couple of seasons ago - lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm, but lots of missed chances.With any luck Bendtner will sign a new deal and show us all that he truly is the player that he believes he is next season because at the moment, I think he’s the only person who thinks he is a world class goalscorer.