As the old saying goes, there is no 'I' in 'team'. But successful teams almost always have a number of individual stars who make things happen.
But deciding who has made the biggest impact for Arsenal so far this season is not an easy task. We've witnessed some incredible performances, game altering plays, wose strategies, and the most supportive and vocal away support you will find anywhere in the world.
A long standing tradition in hockey sees three players chosen as the stars for each game. So we took a page from that and turned to our panel of supporters in the USA and Canada to find out who they think deserve the honor for Arsenal's season so far.
Question: Who are your three stars for Arsenal since the beginning of the season?
The three obvious stars for Arsenal so far this season are Ozil, Ramsey, and Wenger and his management team.
Ozil is the easy choice because all that he's done since joining Arsenal from Real Madrid is help take Arsenal to the top of the League with his outstanding creative play. It's easy to find numbers to prove that Ozil is really pushing this team forward: he leads the League in key passes per game (4) and overall assists. He's also in the top of the League for a number of other offensive stats like successful dribbles per game and overall passes per game. But there's a side to Ozil's game which goes uncounted.
For example, Rosicky officially got the assist for Jack Wilshere's goal against West Brom but it was Ozil's pass to Giroud which got the whole sequence going. This was a ball on the ground, from a huge distance, between defenders and it had just the right weight for Giroud. This wasn't a flighted ball, like the pass Wilshere made to Giroud later, this was on the ground and there's such a huge difference in quality there. And Ozil does that all the time. He makes the other players around him better with his consistent, unsurpassed quality. It's just really special watching this young man play football so he is hands down my star of the season.
Ozil is the easy choice because all that he's done since joining Arsenal from Real Madrid is help take Arsenal to the top of the League with his outstanding creative play.Tim Bostelle
Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey has come on leaps and bounds and his redemption from where he was a few years back has to be the feel-good story of the season. Ramsey already has 8 goals and 3 assists for Arsenal in all competitions and he's leading the League in tackles per game and blowing everyone away in terms of tackle percentage. He's also leading Arsenal in passes per game and has become the engine for this Arsenal side both offensively and defensively, driving forward to get into the opposition box to score a goal and dropping back to win the ball back in defense. This is a young man in tigerish form so, it's no surprise that he was just awarded BPL player of the month for September.
But both of those two stars are down to Arsène Wenger and his management team. I can't count the number of times I've heard people say that Arsène Wenger won't change or won't listen. Or the infuriating number of times I've heard that he can't spend money. Well, I'm here to tell you that Arsène Wenger can and does do all of those things.
Accused of not caring about defense, he's changed Arsenal's playing style and the Gunners now sit back and hold games when they have the early lead. Accused of only having one style of play, the possession football of the Fabregas era, Wenger has changed Arsenal into both a possession-based team as we saw against Napoli, and a counter-attacking team like we saw work against Stoke.
Some of this has to be down to Wenger listening to the people around him. Arsenal's set-play defense and offense is straight from the Steve Bould playbook. The back four aren't perfect, yet, but they look well drilled and much more confident than I remember for a long time.
And, of course, Wenger bought Ozil which turned many heads because for so long people have been fed the myth that Arsène Wenger is stingy. The reality is that when Arsenal were at Highbury, Wenger did spend. The £12m expenditure for Thierry Henry looks like a bargain in today's world where players like Cavani and Falcao go for £50-75m. But if you adjust for transfer inflation (the amount the average transfer has risen over the last 17 years) Henry's £12m price tag is more like spending £36-40m. So, it didn't surprise me at all that Arsène dropped £42m on Ozil. He spends when he finds the quality. And what quality he has found.
It's no surprise that Arsenal, with their three stars of Ozil, Ramsey, and Arsène Wenger, have some people whispering about a possible trophy this season.
As Tim rightly pointed out, Ozil’s vision and ability to open up space for his teammates -- whether that be with a direct assist or simply a pass that sets a teammate free with the ball -- has been a real difference maker for Arsenal this season. The best playmakers in the world set themselves apart with their ability to almost instantly recognize the angle a teammate has on goal and then quickly deliver him the ball so he can exploit that space before the defense can react. We’ve already seen this trait countless times from the German, and for me that’s been the final piece of the puzzle that’s often been missing from Arsenal’s offense ever since Fabregas left two years ago.
Ramsey's presence as an additional goalscorer has been decisive for Arsenal as he’s taken the burden off Olivier Giroud by popping up with some crucial goals.Joel McNamara
Like Ozil, Aaron Ramsey is also an obvious star simply due to the rich vein of goalscoring and playmaking form he’s been in. The workrate he’s consistently shown to win the ball back in midfield has also been exceptional. Mainly though it’s his presence as an additional goalscorer that’s been decisive for Arsenal as he’s taken the burden off Olivier Giroud by popping up with some crucial goals.
Speaking of the Frenchman, I think his continued -- and sometimes thankless -- role as Arsenal’s lone pivot man up front warrants an inclusion as the third star of the season. Whereas Ozil’s been a pivotal figure for Arsenal deeper in midfield, Giroud’s been similarly immense in scoring, providing, and constantly allowing his teammates to hinge passing moves off his impressive distribution in the final third, which is often executed while under some very physical attention from defenders. He’s already been directly involved in six goals in the Premiership (four of which he’s scored) and his continued foil for defenses who expect Arsenal to simply buckle under physical defending have made him an integral part of this team.
I know it’s a shamelessly offensive star three, and trust me, there were plenty of defensively-minded players who were just bubbling under, but it’s been largely Arsenal’s high-powered offense that’s propelled them to where they currently sit atop the Premier League table and, in my estimation, Ozil, Ramsey and Giroud have been the spine of that offense.
I also like Tim's choices for three stars, but I have one we should also consider.
First, Wenger is a definite star, outside of rare conditions success comes from the top. Wenger has a vision and he's executing on it and as fans we're reaping the benefits right now. The concept Tim has put forth regarding the transfer value of Titi is really cool and makes a ton of sense. We also need to remember that between kit sales -- the store briefly ran out of jerseys -- and players Wenger shipped out, the transfer war chest remains intact. We'll see if that goes to another striker or re-signing Sagna in January.
Second, Ramsey has been a stud. Arsenal have lacked an engine -- we did miss Fabregas -- and maybe if he had not been broken in such horrific fashion we would have seen this earlier from Rambo. Regardless, he's arrived and at a time when we do need him, and long may it continue.
Flamini brings an energy and intensity to the first team line-up and would make an opposing player who lacks confidence pass sideways rather than advance forwards.Morgan Rubes
The star that I want to put forth is Mathieu Flamini. As classy as all Arsenal fans are and claim to be, some of us were singing his praises after certain rumours circulated after the Stoke game. Arsenal have not had the guise of a hard tackling squad since Vieira left. Do the calculated tackles of Rosicky or the stature of Wilshere lunging in scare opponents? Not a chance. They are successful in winning the ball, but they do not give opponents pause before dribbling forward. Frimpong is often injured and not quite in control of himself on the pitch, and Diaby has not come good in the Vieira form that everyone says he should.
Flamini, however, brings an energy and intensity to the first team line-up and would make an opposing player, who lacks confidence, pass sideways rather than advance forwards. That is a massive boon for Arsenal defensively. It slows your opponent down. It also is great for the fans, because we achieved so much success with hard fought battles.
I quickly recall so many rough and tumble memories such as Tony Adams crunching tackles, Patrick Vieira sprinting into a brazen slide tackle and, of course, Keown getting right in van Nistlerooy's face. I love that passion, anger, and intensity; Flamini is bringing that back and it's making a difference throughout the team.
The views expressed above are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Media Group.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 15 Oct 2013