Charlie Nicholas names just four Arsenal players that have shown ‘real substance’ this season

Eintracht Frankfurt v Arsenal FC: Group F - UEFA Europa League
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka have earned praise from Charlie Nicholas (Picture: Getty Images)

Charlie Nicholas feels that only four Arsenal players have shown ‘real substance’ this season, hailing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka and goalkeepers Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez, but dismissing the rest of the squad.

The Gunners wrapped up their Premier League campaign on Sunday with a win over relegated Watford, which saw them finish eighth in the table.

It is a disappointing finishing position, but most observers feel Arsenal are going in the right direction under the stewardship of Mikel Arteta, who took over from Unai Emery in December.

Club legend Nicholas feels that way, and is impressed with the world the Spaniard is doing, but not by most of the players at the Emirates.

Captain Aubameyang finished the season with a superb 22 league goals, Saka broke through into the first team and has excelled, while both goalkeepers have been solid, but otherwise, no one has stood out to the Scot.

“It’s not Mikel Arteta’s fault, it’s a club that have been in freefall and haven’t fixed things in six years,’ Nicholas told Sky Sports.

‘They finished eighth because they only won 14 games – that’s the lowest I can recall in the Premier League era. I could probably look back while Arteta has come in and say why am I giving them a D?

‘But I have to take it as a whole season. He’s made it better. I’m not a great man for stats, and his stats have not been great, but I think as Arsenal people we want to see progress and we are.

‘There’s been too many draws, I look at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – his goals have been great, both goalkeepers have been good, and other than that, I’m looking at Bukayo Saka. But no other players of real substance.’

Most could not really argue with Nicholas’ assessment, although summer signing Kieran Tierney may count himself unlucky after performing impressively over his first season at the club.

The Scottish left-back has had to deal with a serious injury, dislocating his shoulder, but has looked good before and after the fitness issue, despite describing the campaign as the toughest of his life so far.

‘It’s been the toughest year of my life,’ said Tierney. ‘I’ve had the injury and a lot of new challenges but you need challenges, you need to be uncomfortable.

Arsenal FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Kieran Tierney has looked an impressive signing by Arsenal (Picture: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

‘You need to challenge yourself to improve.

‘I worked hard every day and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming to this massive club full of great players. I knew it was going to be tough coming in and trying to get my place in the team.

‘I’m just grateful for every opportunity I get to go on the pitch and give my all. I try to repay the manager’s faith by working hard and trying to put in good performances.

‘It’s all about the hard work.’

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