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Goal.com nominates the Gunners’ best three performers of the current campaign - do you agree? Have your say in the comments section below!

Arsenal have had a rollercoaster 2012-13 season, with calls for Arsene Wenger to resign slowly drowned out as the Gunners surged into the top four, winning eight of their last ten games and becoming only the second team to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena this season.

There have been a lot of disappointments to digest, crashing out of the FA Cup and Capital One Cup at the hands of Championship side Blackburn and League Two outfit Bradford respectively, while it took a while to adapt to life without Robin van Persie – and, to a lesser extent, Alex Song.

But the north London club have responded well and seem to prosper in adversity. The old “1-0 to the Arsenal” chant returned to the Emirates, while new levels of resilience and defensive resolve have helped the Gunners survive despite a misfiring frontline.

Mikel Arteta has been methodical and reliable at the base of the midfield, Jack Wilshere has shown his abundance of vision and panache since returning from injury, Nacho Monreal has impressed following his January transfer and Lukas Podolski has been a livewire. But none of these players make our top three.

So, below, in alphabetical order, are Goal.com’s three nominees for Arsenal’s player of the season. Do you agree? Leave a comment at the bottom to let us know your thoughts.


SANTI CAZORLA | FORWARD
Competition Games
Goals Assists Booked
Sent off
League 33 12 7 1 0
FA Cup 3 0 0 0 0
Capital One Cup 1 0 1 0 0
Europe 7 0 1 3 0
Total 44 12 9 4 0

Santi Cazorla has every right to feel aggrieved with his PFA Player of the Year omission, having made a seamless transition to life in the Premier League. The diminutive playmaker leads Arsenal’s scoring charts in the league, notching 12 times, and has married cutting edge with craft and creativity in the middle of the pitch.

The Spain international has stood out from the rest of the Arsenal team this season, from his inventive debut against Sunderland to his hat-trick against Reading. He takes on players, thunders shots in from range and creates chances for his team-mates (recording seven league assists). His £16.5m fee has been a bargain, and surely one of Arsene Wenger’s best purchases during his 17 years at the club.

Cazorla has struggled a little in 2013, especially since being moved out to the left wing with questions marks raised over his compatibility alongside Jack Wilshere, while only three of his 12 league goals have come against sides in the top half of the table. Nevertheless, he has been both productive and entertaining, glistening for the Gunners this year.


PER MERTESACKER | DEFENDER
Competition Games
Goals Assists Booked
Sent off
League 30 3 0 3 1
FA Cup 3 0 0 0 0
Capital One Cup 1 0 0 0 0
Europe 6 0 0 1 0
Total 40 3 0 4 1

Arsenal’s defensive unit has often come under criticism this season, but one player has largely remained blameless throughout: Per Mertesacker. The big (ahem, friendly) German has been a rock in the heart of his side’s defence, with the Gunners conceding just 0.93 goals per game while he’s been on the pitch, and 1.33 per game without him.

In fact, all 12 of Arsenal’s clean sheets this year have been recorded with Mertesacker in the team, and no other centre-back in the entire league has presided over as many clean sheets. Furthermore, in a defence that has made more errors leading to shots than any other, the 28-year-old has made just one solitary, and unpunished, mistake. He’s also been a major threat at set-pieces, and netted twice against fierce rivals Tottenham.

Adept with the ball at his feet, Mertesacker very much fits Arsenal’s passing philosophy, but in a team that so often seems afraid of the nitty-gritty, the German international positively relishes it, flying into tackles, putting his body on the line and competing powerfully in the air. Mertesacker has exuded authority this season, and brought real grit and resolve to the team as they push for a top-four finish.


THEO WALCOTT | FORWARD
Competition Games
Goals Assists Booked
Sent off
League 28 11 10 2 0
FA Cup 4 1 0 0 0
Capital One Cup 2 5 3 0 0
Europe 5 1 1 0 0
Total 39 18 14 2 0

For a period of time, there wasn’t a player in better form in England than Theo Walcott. The 24-year-old struck 11 goals in 12 games between October and November in all competitions for Arsenal, and contributed nine assists – an astonishing return. Incredibly, he struck two hat-tricks during that period.

Walcott finally appeared to have come of age, blending his frightening pace with unnerving composure in front of goal. It looked inevitable that he would convert chances when through on goal, while he tricked and danced his way down the flank, carving out chances for his team-mates – in fact, only one player, Chelsea’s Juan Mata (11) has assisted more goals in the Premier League than Walcott (10).

However, some of the gloss of Walcott’s season has faded in recent months, and he’s not produced the kind of performances that earned him a new contract since penning said deal. But while Walcott may not have scored since February, he has nevertheless had a fantastic season, getting in double figures for both goals and assists for the first time in his career.

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