Arsenal FanZoner JC London shares his thoughts on the Gunners' first half of the season.
Player of the season so far - Santi Cazorla
The diminutive Spaniard has been the standout performer for the Gunners this campaign, rubbishing rumours that even the best players need time to adjust to a new league.
His close control is second to none, while the jury is still out as to which is indeed his 'weak' foot. It is has been telling that on the days in which his performance levels have dropped, Arsenal have often struggled to create a whole lot going forward. Jack Wilshere's return to fitness should ease some of the creative pressure on his shoulders.
Has to do better - Thomas Vermaelen
I'm not even going to bother with Chamakh, Squillaci, Santos, and Arshavin, as I find it's better for everyone if we simply pretend that they don't exist. Gervinho was the other contender for this 'award' (it's not quite 'like a trophy'), but I've ended up going with our captain simply because he is truly a much better player than some of his performances this season would suggest.
On his day, the Verminator is one of the best central defenders in the league. Unfortunately, those days have been few and far between recently as silly individual mistakes have often been costly. I don't know if it is the pressures of the captaincy, or other off-field distractions, but something has to change quickly or he's in danger of losing his place in the starting berth. The armband definitely shouldn't protect him from omission if his performances warrant it.
Goal of the season so far - Podolski vs. Montpellier
Reviews of Podolski's performances have often been mixed since he joined the club. It doesn't help that he seems somewhat incapable of lasting the entire 90 minutes (serious, what is up with this?), but a midseason tally of 9 goals is decent enough. One of those nine was this beauty against Montpellier. A one-two on the edge of the area with Olivier ended with the German firing a left-foot volley into the top of the net. Take a bow son, take a bow.
Moment of the season so far - Jack's goal vs. Montpellier
A classy finish, but the reason why this goal was so special is all in its context. Having missed the entirety of last season through injury, expectations were high upon Jack Wilshere's return to the fold. Early performances showed signs of promise, but equally of the time spent on the sidelines. If anything, Jack was simply trying to hard - a fact epitomised by his sending off at Old Trafford.
After latching onto a knockdown by Giroud, and calmly lifting the ball over the advancing keeper, Wilshere wheeled away in sheer delight. If the moment meant a lot to Arsenal fans, it meant even more to the young Englishmen - just how much was written all over his face. Welcome back, Jack.
Match of the season so far - vs. Newcastle
Arsenal have taken part in some absolute crackers this season. The two games against Reading, and the destruction of Sp*rs were the obvious candidates, but have simply been blown out of the water by the match at the weekend. Ten goals at the Emirates made for a blinder of a football match. Yes, there was plenty to worry about in our defending, but when you put 7 past any Premiership team it is cause for celebration.
Things to look forward to:
January signings, hopefully. Bayern Munich. I know many would have preferred an easier draw, but, for me, games like these are what the Champions League is all about. I hate watching Arsenal play the FC Clujs of the world, and these two legs should be a footballing master class.
Finally, I can't wait for Van Pursestrings' reception upon his return to the Emirates. If he thought Samir had got it bad, oh boy, is he in for a surprise.