Midseason Review: Player-by-Player Review, Part 1By: Perry | January 2nd, 2012
With just a little over half the season already gone, and 20 league matches played, it’s time to assess the individuals that make up the glorious institution that is Arsenal FC. Some you know have had great years; others, not so much. We begin this player review by looking at some of the under-performing players of this season’s team so far. Some of the inclusions here are obvious, and others may surprise you. Nevertheless, it will be interesting discussing how our players are performing thus far.
And our worst player of the (half-)season is…
Stats: 6 starts (8 sub appearances), 5.57 average rating, 1 goal, 2 assists.
The Moroccan has experienced a downfall of epic proportions this 2011, scoring only 1 goal this season and 2 in the whole calendar year- pitiful for a center forward. What makes his slide into disgrace even more baffling is that he started his Arsenal career on a high, leading the line in van Persie’s absence and scoring 7 well taken goals to put us in the title race. With van Persie’s return though, the Moroccan has seen a supreme loss of confidence, so much that his clumsiness and lack of technical ability have been heightened for the whole world to make fun of. Still, Wenger seems to consider him main backup for van Persie, a dumb move in my opinion. Chamakh has been, to be blunt, pretty awful- his supposed asset, aerial ability, is never put on show because we really don’t play crosses that much; his technical skills are atrocious, and he seems to fall over the ball each time he gets it. His link-up play is undermined by his lack of physicality and pace, too. While we have been saved by van Persie’s goals this year, his return has sparked Marouane’s downfall into being a laughingstock. While I’m obviously thrilled at our captain’s form this year, the fact remains that Chamakh is suffering right now at Arsenal, and serious questions have to be made about his future at the club, and whether he belongs here any more.
Stats: 4 starts, 5.88, 4 goals conceded.
Well, it’s not quite the return of Flaps (mostly because he hasn’t played as much). But the spell of good form that saw him become our starting goalkeeper last year seems to be just that- a spell of good form. On the few times we’ve seen Fabianski this season, he hasn’t shown anything close to the commanding, leader-like presence Szczesny has, and isn’t anywhere close to the younger Pole on claiming crosses and set pieces. He’s not bad for a backup keeper, but if the rumors are true that Fabianski wants out due to want of more playing time and the upcoming Euro 2012, then he’ll be hardly missed.
Stats: 3(1), 6, 1 yellow card.
Thankfully for us, Squillaci has been limited to just 3 starts this season, all of them in the Carling Cup and the CL deadrubber, and an appearance in our shitty 1-2 loss to Fulham, basically because 3,200 of our defenders were either injured or suspended. Squillaci actually arrived with relatively high expectations last August, being (at the time) a French international and a regular with Sevilla. However, his season- and his Arsenal career- turned to poo after his form dovetailed after November. Since then, his name has been a name most Arsenal fans fear, and with the return of Vermaelen, the form of Koscielny, and the signing of Mertesacker, he has been nothing but a footnote for us this season. On the few appearances he has had this season, he’s shown he’s still the same mediocre defender. I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal cashed in this January, but are there any takers?
Stats: 9(5), 6.05, 3 yellow cards, 1 red card.
I’m a bit surprised to see Frimpong so low on the list, but there you go. The Ghanian-English midfield enforcer turned into a fan favorite as well as a first-teamer this season, delighting supporters with his liberal use of the Twitter and his memetic #DEEEEEENCH line (and for Samir Nasri, #BEEEEEEEENCH). However, his actual performances on the pitch have exposed his still developing talent, and his inexperience in first-team football. The much more composed and experience Coquelin has taken over as the main backup for defensive midfield this season, and Frimpong has joined Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan for the rest of the season. Such a loan will do him wonders, I think, and he’ll return as a much better footballer.
Stats: 13(6), 6.17, 6 yellow cards, 1 red card.
The Johan Djourou of last year, an excellent centerback that provided an excellent partner for Koscielny and was at the forefront for all of our good deeds last season, namely the home win over Barcelona and our title charge in the winter, is gone. In his place is the Johan Djourou of this year, an average centerback/right back backup that is more than capable of some cringe-worthy moments. The trade seems to have been his great form last year for added versatility, because after a terrible debut at RB, in our capitulation against Blackburn, he has adapted well and is now putting solid, but not great, performances at fullback, due to Sagna’s and Jenkinson’s prolonged absences. We haven’t really missed him at CB, due to us having 3 dependable options there, and he hasn’t really been that good at RB either. He’s firmly a backup at this point, and I expect him to feature less this second half of the season once Sagna returns.
Stats: 11(12), 6.21, 2 goals, 2 assists, 1 yellow card, 1 MOTM- 2-1 Bolton (Carling Cup) (h).
Ah, Arshavin. He really causes divisions among the fans, one set claiming he’s past it and he needs to be sold, the other saying he still has quality and has enough left in him to be valuable for Arsenal. Unfortunately for Arshavin, the former group’s ranks have swelled so far this season, with the little Russian’s diminutive displays relegating the winger to a bench spot, coming on to replace Gervinho and Walcott every now and then. His only recordable contributions this season are, in order: the winning goal in our first league win over Swansea, thanks to a goalkeeping error; a goal and an assist in our comeback win over Bolton, in the Carling Cup; and an assist for van Persie in the only goal game in a home win over QPR last weekend. Simply put, that is not a very good record for a player who is supposed to be an “impact” player. His future is up in the air, and his contract runs out this summer. If we’re going to get anything for him, then he has to be sold in January. I don’t think that will be the case, but I also don’t think he will recover and enjoy some miraculous form, either.
Stats: 4 starts, 6.38, 1 goal.
The Korean has been virtually nonexistent since joining Arsenal at the end of August, his appearances being limited to the Carling Cup and the Champions League. On his debut, he scored a marvelous goal against Bolton in the Carling Cup, but disappointing displays in his further appearances seemed to have convinced Wenger to not play the Korean any more, to the point that Chamakh is preferred every time over Park. I argue that Park has not been given a fair deal, and that he deserves more chances, simply because the amount of appearances he has been given is not enough to warrant less playing time than Chamakh and Arshavin, both of which have been poor this season. The Korean remains a bit of an unknown quantity, while we know what Chamakh and Arshavin are (and aren’t) capable of. With the return of Henry and the possibility of a further forward signing, it’s possible that we may see even less of Park this second half of the season. Time will tell.
We Wish You Were Here
Some of the players that left for greener pastures this summer still managed to get an appearance or two. Nasri started our 0-2 loss to Liverpool at the Emirates and, to his credit, played as well as he could as he created several chances and was by all accounts our most dangerous player. After a 22 million move to Manchester City, he has flattered to deceive, much to the delight of Arsenal fans. Nicklas Bendtner also appeared in our loss to Liverpool, coming on as a sub and not doing much. Now he’s on loan to Sunderland, where he hasn’t scored much and has missed several chances. Typical. Henri Lansbury made two cameo appearances in our losses to Liverpool and Man U before joining West Ham on a season long loan, where he has performed relatively well. Finally, Traore was our starting left back in the 8-2 loss to United, giving one of the worst defensive performances in years… and considering this is Arsenal, that’s saying a lot. He was quickly shipped to QPR for pennies on the dollar, where he has managed to claim a starting spot and not make a fool of himself.
A couple of our players have been pretty much injured, or “injured” all season long. Wilshere limped off during our summer Emirates Cup tie against the New York Red Bulls, and hasn’t been seen on the pitch since. After a couple of preliminary reports that he would be back at the start of September, it was confirmed that Wilshere had undergone ankle surgery and would be out until the end of January at the earliest. We’re all clamoring for his return. Diaby underwent surgery in the summer and was out until November, making two cameo appearances against Borussia Dortmund and Fulham before getting injured again, out until who knows when. Vito Mannone has been a nobody all season long, but came off the bench to have a nightmarish performance against Olympiakos in our CL deadrubber. The Don’s Arsenal career is over, no doubt. Finally, Almunia was widely expected to leave this summer, but no one was interested at his high wages and was stuck as our 4th choice keeper for most of this season, with a one-month loan to West Ham thrown in there. Now, with injuries to Fabianski and Mannone, he’s back to the bench, although Szczesny’s great form and good health means that the Spanish Waiter will (should) never play for us again.
Part 2 will focus on our average-performing players, and our youth players as well. Have a good Tuesday!