10 Gunners That Need to Step Their Game Up Next Season
The 2011/12 campaign was one to remember as Arsene Wenger’s men fought a 10-month long battle that ended up without any share of the spoils the season had to offer. If Arsene Wenger’s team represented Gaul, the Blue Persians from Manchester won the Battle of the Premier League, sweeping aside their Greek neighbors, Manchester United, along the way.
It’s fair to say that Roman’s Army won the FA Cup and the biggest prize of them all after a battle in Germania.
Arsene Wenger’s Gaulish Army depended heavily on its gallant general, Robin van Persie, who single-handedly led his team to war, winning many victories in the process. His deputy, Thomas Vermaelen, was a rock while Majors like Alex Song and Theo Walcott supplied the “gunpowder” General van Persie needed in most of his wars.
Despite all these, there were some ‘soldiers’ that failed to live up to expectations this concluded campaign. I’m going to lay some emphasis on 10 Arsenal players that were largely disappointing in the entire campaign and they need to step their game up or face the axe.
Arranging them by the various playing positions, here’s my take on the infamous ten.
Fabianski is believed to be a monster in the training ground, making more saves on the ball than Superman with people. Unfortunately, he has failed to reproduce his inhuman goalkeeping training ground form on the field, topping it up with howlers that cost Arsenal dearly.
Fabianski fought a futile battle with Manuel Almunia at the start of his Arsenal career and he settled for the second spot. However, Almunia’s complacency paved the way for Fabianski in the 2010/11 season, and he produced his best and most consistent run-out in Arsenal colors.
A shoulder injury he suffered opened up the door for Szczesny and the young Pole shut it behind him. This concluded season, Fabianski failed to make a league appearance and he was reduced to two FA Cup, three Carling Cup and one Champions League appearance.
Performances aside, Fabianski has to give Wenger another reason to believe in him, as he currently faces a losing battle with Szczesny.
Don Vito is one hell of a prospect, but Arsenal may not be the team to provide him with a platform to hone his talent, unless Arsene Wenger has some real future plans for this bloke. Since his arrival to the youth setup in 2006, he has failed to find his feet at the club, making his debut appearance two seasons after in the final game of the 2008/09 season against Stoke.
Mannone has made a couple of loan spells to Barnsley and Hull City, were he has managed to get valuable first team experience as well as exposure to a good football league.
Wojciech Szczesny is currently Arsenal’s custodian between the sticks, Fabianski’s potential departure could see Mannone move step ahead the pecking order but he’ll have the threat of Emiliano Martinez to contend with.
Squillaci arrived at the shores of London with an amazing trophy haul from his days in France and Spain. The “experienced” tag on his head that was supposed to be a key role in teaching the younger ones like Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny but he turned out to be the right-footed version of Mikael Silvestre.
He even lived up to the Legendary No. 18 jersey’s own goal billing by heading the ball into his own net when Arsenal played Wigan in the last game of 2010. Pascal Cygan (No. 18) did it in his time and Silvestre (No. 18) was the quickest of them all with an own goal on his debut.
To be frank, I don’t even want Squillaci to step up his game; I want him to enter the nearest train through the English Channel to play for any French outfit available. Seeing that guy wear the Red and White sends chills down my spine most times because you can never predict the next calamity he’s about to make.
His gift to Bobby Zamora last season buttresses my point.
Nothing hurts more than setting a standard for you and failing to keep up with them.
Johan Djourou started on the fringes and spent the earlier part of his Arsenal career nursing all sorts of injuries. However, more injuries to players above him the pecking order gave him a chance to strut his stuff on a regular basis.
Djourou had a very successful 2010/11 campaign, notching up 37 appearances and he put up great displays in a large chunk of them. Unfortunately, Djourou has become the football definition of the word, clumsy.
His red card against Fulham was very unnecessary and his performance against Manchester United was so putrid, that the boss had to opt for an inexperienced Nico Yennaris to enter the fray at the start of the next interval. He topped it all up with another clumsy penalty on Zlatan Ibrahimovic when AC Milan hosted Arsenal.
Djourou has been the fourth choice defender at the club for a while and his performances this concluded season hasn’t raised any eyebrow.
I truly hope he steps up his game next season.
“What’s the use of having a Lionel Messi in your team if he never plays a match”
If you ever approach Arsene Wenger to tell you a thing or two about Abou Diaby, rest assured that Wenger would use the following words; stamina, athleticism, dribbling skills, strength, technique and so much more. However, Wenger won’t tell you that Diaby suffers injuries than the amount of times Winnie the Pooh eats honey.
Many people use Robin van Persie’s injury as a reference point to what can happen when you exercise patience with a player but Diaby shows no signs of improvement from his situation as he keeps getting injured under strange circumstances. For all I care, Diaby can get injured in his living room if he stretches to reach for his remote control.
He has to find ways to kill his personal demons and play some football next season, as the patience of the fans are wearing thin.
Aaron Ramsey had a whole lot of games under his belt this concluded season but he failed to impress in a large chunk of them. Despite the fact that he had a good return of three goals and eight assists, Ramsey was an aberration in some of the games he played.
Time after time, he wanted to make that extra touch that was never necessary and he always tried to overexert himself with a back heel or some chipped pass when a simple pass to a teammate close by was a better option. He was on the end of some serious vitriol from the fans this year and the burden placed on him was certainly too much to bear.
With the likes of regular first team players like Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta coupled with the potential arrival of Yann M’Vila and some other midfielder from Krypton, Ramsey may find himself further down the pecking order.
He has to step up his game next season.
The diminutive Russian magician still remains Arsenal’s most expensive signing but he has been sort of an enigma because his playing style and attitude remains poor while his stats paint a different picture.
In his first three seasons at Arsenal, Arshavin amassed 28 goals and 35 assists but he was unbearable to watch last season, so unbearable to the extent that the fans questioned the manager’s judgment when he brought him on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the game against Manchester United.
Arshavin had a very torrid campaign last season and was shipped back to Zenit to rediscover his form. He’ll place his future on a balance scale after Euro 2012 and many Gooners won’t break sweat if he opts to remain at Zenit.
What a shame.
It would seem as if I’m being “too harsh” on the new kid on the block, but Gervinho has to put his ‘forehead’ down to vastly improve on his output on the final third, as the prospect of Lukas Podolski looms over the horizon.
Before the 2012 African Cup of Nations, Gervinho put up a great shift with a good return of four goals and eight assists but after killing that bird with his penalty in Equatorial Guinea, he became a ghostly figure on the pitch, oozing out the aura of a player bereft in confidence.
The good forms of the Ox and Yossi Benayoun saw Gervinho relegated to the bench in the tail end of last season, so Le Forehead has to step up his game if he wants to challenge for a first team berth next season.
He started with a big bang blasting in 10 goals in his first 21 appearances, then he followed it up with an atrocious goalscoring record of one goal in his next 23 appearances to end his first season at Arsenal with 11 goals in 44 games. However, Chamakh kicked off the next campaign with more shambolic outings, managing a header against Blackburn as his only goal in 19 appearances.
Chamakh offers Arsenal some dynamism in attack with his renowned ability and link-up play it seems as if van Persie has turned out to be his kryptonite.
Chamakh seriously needs to get his head up and work very hard to fight for his place next season because he’ll have to contend with Lukas Podolski, Nicklas Bendtner, Carlos Vela and Park Chu-Young for the right to be called van Persie’s deputy.
I’m still perplexed and bewildered with the signing of Park Chu-Young. If Arsenal used him as bait to catch the numerous “fishes” of the Asian market, then I must say that it was a plot that worked really well.
However, Park Chu-Young has not been given a chance to prove his mettle as he was just subjected to only SIX minutes of Premier League football, all season long. I actually envisaged that his dream goal against Bolton revealed his abilities to his manager but Arsene Wenger signed a legend on loan to cover for the departed African stars, further diminishing Park’s chances of starting games.
He has to meet his manager to clarify his status at the club because he needs to get some good football before quitting to join the Korean military.
Here has been my overview of 10 Gunners that need to step up their game next season.
It feels good to be back.
You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back
Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page and click on the like button.
You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button.