Marouane Chamakh to West Ham: Good for the Player and the Club
For those that don’t know, Marouane Chamakh was quite profilic when he plied his trade for Girondin Bordeaux in the French Ligue 1.
A decent return of 79 goals in 293 games over a span of eight seasons attracted Arsene Wenger’s attention and in the twilight of his Bordeaux career, the Gunners made him a transfer target to offer another dimension to the team’s attack.
The Gunners had the unfit Robin van Persie as the top dog in attack with Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela supporting the Flying Dutchman. Emmanuel Adebayor and Eduardo da Silva departed the shores of London to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
In fairness to the Moroccan, he had a decent 2010/11 preseason by his standards (goals against Neusiedl 1919, AC Milan, Legia Warsaw) and he was sent straight into first-team action when the Gunners visited Anfield, alongside fellow new recruit from the Ligue 1, Laurent Koscielny.
While Koscielny had a debut to forget courtesy of his late red card, Chamakh played a key role in the Gunners sharing the spoils as his pressure on the Spanish goalie was enough to make him suffer the ignominy of an embarrassing own goal.
He scored his first goal on his home debut against Blackpool before joining the party when Arsenal thrashed Bolton by 4-1 in September 2010. He also scored on his Champions League debut in the 6-0 spanking of eventual Europa League finalists for that season, SC Braga, and continued his personal scoring record in the competition that extended from his Bordeaux days.
He scored in his Arsenal’s second Champions League tie against Partizan before scoring the match winner against Birmingham City in mid-October. He scored again in Arsenal’s third Champions League game against Shakhtar and it seemed as if he was destined to score in every game of the Champions League as long as he played.
The goals dried up a bit but he found some form again in November scoring a brace against Wolves before scoring Tottenham and Aston Villa. Marouane Chamakh’s toe poke in Villa Park was his 10th goal in just 21 appearances averaging a goal every two games.
Then Robin van Persie returned to full fitness and we know what happened next.
In January 2011, van Persie slammed in six goals. He banged in another six in February but had a dry spell in March after getting injured in the Carling Cup final against Birmingham City. After firing four in April and three in May, the Robin van Persie show continued deep into the 2011/12 campaign were he smashed in 37 goals in all competitions.
Robin van Persie was truly a perpetual goalscoring machine of the first kind.
The Dutchman’s lethal goalscoring abilities further diminished Chamakh’s chances to stake a claim for a first-team berth and the Moroccan was piss-poor in the little games he managed to play, showing the football world that he was a player bereft of confidence.
In the entire 2011/12 campaign, Chamakh managed to score one header in the disappointing 4-3 loss to Blackburn (19 appearances overall). This season, Chamakh’s chances of playing had further deteriorated with the arrival of Olivier Giroud that has done well to register nine goals thus far.
On the international scene, Chamakh has represented Morocco 61 times, scoring 17 goals. The Atlas Lions, as they’re fondly called, also have a host of talented footballers in their ranks, with the likes of Adel Taarabt, Younes Belhanda, Karim Ait Fana, Mickael Chretien and Mbark Boussoufa plying their trades all over Europe.
The Atlas Lions failed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa but did really well to make it to the Group Stages of the forthcoming 2013 African Cup of Nations, where they were paired with the hosts, South Africa, Angola and Cape Verde.
Despite being one of the most prominent Moroccans in world football, head coach, Rachid Taoussi, didn’t deem it fit to invite Chamakh as part of his 23-man squad to represent the North African outfit.
Chamakh is renowned for his aerial ability but his work rate and team playing abilities are second to none. The forward has a decent first touch and has great stamina levels as well.
Unfortunately, he falls into the faction of Arsenal players regarded as “deadwood”. Those folks happy to earn their pay without giving anything on the pitch – like it’s their fault. Arsene Wenger bought these players and has clearly lost faith in them.
Johan Djourou was tipped for great things at the club but never failed to reach those heights, despite a great 2010/11 campaign. Andrey Arshavin is a world beater on his day but the way he plummeted into mediocrity at Arsenal is somewhat alarming. Sebastien Squillaci was clearly a failed experiment and I’ll reserve my comments on the signing of Park Chu-Young.
A few days ago, the club’s official website announced that Chamakh has joined fellow Londoners, West Ham, on loan till the end of the season. Under Big Sam Alladyce’s guidance, the club has risen from the pits of npower Championship to the splendor of the Premier League, currently languishing in mid-table, after a strong start to the campaign.
I actually don’t expect Chamakh to walk into the West Ham setup with the presence of Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole fighting hard for one striking position. Like in his Bolton and Blackburn days, Big Sam prefers to soak the midfield with hefty bodies and the likes of Alou Diarra, Mohamed Diame, Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan have duly obliged.
However, a move to West Ham is in Chamakh’s best interests, as the Moroccan has moved to a club that can play to his strengths, with the likes of Matt Jarvis whipping in those crosses on a consistent basis.
Andy Carroll has been on the spotlight since his big-money move from Newcastle but he failed to light up fireworks in Anfield. On his West Ham debut, Carroll grabbed a place in the back pages for a stellar performance but in 10 games for the Hammers, the pony-tailed one-trick pony has managed to score one goal, which came in a defeat to Tottenham last November.
Carlton Cole on the other hand, has scored only two goals this season, so Chamakh will feel right at home, in the midst of misfiring forwards.
I intend to keep half an eye on Chamakh as the season progresses, and I’m pretty sure that many Gooners will shed any tears if the move becomes permanent in the summer. With the Moroccan out of the equation, Arsenal will probably be on the look out for a striker.
With Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud hitting a good run of form recently, the chances of getting a new striker are slim to none.
Nonetheless, I wish Marouane Chamakh all the best and I really hope that he rediscovers the form that made him the toast of North London in the first half of the 2010/11 season.
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