Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time To Separate The Men From The Boys (Part 1)

by Rachid

I'll start today with my individual ratings for each player's performances over the course of the season.

Manuel Almunia: Had a shaky start to the season. It was so shaky that Arsene Wenger even had to drop him under the guise of a fake chest infection which he claimed lasted for 6 weeks. He eventually made his way back into the first team due to the failings and lack of experience showed by his understudies. He's had some games where he's come up big for us, such as the home leg against Barcelona but for the most part his performances had been found wanting this season. He's made errors in goalkeeping that have cost us important points. It's also worth noting that his defence in front of him at times doesn't seem to really trust him. He has a knack of miscommunicating with his defenders and found himself challenging them for balls in many matches throughout the season. In other words, his command of the area was very poor. Many are calling for his departure but I believe some more experienced competition for his place will do him some good and he should be reduced to the backup keeper role. Almunia gets a 5.5/10 from me.

Lukasz Fabianski: What can I say? Lukasz Loosehands found his way into the first team via the Carling Cup at first and gave some decent performances there. Unfortunately his form has gotten progressively worse as the season went along. As mentioned earlier, Almunia was dropped by Wenger and Mannone took his place in goal until Fabianski returned from injury. When he did, he took on the starting role and he had a torrid time in goal throughout the season. There were many occasions where his nerves got the better of him and his poor command of area allowed him to ship cheap goals. These goals cost us very important games, the first leg against Porto and away at Wigan are two of his worst games of the season. It's said Arsene Wenger still holds the Pole in high regard so many doubt he'll be leaving the club anytime soon. I don't believe he has the expertise needed to cut it at our level and he should be sold. Fabianski gets a 3/10.

Vito Mannone: We saw little of the young Italian goalkeeper this season but he managed to leave a good impression on us. He had a simply astounding performance against Fulham at Craven Cottage which saw him named Man of The Match in a 1-0 victory for us. He's only 22 years old though and that inexperience showed in a match against West Ham at The Boleyn Ground where we surrendered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2. He was benched ever since and never saw playing time again. He shows a lot of promise and I'd rather see him in the team than Fabianski next season. I give Mannone a 7/10. 

Bacary Sagna: Didn't have as good a season as in the past. There were questions to be asked about his attacking, especially his crosses as many of them failed to hit the target. He is a defender however and his defending was pretty decent as a whole although he was found wanting in some of our significant games this season, particularly the 3-0 loss to Chelsea at home and the 3-1 loss to Manchester United, also at home. I think Sagna deserves a 6.

Thomas Vermaelen: For many he's our signing of the season. It's not hard to see why. He has been a stalwart in our defence and he deserves massive credit for how he's come into the Premiership and adjusted so quickly. There's a certain confidence about him and the way he goes into tackles that shows why he's played every single Premiership game he's been fit for this season. Many doubted him when we signed him, some questioning his height. It didn't matter at all as he's shown how good he is in the aerial challenges and he's also been very useful to us in front of goal as well as the Belgian snatched 8 goals in the campaign. Not bad for a center back, huh? Vermaelen gets an 8.5/10 from me and I don't think many will dispute that.

William Gallas: William has had his fair share of critics for his outspoken nature in the past in his time as Arsenal skipper. Ever since being stripped of the captaincy he's turned his Arsenal career around. He's had a very good season partnered with Vermaelen at the back. His tackling has been a lot better this season and it's not far fetched to wonder if our season capitulated because of his injury. It seemed to go downhill at just about the same time. Big Bill gets a 7.5/10 from me. I hope we replace him adequately this summer.

Mikael Silvestre: Didn't get much playing time this season as he was always just a bit player in our team who got into the starting eleven when a defender got injured. Most of his playing time came towards the end of the season when Gallas got injured and quite frankly he's been very poor. He hasn't done much to merit a contract extension and he, like Gallas, is on his way out of the club. 5/10

Johan Djourou: This is a guy Wenger has a lot of patience for but like Robin van Persie he's always finding himself injured. Unfortunately for the Swiss center back he picked up a knee injury which ruled him out for all games this season except the Fulham game on the final day. I hope he stays fit next season and push the new defender(s) coming in for a regular starting place. Rating not applicable here.

Gael Clichy: He's struggled this season. While there's no doubting his passion, heart and commitment to Arsenal Football Club his game was riddled with costly defensive mistakes. He's put a bit more pressure on Vermaelen to work harder too. I don't want him to leave but I hope he improves for next season. I'd give him a 6.

Kieran Gibbs: Much like Djourou, injury has been the downfall of young Kieran Gibbs this season. He made only 7 appearances and was pretty solid until he had troubles with his back. He shows a lot of promise and I hope things go better for him next season. 6.5/10 from me.

Armand Traore: Armand was rumoured to be on his way to Birmingham at the start of the season but he quickly rubbished those rumours saying he wants to stay and fight for a place in the Arsenal team. He had 12 appearances and while he wasn't exactly stellar he wasn't really bad either. He had an indifferent season. To be fair to him however, he's not a natural defender, but a left midfielder who's being played at the back by Arsene Wenger to learn more about the defensive side of the game. Whether he'll still be here next season remains to be seen. Armand gets a 6/10.

Sol Campbell: When the rumours swirled about his return to Arsenal I was pretty vocal about being unsure that we should be taking a gamble like that. He's 35 years old and I questioned his ability to keep up with football at this level. Man did he prove me wrong! This is one of those cases where humble pie couldn't be any tastier to me. In my opinion, he's been our best signing this season. He's been very active, more so than you'd expect of someone his age and he's been very solid and consistent since signing for us in January and you can see the leadership he brings to the team while playing. He'll definitely be around next season and I'm happy we have his leadership at our disposal. Sol Campbell gets a 9/10 for me.

I just hit preview and realised that this will be a really long blog post if I continue. I'll let you rest your eyes a bit and you can check back later for part 2 with the midfield and attack ratings. Before you go, have a look back at the season that was:
(Special thanks to radioactivesound for the video)

Leave your thoughts on the ratings, what you agree/disagree with as well as your own ratings in the comment section below. Also give your thoughts on the video.

One more thing, please hit the follow button on the right before you go. Take care and have a good one!

1 comment:

  1. im really impressed with vermaelen too.....really a rock at the back....and i too have been impressed with sol's performance, for a man of his age.....i really hope he stays for next season...which seems highly possible, i wouldn't get all upset if flappy got maybe a 1 or 2, and i guess u saving the best for last cuz i reall wanna see if diaby gonna get a F or a F......so i will definitely stay tuned...