There’s nothing like a good reactionary piece of writing following a particularly damaging result is there? Arsenal lost 2-1 to their great rivals on Wednesday night with a number of first string players missing, and so there can only be one conclusion… Sack the board! No, actually sack Wenger, and while you’re at it, sack the entire team! Re-sign Thierry Henry as player manager!
The alternative to the slight overreaction that appears to be frequenting Arsenal message boards across the world wide web, is that Gunner’s should remain patient, and allow Wenger to tinker again with the squad, and hope that there is further progress next term. After all, Arsenal are nine points better off now than at the same stage last season. Further, unless Cesc Fabregas and William Gallas both leave (which is highly unlikely), Arsenal will only improve over the summer.
Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the cries of Arsenal fans deriding the performances of some of their players, with last night’s insipid display arguably not an isolated incident in certain cases. Last night, although Arsenal looked good in possession, they were toothless until Robin Van Persie entered proceedings with 25 minutes remaining.
Therefore, who will-or should-leave the Arsenal party early? Here are seven players at Arsenal that, debatably, aren’t quite up to it…
Away at Birmingham City, and at the Emirates against Barcelona, the player pulled out some seriously good saves. However, in the same game at St. Andrew’s Almunia cost Arsenal a valuable three points by fluffing his lines as Kevin Phillips pounced.
Manuel Almunia often appears to be doing a good impression of his namesake from Fawlty Towers. He is too unreliable, too error prone, and Arsenal will struggle to win the big prizes without a top goal keeper. If Arsenal sign just one player this season, it has to be a world class goalkeeper (I’ll take for granted that Marouane Chamakh is already a done deal).
The fact that soon this player will be gracing those annoying blooper DVDs released around Christmas and presented by Ian Wright, should be evidence enough of this player’s ineptitude. The two goals he conceded against Porto at the Estadio de Dragao suggest that he simply isn’t up to it. Also, he’s not that young anymore. He turns 25 in a few days, and although that’s not old for a goalkeeper, he’s too old to claim inexperience or youth.
Fabianski is not a big game player, and has been error prone for years, with Arsenal’s 5-1 demolition at White Hart Lane in 2008yet more evidence to support the accusation, with a particularly soft shot from Robbie Keane trickling under the Pole. Simply not good enough for Arsenal.
Senderos can’t even get a game at Everton, which is a supposed ‘smaller’ club. However, whilst Jon Heitinga and Phil Jagielka are actually very good defenders, Philippe Senderos is what he is – a mid-table team squad player.
With Johan Djourou, Sol Campbell, Thomas Vermaelen and (hopefully) William Gallas already at the club, Arsenal need to sign quality to improve the starting eleven, and so the Switzerland international must surely be surplus to requirement. Bye-Bye Philippe.
The 32 year old Frenchman probably isn’t as bad as some have made out, but he does resemble a triple deck bus when on the turn. With Campbell likely to get another contract extention, it’s unlikely the equally geriatric Silvestre will be afforded the same treatment. His contract expires in August, and it shouldn’t be renewed.
This one is a tad debatable, but the Czech midfielder turns 30 in October, and following a horrendous run of injuries, really appears to have slowed down. Known as the ‘little Mozart’ in Germany for his ability to orchestrate games, the Czech midfielder is a shadow of his former self at the moment. He has shown flashes of his old brilliance with a cross for Abou Diaby at the Emirates against Liverpool and with goals against Everton and Bolton, but often it appears he’s on the periphery of games.
Rosický signed a new long term contract in January, and Wenger clearly rates the player. However, with Arshavin, Nasri, Fabregas and Ramsey arguably of a similar ilk, will Rosický find a place in the team? It’s unlikely he’ll go anywhere this summer, but Arsenal fans fear his injuries have rendered Rosický a mere ghost of the player that arrived.
At 22 years old, Denilson is still young enough to be considered a work in progress, but many Arsenal fans have already seen enough of the Brazilian midfield player. Some would argue his best position is not in defensive midfield, and that he is more of a box to box player. Wenger compared his style to somewhere between ‘Tomáš Rosický and Gilberto’. However, some Arsenal fans would argue that this is true only in that he has the attacking prowess of Gilberto, and the defensive capabilities of Rosický.
Denilson clearly cuts a divisive figure at Arsenal. Opinion varies between the belief that Denilson was one of Arsenal’s best players last year, breaking up play and performing consistently for the side, and the conviction that he is often caught out of position, is too weak in the tackle and is poor in possession.
This term, whilst Denilson has had his injury problems, and is still feeling his way back to full fitness, there is a chance that with Fabregas, Nasri, Ramsey, Diaby and Song et al all competing for places in the centre of midfield, another expensive summer acquisition may see the Brazilian youngster frozen out.
After everything Eduardo has been through at Arsenal, it is a shame that it has arguably come to this. However, Eduardo’s Arsenal future looks bleak at present. Primarily, the formation that Wenger deploys is hurting Eduardo. Eduardo cannot lead the line alone in a 4-3-3/4-5-1, and Arsenal have many attacking midfielders at their disposal to complete the front attacking three. Secondly, the boy is struggling to return to the form and fitness he displayed before his horrific injury.
Since the horrific tackle at Birmingham City two seasons ago, the £7.5m signing doesn’t look the same player. Eduardo looks a yard slower, a tad heavier and at times hesitant. His record of six goals in 17 starts is not particularly bad, but with only seven career Premier League goals to his name, Arsenal cannot wait forever for Eduardo to flourish.
Wenger is unlikely to push the Croatian, but for the sake of his fitness and career, it could be better for him to walk.
Wenger has admitted that Investment is necessary this season, and so any one of these players could lose their position after the transfer window closes on 1st September. Wenger is known to be loyal to his players, but this season has seemingly proven that Wenger’s understudies are not up to the task, the squad needs quality reinforcements, and heads might well roll…
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