Top Gunners: The Top 5 Arsenal Players Of 2010/2011 So Far
The EPL is officially at its halfway mark, despite some sides not boasting the full 19 games due to England's horrific winter. So far, 2010/2011 has brought some huge upsets, absolute thrashings and even a five-goal hero. It's also been the tightest title and relegation race in a number of years.
It has been a stellar yet inconsistent start to the 2010/2011 campaign for Arsenal, sitting a healthy third on the English Premier League table, with only two points separating them from first-place Manchester United.
Furthermore, the Gunners have a game in hand to big spenders Manchester City, who are in second.
Arsene Wenger's men have also qualified for the next stage of the UEFA Champions League alongside reaching the semi final of the League Cup, where Wenger's men will encounter Championship side Ipswich Town this month.
However, there have also been some major disappointments that have ensured Arsenal do not dominate the Premier League proceedings. Of the five losses the Gunners have endured, three of them have come at home. The worst part is all three could have been avoided if not for poor defending.
Arguably the worst and most embarrassing moment for the Arsenal faithful was the shock 3-2 loss to arch rivals Tottenham. Arsenal had led 2-0 at halftime and some how managed to end the encounter losers, in what is described as Wenger's worst managerial moment.
But all in all it's been an entertaining, promising start for the North London giants, which many hope will lead to the termination of their notorious five-year trophy drought.
Now let's look at the top five players of the season so far.
5. Lukasz Fabianski
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Season appearances: 18
Clean Sheets: 3
The Summer prior to 2010/2011 was dominated with the usual banter over captain Cesc Fabregas future as well as what quality, renowned keeper Arsene Wenger was to secure the services of in order to diminish the Arsenal keeping conundrum.
Since the departure of Jens Lehman in 2008, the Gunners have lacked a quality presence in between the goal posts and many felt it was the main instigator in Arsenal's lack of silverware.
Manuel Almunia had tried and failed as the No. 1 keeper. Despite showing signs of a talented keepers, the 31 year old merely wasn't meant to be a first-choice keeper at a club like Arsenal.
Lukasz Fabianski on the other hand was still young but since his arrival in 2007, until now, fans and critics alike had no real clue to why Wenger showed so much fait in the Polish shot stopper. The 25-year-old showed potential and was blessed with a long dive and quick relfexes.
However the former Legia Warsaw keeper was a ticking time bomb in goal. In crucial matches errors were always made, simple, weak shots predominantly got the better of the Polish international.
Acquiring the nick name "Flappyianski" for the way the young gun often flapped at high balls, as well as the nickname "Vampire" because of his fear of crosses.
But those renditions have changed to the point few look back on his error filled past. When Manuel Almunia suffered a persistent ankle injury in September, Lukasz Fabianski stepped up to the plate and fans began their usual thoughts of "here we go again."
Fortunately it was not the case, with every game the Polish keeper has gone from strength to strength, defying the odds, proving he is the keeper Wenger sees.
Fabianski has conceded a mere 11 goals in 12 EPL appearances this season, as well as making some fantastic saves that have preserved Arsenal's title challenge.
Highlight of the season so far was Fabianski's save against Wolves when Kevin Doyle sent a fericious shot with only two minutes to go that looked certain to give Wolves an equalizer only for Fabianski to make a freak low save.
4. Marouane Chamakh
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Season Appearances: 26
Arsene Wenger had tried vigorously to sign Girondins de Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamkh during the 2009 Summer but the French giants refused to accept the offers made by the Gunners.
But Chamakh was a free agent in 2010 and it was no secret the Moroccan wanted to play for Arsenal and come the Summer Wenger was able to acquire the imposing striker without losing a pound.
For seasons now the North London giants had lacked a physical, commanding presence upfront. Despite having speed, skill and elegance, the Gunners failed to boast the strong, powerful presence that can provide the difference against the "rugby" sides like Stoke, Sunderland and Birmingham.
However that has all changed thanks to Marouane Chamakh. The 26-year-old has instilled Arsenal's forward line with a commanding presence that not only offers strength and a heading target but a tremendous work ethic that come second to none. The Moroccan international also provides a great presence off set pieces, defence and attack.
But sometimes is the case with the "bigger" less agile strikers, there goal scoring prowess is not as sharp however Chamakh has maintained a great scoring rate, notching 10 goals in 26 appearances, second in the Arsenal ranks.
The highlight for Marouane would be matches against Birmingham and Wolves. Against Birmingham Chamakh was superb and scored a superb goal that was the eventual winner for the Gunners.
Against Wolves, Chamakh scored two goals, one in the first, one in the last, to give Arsenal a tough 2-0 victory.
3. Jack Wilshere
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Season Appearances: 23
Goals: 2 Assists: 2
The emergence of Jack Wilshere this season so far has been a joy to watch for the whole footballing world, especially England.
After the second half of 2009/2010 saw the teenage sensation off on loan to Bolton Wanderers to gain a feel for EPL football, Wilshere returned to Arsenal in the Summer to attempt to break into the Arsenal first team.
The 18-year-old has done that and it's been a revelation for the Gunners midfield. An impressive preseason saw the Englishman leap frog Denilson and Abou Diaby in the midfield pecking order to partner captain Cesc Fabregas and defensive midfielder Alexandre Song.
Wilshere has been ever present in the midfield, being one of the few to maintain fitness as well as consistency. The young gun has shown immense maturity, composure and creativity and some aggression that has been lacking since the Patrick Vieira era.
Wilshere's performances have seen him receive an call up to the English National team and fans couldn't be happier as it's more than clear Jack Wilshere is set to become a huge thing in World Football.
The highlight so far for young Jack would be a strong performance against Aston Villa that was capped off with his first Premier League goal for the Gunners.
2. Johan Djourou
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Season Appearances: 12
2008/2009 had seen Johan Djourou emerge as a key figure in the Arsenal defence after going through the Wenger youngster process of loan spells and Carling Cup football. After a solid campaign where the Swiss showed great promise, strength and power, a horror injury at the end of 08/09 Djourou miss the entire 2009/2010 season, bar the last game.
Fortunately the 23 year old has returned from his knee injury strongly and has reinstated his presence back into the Arsenal defence. Djourou has easily been Arsenal's best defender so far even with the fact Wenger refuses to play him on a strong consistent basis due to the severity of his injury.
Djourou's 6ft4 presence has helped greatly off set pieces for the Gunners as well as his pace and power. Fans hope that now in January, Djourou has acquired sufficient fitness levels to play on a regular basis.
Some may disagree with such a high ranking but Djourou's attitude and determination to return to his prime has been superb and the Swiss international deserves regonition after having to endure a large amount.
Johan's highlight so far was his domination of star Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, in the Gunners recent 3-1 win over the reigning champions.
1. Samir Nasri
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Season Appearances: 24 Goals: 12
Samir Nasri's shock uninclusion in France's World Cup squad looked to potential harm the Frenchman's confidience but it only enabled Nasri to receive a much needed rest over the Summer before returning stronger than ever for 2010/2011.
After a hugely impressive pre season, it becamse apparent the 23 year old was going to be utilized in a more central role after spending his first two seasons as more of a winger. After a minor thigh injury saw the former Marseille dynamo miss the opening month of football, Nasri returned in mid September and has since destroyed some of England's best defences.
There was no denying Nasri talent, it had been evident for a number of years but injuries and inconsistency had tainted his skill however now the French international has acquired consistency to his game and has now become one of the World's best players.
Scoring a massive 12 goals in 24 appearances, Nasri is Arsenal's top scorer so far and at this rate will be Arsenal's Player of The Season. If Arsenal are to suceed in their trophy challenge Nasri will play a huge role.
Easily the highlight for Samir was his two stunning, world class goals against Fulham to enabled the Gunners to win 2-1.