Arsenal Midseason Review and Looking Toward 2011

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Arsenal Midseason Review and Looking Toward 2011
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Just part of Arsenal's impressive squad this season.

It may be hard to believe, but Arsenal's season is already halfway done. Arsenal sit currently in 3rd place, 4 points behind Manchester United, who have a game in hand, and 2 points behind Manchester City who have played a game more than the Gunners. With 2010, coming to a close, a new year begins, and with that new hope. We will break down Arsenal's squad so far this season, as well, since it's January, and that means potential transfers, we will examine areas that are desperate need of help and what 2011 holds for Arsenal.

 

Player Ratings:

Here we will take a look at all of Arsenal's players and if they have lived up to the standards thus far this season.

 

Keepers:

Almunia

Do we really believe he has been injured this whole time? I mean can there be any more signs that his time at Arsenal is over, and has been over for some time. With Fabianski improving, and Szczensy waiting in the wings, and not to even mention Mannone, he should know himself, that he needs to find a new home, probably in Spain.

Rating: 1.0/10

Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Fabianski

 

Fabianski

Many Arsenal Fans cringed when they heard Fabianski was going to be the starter. With his history of high profile errors that have cost Arsenal many points, fans had every right to believe this was a poor move. However he has been a vastly improved player this season. He has quick reactions and very good distribution of the ball.

Although, it is still hard to over look his mental lapses in games against Newcastle, and more recently, Wigan. Arsenal have had trouble keeping a clean sheet this season, and although not all of the goals are down to keeper, many of them still are. He has improved, but he is not title winning keeper Arsenal need.

 Rating: 6.5/10 

Mannone

 Going out on loan to Hull City symbolized that his chance of appearing for Arsenal, at least this year, is next to none. Shows good potential, and had a string of good performances for Hull City, but the loan was ended early due to injury.

He very well might be looking for another home if fails to surpass either Szczensy or Fabianski in the coming year.

Rating: 5/10 

Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Wojciech Szczesny, the next great Arsenal keeper?

 

Szczensy

Failed to beat out Fabianski for the No. 1 spot when Almunia got "injured," which was an unfortunate set back. However, he has performed fantastically whenever called upon in the Carling Cup, including a fantastic performance against Newcastle. As well, he started more recently against table-topping Manchester United and played extremely well.

He has all the tools to become a great keeper, and more importantly he knows how to organize his defense very well.

Rating: 6.0/10

 

Defense: 

Sagna

 Has shown shades of his form when he first arrived at Arsenal, the type of form that earned him a sport the EPL team of the year a few seasons back. He can cover the whole of the right side of the pitch, both attacking and defending. He has been arguably Arsenal's most consistent defender this season. His crossing still leaves a lot to be desired, and for some reason, he continues to try and cross the ball.

Rating: 7.5/10

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Thomas Vermaelen has been sorely missed this season

 

Eboue

Despite frequently being left out of the squad, he recently signed a new long-term contract with the club. Eboue has never, and probably will never be a consistent starter for Arsenal, but he brings much more to the table.

He is Arsenal's utility man, often playing out of position. Over the years he has played striker, right wing, right back, left back, left wing and defensive mid. Very few players could handle themselves playing all of those positions.

As well he is one of the most popular players in the Arsenal dressing room, and many Arsenal players have been quoted saying he is a great teammate. Plus, he dresses in the most interesting outfits!

Rating: 6.0/10 

 

Koscielny

His first season at Arsenal has been much of a roller coaster ride. He has looked shaky, and even a liability in the back in some games, but in others, against Chelsea most notably, he has shown why Arsene Wenger bought him.

He is an aggressive player, who is very good in the air despite his lack of height. As well, he very good in tackle, and commits himself 100%. Has some speed to him as well.

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Koscielny is enjoying his first season at Arsenal

Koscielny still needs to improve his physical stature. He is often overwhelmed at times by the physical presence of some strikers. Tough first season, especially after Vermaelen's first year last season. 

Rating: 6.0/10

 

Squillaci

The former Sevilla man has done little this season to help put Arsenal's defensive problems at ease.

He is my no means out of his element at Arsenal, in fact, he fits under the typical Arsenal defender. Has some speed to him, not great in the air, and error prone at times. He hasn't offered the leadership qualities Wenger would have liked either.

He has probably played more games than Wenger would have anticipated as well, considering Vermaelen's injury and Djourou regaining fitness.

Rating: 5.5/10

 

Djourou:

If you can remember Song's rapid improvement last season, Djourou in many ways reminds me of that. Many fans were unsure what to expect this season from Djourou, especially after a season ending injury the year before.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Djourou held Drogba in check for Arsenal

He is a whole new player this season. The Swiss defender is now the best center back fit at the club. Strong, good in the air and the tackle, he looks like just the defender Arsenal needed, but didn't buy this summer.

Arsenal can't wait till Vermaelen is fit again to play along side him.

Rating: 7.0/10

 

Vermaelen

Has managed only three games this season after a stellar first year at Arsenal.  A mysterious injury to his achilles which was originally keeping him out for only 3 weeks, has cost him more than half the season.

Arsenal desperately miss his presence at the back this year. His injury could cost them dearly for the title.

Rating: 4.0/10 

 

Gibbs

 In many ways Wenger is wanting to replace Clichy sooner, rather than later with Gibbs. However, at every opportunity Gibbs get injured. It's hard to recall the last 90 minutes he lasted in match.

His constant injury problems put a huge doubt in the mind of Arsenal fans, and relying on him week in and week out to stay fit may prove a huge problem.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Kieren Gibbs' season has been riddled with injuries

Rating: 5.5/10

 

Clichy

Clichy has often received criticism for being a liability at the back for Arsenal, especially in the lost to Man United. He often gives players too much space, and closes them down late. He can often make up for his mistakes with this blazing speed.

His work rate and speed are second to none. He can sprint the length of the pitch even in the 90th minute. His ability to cover the whole left side of the pitch is a valuable asset for Arsenal. Clichy is as well, a great reader of the game, often predicting where passes are going in advance.

Rating: 6.5/10 

 

Midfield:

Denilson

He seems to have dropped far down the pecking order at Arsenal. The luckiest thing that has happened for him is Frimpong getting injured early in the year, because he may taken the few games Denilson as played in this year.

He too often drifts in and out of games, and constantly fails to make an impact. With Ramsey and Diaby coming back from their injuries, it is hard to see where he will get playing time.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Arsenal squad in training

Rating: 5.0/10

 

Diaby

Injury has hit once again this season. He has spent all but a few games on the sidelines. He has looked decent this season considering the injuries and few games he has played.

Rating: 6.0/10

 

Ramsey

Recovering from injury, and still about 6 to 8 weeks away from full fitness. Had a short loan spell with Nottingham Forest to boost his fitness.

Rating: 5.5/10

 

Nasri

Magnificent. Majestic. Marvelous. Nasri has been outstanding this year in almost all aspects of his game. In a year where he has left of the World Cup squad for France, he has not only taken a lot of the responsibility off Fabregas for caring the team, but he has added a goal scoring threat to his game.

In the first half of this season alone he has scored more goals in the rest of his Arsenal career. Fabregas and Nasri are rapidly developing an understanding of each other, and as long as they are fit, they are more than capable of taking down any side, including, dare I say it...Barcelona.

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Nasri is having a breakout season for Arsenal

Keeping Nasri and Fabregas fit will be the key to success the rest of this year.

Player of the Year anyone?

Rating: 10/10 

Wilshere

Just turned 19 on New Year's Day, and did anyone imagine he would play this pivotal of a role at Arsenal? Along with Fabregas and Nasri, Arsenal boast one of the most talented, and youngest group of midfielders in Europe.

Wilshere looks comfortable on the ball, and is always thinking a step ahead of his opponent. His passing is fantastic, well beyond his years and he not afraid to get stuck in the tackle either. Once he starts getting the courage to shoot more often, he will be scary player.

Rating: 8.0/10

 

Walcott

Walcott has turned in a number of impressive displays this season. However, his performance against Chelsea, was probably one of his best in an Arsenal shirt. In many ways, this is Walcott's season where is becoming a man, a real player for Arsenal.

His hat trick against Blackpool showed his coming of age, and despite being injured for some time this season, he has shown he can make the grade at Arsenal.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Jack Wilshere

True, his crossing and passing still have some work to do, but these things aren't fixed over night. His speed strikes fear into any defender, and just having him on the pitch gives Arsenal another dimension.

Rating: 7.5/10

 

Arshavin

 What a season it has been for the little Russian. He leads the league in assists, and has scored a couple of important goals this season, yet is clearly no where near his best.

In a year where he helped Russia host the 2018 World Cup, people believed he would play with an inspired attitude. However, he has turned in a number of dismal performances. Many times looking uninteresting in the game.

But, as with many great players, Arshavin is more than capable of winning or turning any game. With simply a touch he can produce greatness.

Rating: 7.0/10

 

Song

Song has left off right where he ended from last year. He is the definition of consistency and rarely lets Arsenal down these days.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Alex Song has been one Arsenal's most consistent players

Song never grabs the headlines with his displays apart of the few goals he has scored this year, but his role at Arsenal almost as important as those of Nasri and Fabregas. As Arsenal saw in games last year, especially the 2nd leg against Barcelona, how important he is to the team.

He has become one of, if not the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League, and provides the perfect cover for the defense.

Rating: 8.5/10

 

Rosicky

Rosicky has finally gone injury free for a couple of months, and so see him back on the pitch for any true Arsenal fan is a fantastic sight. 

Despite losing some of his game because of the injury, Rosicky is slowly coming back to his game. He shows shades of the player he once has, and given time and some games, he could play a role for Arsenal, even if that means coming off the bench.

Rating: 6.5/10

 

Fabregas

Despite a horrible summer for Arsenal Fans, with Barcelona's love affair with Fabregas, there can be no denying his head is with Arsenal. He has put in a number of pure class performances this season, and looks to be developing one of the best midfield tandems with Nasri.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Fabregas and Walcott celebrate scoring against Chelsea

Although nagging injuries have held him back a bit this year, but not getting a run of games under his belt, he looks raring to go. As long as he stays fit, Arsenal have a shot at the title this year.

Rating: 9.0/10

 

Strikers:

Vela:

Has played very rarely this year, and failed to turn many heads with the chances he did receive. Vela will most likely be heading on loan to Bolton or some other club for the remainder of the season.

Rating: 5.0/10

 

Bendtner

 The Danish Striker has suffered a long injury spell on the sidelines, and since his return he has found it increasingly hard to find a place in the Arsenal team.

With van Persie coming back to form, and Chamakh having a good first season, Bendtner sits a definite third in the pecking order.

He has come up with the odd goal here and there, but his touch and consistency is going to have to improve if he wants to see the field on a regular basis.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Arsene Wenger knows his squad have to improve if they are to challenge for the title this season

Hasn't improved much over the past 18 months.

Rating: 4.5/10 

Chamakh

Chamakh is on pace to haul in over 20 goals this season, that is, if he can stay fit. Wenger recently revealed that Chamakh was coming tired and beat up with the rough Premier League season. He is used to having a winter break at this point of the year, as they do in the French league, but that is not the case in England.

His arial presence has crucial for Arsenal, securing them a number of important results. Chamakh has a great ability to hold the ball up and bring other players into the game, which suits Arsenal. He doesn't mind playing with has back to goal.

Impressive first season, much better than anyone could have imagined.

Rating: 8.0/10

 

van Persie

 RvP has had a stop and start season, suffering a couple of set backs with his injury and just recently scored his first goal of the season. It is hard to remember the last time van Persie had a series of games of in Arsenal shirt, and it will be fantastic to see how he does once gets a few games under his belt.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Chamakh has enjoyed a great start to his Arsenal career

His technical ability top class, and he offers Arsenal a genuine goal scoring striker. One they have been missing for some time.

Rating: 7.0/10

 

Analysis:

The first half of the year in truth has been a huge let down. Arsenal have preformed better in big game situations than in years past. The 2-0 loss to Chelsea was undone by thrashing them 3-1 at home, and the same can be said if Arsenal can beat Man United later this season. However, there is no excuses for home defeats to West Brom and Newcastle. Arsenal's home form needs to improve in the 2nd half of the year. And the loss to Spurs speaks for itself. It is simply unacceptable to be winning by two goals and lose the game, especially at home, especially to a rival, and especially if you want to win the title.

Only one team has ever had 5 losses before New Years and go on to win the title.

The Carling Cup is Arsenal's for the taking, and they should easily take it. However, the Carling Cup is by no means ending Arsenal's trophy drought, it their least important competition, and they are looking for a Champion's League or EPL title. But one can home by winning the Carling Cup, it will serve as motivation for Arsenal players to dig deep to fight for more trophy's and spark a rich vein of form.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Is RvP finally past his injury problems?

That being said, Arsenal have found their best starting XI, and should stick with that as long as it is winning them games. Nasri has become a huge playmaker for the club, one that we said we desperately needed over the summer, and Wenger proved us wrong. Wilshere has played beyond his years, and Fabregas has been top class. Arsenal have the players to win the league, its just a matter of putting it all together.

January Transfers:

Out: Almunia, Denilson, Vela (loan)

In: Center Back

 

Mid-Season Awards:

Best Defender: Johan Djourou

Best Midfielder: Samir Nasri

Best Striker: Marouane Chamakh

Most Improved: Johan Djourou

Best Youngster: Jack Wilshere

MVP: Samir Nasri


2011 Predictions:

Carling Cup: Winners

How many trophies will Arsenal win this season?

Submit Vote vote to see results

FA Cup: Semi-Finals

Champions League: Quarter-Finals

Premier League: 2nd Place

 

Goals for 2011 Summer (in order of importance):

  • Retain Fabregas once again
  • Extend Samir Nasri's contract
  • Keep Pat Rice from retiring (assistant coach)
  • Sign a new keeper
  • Sign another defender
  • Sign a defensive midfielder


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