Arsene Wenger digging for loose change- hope for a summer signing?
The Gunners have come out this season with heavy artillery and all guns blazing. Arsene Wenger's team are still in contention for an unprecedented quadruple trophy haul, starting with the Carling Cup final at Wembley.
The manager seems to have finally found the perfect squad rotation formula to effectively compete in all four major competitions this season...or has he?
While Arsenal remain in title contention, Wenger should take a step back and take a long hard look at his squad. He will have to admit that there exists a largely conspicuous gulf of class between the first 11 and backups at the club. The starting 11 are world class, indispensable to Arsenal's success. The same, however, cannot be said for the players on the bench.
This was evident during the third and fourth-round FA Cup ties, whereby the services of captain Cesc Fabregas were required to make right the mess created by the backups, on both occasions respectively.
The manager should thus make an unbiased analysis of these players and decide if they are capable of donning the Arsenal shirt. If the North London outfit are to live up to the "Victoria Concordia Crescit" culture, changes have to be made—and soon.
Here are five players that have underperformed this season and should face the exit doors.
The Czech Republican midfielder was brought into the team by Arsene Wenger in 2006, and duly justified his transfer to the North London club with an impressive performance in the World Cup in Germany the same year. Rosicky looked to be a fine talent as well as a leader in the midst of the young Gunners.
However, injury marred the Czech Internationals' Arsenal career for a good 18 months in 2008. Ever since then, it could be safe to say he never really looked like the same player he was before. Rosicky's trickery and ability on the ball had left him, and the fierce strikes on goal he was so renown for now fly high into the stands nine out of 10 times.
This season, Tomas Rosicky's performances have been laughable. His contributions are minimal, his determination to win games questionable and his passes are as unpredictable as a Snitch in a game of Quidditch.
The Czech mainly plays the captain's role in Cup matches and occasionally makes cameo appearances in Premier League clashes. His leadership qualities are non-existent, and this has cost Arsenal crucial points this season.
Rosicky's most recent appearance saw him come on as a substitute in the weekend's game at Newcastle, wherein the Czech single-handedly gave the game away. A penalty, a free kick and a misplaced pass by Rosicky directly handed Newcastle three of their four goals in their comeback draw.
It is a shame such a talent has become the principle flop in Arsenal's title bid.
Denilson, in his defense, is not a particularly bad player. He possesses commendable close control skills and has the ability to produce long-range screamers once in a while. Also, the young Brazilian is not afraid to make those crunching tackles.
Well, the former traits make Denilson a good player. However, it is the latter aspect of the Arsenal midfielder that leads to his downfall. As a defensive midfielder, one would expect Denilson to get in there and make those vicious last ditch challenges. The only problem, he doesn't get the ball.
For this reason, the Brazilian has given away countless penalties and free kicks in dangerous situations. Just a couple of weeks ago, he gave away a penalty after needlessly sticking out a leg to trip a Leeds player in the box. Had it not been for the intervention of Fabregas later in the game, Arsenal would have been knocked out of the FA Cup.
Furthermore, Denilson is perhaps the worst passer of the ball in the entire Arsenal squad. Every other pass ends up at the feet of an opposing player. The Brazilian isn't helping his case one bit either when he laughs at his mistakes instead of tracking down the man and winning the ball back.
Denilson, like Rosicky, has cost Arsenal important games throughout his career at North London.
Yes, cover that face, Denilson.
'What did I do, ref?'
Sebastien Squillaci. Where do I begin?
The centre-back joined the Gunners over summer from Spanish club Sevilla. With his vast experience and reputation, it seemed Wenger made a decent signing. Oh, how wrong we were.
The French defender has been perhaps the worst centre-back in Arsenal colours since the likes of Pascal Cygan. It remains tough to recall the number of goals that were scored against Arsenal as a result of the Frenchman's clownish defending.
Squillaci initially featured in the starting 11 on his debut, along with fellow new signing Koscielny, in place of injured Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou. It took around five games for Wenger to realise he had purchased an absolute tool of a player and immediately retired Squillaci to the bench when Djourou became available.
When Squillaci got another break into the starting 11 against Huddersfield Town, through injury to Djourou- you guessed it—the French defender repaid his manager's faith in him by being outclassed by the Second division side, and in the process, receiving a red card for his, or rather lack of, effort.
Even a blind man is able to deduce that Squillaci is not up to Premier League standards, and his ridiculously clumsy style of play is a recipe for disaster.
Here's hoping Squillaci remains injured for the rest of the season and is let go during the summer transfer window—be it for free or not.
We know you trust in Arsenal, but do Arsenal trust in you?
The Ivorian right back has been on the fringe of the Arsenal first team in recent seasons, and there is a well good reason for it.
Everytime Eboue is named on the team sheet to start a game, pangs of fear course through Arsenal supporters. It's not because Eboue portrays a frightening personality or anything of that sort; he is in fact a really nice guy according to his team mates. Rather, it is due to the inconsistency of Eboue's play.
As a right-back, the Ivorian is an amazing athlete and is more than capable of out-dribbling opponents in the attacking third of the field. However, when it comes to defending in his own third, therein lies Arsenal's troubles. Eboue is renown for his woeful defending and constantly fuels danger into the Arsenal back four.
On top of that, the eccentric player often attempts to dribble his way out of trouble, which is not a problem if you are Alex Song. Again, this leads to dispossession of the ball and the threat of a goal for the opposition.
If that isn't enough, Eboue has serious anger issues. He will find just about any reason to create an argument—be it with the referee or an opponent. This may be entertaining for the neutrals watching the game but a heart-in-the-mouth moment for Arsenal fans, not wanting to see their player being sent off needlessly.
Arsene, it is time Eboue left the club.
Oh, Not again!
Finally, we come to our fifth and final member of the Arsenal squad. Inevitably, it is Manuel Almunia, the biggest flop of a keeper the club has seen for a while.
Almunia was Arsenal's No. 1 for many years, however injury led him to be replaced by second choice keeper Lukasz Fabianski. Although Fabianski was also another disaster waiting to happen between the sticks, the Polish keeper trained hard to improve, eventually taking the place of Almunia as Arsenal's first choice. What happened next with Fabianski and Szczesny is a different story altogether.
Anyway, Almunia found himself warming the benches at Arsenal and found it difficult to get games under his belt. There was substantial speculation linking the keeper with a move away from London, but it never transpired, and the Spanish national stayed at the Emirates.
A few weeks ago, Wenger gave Almunia a start against Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup tie. To be fair, he did make a couple of decent saves, apart from one moment when he misjudged the flight of the ball and scrambled across the face of the goal to punch it clear.
Essentially, even though Almunia may still be a class keeper, the likes of the younger duo of Fabianski and Szczesny have taken over the Spaniard's mantle at the helm of the goal.