Here’s part 2 of my look at the potential ins and outs of the squad, where I look at our midfield.
2. Abou Diaby: One of those players who divides fans; some say he is a decent player who has been unfortunate with injuries; others say that his injury record is such that it is about time we cut our losses. I have to say I’m in the latter camp and think we should cash in our chips. Quite how we do that though, I’m not sure. Has scored the odd decent goal but barring a Rosicky-esque rejuvenation, and given that trimming the wage bill would be a very good idea, I’d be happy to see him go. Go
7. Tomas Rosicky: He was about to come on against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium and I remember saying to my brother and cousin that we should just get rid, as for an attacking midfielder he offered no real threat up to that point. How wrong I was. What a second half of the season he had! First name on team sheet after RvP for me, and I was awestruck by his industry. Never stopped moving, like a typhoon in midfield. I felt with him on the pitch anything could happen. Cynics reckoned he was playing for a new contract, but what was even better was that he played like this even after it was signed. The best tribute I could pay to him is that I was more nervous about the Wolves game when he didn’t start, and I reckon his recent form is actually better than at any point in his Arsenal career. Stay
8. Mikel Arteta: I was annoyed when people dismissed this as a panic buy, as I’ve always rated him as a classy player. He turned out to be one of those quietly brilliant players, going about his business almost unnoticed…that is until he wasn’t there. It was no coincidence that Arsenal only won one match he didn’t play in last season, and it was not just due to his attacking element, but also his defensive-midfield work, which allowed Song to go forward. Without him, and with Song looking to play the ‘Hollywood Pass’ further upfield, the defence was horribly exposed at times. He’s no Fabregas (yawn), but still a very valuable signing. Stay
16. Aaron Ramsey: Thought he started well early on in the season, who could forget his last minute winner away to Marseille in the Champions League. With Nasri and Fabregas gone and the resulting added match time I feel he ran out of steam in the second half of the season. Despite this, I thought some of the vitriol he received from certain parts of the Emirates was frankly unacceptable. Admittedly he was making errors but he is an honest player trying his heart out for the shirt, and it seemed all the goodwill he had after his horrific injury appeared to have completely eroded from some. Hopefully he will come back stronger and confident after his Olympic experience and ram the boos right down the critics’ throats. Stay
17. Alex Song: A solid season from Song. His defensive game is well-documented, but he added a real attacking threat, along with the lethal Song-van Persie connection. Seems to have become a real box-to-box midfielder, although with Arteta out for the final straight of the season, his positioning sometimes exposed the defence. Feel he just needs to know when to play that ambitious pass, as too often he would try incisive through-balls rather than playing a simple and safe pass. Stay
19. Jack Wilshere: Such a shame we lost him for the whole season. And because of a pre-season match! We’ve really missed him at times this season, and I’m pretty sure Ramsey wouldn’t have had to play so much if he’d have been fit. Can’t wait to see him next season. Stay
26. Emmanuel Frimpong: A great prospect, just disappointed he seemed destined to get sent off at home to Liverpool early in the season, which during the match came as no surprise to anyone in the stadium. Saw glimpses of what he will offer though, especially against City in the Carling Cup (his battle with Nasri was funny to watch) and a productive loan spell at Wolves before his unfortunate injury. Stay
30. Yossi Benayoun: Another one who ended the season in fine form. He was frustrated he wasn’t playing more at the beginning of the season, and I must admit I was beginning to wonder what was the point in him being at the club. The upside was that he was fresh for the run-in. And he played brilliantly, full of endeavour and effort, a real threat. Rumour has it that he would rather go to a lower club and be in the first team every week – whilst guaranteed starts won’t happen at Arsenal, I still hope he will reconsider. He is a valuable player, too good to be wasted at Chelsea and deserves to be playing in the Champions League. Stay
Francis Coquelin seemed to cover in defence more than his actual midlfield position but has played well and has a fearlessness about him, so it will be interesting to see him push on next season.
That’s it for my take on our midfield, keep an eye out for the final part of my ins and outs, focusing on the attack.