Arsenal - December Player of the Month
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December Player of the Month

I have to be honest and say that December`s player of the month award was a very difficult choice with no real outstanding candidates. Due to the heavy fixture congestion, injuries and rotation have decreed that few players have played a significant enough number of games. For instance, the respective form of Fabregas and Hleb has been blighted by injury this month and both appear to have taken time to fins their way back. Usual suspects such as Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna have played more than most, but have been solid more than remarkable. William Gallas and Mathieu Flamini were also in my thoughts after another series of consistent performances.

However, my choice this month would have to be Manuel Almunia. In November, he was critically savaged by all and sundry for his mistake against Manchester United and somewhere, there was a marooned German whose lips probably cracked into a half smile. Having also been criticised by one of his colleagues, Almunia came into December on tricky territory, with his supporters not yet completely won over by him. But his reaction has been a real credit his character and determination to consolidate a place in the side. His form has been very solid in the month of December, even if Arsenal have struggled to recapture the fluency of early autumn (though they have picked up the results). In the three away games at Villa, Boro and Newcastle, he has not been at fault for any of the goals conceded. In fact, for the duration of the month, I cannot think of a goal we have conceded he might have stopped.

But Almunia stands out amongst the other candidates owing to two excellent displays in the middle of the month. In the Chelsea game, a couple of impressive saves from Shevchenko efforts and a deflected Wright Phillips shot helped us to power to a crucial 1-0 victory. But Almunia`s stock really rose in the North London derby. With Arsenal playing exceptionally badly, Berbatov`s terrific effort had levelled the scores and when Toure brought the aforementioned to the floor with seventeen minutes remaining, Spurs first North London derby win post electricity looked odds on. Robbie Keane, having been successful with his seven previous spot kicks, stepped up and attempted some kidology with a stop and a shuffle in his run up. Almunia stood firm, unfazed by the mallet headed motor mouth`s antics and beat out his weak spot kick. Sixty seconds later, Nicklas Bendtner headed home the winner. It was a stellar contribution and one that we might look back on in May with the same relish as we do Lauren`s pea roller penalty kick in 2002. Somewhere a grumbling German had cause to re evaluate his assertion that, "Almunia has not won us any big games." The Spaniard`s stature has grown to the point that his presence on the team sheet is generally accepted, and Lehmann looks all set to depart this month. If he does, he might have cause to reconsider another ill advised comment come May, "Almunia has never won us any titles."LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday January 2 2008

Time: 2:18PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Gael Clichy and Gallas.
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02/01/2008 14:35:00

Paul robinson and Dawson.
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02/01/2008 14:37:00

I'm with you on this one LD. Almunia has been superb in many games during December and his penalty save against the Spuds should ensure he wins the prize. Top man Manuel.
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02/01/2008 14:39:00

Gallas or Almunia, but I am happy to go with the 'keeper who has been in very good form. I would say that he won as many if not more points than any other player in December.
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02/01/2008 14:44:00

Gael Clichy and Gallas for me too.
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02/01/2008 14:50:00

Yep, totally agree LD. Apart from the one bad decision he made against Man U, I think he's been solid since he's been our number 1 keeper. I think that he deals with crosses pretty damn well too. On the kind of form he's showing, I think he'd be well worth a shout for the England number 1 shirt. Well done Manuel.
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02/01/2008 14:52:00

Manuel has been good but I think Clichy deserves it this team. MotM against Chelsea and I thought he was out standing yesterday. Ultra-consistent performer and player of the month according to me.
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02/01/2008 14:56:00

Good call, LD. It was a close one between Gallas, Clichy and Almunia. Personally, my choice would be Gallas. Our defensive team has looked more of a unit this season, and a lot of it is down to Gallas. So, although he might not do anything spectacular, he makes sure we dont concede much. This does not take anything away from Almunia though, he is looking better and better with every game.
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02/01/2008 14:59:00

Clichy, Gallas and Flamster have all been consistent, but so has Almunia, plus he has that big moment against Spurs to boot. That's why he edges the others out.
Little Dutch
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02/01/2008 15:00:00

I would have to give it to Aluminia, the save against the spuds was the reason we won that game , as well as a couple of important clean sheets.
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02/01/2008 15:34:00

Totally agree with you LD. Almunia is indeed our player of December'07 followed by Clichy then Gallas.
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02/01/2008 15:37:00

OFF TOPIC: CoastarianGooner- How's the situation in Kenya? Heard it's getting worse.
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02/01/2008 15:39:00

Yes Manuel just edges it although Gallas and Clichy came very close. Time for some humble pie sharing again!
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02/01/2008 15:48:00

I might have gone for Gallas too. His calm assurance has been invaluable since he got back from injury and he has chipped in with good goals including the winner against Chelsea. But Almunia had more to prove and was under more pressure than anyone else to perform - he has done that. His handling is clean and he rarely spills a shot that he can hold. On balance I would have to agree that it was Manuels month.
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02/01/2008 15:50:00

i'm quite convinced now that almunia is an excellent shot stopper and he deals with balls played back by his defenders better than any other keepers.. he has also improved his timing on coming out of his box to clear potential threats n he has a good command of the penalty box.. so a deserved winner for player of the month
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02/01/2008 18:35:00

WouldYouBelieveIt?!, it was worse but now its kinda controlled. Just pray for us cause the chaos might erupt again but all depends on the outcome of the recent admittance that the election was actually rigged and the president was sworn in under pressure. I hope everything goes to normal asap.
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02/01/2008 19:17:00

I hope everything turns out well mate. My parents stay in Nairobi!
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03/01/2008 01:15:00

LOL, kev, if it's an award for sorry excuse of a player, I would second that.
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03/01/2008 07:59:00

Totally agree with you LD, Manual's performed very well under so much pressure and with a marooned German on his back. Hope he keeps it up. Also Robbie Keane missed his next penalty after the defeat against us, think Almunia's put the fear of penalty kicks into him. :D
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03/01/2008 09:32:00

I live in Thika, and unless you watch the telly (or can't buy fuel at your usual petrol station) you wouldn't know anything is amiss. "Coastarian" is Kenyan slang for someone living on the coast (mainly Mombasa) so Coastariangooner must be having it worse than me coz Mombasa has borne it's share of the mayhem. But I'm optimistic that things will get back to normal.
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03/01/2008 16:10:00

WouldYouBelieveIt?!, I hope your parents are fine. I have family scattered all over Kenya but so far everyone is fine. Gaga, yes am from Mombasa and things are not bad here except for Kikuyus (tribe for the sworn in President) as they are the target. The only major problem which we have is same for all country i.e. economy is in stand still. From banks to shops, everything is closed!
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03/01/2008 18:20:00

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03/01/2008 20:14:00

Gael force one
fran merida
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04/01/2008 13:25:00

Well done Almunia.
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07/01/2008 21:05:00


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