Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Wednesday April 30 2008
Though it has been a disappointing month, this month there is a concundrum surrounding the player of the month award. The oft criticised Adebayor has hit seven goals, including strikes at Anfield and Old Trafford. Cesc Fabregas continues to sparkle with three more assists and a pass completion rate unrivalled in the Premiership. He also deservedly picked up the PFA Young Player of the Year award this month. Of course, Theo Walcott has announced himself on the scene with some scinitiliating displays, underpinned by an eighty yard run and assist at Anfield.
Perhaps ironically, my selection has been in the running every month bar the last two. One of the Gunner quartet making the PFA Team of the Year, Gael Clichy has once again shown remarkable form this month. Gael has played in every single one of Arsenal's Premiership matches. Again, it is with some irony that the only minutes of the Premiership campaign Gael has not underseen arrived this month when he started the Liverpool league game as a substitute. The amount of energy he has summoned up in light of these statistics is simply remarkable. The guy simply plays like a locomotive, in perpetual motion at times. To start with he is quicker than 99% of Premiership footballers, but he does not seem to tire, which means that in the final stages of a game his pace becomes a real defensive and offensive weapon. Coupled with an instiable hunger, Clichy is integral to Arsenal's attack and defence.
He appears to have worked on his once weak delivery and his crossing has added a string to Arsenal's attacking bow with Adebayor and Bendtner in the middle. Arsene Wenger has been effusive in his praise of Clichy over the last week, saying, 'I am very positive with Gael because he loves the game and, every day after training, he's out there practising to improve,' Wenger said.
'There was a question mark about whether Gael would last the season - but he has played more games than anyone else.
'He had three operations on his metatarsal and he had already undergone hernia surgery, and we were concerned over whether he would be capable to absorb so many games with such a slight frame.'
Amazingly, and to Arsenal's benefit, 'Mystic' Raymond Domenech continues to eschew Clichy in favour of the dire Abidal for the French national team. This month has seen Gael basically continue to be himself, but in a tiring team low on morale, he has managed to look fresh and hungry- despite having put in more shifts than any other player. The defeat at Old Trafford springs to mind. United versus Arsenal is a high octane game swelling with world class talent, Gael looked the biggest talent on show. Arsene takes up the story, 'When you see the game he produced at Old Trafford, you think 'oh, there's more in the locker, because he takes more responsibility'.
'It was a top-class performance, not only football wise but character - he showed a non acceptance of the defeat when we were down 2-1. He was the one who really moved forward.' Picking up on the theme of character, Clichy made an horrednous error at St. Andrews back in February that was probably the catalyst for our alarming slump. But he has not allowed it to get him down and continued to shine. Clichy has still yetb to open his Arsenal account, but when he does, you can bet your life it will be the most popular goal of the season. So here's to Hurricane Clichy, Arsenal's best performer in April and someone who will certainly be on a lot of minds for the player of the season award- mine very much included.LD.
Date:Wednesday April 30 2008
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