February Player of the Month
One feels that after a week of arguing until we are blue in the face, that it is time to move on. Due to work commitments I haven`t really had the chance to pen my full reaction to the Ramsey reaction, as it were, but have just about had my fill of fighting ignorance with regards to that incident. England is a country that is terminally in the Dark Ages- after all, it is more than likely that this summer the voting public will show their dissatisfaction with the Labour party by voting in the party they`ve been copying for sixteen years. But I am also satisfied that others on this site have covered points I intended to cover with eloquence and great detail. Though a retrospective article cannot necessarily be classed as moving forwards, a break in subject matter is welcome. Which brings me onto February`s Player of the Month.
February has been a rather erratic month, the defeat to Chelsea at the outset of the month saw Arsenal manoeuvred out of the title race. The victory over Stoke at the end of the month dragged us back into it kicking (or kicked?) and screaming. Morale boosting victories over Liverpool, Sunderland and Stoke have been offset by a draining defeat at Stamford Bridge and a farcical match in Portugal. As is the modus operandi at Arsenal nowadays, injuries have disrupted team selection to the point that it is difficult to find contenders who have completed enough minutes for consideration. The likes of Abou Diaby and William Gallas started the month with towering displays but had their rhythm enervated by injury. Cesc Fabregas` captain`s performance in the aftermath of Ramsey`s injury very nearly won him the award for this month. Indeed Ramsey himself has been impressive enough to dislodge Denilson for a slot in Arsenal`s midfield three, whilst Emmanuel Eboue too continues to build on his reputation, from terrace villain to ironic cult figure to genuine fan favourite. It can be done Mr. Adebayor. My player of the month for this month however is probably long overdue this award for his spellbinding performances. He gets it this month largely for being as reliable as he is has been all season, but the circumstances I feel are particularly worthy of commendation this month.
Thomas Vermaelen is flesh and bone proof that if the manager sees quality; he`s prepared to pay for it. The partnership he has struck up with William Gallas might just be the most crucial improvement for Arsenal compared to last season- surely the season`s most misleading statistic, it would have to be Arsenal`s goals conceded column as a reflection on our centre half pairing, who have been universally lauded as outstanding. In fact, I`m not sure I can ever remember a time when a centre half pairing have been considered the most blameless party in such a scenario! Vermaelen has presided over clean sheets against Liverpool and Sunderland without so much as a fuss and continued his scoring feats in injury time against Stoke City. Vermaelen has been the picture of solidity at centre half as he has been since August.
I think what marks Vermaelen out for particular praise this month comprise of two main factors. Firstly, for the first time this season, he has been asked to play without Gallas, who is the organiser and the brains at the back. Until now, we have been unable to view Vermaelen`s qualities without his insurance policy, his water wings if you will in Gallas, who is surely one of Europe`s finest and most attuned centre halves. Though you could argue that in having Campbell alongside him, that experience and organisation is replicated, yet Campbell`s mobility is not what Gallas` is and Vermaelen has had to retune to a different partner. He has done so without blemish. Against Sunderland Vermaelen was partnered by Silvestre, which meant moving to the right hand side of the centre half axis, a movement he again made without undue kafuffle. But perhaps Tommy V`s biggest obstacle has been the pain in which he has played. Against Aston Villa on January 27th, he was substituted with a suspected broken leg. Four days later he was back in the starting line up with a badly bruised bone in his leg. That would also have affected his own mobility, which has made the ease with which he has slotted in alongside a less agile partner all the more impressive. The Verminator image has been consolidated. You`d be hard pushed to find an Arsenal fan with a bad word to say about Vermaelen, but it is perhaps fitting that it was he who used the word "mettle" when describing the victory over Stoke, he has had to show plenty of it himself in February. He has not been found wanting.LD.
August: Alexandre Song
September: Robin van Persie
October: Robin van Persie
November: Cesc Fabregas
December: William Gallas
January: Cesc Fabregas