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February Player of the Month

Picking a Player of the Month for February is once again a difficult task. I conducted a quick straw poll via the twitter earlier today and drew a cornucopia of varied responses. February has been a strange month. Three very satisfying league wins have been overshadowed somewhat by two very meek surrenders in cup competitions. In terms of individual performances, there have been few standouts. The return of Bacary Sagna has given our backline a semblance of balance again. Laurent Koscielny continues to look like one of the finest defenders in the league.

Mikel Arteta is, I`m told, the first Premiership player to arrive at 15,000 completed passes for the season; which gives you a mere snapshot of his worth. The form of Tomas Rosicky has seen him move from occasional squad player to bona fide first teamer. I nearly opted for sentiment and opted for Thierry Henry, who left us on a jet place once again this month. Though there are no hard and fast rules around the Player of the Month award, I did vow to myself not to make awards based on sentiment. I confess to sometimes looking to a player who has consistently applied good form over a longer period than a month by way of ongoing recognition- which goes some way to explaining the award given to Arteta in December and Rosicky in January.

For that reason I nearly opted for Alex Song, who has 8 assists this year and completes an average of 0.8 through balls per game- the highest in the league. Arsenal often face congested midfields, a problem Aaron Ramsey has probably encountered. Song`s newfound ability to find a ball from deep where he is pressed less than his colleagues has been a potent weapon. However, the point of Player of the Month is to, quite simply, select the individual that has played the best. I simply cannot look past Robin van Persie. This is the 9th van Persie takes the award since August 2007. Robin is identified by all and sundry as our main threat and has found himself heavily marked as a result.

Despite the feverish attention of opposition defenders, he still manages to make an impact. In a fairly staid performance at the Reebok Stadium, the Gunners were struggling to create in the second half. The only time they really came close after the interval was due to a beautiful turn and dragback, followed by a right footed chip which had Bogdan beaten before it clanked off of the crossbar. In the following fixture against Blackburn Rovers, the captain was at his poaching best again. Two six yard box tap ins in the first half following the sort of movement that creates such easy chances. Walcott the provider on both occasions, but van Persie makes himself so easy to pick out.

In the event that the chance requires more than a tap in though, van Persie can always provide. Again responding to a right wing cross in the second half, this time from Coquelin, having shown his putting abilities, van Persie opted for the open faced wedge, tilting his boot at the moving ball and wedging it into the top corner with his right foot. Finishes of this class have become his trademark. Two years ago, Arsene offered that van Persie combines the technical élan of Bergkamp with the killer instinct of Henry. You can see exactly what caused him to forge that effusive conclusion.

In Milan, the captain was the only Arsenal player to leave with a smidgen of credit. The only moments of danger and quality from a beleaguered Arsenal came, predictably, from the Dutchman. First when Henry flicked Song`s pass into his path. The ball rose high and you just knew van Persie`s connection would be true, so consistent is the quality of his connection. Sure enough his volley was only thwarted b a fine save. He also found himself foiled from a difficult header from Chamberlain`s cross. Arsenal mustered three shots on target, all from van Persie. None of them were easy chances. Essentially, he did his job. In the cup game at Sunderland, he cut a frustrated figure in a midfield that was easily stymied, yet his clever reverse pass for Gervinho yielded our only chance of the game.

Then we come to the North London derby. Van Persie appeared to take Tottenham`s early ascendancy personally, attempting to drag Arsenal back into the game single handedly. A couple of close shots and a dented post attest as much at 0-2. The equaliser was a moment of quality that only he could provide you. The strength, the touch, the control, the pivot and the inch perfect shot. Only van Persie could have applied such technique, but big players produce that sort of skill at the right time. It`s all very well chipping a goalkeeper when you`re 3-0 up (cough Carlos Vela, cough, cough). But to demonstrate such grace under fire is the mark of world class. Van Persie is easily fitting of that description. His movement caused the Spurs defence to part for Walcott for Arsenal`s 4th too.

I`ll confess it`s almost tedious to write POTM articles for van Persie. It would be difficult to expand on his qualities were he not able to provide a new treasure trove of goals and skills to get you purring every month. Witness his bewildering ball control in the centre circle in the Spurs game that had Sandro, Parker and Modric all swiping at thin air. Put simply, I think he`s the best player currently not participating in an El Clasico. I hope he`s still not involved in that fixture this time next year. LD.

August- Thomas Vermaelen
September- Robin van Persie
October- Robin van Persie
November- Laurent Koscielny
December- Mikel Arteta
January- Tomas Rosicky

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday February 27 2012

Time: 7:00PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
It would take a brave/stupid person to argue with the choice! I remember having an argument with a member on here a few years ago when van Persie was always out injured. AG refused to entertain the notion that RvP could be a 20+ goal a season player. I always felt that if he could get over his injury problems he would become world class. That said he's surpassed what even I imagined he could accomplish. He's the best striker in the world.
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27/02/2012 19:27:00

A true legend, and a true gent. Recently donated his PL POTM prize money to a Dutch charity. I think Koscielny deserves a mention too, but can't see past RVP.
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27/02/2012 20:28:00

Can't argue with the choice there LD. Rocky I too have had to defend Arsene's decision to stick with him and not cut our loses and I really hope we do the same with Diaby, you can glimpses of class on the odd occasions when he can put a run of three or four games together and like RVP I would sincerely love for him to put his injury nightmare behind him.
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27/02/2012 21:31:00 - Talk about Class
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27/02/2012 23:22:00

A magician and a gentleman.
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27/02/2012 23:47:00

Is he in the Dutch side for the friendly? We really could do without him picking up a dumb injury in a nothing game.
wyn mills
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28/02/2012 00:15:00

Our Captain has been outstanding all season and one can't argue with the choice for POTM. The man has grown so much in confidence he isn't worried about single handedly taking a game by the scruff of the neck; such is his assurance in his ability. L.D's last line there is rather ominuous and like most pundits, appears to suggest we don't deserve such a player in the club ("oh! I know Arsenal fans won't like to hear this but he won't be here next season...just world class!". We've had class players and should look to keep RvP, then add other class players not give him up for the El Classico.
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28/02/2012 04:09:00

Off topic but after reading Swiss Ramble's excellent analysis of Arsenal's half yearly financial statements, I was completely wrong about Wenger being the reason behind our club's frugal approach in the transfer market. It is abundantly clear that because of our very low commercial revenues in relation to other clubs, our dependance on match income is - a) disproportionally high and b) without player trading revenues Arsenal would either only break even or make a minor loss. The meaning of AW's statement that he needs to make 15 million every season is now clear. Without player trading, Arsenal would be in the red or just about breaking even and AW has indeed been working with one arm tied around his back since we moved to the Grove. I marvel at AW's willingness to operate under such restrictions and the mystery of who is responsible for the lack of investment in the squad is now abundantly clear. Its the board and management.
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28/02/2012 09:53:00

DF, very few clubs will make a profit without both (a) and (b) above and I guess we have managed our situation well, thus far, because of revenues from property sales. Clearly, we need to review some of our Commercial deals when they fall due and see where that takes us. The club is still on a firm footing, in spite of this true analysis, as the future is still bright. Maybe, it is one reason the Board and AW appear to have mutual respect and understanding; maybe, the man knows things could go awry under another Manager and loves the club too much.
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28/02/2012 10:59:00

What was I going on about "without (a) and (b) above?". That was in reference to MATCH INCOME and PLAYER TRADING REVENUES, as key sources of our revenues.
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28/02/2012 11:02:00

Naijagunner, I dont disagree that our financial future is bright especially after 2014 when we renegotiate some key sponsor contracts. However, our dependence on matchday revenues is the highest among ALL top clubs and player trading and property revenues are the only reasons we make a profit. Its not like that at United where they make a huge operating profit which is then used to pay the glazers interest for taking over the club! In the last 5 years Wenger has made a 33 million pound profit on transfers and that has been imperative in Arsenal paying its mortgage as well as buying new players and renegotiating player contracts.
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28/02/2012 11:17:00

Is there no other pic of RVP other than that futuramas' Zoidberg one? I do find it a bit creepy, think it's the fact it looks like someone elses' stinky pinkies coming up to grab and claw his face off.
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28/02/2012 15:52:00

Doesn't anyone else yearn for the days when fans didn't discuss match income or player trading revenues or financial futures or key sponsors or huge operating profits lol? What the hell are they morphing us into?
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28/02/2012 16:00:00

deltaforce, it is very true that our revenue from commercial endorsement is lower in relative to others due to the long term deals we signed many years back to hedge against the financial risk of the stadium. however, he have been making tens of millions every year just for the sake of making money to the extend that our cash in the bank is over 160 mil as of financial year 2011. if we add up the 2012 half year profit that is close to 50 mil, the cash reserve could swell well beyond 200 mil now. note that our annual debt service is only 31.7 mil cash. 200 mil balance after deducting all operating expenses & debt services all these years does not seem merely a sustainable model to me. it's more like a profitable business model, especially considering we never really care in sustaining the team's quality. a pure sustainable model means breaking even in financial terms to maximise the team's quality, not one going north and the other going south literally
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28/02/2012 16:46:00

Niko, sign o the times mate. Like all those Club Level fans still discussing latest FTSE figures in the bars 20 minutes after the 2nd half has started.
Wyn Mills
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28/02/2012 17:07:00
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29/02/2012 06:36:00

A spot of humour to take your mind off of the financial issues, if you like it share it with our friends over at vital spurs, I'm sure they'll want to remember...
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29/02/2012 06:38:00

You should just give the award to RvP and write an article about 2nd place LD. Every Arsenal writer has clearly described everything about this genius. Song went through a rough patch a month or 2 back, but now he's back again to good form. Rosicky has come good at exactly the right time, when Ramsey needed a rest / injured. Hopefully, the club reward this with a contract extension coz I'd like to him to be around. We've made enough mistakes letting 30 year olds go in the past (Gilberto is one example) without replacing that experience in the dressing room.
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29/02/2012 09:17:00

Everyone (fans at least) expected fiscal prudence at this club for 3-4 years after the stadium was built coz we understood the financial strain of doing so. However, when you look at the numbers, its clear that the finances can only improve in 2014 (when the commercial deals come up for renewal), and that puts into context Wenger's assertion that top 4 is the 1st priority every season. Wenger will be looking to stabilize things (top 4 consistency) till his contract runs out so that his successor can then take Arsenal to the next level. Curiously it turns out that Arsenal have the FIFTH highest wage bill in the Premiership (below Liverpool, who spent more on transfers as well), so last season was an over-achievement in that sense.
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29/02/2012 09:23:00

As a footballer and centre half myself I really cannot fathom how people can praise Koscielny. This guy is a liability and cannot be counted on to keep a clean sheet or mark his man for the full 90. Often caught out of position or on the wrong side of his mark. I rate Cygan, Stepanovs and Senderos more highly than this guy. What is worrying me is he seems to be infecting TV with what he has of late.
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01/03/2012 02:03:00

Can't disagree with you more Will-i-am10. Koscielny has impressive anticipation which allows for a lot of interceptions, he is a near flawless tackler in one on ones, has good pace which allows him to keep up with speedy forwards, is a 7/10 in the air and is slowly building up umpressive upper body strength to shield the ball as well. Cant see whats to like and the France international call up is testimony to his great improvement over the last year.
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01/03/2012 06:53:00

Yeh hes really impressive. How may clean sheets have we kept over the last two seasons? A handful at most. Cost us a trophy last year at Wembley with the most comical cockup imaginable, that a schoolboy defender could dream about making. Nice own goal at anfield too by the way - total panic and lack of quality.
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03/03/2012 22:34:00

Not having somebody criticize Koscielny. He has been sensational this season, probably the best Center Half in England other than Kompany. He loses one header and cocks up a clearance and he is a liability? Come off it. And blaming him for Vermaelen's "drop" in form (as if he were ever anything but a good defender) is crazy.
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05/03/2012 11:53:00


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