March Player of the Month
As is usually the case when a month has yielded a winning run, there are several contenders for the March Player of the Month award. Players back from injury or simply just back into form have been commonplace and a relatively quiet period with injuries have ensured this. We have our full backs back from prolonged absences and it`s no coincidence that their full return coincided with a seven match winning streak. Bacary Sagna is Arsenal`s Mr. Consistent, exhibiting the sort of winning attitude that has been an exception rather than a rule on the Arsenal of the last five years. It was his timely header against Spurs in February that kick-started the jams in terms of the winning streak.
Kieran Gibbs too has played himself into fitness and form which has left Andre Santos bench-bound since his own comeback from a layoff. Wojciech Szczesny has looked a better, more commanding keeper with the more settled defence in front of him- a unit which has been underpinned in March- as it has been all season, by Laurent Koscielny. Alex Song continues his metamorphosis into a deep lying playmaker (though considering he attempted 7 through balls on Saturday with only one finding a red shirt, it might be a transformation that`s gone to his head a little), Arteta has been his usual uncomplicated self.
Since the return of Bacary Sagna; Theo Walcott has found form again. There are viable contenders everywhere. But I don`t think I`d find an awful lot of argument by giving Tomas Rosicky a second Player of the Month award this season. Signs of Rosicky`s form have been there this season. Indeed, I think they`ve always been there when he`s played, but too often injury has disrupted his rhythm. At this point, he`s now had around 3 months without picking up a knock and it`s seen him hit pay dirt. His performance and goal against Tottenham appear to have represented a watershed moment that has taken his form into the stratosphere.
I`ve put forward many times what it is Rosicky brings to us at the head of the midfield three. Simplicity. Pass, move, pass move. But crucially, it`s the speed at which he does it that is so useful to Arsenal. In many ways, we`re still a team grappling with an identity change since the departures of Cesc and Nasri. With the likes of Gervinho and Chamberlain now mirroring the flank Walcott occupies, we`re trying to move to a game built on speed and penetration again rather than artistry. Rosicky aids this transition because he keeps the ball moving at pace. He also has a canny knack of going past a player before releasing the ball. Not only does that inject urgency into our play, but it takes obstacles away from the forwards he passes to.
When you have a clever forward like van Persie, who exploits pockets of space so well and so subtly and pacey wide men (except for when we`re playing Ramsey on the left I suppose?!), this can prove to be an invaluable weapon. Rosicky has gone from squad player to first team member in a short space of time, which tells you everything you need to know about his form. He looks a much more potent attacking threat now too. He has frustrated Gooners in his spell here for his reluctance to use his excellent shot. In the last month, with renewed confidence, this anxiety has disappeared. See the cool control and steer against Milan. Howard foiled him from outside the box twice against Everton, whilst Rosicky registered more shots on target than any other Arsenal player at Loftus Road.
His rise in form has also coincided with Ramsey`s dip. Ramsey doesn`t deserve a tenth of the criticism he gets. But watching Rosicky is a good learning curve for him. Ramsey actually passes the ball more often than Rosicky and attempts more through balls, has more shots on goal. Ramsey is always in a good position to do something. But as with any 21 year old player, his execution still needs work. That comes with time and practise. But timing is crucial too; Rosicky is a more efficient player at the moment. You`d jolly well hope he would be too given that he`s 10 years Ramsey`s senior. The good news is that Rosicky recently signed a two and a half year contract extension. I`m told Rosicky is considered an excellent influence on the training ground and one would imagine that acting as a mentor to the likes of Ramsey and Wilshere formulated part of the contract negotiation with the manager. For now, he`s a thoroughly decent influence on the pitch too; hence his second Player of the Month award this season. LD.
August- Thomas Vermaelen
September- Robin van Persie
October- Robin van Persie
November- Laurent Koscielny
December- Mikel Arteta
January- Tomas Rosicky
February- Robin van Persie
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