Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Wednesday April 4 2012
Following the wildly celebrated news that Ju Young Park had his military service delayed by ten years http://www.arsenal.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=528332, Arsenal fans are again filling their gullets with bubbly at the news that Marouane Chamakh wants to stay and prove his worth at Arsenal. The goal shy Moroccan "striker" has fallen just behind Pat Rice, the ghost of Ronnie Rook and the actual kitchen sink in the pecking order over the last year.
This has culminated in a situation where he now has one goal in twelve months for the Gunners and has racked up more minutes in the Reserves than in the first team since October. Every one of Chamakh`s substitute appearances this season have come when the team were trailing with only one exception. That shows you the extent to which he is considered an absolute last resort. One of those tedious, moralising, mini media storms rumbled gently on Monday as pictures surfaced of Chamakh sharing a shisha pipe with Moroccan teammate and international teammate Adel Taraabt on Saturday evening.
But personally, given his current form, I wouldn`t care if he was smoking nutmeg. In fact, it might help him hallucinate himself into a goalscoring position. Cosmic. In fairness, Chamakh began life swimmingly at Arsenal, scoring ten goals in seventeen games whilst van Persie was injured in the early part of 2010-11. Since van Persie returned, Chamakh`s appearances have been limited, which has led to a kind of diseconomies of scale where, the less he has played, the worse he has played, meaning he`s played even less, meaning he now plays with all the conviction and assurance of a gassy fart.
It`s not so much that he misses chances. He doesn`t. But as his confidence has sapped, he puts himself into scoring positions less and less. The team don`t particularly play to his strengths either, which are almost exclusively aerial. Unsubstantiated whispers have been abound that Chamakh has been rather fond of the good life in London. He certainly doesn`t strike me as the hungriest player out there and, despite a pretty humiliating year, he says he wants to stay. "I left Bordeaux to improve as a player and I think I can continue for this club. My agents have been ordered to reject bids that come from other clubs because I want to prove I can be useful for the Gunners."
Realistically, he knows he is well behind van Persie in the pecking order and that`s not going to change, so you`d imagine his current situation is going to continue for the foreseeable. "Am I going back to Bordeaux? For now, no. I have spoken to Wenger and I will stay at Arsenal. I think he trusts my work and I will have opportunities in the first team." Really? Arsene spoke in December about not being able to loan him out due to the African Nations Cup. When the manager mentions farming you out as a viable option and you find yourself in regular contention for the Reserves, it suggests the manager has hardly been taken with what he`s seen in training. I get that it`s a bit hopeless to nudge himself ahead of van Persie, but I get the feeling he could do more to be at least a viable alternative.
If he was even remotely a decent back up, he`d pick up games where van Persie is rested. As it happens, van Persie has started every league game since October 23rd, when Chamakh was replaced after 66 minutes against Stoke- his last league start for Arsenal. There`s a cynical side to me that suggests Chamakh`s keenness to stay is evidence of that lack of hunger. Yossi Benayoun spoke in February about the reality of having to find a Midtable club next season so that he can play more games. Whilst ideally I wouldn`t want a player to want to leave Arsenal and would want them to prove themselves, Chamakh`s situation, with Podolski coming in too, is only likely to become more of a sporting humiliation for him. I`d be incredibly surprised if he were still at the club next season. Paying somebody £50,000 a week to turn out for Neil Banfield isn`t ideal for the club and not for the player either. LD.
Date:Wednesday April 4 2012
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