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April Player of the Month

April Player of the Month

April was a month which began with much promise, but ended in something of a faceless sludge, as a squad of players clearly fatigued by the season`s exertions began to stumble towards the finishing line. It`s worth noting that April began in fine style, as Mikel Arteta hit a sensational last ditch winner against Manchester City at Ashburton Grove. But ever since the little Spaniard hobbled out of the Wigan game, things have gone notably awry. The shape of the team hasn`t looked the same. Vermaelen`s forays forward once looked lethal, as did Song`s penchant for the Hollywood pass.

However, without Arteta plugging in for Tommy`s more penetrative tendencies and Alex Song`s general air of "I am the through ball king, all must kneel before me" dictating his play, the Gunners have looked more shapeless and fragile. A combination of better defending from studied opposition and battle weariness has even meant van Persie has looked relatively blunt in the month of April. (Relatively being the key word here). Even the uber consistency of Sagna has wavered. Largely, in my opinion, due to a lack of protection. Prior to his injury, Walcott began to shy away from his tracking back duties, whilst Gervinho is looking increasingly victim to an African Nations hangover. Chamberlain hasn`t genuinely impressed since the Milan second leg.

All of the above considered, there were really only two candidates for April Player of the Month as far as I`m concerned. I was tempted to opt for Yossi Benayoun, who brings a measure of responsibility and maturity in the absence of Arteta. I`ve heard him described as Arsenal`s Park Ji Sung due to the manager`s preference for option for the Israeli against big opponents. When Arsenal are looking to press and harry off the ball and play a possession based game on it, Yossi is the go to man and he can be pleased with his April. His pressing and harrying led to our equaliser at Stoke. Astoundingly, he made it back to his own penalty area before Vermaelen, Song and Santos as Wigan broke for their first goal on April 16th. He also scored a marvellous goal at the Molineux.

However, I can`t look beyond probably Arsenal`s most consistent performer this season alongside Arteta. Last August, Laurent Koscielny would have been considered by many to be junior to Thomas Vermaelen in Arsenal`s centre of defence. I think many would have changed their minds by now. Koscielny is such a breath of fresh air in the team because he considers defending to be his primary job rather than just an occasion aside to more exciting tasks. He`s a pure defender that loves his job. Recall his injury time karate kick block to deny Daniel Sturridge a last gasp winner against Chelsea. Sergio Aguero is one of the Premier League`s finest strikers. Anyone remember a significant moment from the Argentine on City`s visit to North London? Me neither.

You get the same from Koscielny in every game. If a ball breaks loose and needs sweeping up, he`ll bust a gut to run after it and put his swingers on the line to clear it. When a player is as quiet in the press and as consistent as Koscielny is, acclaim tends to be hard to come by. Usually, as with Arteta, such characters are at their most notable when they are not there. Koscielny missed the Wigan match through suspension. I hardly need to remind you how that turned out. Chelsea set up by playing quick, nippy strikers that looked to catch Arsenal on the break. Koscielny beat them all in a foot race. As evidenced when Sturridge had gone past the onrushing Szczesny in the first half against Chelsea, only to find Koscielny preventing any further progress. Stoke set up with big, physical strikers that looked to get onto long balls. They got no change out of the Frenchman (Crouch beat Vermaelen in the air for the Potters` goal).

Be his opponents pacey- Kalou, Sturridge- powerful- Crouch, Walters- nippy with good feet- Aguero, Balotelli- Koscielny takes on all comers. Arsenal`s record on conceding from set pieces is a marked improvement on last year and I think Laurent`s new found assertiveness bears partial credit for that improvement. It`s been a centre half blossoming that has been a delight to see this season. From a promising first season, which had the occasional mishap, Koscielny has gone from French Ligue 2 no mark to Arsenal`s dominant centre half in under three years. There`s a reason that some in Arsenal circles have christened him "Boss-cielny" and April has seen that consistency continue. Van Persie will clearly be voted Arsenal`s Player of the Season. But the French defender will trouble the podia. The wider press may not have noticed, but Gooners certainly have. 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
March- Tomas Rosicky



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

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Tuesday May 8 2012
Time: 11:54AM

Comments

0
He's done his best to cover Vermaelen's poor play and questionable decision making recently. A man who looks like he loves to defend and gets a kick from keeping a clean sheet.
ScotcEggsRule
08/05/2012 12:05:00
0
His standing leap is the best I've have ever seen in the league, even better than someone "acknowledged" like Cahill at Everton.
ScotcEggsRule
08/05/2012 12:09:00
0
There were a lot of questions regarding Koscielny's aerial ability and pace when he fisrt joined, needless to say he's answered every single one of those questions. Awesome defender and one who's not very highly rated by anyone outside of Arsenal. And I'm perfectly happy with it staying that way.
Rocky7
08/05/2012 12:11:00
0
Player of the season for me along with VP and Arteta. Off topic here but rumours (I know, I know) are about that we have agreed a fee for M'VILA. Gives more credance to the theory that Wenger and the club have learned from last summer
DBerg
08/05/2012 12:28:00
0
Easily your best defender, reminds me of Chris Perry but obv better. Vermaelen gets the plaudits but i think thats because of his size & goalscoring he's nowhere near as good.
HuddersfieldYiddo
08/05/2012 12:33:00
0
Deserved and he is looking the part. Does anyone think he could have done better closing down Morrison for his equalizer on Saturday?
Gooner_Vin
08/05/2012 12:37:00
0
As LD has astutely pointed out, Koscielny's versatility as a defender means that he can counter a variety of different strikers. Quality of that kind is rare and it seems a matter of time before he becomes the first choice CB for France as well. From preferring defenders who liked to go forward, AW seems to be have gone back to 'pure' defenders like Kos and Mertesacker in the last couple of years. Perhaps a similar trend in midfield is next with a specialist DM being targeted next.
Deltaforce
08/05/2012 12:45:00
0
Possibly Vin, although looking at the goal again he seems to be more interested in where his fellow defenders AREN'T. Which cannot make things easier for a player.
ScotcEggsRule
08/05/2012 12:46:00
0
Gooner_Vin, yes he could have done better but the left part of the CB duo is Vermaelen territory which meant that Kos had to cover a lot of ground running to his left to block the angle available to Morrison for a shot across goal.
Deltaforce
08/05/2012 12:51:00
0
Anyone think the potential signing of M'Villa could be the huge kick up the backside Song needs or is it because Song's contract is up for renewal in the near future? Call me cynical and all that.
ScotcEggsRule
08/05/2012 13:04:00
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