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Vital Arsenal Player of the Season: 3rd Place

The votes have been cast and it would appear that you lovely people agreed with me entirely in your Player of the Season votes in terms of running order. Like Arsenal themselves, Mikel Arteta held off a late surge from Alex Song in 4th place, who snared 10% of your votes. The Spaniard signed from Everton on deadline day can justifiably feel the love with 11% of the overall vote for Player of the Season, putting him in 3rd place. Though not our record signing, Arteta is the most expensive player Arsenal have bought thus far. £10m transfer fee and a further £15m in wages over a 5 year deal for a man who will have little resale value at the end of his deal represents a big speculation. If this season is anything to go by; it`s an investment that will yield accumulation. Journalists that conducted a very basic lack of research alleged he took a pay cut to join Arsenal, which is untrue as Arsenal put an extra year on his deal compared to his Everton contract.

Arteta`s arrival was sealed in true Arsenal style, with seconds of the transfer deadline to spare. The press billed him as the replacement for Fabregas, but the truth was that that was never the intention. Slowly everyone began to realise that actually he was an upgrade on Denilson and more of a replacement for the crocked Wilshere. Ramsey was to head the midfield triangle, with Arteta`s unyielding ball retention and ceaseless concentration acting as the go between in midfield. Nobody in the Premier League passed more often and more accurately than Arteta. He became our pivot, the lubricant of our game. He liberated Ramsey (later Rosicky) and allowed Song to flower into a creative defensive midfielder, ably covering every time the Cameroonian whenever he ventured forward. In this respect, Arteta enabled Arsenal to prescribe to the manager`s vision of total football, where everybody is responsible for everything.

It took a lot of us a long while to get used to this more understated role. Arteta had been the creative fulcrum of an Everton side for six years and most had expected him to take that mantle again. Wenger once described a young, budding Denilson as a hybrid of Gilberto and Rosicky. He never quite managed to develop that way, but the description is more fitting for Arteta. His brand of unfussy play- receive the ball, move it on, be in a position to receive again if needed- became vital in the engine room. He at once liberated Ramsey and Song and he added an experience and maturity to a side that had, in recent years, looked talented yet self destructive. One can only salivate at the prospect of having signed him four years earlier. An alliance between him and Fabregas could have really been something special.

Joni Mitchell once sang, "So it always seems to go, that you don`t know what you`ve got till it`s gone." Whilst Gooners were on board with Mikel`s importance, the wider public didn`t seem to get it until the wee Pugsley Addams lookalike with the Ken Doll hairdo was injured in a cup tie with Leeds. He missed the next two games, away at Swansea and at home to Manchester United. We lost both. It`s now a well worn fact that the Gunners only won 1 of the 9 games for which Arteta was sidelined this season. It took them until the last attempt too! It`s not just Arteta`s ball retention that makes him so vital to the side, but his defensive nous. He knows when to plug in for wandering teammates (cough, Vermaelen, cough) and he presses the opposition.

One only has to look not just at the quantity but the manner of the goals we`ve conceded in his absence. Against Swansea, Norwich, West Brom and Wigan straight forward, uncontested balls from the middle of the pitch had put our back four under instant pressure. Two concurrent events at the season`s tail end neatly surmised his influence. One of his last contributions of the season was to smash a late, 25 yard winner past Joe Hart against Manchester City. But it wasn`t the strike, so much as how it came about. With 87 minutes gone, he was harrying Pizarro into surrendering possession, he pressed high up the pitch to win the ball back. Eight days later, he hobbled off in the home game v Wigan. In the period between him going off for treatment and being replaced, the Latics scored twice. The first saw the team mercilessly exposed on the counter attack without Arteta`s diligence. He missed the rest of the season as Arsenal became nervous and leaky. One can only speculate, but both his calmness and his defensive responsibility would surely have seen us over the line into 3rd place in a much more timely fashion.

Arteta also gives us a viable right footed option for setpieces. Strikes against Aston Villa and Manchester City showed us that he can hit a mean strike- which he showed plenty of times in Everton`s blue. But his setpiece delivery from corners is also unerring. No other right footed option matches his delivery for accuracy. You rarely see him over hit and it`s not often one of his corners doesn`t clear the front post- a bugbear of Wenger`s Arsenal in past years- or into the goalkeeper`s arms. It`s just a shame we don`t have the players to capitalise on it more often! Arteta attempted in excess of 2,200 passes this season, completing exactly 90% of them and created 63 goalscoring opportunities for teammates- though admittedly this culminated in just 2 assists. He has 7 goals from 27 shots in his 31 league appearances (information courtesy of fourfourtwo`s stat zone ). As the players completed their end of season lap of appreciation pleasantry, only two players had their names sung directly. Van Persie and then Arteta. His contribution has been slow in arriving, but generous in its outpouring from Arsenal fans. A fantastic effort from a player I`d have loved to have seen at Arsenal some years ago. Tomorrow, a write up on this season`s silver medal. LD.

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

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday May 20 2012

Time: 4:37PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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He has been excellent in his first season with us. His goal against Citeh was splendid. Here's hoping his second season with us is better than his first.
Ned Stark
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20/05/2012 18:09:00

Arteta has definitely been an unsung hero for me. His season in the middle of the park has hopefully reminded Wenger that we need someone of his quality and experience in that position every game. We cannot coast through games without a midfield anchorman and expect to win anything. I think Ferguson recognised this when he coaxed Scholes out of retirement. There is a balance problem in this team when he has been out and we need to have a strategy to cope with that next season, whether its about players coming back from injury or a new acquisition.
Wyn Mills
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20/05/2012 19:15:00

Well, for once there are no competition or surprises are there? We all know how the list is going to look like :). The best of the 7 odd signings Wenger made.
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20/05/2012 19:37:00

The quality that Arteta brought us, despite his impressive stats with the ball, is the ability to play when we don't have the ball. Those years at Everton when dominating possession wasn't always taken for granted schooled him in reading play, where to be, what positions to take up when the other side has the ball. It's a quality that's probably impossible to pick up in an Arsenal team simply because we don't often get to practice playing without the ball for long spells of the game. Consequently if we need that ability (and we clearly do) it probably can only be recruited externally in the form of experienced players like Arteta and Gilberto who have learned to play that way with teams who don't control possession as much as we do. Players at Arsenal maybe brought up with the theory but don't get to practice it as much in genuine game situations.
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21/05/2012 00:09:00

Mikel is my personal no.1 actually. Sorry Robin.
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21/05/2012 08:09:00

Good observation, Amos. I always recall how difficult an opponent Arteta was when he played against us, a determined fighter who combined tenacity without losing quality on the ball. Totally agree that we needed him a long time ago. Reminds me of Gilberto.
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21/05/2012 08:32:00

Arteta was my choice for player of the season. What an absolute joy to watch this first class professional. The things he does allows other players to express themselves, and when we're without him it's obvious to see he was the glue that held us together this season. I can't wait to see how he and Jack play on the same field! I just hope he know how much he's appreciated by the fans, because he was labeled a poor man's Cesc when he first joined. However he's nothing like Cesc, and even though in the grand scheme of things Cesc is a better player, Arteta's qualities are more important to us than Fabregas' were imo.
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21/05/2012 09:09:00

Tell you what... thank eff we signed him!! We would've only won one game all season if we didn't, this is a cast iron fact.
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21/05/2012 10:13:00

He was my player of the season ahead of RVP. he would also win the "haircut of the year award" for having a head of hair like an action man toy, instead of Rooney's "barbie doll hair"....
Scotch Eggs Rule
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21/05/2012 10:37:00

Chelsea want £1m for Yossi. Yossi wants a 2 year deal. Seems a no-brainer to me. Unless the club are thinking of bringing someone else in why wouldn't we stump up the cash?
Wyn Mills
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21/05/2012 13:25:00

I suspect AW wants to play some of our longer-term centre-mids, Wyn. We have three centre-mid spots, and Arteta-Song-Wilshere-Ramsey-Rosicky-Frimpong-Coquelin-Diaby all competing for a space.
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21/05/2012 13:40:00

Can't help but agree with Wyn here, the lad done the business for us in the big games when it really mattered and showed true effort and character for us, not his proper club! Frimpong's top flight career is next to over, 2 cruciate ligament tears before your 20 is not a good sign. Diaby's an absolute joke since he was assaulted by Dan Smith. Coquelin has been near constantly injured since his first appearance 2 years ago. Rosicky is 31 years old. That list looks an awful lot smaller to me Damiano and having Yossi would certainly make perfect economical sense to me. He'd be an instant terrace hero as well.
Scotch Eggs Rule
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21/05/2012 13:47:00

Rosicky's 5 months younger than Yossi, so I'm nit sure you can use that to count him out! Especially after his best ever season for us. Frimpong's career is just starting, surely, having broken into the first team squad just this year and being only 20. Diaby has had a lot of injuries, absolutely, but that's not to say he will again; what with Dan Smith not appearing in the premier league anymore, and no Nasri to break his leg in training. Coqulein's been in the reserves until this season, where (apart from the last game of the season, where I thought he was awful) he's been pretty tidy.
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21/05/2012 13:57:00

Yossi offers us huge experience and he's a hardy battler. Plus he's scored some pretty vital goals this season. It's a very reasonable fee. Do we gamble once again on Diaby, Frimpong and Coquelin remaining injury free?
Wyn Mills
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21/05/2012 13:57:00

And I've said it before. Diaby has always been a crock. He had a reputation for being injured even before he joined the club. Fantastically talented, but way too fragile for this league.
Wyn Mills
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21/05/2012 14:01:00

1M for Yossi? Snap him up. Vital experience to the squad and the training ground. I'd love to see this move happen.
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21/05/2012 14:07:00

We need space for M'Vila too if we are actually serious about him
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21/05/2012 14:11:00

Its not as if we don't know what we are getting with Yossi. Goals for starters. Someone who will take his man on. Who will shoot. Who will hustle. And he's done this all his career, so he's not a one-season wonder. £1m is a steal. Enough of the experiments. Clear out some deadwood and make room.
Wyn Mills
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21/05/2012 14:17:00

Damiano, Coq was around the squad the previous season as well and was constantly injured, you obviously weren't paying attention. Rosicky is 31 and yes Yossi's a similar age, all the more reason to have someone to share thw work load no? Did you not read my comment on Frimpong? He's a tough, tackling midfielder who has BROKEN both of his cruciate ligaments before his 20th birthday, read that carefully. it spells a career of constant injuries as any intelligent sports fan will tell you.
Scotch Eggs Rule
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21/05/2012 14:31:00

Great article. He would probably get 2nd place for me, behind Koscielny. The good thing about signing M'Vila is that he basically plays the same role as Arteta, which gives us two genuine quality holding midfielders, rather than just the one. I think they could play alongside each other as well to be honest. But either of those two alongside Wilshere (who would replace Song) and Rosicky/New CAM would be an astonishing midfield.
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21/05/2012 14:45:00

*I am aware that we have not signed M'Vila.
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21/05/2012 14:46:00

Vital Arsenal comment of the year: Amos' (#4 in the thread) -- well done.
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21/05/2012 15:39:00

Scotch, Coquelin moved to FC Lorient on loan throughout the 2010–11 season; making 25 appearances. So, much as it's nice to have a bit of banter, having a dig at someone (who supports the same team) and being completely wrong does seem a strange way to spend your time. Pay attention, son. Are you encouraging Frimpong to retire at 20 then? I've known people get a cruciate injury and never play again; they didn't have the support that a premier league footballer has, though. If Frimpong had a cruciate injury and came back from it to play for us, then go out to Wolves for experience, why should we believe he can't over come a similar injury again?
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21/05/2012 15:50:00

Would love to take Yossi on those terms, but I doubt it's that simple. The player himself says he wants first team football every week and Chelsea would be unlikely to deal with us considering the fact that we finished above them last season. I doubt the price would be £1m for Arsenal. Probably will be for a Fulham or a Villa, where I think he'd excel.
Little Dutch
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21/05/2012 16:00:00

And Amos #4, which is why we need more players who have played in other Premiership teams. However, I would like to point out our game against Barca last season. We hardly had any possesion but when we didnt have, I remember us harrying them and trying to get position. So it shows that we can play without the ball too - just that we dont choose to.
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21/05/2012 17:06:00

I was scared to death when Wenger made a comment about players coming back next season. He talked about Diaby and Wilshere. I know Diaby is holding a spot on the 25man team but that has been our achilles. Bad players holding spots. Diaby, Bendtner, Chamakh, Park, Squillaci, Fanbianski, Denilson, Vela will all be holding a spot on out team if no takers. These guys can mess our 2012/13 season up if they want to be greedy and from all indications Denilson and Squillaci are planning to put us through what Almunia did to us this season.
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21/05/2012 17:32:00

Players of the season for are 3. Arteta, 2. Koscielny, 3. RVP for his goals only.
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21/05/2012 17:33:00

It was hardly a comfortable defensive performance against Barca in either leg - we did concede 4 goals over the 2 legs. That we can do it on occasions doesn't negate the point that we aren't practised in it to the extent that Arteta has become playing for Everton and that players aren't likely to develop those skills as naturally playing for Arsenal. What is good about Arteta is that he was educated also as Barca player and similarly Gilberto was able to acquire his skills under the challenge of competing against top Brazilian sides but still educated as a Brazilian footballer. The fact that Gilberto didn't previously play for a Premiership team didn't prevent him from acquiring the skills we needed.
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21/05/2012 17:39:00

Let me digress a little here. Looking at AFC present squad, we have 16players including Poldolski as over Non-Homegrown players and 11 HG players and 7 exceptions (U-21 as at Jan 1 1991). That is 26 + 7 players total and we need to get rid of players like Squillaci, Fanbianski, Chamakh, Arshavin, Park from the Non-HG and Vela, Bendtner, Vito, Lansbury, Denilson from the HG Players in other to sign players in. A few of the 7 exceptions will be turning 21 after mid-season as well. How can they make this possible with players power of refusing to go and see out there contract issue. Again Almunia did it to us and most likely others will do the same.
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21/05/2012 17:57:00

damiano_tommassi - Do not ever patronise me and call me son again you mouthy little gob****e, I've probably got a good 10 years on you judging by your pathetic response. All good will or banter aside, your response is that of a petulant d***head. Frimpong came back and played 5 matches, FIVE matches then snapped the other one as one knee is working harder to support the body than the other due to the previous breaking of it. So if it was bad after teh first one, just how are you simple enough to think that it will get better for him after breaking the second one? That is a very simple thing to work out. You maybe right about Coqulen being out on loan, but I have read that he is constantly injured hence his complete lack of appearances for us and lots of appearances on the or whatever it's called. As for being wrong, I notice you were to cowardly to respond to my Rosicky, Yossi and Diaby comments. Not because you were wrong by any chance? Your response is childish and highly selective, something you tend to do often when proved completely wrong. It is very obvious you are a young fan and have yet to learn any sort of quality social skills judging by the churlishness of your response,. So you go ahead digging that I made one mistake in a post of many points while not acknowledging the many valid ones I made proving you utterly wrong. Bloody idiot.
Scotch Eggs Rule
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22/05/2012 09:35:00

Grow up, Scotch. You came in with the patronising "you obviously weren't paying attention."

I responded to your point about Rosicky - you said he was old, I pointed out he's YOUNGER than Yossi Benayoun. Yossi would "be an instant terrace hero"? You're over-using the word 'hero'' there. "Diaby's an absolute joke since he was assaulted by Dan Smith." - he's had lots of injuries, poor lad, yes. just like RvP did before this season... or Rosicky. Good thing we didn't ship them out too, eh? And of course, he's a little younger than them. What else wasn't responded to?
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22/05/2012 09:50:00

That was because you weren't you mug. You didn't read AND understand that Frimpong had busted both ligaments and I explained how bad that could be yet you blathered on about how it shoudln't affect him etc. It wasn't patronising it was telling you to read again. I also reiterated that Rosicky being his age could do with the help that another similar aged player could offer (again no response from you after your initial point) as for Diaby and Rosicky, your point is completely baseless as if we had sold Rosicky, RVP and Diaby and replaced them with players who could of contributed years and years ago, who is to say we wouldn't of done better? The point is you want to waste yet another space in the team (a huge risk) on the whim that Diaby may get fit. That is absolute horse s**t and most others here will agree. Unless of course Diaby comes back next season and scores 25 goals from midfield to equal RVP's achievements upfront (as you pointed out) Unlikely? No. Absolutely impossible? Yes. Most here will also agree with that sentiment. We've wasted too many resources and years on players not contributing and now your saying we shouldn't sign someone like Banyoun (who has proved he can contribute) because we're still waiting for Diaby. Thank ***k you're nowhere near running this team, you'd be an absolute bloody disaster).
Scotch Eggs Rule
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22/05/2012 11:11:00

Damiano, just incase I really do have to explain it to you. I posted twice, once, then you responded then I followed up in more details to which you completely ignored every point made, that's what you missed "son". You didn't respond to my Rosicky needing help from benayoun point, my Frimpong career is in the balance point, my Coqulen still got knackered every week point after your initial response. Atleast you could try and follow the thread thoroughly and pretend you're keeping up.....
Scotch Eggs Rule
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22/05/2012 11:17:00

Hi Scotch.

I did read your words - Frimpong's bust both cruciates so far in his career. Got it. I understand how bad that can be (as I've mentioned, I know people who have never played again after a single cruciate) - I also said it doesn't HAVE to mean the end, does it - again, he recovered from the first, he may well recover from the second. I certainly didn't say 'it shouldn't affect him', that would be absolutely ridiculous, so I think you need to take more care with your reading. And your spelling. And your grammar.

"Rosicky being his age could do with the help that another similar aged player could offer" - is that the argument that the older player (Benayoun) will have more experience than someone like Wilshere? That stacks up, but I don't personally believe that having an older player in the same team as Rosicky will positively affect his game over playing with a younger player. You could argue that the younger player had better fitness levels, for example.

The point about Rosicky and RvP isn't completely baseless, is it? My argument being that 'they have been excellent for us this season, and if we'd have sold them before this season we would have had to live without that excellence' your counter-argument (if I'm reading it right) seems to be 'yeah, but if we'd sold them we could've bought someone more useful'. I take that point, but understand this - there is a difference between what could have been and what was; we could have signed replacements for them who vastly surpassed their achievements. COULD. Potentially. What actually, factually, in reality happened is that we kept Rosicky and RvP and they were excellent this year. Diaby could do the same; he might not. only time will tell, and you getting more and more animated and offensive isn't going to prove it one way or the other.

"you want to waste yet another space in the team (a huge risk) on the whim that Diaby may get fit" - kind of, yeah. I don't want us to sell him just yet, because I think he has the natural talent, physique and mentality to be an excellent player for us. if he continues to have such an appalling injury record and is no longer worth keeping around, then ship him out. I suppose we each draw the line in different places; Diaby hasn't crossed mine yet.

"We've wasted too many resources and years on players not contributing" - which ones? Rvp, Diaby and Rosicky, or others?

"now your (sic) saying we shouldn't sign someone like Banyoun (sic)... because we're still waiting for Diaby" - again, kind of. I'm saying we shouldn't sign him because we have something like 8 other, younger, Arsenal players that can play his preferred position. He's a good player, and has been good for us this year (while trying to earn himself a contract), but I would favour playing our younger midfielders over him, personally.

I'm not sure I missed nay of the points that you wrote - maybe some that you imagined but didn't actually type? - but I don't understand how you associate not getting an answer with being "to (sic) cowardly".
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22/05/2012 12:36:00

Now that is what I call a response, atleast giving you a few proper digs worked! You missed a couple out earlier up the thread then added them just now in that last post of yours, excellent stuff. I don't agree with any of it lol but that IS a proper response addressing all the points you started to pick holes in but misseda vital few. nice one, althoguh I would appreciate you not correctign my spelling as when I've just read your post there's several there aswell......I don't now feel the need to highlight them, you should be above that as well.
Scotch Eggs Rule
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22/05/2012 15:16:00


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