Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Monday May 14 2007
With 2006/07 safely behind us and the prospect of a summer of tabloid garbage, it seems the only way to fill the football shaped void that now pervades my life is to produce a load of season review type thingies. As I mentioned yesterday, I will produce a month by month breakdown of our season as I saw it over the coming week. But for now, I thought I would add my own assessment of each individual player. Entirely futile and pointless and the product of an overly fertile imagination, certainly. But I know that a) you're all probably as tragic as I am (come on, who are you kidding?) and b) it beats the hell out of work. So without further ado;
1.Jens LEHMANN- Our entirely mentally balanced goalie has probably suffered as a result of his own high standards. For my money, in 05/06 there wasn't a better 'keeper anywhere in the world. Yet, with age slowly stalking him and without the prospect of a World Cup number 1 jersey, Jens has been distictly more human this season. Though he began the season in fine fettle, a save from Solskjaer that left the Norwegian wide eyed with disbelief springs to mind. But as the season has progressed, his concentration has slipped and mistakes have become apparent. The acquisition of Fabanski and the prospect of Euro 2008 will hopefully see an improvement next year. 6/10.
2.Abou DIABY- Came back incredibly impressively from injury, looking strong quick and with a new lease of life. Culminating in a stunning performance in the Carling Cup Final. Though the games took their toll in the dying weeks of the season. The future looks incredibly bright for this young warrior. 7.
4.Cesc FABREGAS- Has now seemingly overtaken Henry as the pivot of our side, creative exuberence and a pair of shoulders custom designed for pressure, the young Catalonian has continued to make big strides, adding a physical dimension previosuly missing from his game. His absolutely shockingly bad etiquette in defeat suggests future captaincy material. The next step for this sparkling young individual is to obtain Vieira like levels of ultra consistency. 8.
5.Kolo TOURE- Once again has played nearly every game and has done so with his usual industrious, good natured charm. Though I think he suffered from burn out in the latter stages, this man is firmly established as part of the spine of the side. I don't hear too many people complaining about that, do you? 7.
6.Philippe SENDEROS- After two remarkable campaigns, Phil has suffered a little this year. Beginning the season on the sidelines set the tone as high profile errors saw him earn widespread consternation. Personally, I hold very high hopes for this boy, he has the desire and the talent to be a top defender. It is composure he lacks. 6.
7.Tomas ROSICKY- Every time this guy builds up a head of steam, it seems injury inhibits his progress. But his adaption has been pleasantly smooth and his talent is unquestioned, as well as his appetite. High hopes for Tommy Gun next year. 7.
8.Freddie LJUNGBERG- This train don't stop there anymore. 5.
9.Julio BAPTISTA- Like I say, I think there's a good player in there somewhere, but the Beast's confidence is rock bottom. The four goal haul at Anfield seems a long time ago. 5.
10.William GALLAS- The type of character and talent this team needs. As has oft been the case this year, injury wrecked his adaption into a leader of our team. Has stood up in difficult away games. The best is yet to come from Billy, but for my money, we simply cannot be without him for as long next season. 7.5
11.Robin van PERSIE- Another whose development looked to be astronomical, becoming the side's top goalscorer. However, once again, injury cut him down cruelly in his prime. I still think his attitude lets him down at times, this boy is a rough diamond who, with the correct management, could become the priceliest gem. 7.5.
13.Alex HLEB- Began the season on fire, despite having built up his own league of critics he became instrumental into our play. But after being roundly blamed for the exit to PSV, his confidence dipped and having the worst fans in England on your back and down your throat is never going to help. 7.
14.Thierry HENRY- Really defies a mark given his lengthy absence, but in all honesty, his performances were insipid and apathetic. I hope this was solely down to a lack of fitness, but I really am not so sure.
15.DENILSON- Burst onto the scene via some awesome Carling Cup displays and looked instantly at home in the starting line up. Will form an axis with Diaby next year I feel to begin the gradual phasing out of Gilberto, but this boy is the real deal. 7.
16.Mathieu FLAMINI- Never my favourite player, all balls no brains I feel but did his job when called upon and scored some important goals. That said, no tears will be shed over his departure. 6.
19.GILBERTO Silva- Has really turned into a valuable leader as well as THE key component of our team. He has always had a calming influence on the side, but he seems to have stepped up to the mantle of fathering the younger players, while simulataneously turning in consistent displays of quiet authority. His new found prowess from the spot encapsulates how his stock has grown this year and look no further for player of the season. 9.
20.Johan DJOUROU- Having cut the mustard during an injury crisis last year, this boy has really kicked on to the point that having him in the humdrum business of centre back in big games doesn't seem to greatly trouble anyone. Exudes composure, but his role diminished upon Gallas's return to fitness. 7.5.
22.Gael CLICHY- Ashley who? The Hurricane's development has been astounding, pure guts and desire shown in every game. His recovery pace and natural tenacity make him a tough customer, but he has really added to his game going forward to smooth the transition of Cole's departure. 8.
24.Manuel ALMUNIA- The cup 'keeper has really shown some impressive form when called upon this year. Gone are the panicky antics and what we have now is a composed and imposing goalkepper, agile and comfortable with crosses. Could challenge Lehmann next year. 7.
25.Emmanuel ADEBAYOR- Obviously a rough diamiond, needs to discipline his game in some areas, but he has really shown some courage this year. Once again, the supporters were not ready to be patient, but Ade just ran and ran his way into their hearts. Popped up with some vital goals in big games (including 3 against the Spuds) and has become a valued member of our sqaud. This man can go far under Wenger's tutelage. 7.5
27.Emmanuel EBOUE- Another whose season was disrupted by constant injury. Has not looked the mega prospect he did last season, but with a run of games under his belt he can recapture that form. Yes, his antics can be annoying and his concentration can fail him, but I think this boy will be a top class right back. Let's hope the next campaign sees him fit and well. 6.5.
30.Jeremie ALIADIERE- It won't happen for him at Arsenal, with one foot already out of the door it seems, which is a shame because Jeremie has a lot of talent. But the blossoming years of his career have been spent on the treatment table. Will easily find another Premiership club. 6.5.
31.Justin HOYTE- Our most improved player. After some woeful early season form, Justin has knuckled down to become a solid right back. I still think the attacking side of his game needs work, but looking at his attitude, hard work does not seem to bother this lad. 7.
32.Thoe WALCOTT- Guess what? ANOTHER player whose progress has been hindered by injury. Looking fit and refreshed, his early season displays were full of verve and confidence. But with the pressure of an increasingly infuriating set of supporters and a vulturous press, Theo seemed to suffer from the expectation. Then a shoulder injury compounded his lack of confidence. Another box marked, 'next season.' 6.5
Date:Monday May 14 2007
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