Thursday, May 31, 2007

Season review: The midfield, including player of the season.

On we go...

Rosicky, 6.5, I questioned Rosicky's signing when it was announced and some of my fears have come to pass. He has been a useful addition to the squad, and has pulled out several excellent performances, but has not scored enough goals and looks wasted out on the left. He needs to play more centrally and my fear is that we may not see all he has to offer if stuck in his current position. Next year, needs more goals, but has played well enough to justify a starting position.

Hleb, 6.5, A few disjointed performances in the second half of the season don't remove the fact that Alex is a valuable and dangerous member of the squad. His goalscoring record is poor and looks unlikely to improve, but his role in the build up play to our goals is often critical. He's willing to run at defences and make things happen, which some of our other midfielders seem unwilling to do, and for that reason I'll give him more lee-way than most when it comes to losing the ball, especially as he does tackle back. Will want to improve next year, and I think he has it in him to do it.

Gilberto, 8, player of the season. More than anyone this year, Gilberto really stepped up and drove the team forward. Indeed, he's one of the few midfielders in our squad who can't be accused of not scoring enough goals. He set the tone for his season with the equaliser that he thrashed in during the opening game of the year, and rarely looked back afterwards. He's scored crucial penalties and captained the team excellently, perhaps better than the man he was standing in for. Having watched Mascherano sparkle for Liverpool, I still think that there are better holding midfielders available than Gilbs, but this should not detract from what has been an excellent season for him. A deserved player of the year if I ever saw one.

Fabregas, 7.5. Arsene asks so much of one so young, but he has already established himself as the lynch-pin of our team. He passes beautifully, can boss midfields, and always tries to win the ball if he can. His obvious deficiency is his goal tally, something which has given Gilberto the edge in my player of the season decision. He's obviously got it within himself to be a 10-15 goals a year player, and this needs to happen sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, when it does, the transfer speculation from Spain will become unbearable. Arsene should also consider whether playing him in every game is necessarily a good idea, as fatigue was obviously and understandably an issue for Cesc this year given the number of games he played. The team musn't become over-reliant on him. We need a squad that can win games in his absence, and I'm not sure that's the case at the moment.

Denilson, 5. Didn't really feature in the team heavily enough to warrant a higher score, even if he looked a very decent prospect when he did. Was understandably over-awed slightly in the bigger games he played - notably those against Chelsea - but generally held his own. Needs to develop into someone who can play effectively either with or instead of Cesc.

Diaby, 5.5. The boy has something to him, but has suffered from Arsene's desire to peddle him around the midfield. A combination of him and Cesc in central midfield would be interesting but would need time to develop. His technical skills and tackling have been, and I use this term sparingly, 'Vieira-esque' at times, although Paddy was much nearer the finished article at Abou's age. It will be interesting to see how his development progresses next year.

Freddie, 5.5. Very few goals, a lot of sitting on the ground complaining, and an inability to beat players through skill or pace should see the end of Freddie this summer. He's been a wonderful servant to the club, and he still always battles hard, but he's not cutting it anymore. Despite a few decent performances this year, he's been trading on former glories for some time.

Theo, 5. A wonderful start to the season, and a Carling Cup final goal, can't hide the fact he's looked a bit too much like a boy amongst men this year. Needs to vary how he tries to beat players, and needs more goals. Hopefully his shoulder op will see him fighting fit for what will be a very big season for him personally next year. Also, to the idiots that abuse him at The Emirates: shut up. Get behind and support a young lad with clear potential.

Flamini, 6. Quite high, I know, but I think the Flamster has been quite harshly done by. I can see his point about being dropped for finals, and he actually chipped in with quite a few goals this year. Ultimately, he's not good enough for the starting XI, but I think its a shame we'll be losing his work-rate and often tidy playing style.

Song, 4. Not as awful as everyone thinks, but not as good either. Has looked good for Charlton and may yet return to the club.

Overall, 7.

Our midfield remains our strongest area but it's still a bit of a mess. Not enough goals come from it, which has to be remedied; I would suggest this should occur via signings but also encouraging our existing squad just to have a bit more of a crack at goal. Hleb could have scored far more often this year if he knew the hairdryer treatment was waiting for him in the dressing room if he didn't. Also, Arsene'e propensity to play 4 central midfielders - two of which often no more than nominally out on the wings - has destroyed the advantage of having a wider pitch at the Grove. We need an out and out winger to come in this summer.

Still, the midfield looks more encouraging than the defence, and should only require a few new bodies, rather than major surgery.


Anonymous said...

I have to point his out everyone who is on at Hleb to shoot more.. he is really really awful at shooting, tending to scuff most and he has precious little power when he does connect. Granted he will always get a few lucky ones if he is constantely shooting, however that is not something i'd encourage. I'd rather he just sharpened up on his passing.

Anonymous said...

this is where you are 100% wrong.

This is where the problems lie. Yes we have great players here, but we need a team. We dont have any width.

Hleb was awful. No one except Gilberto scored goals, and half of those were pens.

For us to win more games the midfield needs to improve.

Yes we need a winger, one who will score and create goals.

Yes Fabregas is great, but as Hleb played so much and he is goal shy you cant say they did better than the defence.

Diaby and Denilson looked OK when played, but this could be down to Wenger but players were played out of position. Diaby is not a winger, nor is Fabgregas.

Lets hope with a single signing the midfield can be more balanced.

It has also been spoken about that AFC will play a 4 3 3, which would suit the midfielders we have here, Rosicky, could start more centrally, but they will have to work on this in pre-season.

Goonerboy said...

We need wide players, that is unquestionable.

Why have we let Man U already steal a march on us with their signings yesterday? Those are the types of players we need to bring in. They've just won the league and they'll probably improve their squad more than we will this year.

Anonymous said...

Good review so far Goonerboy!
We have always been in this position every summer, havn't we got used to it yet? watching everyone else buy buy buy!
But isn't that the way we like it?
I like the fact we have always competed with limited (our own) resourses.
Problem is most people forget that at the end of the season


Anonymous said...

indeed, we need players that can play wide. should why buy, or do we have them already? I mean, we've got Walcott who can play from the right. I don't think Rosicky is that bad from the left. Might be better central, but certainly worth playing wide left. don't know what happens to reyes. if he returns and is fully commited to the arsenal, i like to see him playing from left. that makes rosicky and reyes for left and walcott and hleb on the right. walcott and reyes are real wide players, with rosicky and hleb more than worthy to step in. so why buy? may be one depending on what happens with jose antonio.

Anonymous said...

its too sweeping to say the midfield is strong. the central midfield is strong, the wide midfield is very ordinary. or at least it needs an additional one or two proper wingers before we can say it is strong. you cant say that walcott will do everything we need a winger to do. he is there as backup and is really a striker. Freddie needs replacing and so does Reyes. once those 2 are satisfactorily replaced we can say we have a strong midfield.

Anonymous said...

There is no reason why Denilson scores lower than Diaby. People just seemed to decide when Diaby started playing this season that he was what we were looking for and he's had a very easy ride. Classic Arsenal thing of hyping players up while they are not actually playing for us.
I like Diaby and i think he will be a good player but Denilson was as good if not better this season. And your assertion about the Chelsea games is quite frankly ridiculous, the Carling Cup final was all aobut our young midfield bossing it for an hour until Diaby went off. The home game the same happened and then Denilson went off after being done by Ferrerira and from that moment Chelsea started looking stronger.
That suggests to me that they are pretty much as good as each other, only one looks like a former captain that we all miss.
Otherwise i mostly agree with you although im not sure we can afford Hleb in the team at the same time as Rosicky and Cesc.

Anonymous said...

Our midfield is weak! We have good players with good quality but still we are weak. Yes we definitely need a winger. and as many of us say a left winger. Funny how many say hleb should be sold and he is not good enough but say nothing about needing a right winger.Hmmm, what does that mean? Well i believe he is pretty good and alot of the times he is looking for the pass but our strikers just do not read the play. Anyway enough about him. Walcott sucked on the wings and personally felt he should not be in the side if it meant he would be on the wings. Yes he did have a handful of moments when something worked out for him but 75% of the time (maybe 85%) was better left on the bench, even aliadiere seemed to play better on the wings than him. Cesc was brilliant but should have been given a rest every now and again. Gilberto best season his had thus far. Denilson and diaby i feel could have been in for cesc later in the season as they can hold their own. Flamini seemed to me when he played on the wings (especially left) very useful. he was also giving something different to the other midfielders in a 4 5 1 formation, in that, he would not look to give the killer pass (thats for hleb, cesc,etc), but take the shot whenevr in range. Wenger i felt was wrong in playing flamini & gilberto or song & giberto. those players do not compliment each other in a 4 4 2, but a frabregas & flamini or denilson & song would work pretty well. yes and the constant moving around of players to play in positions that does not suit them does not help, then again they atleast got the experience for if the situation were to occur. Reyes would have been useful but only if he were committed to the cause. My views a gunner 4 life!!!

Anonymous said...

not sure how u can justify giving freddie a higher mark than theo...

against hamburg in a game that looked for a long time that we were going to lose, or at best draw, theo came on and created two goals. i accept the point about him being negative while taking players on but this is a thing that we can chalk down to his injury i think. more than once this year he has changed games, and thats more than can be said for freddie.

his usually excellent workrate has declined this year and hes been constantly injurred! the bolton game is the only example i can think of him really pulling a performance out of the bag.

if we're really going to challenge for silverware next season we definitely have to bring width and pace to the team, someone like a ribery or a babel. whether freddie stays or not is another thing

Anonymous said...

Goonerboy I think that your ratings are terrible in some places.
Firstly Hleb is a talented dribbler but he can't pass or shoot to save his life; gives the ball away so much. No doubt he has clear talent but over the summer he's got to improve passing and shooting.
Secondly Flamini. A 6??? Personally I would give him a 4. Ok he's played alright in the games he's played in but at times he is awful. And now he's got the nerve to keep complaining to Arsenal about how he hasn't played enough. Well Mathieu... its because your rubbish. Waste of space needs to go.
I agree with ratings of Denilson, Diaby as they haven't played much and when they have its in the wrong position. Wenger needs to decide the best 4 for the midfield. I think at this moment its Rosicky Fabregas Gilberto Hleb(even though Hleb can do much better)
Rosicky can be one of the best in the world and I think next season he will be quality.
Theo will be a very very good player in the next few years.
Gilberto has been a vital part of the midfield this season and has got important goals. He's still got a couple of years in him. Like most other people have said I think we need a winger defo. All the width in the emirates isn't being used.