Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What's a Hleb worth? Ribery and Reo-Coker

A predictably controversial league-table of player rankings in the Premiership was released in The Times today. Here are the full-rankings. Here is the methodology.

It's hard to argue with all of it. Gilberto was certainly - as I will be discussing later in the week - our player of the season. I would also rank Jens as the second best premiership goalkeeper. Whilst it's slightly harsh to rank him as our worst player, I think that Freddie's position goes someway to showing what a poor season he's had. One wonders how far up the table RvP would be if he'd been able to play 75%+ of the season. The low-quality of our right-backs is also justifiably emphasised.

Indeed, the main controversy lies with one player: Msr Hleb's position as our third best premiership player this season, and the tenth-best overall Premiership player.

While the statistics certainly overstate the case (he's not better than Cesc, obviously) what I do think the table shows is how undervalued Alex is to the team. Ok, so to say he doesn't like shooting would be an understatement, as would be that he does give the ball away on occasion. But he often loses the ball trying to drive the team forward, and his abilities as a tackler and a battler are often uncommented on. I've often said he's the master of the 'secondary assist', the defence splitting pass which leads to an assist - passes which are absolutely crucial to goals. I always thought he's an asset to the team and an underrated player, not just in terms of our own side but in the Premiership as a whole. I'm sure he can help us win things, even if a few more goals would be nice.

In terms of transfer rumours, the Franck Ribery signing has re-emerged as a possibility, after last week when it appeared his sale to Bayern was a done deal. I'm not entirely convinced he will answer our current problem of a lack of goals from midfield, but he clearly has quality to him. I'm not sure we need another technically-gifted yet low-scoring midfielder, and I expect him to sign for Bayern on completion of Hargreaves' sale to United.

Finally, Nigel Reo-Coker has, apparently, eyed up either us or United as potential destinations, after reportedly handing in a transfer request. At most, he would be a vastly expensive replacement for Flamini, and we can get far more for the amount we'd have to pay. Moreover, do we really players of his character? Egotistical charlatans more concerned with collecting 'Baby-Bentleys' the grafting on the pitch? I think not.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think taking anything about that article seriously is to credit the Times too far for possibly the worst piece of analysis i have ever read.
You only have to look at some of the other rankings to see that it is sheer folly, David Bentley is not the 401st best footballer in the country, nor is Paul Robinson, as bad as he is, the 402nd.
It is madness.

Goonerboy said...

It does have Kevin Davies as the worst player in the Premiership. Gotta love that.

Tony said...

Good article mate. Its true that Hleb plays a more significant role than most realise.

Im keen on Ribery, he has a passion and drive that would mix well with our class and flare. If Reyes is sold soon, i do think Ribery will be added to the squad. But there are concequences and decisions to be made.

What happens to Hleb and Rosicky if we sign Ribery? Could Ribery double up as a central midfielder, or even a second striker? What about Babel, he's younger, probably cheaper and can play as a forward, two birds with one stone.

As for Reo-Coker, thatd be a ridiculous signing. Gilberto and Cesc, minus goals are pretty much the most effective and creative midefield partenership around. Diaby looks awesome and is certainly more gifted than the West Ham boy. Denilson will grow with experince too, and the Fran Merida hype is snow balling by the day, what a player he looks.

Anonymous said...

The only thing worth mentioning about that Times article is that it illustrates just how much we have missed key players (Henry, RVP, Gallas, Rosicky) for large chunks of the season, and that the team that has the least injuries to key players is generally the one that wins the league. Just look at United - Ronaldo, Rooney and Ferdinand hardly missed a game.

David Bentley at 402nd - I have to admit, that is FUNNY!

Anonymous said...

I can't argue with Tony.

Hleb is hugely underrated by a lot of Arsenal fans. He is like Wiltord, in that he has one or two irritating characteristics which seem to lead some people to ignore all the good that he does.

I am not sure about Ribery and I would prefer Ryan Babel too. Also, I cannot see Reo-Coker being value for money.

Liam Brady said that Arsene wants a bit more experience in the squad. I would go for Rafael Van Der Vaart as a very accomplished technical midfielder who scores plenty of outstanding goals. He would cost a bit but we are going to have to spend a bit if we want to improve the squad, as opposed to just adding to the squad.

Anonymous said...

i honestly think ribery would be a good signing...i can see him going to bayern they are not in the champions league and that is what he wants....i think babel is good as well but i feel ajax are ess inclined to let him go as he said he doesn't want to go......we should conside malouda...technically brilliant and scores a fair few....if we bring in ribery you may see the team adopt a 4 5 1 in order to incorporae everyone...unfortunately despite an unseen contribution i feel hleb will be on the bench next year....if ribery comes

AusGunner said...

The scapegoating of Hleb for our woes in the tail end of our season has been absolutely atrocious. To single him out when the team has underperformed since February and had its collective confidence shot is completely unfair. He is a good player. There is some undeniable truth to that list however they obtained the statistics and the ranking of Paul Robinson is both hilarious and accurate. The encouraging thing when you see it is that there's so much room for improvement with many of our players. You have those returning from injury like Henry and RvP, and those who are bound to improve you would assume, like Cesc, Rosicky, Clichy, Hleb and Eboue (incidentally I think the relatively low ranking of Eboue and Hoyte can be attributed to neither of them having a consistant run in the side). We have a good team and I think our league position betrays the actual talent we have at our disposal.

Kimmono said...

Hleb is a great player and I dont understand how fans can underrate him so much just because he doesnt shoot and score enough.

Should we start blaming Cesc now too?

Greg said...

Your statement about the low-quality of our right backs is a misinterpretation of the data i would suggest. If you look at the statistics as a whole you'll notice players in certain positions gain/lose more points on average than players in other positions. Under their data a goalkeeper appears to be the most important player in the team - the plyaer most likely to win or lose a significant number of points in comparison to an average player. After that players in central positions can also win/lose their teams significant amount of points. Players in wide positions though (with Ronaldo and Hleb noticable exceptions to this) don't appear to win or lose many points for their teams. Thus, although Hoyte and Eboue don't appear to have won many points in comparison to our central midfielders, centre backs or forwards, in comparison to other full backs in the league they did well (both better than Gary Nevile for example) - and clichy did exceptionally well.

Anonymous said...

Excellent to see so many fans coming out in support of Hleb now, he's had a fantastic season, and these stats prove it. Lets hope the forums get behind him in the same way that they've clubbed together to have his persecuted.

Lots of people (those who don't like Hleb for a start) are saying you can't read anything into stats, but the Fink Tank (who created the stats) is an intelligent source, well thought out, and if followed closely throughout the year, you'll assess that they get very little wrong.

Anonymous said...

Just chipping in to agree that Hleb is much better than he is given credit for. I think some of his most harsh critics have probably not seen a live game because if they did they would see him tracking back as well as trying to make something happen. The more time you spend trying to make things happen, the more time you have on the ball and therefore the more chance of a pass not coming off. It was also not his fault that in the absence of RVP and TH our other forwards underperformed and perhaps were not as available to receive a pass, which left him with little to aim at and more chance of a forward move breaking down.

Ati said...

I totally agree about hleb...I think for the first half of the season he was right up there as one of our in form players...he's been a bit out of touch during the second half of the season but he's worth keeping..And i totally agree that hes the master of the 'secondary assist'...great observation!

anandamide said...

I think the degree of Hleb criticism is overboard, but if this is going to be a title-challenging club is "trying hard to make things happen" and "tracking back" enough to get you a spot in the first 11? Would he start at Man U or Chelsea? I don't think so.....

Anonymous said...

I think Ribery is a fantastic signing if we can get him. I think Babel would be a great signing too.

I think Hleb gives the ball away way to easy and is afraid to shoot. If he can link up those magical passes 65% of the time and shoot at all he will be worth playing.

Anonymous said...

Alex Hleb is great, so is Rosicky, but playing both on the wings gives the team too little width.

I would love to see Quaresma in an Arsenal shirt next season! =)
He is a fantastic winger, who scores goals too!

George said...

I personally would prefer signing a player from the Prem who doesn't need the "transitional" period. Bellamy seems to be a good target IMO.

Anonymous said...

Hleb isn't all bad, i agree, however he's stupid at times that costed Arsenal. Case in point is the CL game... any pros would know that the other guy was literally cornered right at the corner flag facing the wrong way and what did our Hleb do? He had to foul the guy; and as brilliant as our players, they were naive to let PSV take the freekick 3 yards away from the spot at which the foul was made giving them a much better angle to work with. All in all, Hleb had all the skills to simply hold the guy there but he was not playing smart/ savvy football, like Reyes.

Anonymous said...

In 2 years Hleb has not won a single game for us and has made about 5 assists and scored about 5 goals. These are the only stats that matter. He was utterly hopeless v Lpool, PSv and v Chelsea when he game on he didn't close SWP for the cross that led to the equaliser and misplaced a 6 yard pass that would have left Cesc 1 on 1 - all in 20 mins He is really skillful but no end product. No wonder we are struggling with rubbish like him as 1st choice. This guy makes Wiltord look like Jairzinho

Anonymous said...

Hleb was fantastic the second half of last year, particularly in the CL, and also at the beginning of this, but trailed off quite a bit at the end. He needs to be more consistent.

Whatever, the rankings are stupid. Hleb ahead of Cescand Dogba? Hyppia ahead of Carragher? I don't rate Bentley, but 400th? I love Jens, but VDS, James, Jasskeleinen, Foster all had better years. You could go on and on.

Anonymous said...

Either the data is rubbish or it is gold. They certainly can't be both though. If the Bentley rating makes is rubbish, then the Hleb rating also has not credibility. We can't have our cake and eat it too.

As for Hleb, he was never brought in to be a goal scorer, unless we are suggesting Wenger doesn't do his homework. There is no way Hleb was brought in to score any goals, his record at Stuttgart was just as dire, 2 Goals in 34 league games in his final season. Just like 2 goals in 33 league games for us this season.

The observation that playing Hleb and Rosicky wide denies us any width is on the money. For half the season we effectively played with 4 central midfielders. When Thierry is playing, he frequently pulls out wide which helps, but...