WTTGT Writer: Vivek Arulnathan (Site Editor)
Half the season has gone by and Arsenal find themselves fighting for that crucial fourth spot with Chelsea and Liverpool. It has been a remarkable turnaround from a team that went as low as 17th in the table before Arsene Wenger and his boys responded under immense pressure with admirable steel and mental strength. Led by the inspirational Van Persie, several players have caught the imagination of the fans while others have floundered big time. With a 10 day break before Arsenal’s next league game as they focus on the FA Cup, we will be analysing the performances of each and every Arsenal player this season in the coming days.
On the second day today, we look into how our full backs have fared so far this season.
One of the several last minute buys, the Brazilian has managed to effectively fill into the void left by Clichy. He did struggle to adapt to the pace of the league early on and appeared woefully lacking in match fitness. He has since slowly settled in but an ankle injury at Olympiakos has ruled him out for over three months.
He is brilliant going forward and has provided a fantastic outlet on the left wing. Defensively, his positioning and tracking back aren’t the best in the world though he has impressed with his tackling when one on one. Personally for me, he is a winger rather than a full back.
Arguably one of the most reliable full backs plying his trade in Premier League, Sagna has gone about his business as usual this season without much notice. His importance to our squad was felt when he was down with a virus during the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford and in the games following his injury against Tottenham.
His absence was exploited by Man United as Jenkinson was torn apart and Gareth Bale did the same when we lost 2-1 in the North London derby. To be frank, I think he has been the most underrated Gunner in the last few years and his current injury layoff emphasises his importance to Arsenal.
The 19 year old has handled the step over from League 1 to the Premier League pretty well. Would never have expected to play so many games this season and has learnt his lessons the tough way. He is a delightful crosser of the ball and has improved steadily as a defender. He lacks a bit of pace but he has a fantastic work rate and being an Arsenal fan does help too.
His performances so far argue well for the future and he is someone with the potential to be an England international.
Predominantly a central defender, he has been forced to play out on the right due to the injury crisis at our club. Has not provided any real threat going forward and was all over the place against Chelsea before Van Persie saved the game for Arsenal. One has to appreciate his sincere efforts to perform well in an alien position and his presence did give our defence a solid look when we went undefeated for 10 games. Playing at right back should help him fine tune his defensive skills like tackling and positioning which will help him realise his enormous potential.
I am just amused at how regularly he manages to visit the injury table. With Clichy gone, he was supposed to cement his place in the first team this season but things haven’t gone according to plan for the youngster. Another left back who’s attacking talents far outweigh his defensive attributes, one sincerely hopes he puts all his injury troubles behind and finally manages to show his true potential in the red and white of Arsenal.
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