Five Players of the season

Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas was in the form which is often accompanied by trophy-winning teams.

19 goals and a load of assists justified how Fabregas influenced the team with his presence. Only in 2007/08 had he managed a tally of double figures or come close to being the prolific midfielder we all craved him to be.

From the brace against Everton on the first day of the season to the penalty against Barcelona, Fabregas influenced almost every Arsenal match he played in last season.

It was some form which broke Robert Pires’ record of Arsenal’s highest scoring midfielder in a league season and saw him end the campaign not only as the Gunners’ top scorer, but also without a doubt, their top performer.

And he did all this in a stop-start season in terms of fitness. One of Fabregas’ most injury-plagued seasons was indeed his most outstanding.

Thomas Vermaelen

Is he big enough? Is he tall enough?

None of those questions which greeted Vermaelen’s arrival last summer mattered in the end, did it? The Belgian came at a time when Arsenal’s defense begged for aerial dominance and grit. In fact, that turned out to be what Vermaelen’s forte is as a centre-back.

He made a habit of winning headers and tackles throughout the campaign and even when the team went through hard times, he was that one player you just could not criticize due his consistency – which saw him miss only one game before injury ended his campaign.

And the way he often appeared to be the energtic screamer amongst his teammates, Vermaelen also proved to be captain material for the future.

Alex Song

“We need a DM, we really need a DM!”

Those have been constant cries from the Arsenal faithful ever since the clear-out of Diarra, Flamini and Gilberto two years ago. And even though those complaints remain today, that needed defensive midfielder is only required as back-up to Alex Song.

With Arsenal forging a more attacking frame through the 4-3-3 this season, there had to be a tigerish ball winner to keep things tidy. And very often, Alex Song proved just that.

On countless occasions, Song was the emergency defender, providing last ditch support for Arsenal’s centre-backs.

Thus, the Cameroonian joined Vermaelen in introducing Arsenal’s ‘you won’t bully us’ look in 2009/10.

Abou Diaby

Most of Arsene Wenger’s class of talent over the past five years have been skillful and attacking-minded but physically feeble players; the Hleb’s, the Rosicky’s, the Walcott’s and Nasri’s.

And even though his technical ability is comparable to the aforementioned names, Abou Diaby brings a bonus service to the table for Arsenal.

That is physical presence/height. Also, unlike Rosicky and co, Diaby shows more assurance on the ball when he surges from midfield because of the amount of power he has in shrugging off opponents.

Doing the dirty work is not a job strictly assigned to just defenders and Arsenal have often failed at the back in the past due to lack of collective physical support in defending. Thus, you can only guess what would have happened without the significant aid Diaby provided in defending set-pieces last term.

The ‘Diaby’ we knew from the season before last year was the dribbling, more attacking but incapable ‘Vieira’ and an inconsistent holder and distributor of the ball. His over-relaxed late season displays justified he is by no means the finished article but for most of the campaign, Diaby was Arsenal’s source of muscle in attack.

His critics did realize his impact during that spell (home batterings by Chelsea and United) when the Arsenal team cried out for physical presence in Diaby and co’s absence.

In addition, the Frenchman proved he is arguably Arsenal’s most accurate finisher from midfield – either from long range or the 18-yard area. Remember how he was the only one to test Shay Given – resulting in the ‘keeper’s unfortunate injury – during the dull game with Man. City recently?

His brace against Portsmouth and goals against AZ Alkmaar and Birmingham are evidences of his clinical ability in front of goal. Also, those were just a few of some vital moments Diaby produced during the season – notably, that game-winning header against Liverpool.

Sol Campbell

Like Arshavin did last term, Sol Campbell proved to be that inspiring addition from January.

Not only did he add much needed muscle – decisive in the win at Stoke – to Arsenal’s defense but Sol also injected some urgency into the team when the going got tough.

Such was his passion even at the age of 35 that he managed the performance of his Arsenal return at White Hart Lane of all places – where his bold show nearly saw him score twice. Wenger concluded that Sol was “ready to die on the pitch that day” after the match and that just summed up the sort of servant Campbell had been to the club on both his first and second coming.

Other players who could have made it: Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Eboue, and Nicklas Bendtner.

UP NEXT TOMORROW: Five Goals of the season

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16 thoughts on “Five Players of the season

  1. diaby. still don’t see it.
    I really want him to come good.
    mostly
    so I can rub it in my mates face like I do with song.
    but I stll just can’t see it.

  2. Brave man for bigging up Diaby – still the focus of much ire in certain corners of the fan base. Personally I’m not so far off agreeing with you. With a bit more focus & consistency I’d rate him right up there with Song & Vermaelen as one of the success stories of the season.

  3. what the fuck…….RANDY how on earth DIABY is a player of the season??? he was mostly shit!!!!! WHY THE HELL ISNT BENDTNER INCLUDED??????????????

  4. Ummm… Diaby – no, Campbell – maybe.

    Diaby was injured a lot, and as many games as he played well, there were games where he was abysmal – Barcelona at the Emirates case in point, he was completely inept at dealing with a high pressure defense.

    Campbell really only came on at the end of the season… a month’s worth of good work (when we lost 5 games?) should not rate as one of our five best. If so, what an indictment of the season.

    I propose RVP should be in there, at least he contributed for 3 1/2 months and was arguably our best player through that stretch. And he proved that selling Adebayor was addition by subtraction.

    And, this may be controversial, Gallas was very very solid for us until he got hurt. His partnership with Vermaelen was excellent, we forget that now that he’s been hurt for 2 months and looks to be out the door, but around the turn of the year, they were the defensive pairing of the EPL.

  5. hahahahah!!!! Diaby???

    Then u might as well add in Almunia, Fabianski, Silvestre and Denilson as the Top 5 players of the Season.

  6. gael clichy for me.. turnaround his godawful pisspants two years back to the Clichy we love..

  7. great points on gallas, brahmabull. agree completely.
    there were so many players injured at some many times, its hard to remember who played the whole term. almost noone! and what about young vito mannone? that guy showed up HUGE.
    and sol … i’m so on the fence about sol.

  8. I just went back and watched the 5 mates of the season and B52 had two goals in these matches…

    Diaby’s name not even mentioned..ha well it was but not that much…

    I think with Cham, RVP and B52 with the addition of another young guy promoted we will be looking good up front.

    Anyone else think that Buffon will be a great add? Buffon and Vito with Fab. Vito can learn from his Italian counterpart.

  9. Opinions are a hell of a thing!

    Damn, I am with disbelief that most of the comments are so anti-Diaby, seriously??? Did any of you guys even take the time to watch Diaby this season?? Well I for one paid a lot of attention to him & Song because those were the players I wanted to see much improvement from and I sure was impressed. Diaby definitely had one of, if not, his best season with Arsenal IMHO. He made a lot of attacking runs, dished some assists, scored 7 helpful goals and covered for Song when needed….c’mon guys, give the man some credit.

    I think the reason why most of you are so anti-Diaby is because his previous seasons were lack-lustre and many were calling for him to be replaced and so when 09/10 started, not much persons were interested in observing him.

    I hope he solidifies himself in France’s squad (esp when they get rid of Dummyneck).

    1. Only one with reason here is you, Sam.

      Diaby’s critics are blinded by his shortcomings – that own goal against United and his form in the last 3-4 games of the season.

      But if you don’t ever notice his contributions on the pitch (simply because you decide not to) then just check out the video below to notice what Diaby actually often does. This is not a flattering compilation about his skills or goals, it is just a random selection of one of the games he played last season.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_ckNP2CWDs&feature=player_embedded#!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06L9uBK-jtw

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