AFCB’s 2010/2011 Season Review: The Defenders

This is the third part of AFCB’s 2010/2011 Season Review, focusing specifically on the players primarily used across the back four last season.

Each player has been giving a report card-style rating (ranging from A+ to E-) as well as the justification for their rating based on their progress and overall performance over the course of the season.

If you’d like to read previous editions of the review then check out Part One and Part Two.

Laurent Koscielny (B)

Thomas Vermaelen’s achilles injury meant that Koscielny started more games than any other central defender in the squad, a testament to his adaptability and physical robustness in his first season at the club. Despite giving away too many penalties and making a handful of errors, including the last-moment brain fade that threw away the Carling Cup, Koscielny impressed with his anticipation and impeccable tackling abilities. Given his capacity to learn quickly, as evidenced by his rise from Ligue 2 to the Premier League in just two seasons, I have high hopes for Koscielny next season.

Gaël Clichy (C)

A tough season for a player that laid bare his strengths and weaknesses as a player. Going forward Clichy was tremendously effective at times — except in circumstances where a final ball was required — and once again showed all of the energy and never-say-die positive attitude that we have come to love from the Frenchman. But at a time in his career where experience should bring calmness he looks more panicked on the ball than ever and prone to unnecessarily conceding possession at dangerous moments. It is this weakness that makes his place in the team (and indeed the squad) far from certain next season and it will be intriguing to see how things pan out.

Bacary Sagna: My Player of the Season

Bacary Sagna (A)

A model of quality and consistency on the right and my personal Player of the Season. Possesses all of the positive attributes of Clichy with none of the weaknesses: even his crossing improved significantly this season and scoring two goals. Deservedly named in the Premier League Team of the Season and if there’s a better right-back in England then I have not seen him. Shame about the hair, though.

Kieran Gibbs (C)

I had high hopes that Gibbs would make the step up and displace Clichy at left-back this season however, a spate of injuries and a run of fairly timid form made this impossible. His lack of availability makes judgment of his season difficult but amazingly, Clichy’s likely exit could nevertheless see the Englishman start the season as a starter.

Johan Djourou (B+)

One of the breakthrough players of the season, Djourou took a while to get going after spending the entirety of the previous season out injured, before finding his stride. The Swiss man’s greatest attribute is his calmness at the back and for a period during the middle of season he fostered an excellent partnership with Koscielny that conceded very few goals. His highlight of the season was a superb man-marking job on Didier Drogba at The Emirates and despite losing some form after dislocating his shoulder late on in the season, Djourou has done enough to suggest he will be a key defender for Arsenal going forward.

Sebastien Squillaci (C-)

Squillaci’s first season at Arsenal was hardly as terrible as many supporters have claimed however he hardly set the league on fire either. A lack of pace was exposed at times and there was no coincidence that Arsenal conceded more goals when he, rather than Koscielny or Djourou, was playing at the back. Did about as well as you could reasonably expect from a fourth-choice central defender, the real problem was that injuries mean he was called upon all too often.

Vermaelen was badly missed this season

Thomas Vermaelen (D)

‘D’ for ‘disappointing’. Not disappointing because the Belgian played poorly but because he hardly played at all. Vermaelen’s absence from this season, a result of a never-ending, Rosicky-esque achilles strain, was THE disappointment of the season. The silver lining is that Djourou was fast-tracked and Koscielny was forced to adapt quicker than perhaps he would have liked, putting his development six months ahead of schedule, but the positives were far outweighed by the negatives. We desperately missed Vermaelen’s leadership and toughness at vital moments this season and it will be brilliant to have him back again.

Emmanuel Eboué (D+)

Having redefined himself as a utility man over the past two seasons — playing everywhere from his prefered position at right-back, to left-back, to right-wing to central midfield — Eboué’s contribution was minimal this season. Will (unfairly) be remembered for the late penalty concession against Liverpool but he continues to infuriate more than he delights at Arsenal. Continues to be a welcome presence in the changerooms with his humour and positive attitude, but simply does not do enough on the pitch when given the opportunity. Perhaps symptomatic of all the bad things about the current Arsenal squad.

Have your say on the third part of AFCB’s 2010/2011 Season Review by leaving a comment.



  1. I can’t argue much with any of that, Andrew. Djourou was really trending downward at the end of the season – below B+ level, I’d say – however; B+ might be a fair average on the whole. I’m not sure what your weighted average for would be the entire defense – but I’d say it ought to be in the C or C- range. Cheers, – B

  2. Generally agree with you on most points. Do have to ask what difference Sagna’s hair makes, though!? Also, realizing you are talking about our season, I thought Djourou’s performance in the recent England /Switzerland Euro qualifier was worse than dreadful. I would have given Vermaelen an I for incomplete. Another blog did a stastistical comparison of the 09/10 season vs. 10/11 that illustrated how much we missed TV5. Clichy slipped considerably and may be leaving. Gibbs will have to fill in, but he also slipped or, at least, did not improve. On balance, I believe that Koscielny will continue to develop and the return of Vermaelen full-time will be big plus next season. Unfortunately, even at full strength, we will have one of two inconsistent players in the back four(Gibbs or Djourou) and that will be more nailbiting for the supporters. At least the schedule let’s us expunge the blown lead at Newcastle the very first day and get redemption at home v. Liverpool in that opener. Think Eboue will play?

  3. Defenders are always a tough subject to judge if vermeulen wasn’t injury then maybe djourou would be at his best,but still a decent performance,I had little concern about the defense probably becoz they went on mini streak of not conceding in a number of matches,but overall when it counted they fail horribly. It just the defense midfield that the problem. Song hasn’t shown why he deserve to be that player to be moulded into a veira or gilberto,just 2 lightweight and seems lost in the game,when lost possession he puts his head down likes nothing happens,needs to be replace,I believe the inclusion of christopher samba will be exactly what the doctor order, more macho,braveheart type and be stubborn.

  4. Hi Andy. Too generous in my opinion apart from Sagna who I also had as my player of the season. Koscielny is too prone to errors and Squillaci is just not up to the level required even as a sub. Djorou was heading for a B bordering on A for a while (there was a stat that I recall that we were unbeaten when he played but then it went pear shaped after the CC Final). I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt given his bad luck with injuries. Clichy was also error prone and his crossing is woeful. I will be very interested to see what changes Wenger makes to the defence. Shame he has to be distracted by the Fabregas/Nasri guff. great read though and keep it up!

  5. 17m for Cahill?

    Jeez, I hope our club record signing wont be a player who can’t even hold a starting spot for his country.

    I rate Cahill, but he’s 10-13m max. I hope Samba is also on his way.

  6. What in the world are the idiots on the board of Arsenal doing? Financial responsibility means not spending? By the time they decide to spend, they will probably only get Joey Barton.. Man U has signed three new players and they are the reigning champions!

    Wait for it – It gets worse:
    From Sky Sports and Denilsons agent.

    He told “I know nothing of AC Milan’s interest. I think at the moment these are only rumours.

    “The only certainty right now is that Denilson will be at training with Arsenal on July 7th.

    “Are Spanish and other Italian clubs chasing him? Currently there are no negotiations.

    “With Wenger we often talk about other issues, but we have never touched on the topic of a possible departure for Denilson.”

    Its looking more likely that this useless c**t will still be here next year!

    I said at the time its a contract negotiation bollocks statement from Denil-c**t.

    He will be at Arsenal next year on a new improved 5 year deal

    With the money Denilson, Rosicky, Almunia etc are on, they wont go elsewhere for a big drop in wages, so will sit out on there fat contracts, at our club.
    The only ones leaving are are best players. Says it all really.

    I can actually see a situation next season where our regular starting line up will be;

    Comedy Eboue

    You know, looking at that line up one word comes to mind; mediocre.

    I have not seen such a mediocre team since the days of Hillier, Selley, Jensen, McGoldrick etc

  7. Andy are you in a plan to rate our coach ?.

    It would be interesting to rate him based on our previous successful and unsuccessful seasons.

  8. @barry
    Calm down dude. Just wait and see what will happen as the transfer window just opened. Wait til it close then u can get mad if nothing happen. I think by the end of July we will see some players come in and some will go. I think Wenger doesn’t feel that the Asian Tour is the ideal place for him to test his players. Although I want to see some new faces come to Malaysia.

    Btw Andy, I’m quite agree with all your judgement especially on Sagna. He’s my best player of the season too.

  9. Koscielny overated, in my opinion hes a C-. Got murdered in most footraces he was in this season and has no presence. His disciplinery record and rashness in the penalty box speaks for itself, slow to react, and then rash, thats him to a tee.
    Clichy, bang on.
    Sagna, bang on.
    Gibbs, bang on.
    Djourou, overated, ‘calmness’ can also be deemed to be laxness, also he has no presence and got destroyed for the Swiss against England, but is one of the best defenders we have, that says alot.
    How anyone can give Sebastian Squillachi a C- for his performances in an Arsenal jersey I dont know. 8 MILLION he cost and I told you from the start what he was but I was told to judge at the end if the season and now hes been judged to be a C! Unreal….ok give him a C but Wenger must get an F for signing him then.
    Eboue………………………………………………………………………………………..yep, its ‘unfair’ that such an experienced utility player ran full steam through the back of an opponent in our box in the last min of a huge game that we needed to win, like Iv said before when you rattled out the lame duck excuse that the liverpool guy ran ‘across’ him; HE WAS HEADING AWAY FROM GOAL TO THE CORNER FLAG, JUST SHADOW HIM AND DONT DIVE IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! INEXPLICABLE.
    Man City in for Nasri and Clichy now. Im telling you all now if the money is not invested the way the Toure/ Ade money wasnt the board should fuck right off. Arsene Wenger and Gazidis said we would be busy……………another tall one to go with the rest Iv heard the last five seasons.

  10. At least there’s a punching bag next season if Deni stays. Looking forward to more casual jogs and “I’m a winner..” comments.

  11. It is a question of why Denilson has not pushed on from 2008/2009 season.

    The decline for some reason happened against Manchester City, when Denilson had to retire with a fractured back. With Denilson off and his replace ment on The Arsenal shipped three goals to lose 4 -2.

    Forward to January and against Everton Denilson was mugged by Phil Neville in The Arsenal penalty area, resulting in Denilson retiring with rib damage. Everton drew 2-2. This is when Mr Wenger said that Denilson should have laid his hand on the ball to ensure a freekick to Everton.

    Subsequently Cesc Farbegas had a pop at Denilson for giving away a penalty. With Gilberto Silva and Eduardo both leaving , it would seem that Denilson has come to the parting of the ways.

    This seems to happen to quite a number of The Arsenal reserves that can talk the talk but not walk the walk?

  12. Fuck all you all …get rid of all the mother fukers includung Arsen Wenger and all his French bastards ,,,,Buy some good talented players and win us some trophies …..for fuck sake ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,!!!FUCK YOU WENGER AND YOUR WHOLE FUCKING FAMILY !!!

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