Arsenal mid-term report card (Part 2)

In yesterday’s post I ran through Part 1 of the Arsenal mid-term report card, focusing on the performances of the Arsenal defenders and midfielders so far this season. Today the midfielders and forwards go under the microscope as I wrap up Part 2 of the report. Enjoy.


Flamini’s improvement this season has been phenomenalMathieu Flamini
In my opinion, the standout performer in the Arsenal team this season. Has put in the hard work to go from third or four-choice at the end of last season to becoming arguably the most important member of the midfield. Flamini’s energy and workrate has been phenomenal, his partnership with Fabregas vital, and he has not played poorly once thus far. Irreplaceable. (A+)

Cesc Fabregas
The little Spaniard’s form has dipped a little of late but his contribution in the first third of the season has been vital. When on song Fabregas has regularly been a match-winner, scoring goals at crucial times. His fitness, ball control and excellent passing has allowed him to dictate the play on many occasions. (A)

Alexander Hleb
Like Fabregas, has been a bit quiet lately, but Hleb’s sharp control and creativity has at times been unstoppable. Ended last season under pressure and performing poorly but has improved out of sight, becoming a dangerous weapon for Arsenal for the first time in his career. (A-)

Tomas Rosicky
Has looked great at times, average at others and gets injured a little too often. Does not have the ability to run the show like Fabregas or Flamini but when he is absent it often shows. There is certainly room for improvement though, Rosicky does not score enough important goals for a man with such an excellent shot. (B)

Abou Diaby
A bit up and down. When playing well he can dribble past anyone but his reluctance to use his left foot is frustrating. Wenger seems determined to continue using Diaby on the left and in all honesty he is doing well, establishing himself as an important first-team member. (B)

Eboue has done reasonably well as a wingerEmmanuel Eboue
Cops a lot of flak from a lot of supporters but on the whole this season Eboue has done OK. The histronics he displays are exceptionally frustrating for a lot of Arsenal fans but the Ivorian has been energetic and exciting as a right-winger. Unfortunately lacks polish when in the final third, resulting in an unacceptable tally of zero goals this season. (C+)

Gilberto Silva
Consistently seems off the pace, but this may be more down to a lack of first-team football than a lack of ability. If injury presents Gilberto with the chance to play some consistent football I wouldn’t bet against him doing well, but it seems his plodding sort of style has little place in an Arsenal midfield that relies heavily on energy and movement. (C-)

In my eyes, the biggest disappointment of the season so far. Although Denilson has time on his side he is one of the few players who seems to have taken a step backwards this campaign. His control and distribution has been below par but more importantly he does not appear to think quickly enough in possession. Will improve in time, but this season has not gone how I imagine Wenger thought it might have for the Brazilian. (C-)

Lassana Diarra
A decent player for Arsenal but his character was badly shown up during the move to Portsmouth. (D)

Looking forward…
The first-choice midfield is unquestioned; Flamini and Fabregas in the middle, flanked by Rosicky and Hleb. The rise of Flamini has been the highlight of the season in my eyes and his partnership with Fabregas has been the major factor in Arsenal’s title charge. The only worry is that there seems to be a little divide forming between the first-team and reserves, with Eboue and Diaby lacking consistency and Gilberto and Denilson looking a little off the pace.


Adebayor has found his scoring touchEmmanuel Adebayor
Like most of the Arsenal first team, has improved out of sight this season. Adebayor’s energy and enthusiasm has always been present but the Togolese striker has found his finishing boots to devastating effect. There are not many strikers going around who get so involved in a football match and full credit has to go to Adebayor for the impact he is having in Henry’s absence this season. (A)

Eduardo da Silva
Understandably took a little while to get going as an Arsenal player, but in recent times has looked sharp. Has consistently looked dangerous when as one of front pair and displayed his precise finishing on a regular basis. Has had to step up in van Persie’s absence and done so admirably. (B+)

Nicklas Bendtner
Was a valuable substitute early, his intimidating presence often paving the way for others to score late goals. Has great confidence in his ability and will continue to have an impact as the season rolls on. (B)

Robin van Persie
Great when he’s been fit, which unfortunately has been a rare occurrence. Indeed, his consistent injuries have been one of the most diappointing aspects of this season for Arsenal fans. When he plays van Persie adds a certain quality to the attack that no other striker does. Fortunately there are enough big games still remaining in the season for the Dutchman to make more of a mark. (B)

Theo Walcott
His development has gone a little slower than many people expected this season and often looks a little lost out on the pitch. However he has still made progress, scoring his first goal for the club and doing well on a number of occasions as an impact substitute. Still looks an exciting prospect, despite what the media say. (C+)

Looking forward…
Most fans would suggest that when van Persie returns from injury he should slot straight back into the team, but I’m not so sure. Eduardo has done superbly alongside the exceptional Adebayor and there is nothing that suggests the Croatian-Togo front pairing does not have the quality to lead Arsenal to silverware this season. In my opinion Bendtner is the best fourth-choice striker going around and Walcott needs to be cut some slack, he’s still only 19 after all.

Well, that’s the end of that. I’m sure a couple of those ratings will cause a little bit of controversy and as with yesterday’s post I’d love to hear what you think.

Have your say on the midfielders and forwards by leaving a comment.



  1. Good article once again, im impressed! The flamster and Ade definitly takes top marks in their respective category’s! However on the RvP situation, I think that once he’s back and fully fit, i would not be surprised to see wenger rotate between RvP and Dudu, and also Rosicky and Dudu. I think the main reason wenger brought him in is that he knows if he plays him up front he is deadly in the box, and as im sure you all know, he can also play on the wing, and i think he looks pretty good out there too! I think if all the players are fit the line-up might be something like this

    Gk – Almunia
    Rb – Sagna
    Cb – Toure
    Cb – Gallas
    Lb – Clichy
    Rm – Hleb/Rosicky
    Cm – Fabregas
    Cm – Flamster
    Lm – Dudu/Rosicky
    St – RvP/Dudu
    St – Ade

    I think with the addition of Dudu to the squad, it gives us a bit of flexibility in the midfield if there are any injuries. Come on the gunners

  2. You were quick on that Frudicus. Yes, I’d agree that Eduardo has the ability to play both up front and in the midfield and given Rosicky’s injury problems he could slot in on the left. However, Eduardo understandly struggles a bit defensively in comparison to Rosicky so there could be an argument that he might not fit in. We’ll just have to see what happens.

  3. Been looking out for this post all morning, after yesterdays one there was alot of good responses and opinions. On the Dudu matter, i think with him on the left i think he will offer more goals than Rosicky has been. Don’t get me wrong i love Rosicky, he is my favourite player, when he is on top form, he’s better than fabregas, but every time he seems to get some momentum going, he gets bloody injured! I agree though that with that shot of his, he should be netting at least 10 times a season. I also agree about Dudu’s defensive duties, but he is used to mainly playing up front, so he never really has to do much tracking back. However, i feel the more he plays on the left, the better he will get attacking and defensively. Thing with him is he gives us natural width, unlike Rosicky and Hleb. But Arsene knows so ill trust him on this one!

  4. Indeed, I am a big fan of Rosicky too. I definitely feel Eduardo’s best spot is up front and I’d like him to stay there but if van Persie returns and shows some form then I would prefer the middle four I recommended in the post to remain. Rotation might be the key in all areas, as you say.

  5. Get post mate! On Rosicky matter, I read somewhere a month or so ago that the Croation Coach or one of the medical team said Rosicky as a muscle imbalance and if not corrected with time off to build up other muscles he will keep getting theses injuries. I think its worth him taken this time off and working on this muscles so we can finally have him fully fit because he is such a good player!

    I also hope RVP gets a break from injuries, he just needs 1 full season under his belt and he will be flying! Come on the Gunners!

  6. But what about Senderos?!? – OK, I’ll shut up now.

    Agree with the marks above, though Bendtner has great stats for assists and goals for the time he has been on the pitch…

  7. Hahah Clive, nice one. I forgot to comment on it yesterday, but I have to say I’m astonished Senderos made that list. He’s a decent player but he’s not as good as the Italians think. Maybe in a five-man defensive team he would shine but playing for Arsenal he’s not been overly impressive yet, despite the stats 😉

    Just a word on Rosicky, it was the Czech doctor that said it about his muscles. His consistent injuries seem to back up what was said but it could be a number of other things too. I’m not sure I’d like Rosicky having the time off required (around 3-4 months) to fix it because he’s doing well when fit.

  8. Oh and Clive, it’s much better to have a bit of a debate with someone who is backing up a player than one who is writing a player off. Your support of Senderos is great, keep it up. When he becomes a dominant force you can look back on all this and smile.

  9. O i definitly agree on the starting midfield, no questions about that when everyone’s fit. Upfront i would start RvP with Ade as they had a good partnership before he got injured. Eduardo will always be fighting for a starting place, and like i said is a good option for rotation. Only problem with eduardo and RvP is that they go missing for some parts of the game, whereas Adebayor is always involved. One thing i would love for wenger to try is give fabregas a rest (whenever we can afford it) and play rosicky as the main playmaker in the middle, that is where he plays for the czech and always seems to do very well. Remember him against US at the world cup?

  10. Great few posts SF!! i agree with (most of) the ratings.. Cant wait for RvP and Rosicky to be fully fit, then we will really be giving the Campions of last year in Man U a run for their money!! Though Eduado has been doing really well, so when all three top strikers (Ade, Rvp + Eduado) are fit, Wenger will have a hard time deciding who will be up front.

  11. By the way, Theo scored his first last season. Sorry to be a pedant. Think Bendtner should get a + as he’s weighed in with a goal or an assist whenever he’s a got a decent amount of minutes in a game. I also think you’re too kind to Diaby. I know he’s a central midfielder played out of position but a lot of our attacking moves break down due to his lack of control or poor passing.

    Also agree with Frudicus that it would be nice to see Tommy get a shot in the centre. He’s much more effective shooting from central positions just outside the box than he is when cutting inside.

  12. Your ratings are good but I think you’re giving a lot of weight to the last 2 months, hence Flamini’s A+. Especially since Fabregas and Hleb both get just As.

    Can’t wait till RVP gets back!

  13. Ole Gunner – As good as Hleb and Fabregas have been, they’ve not been that great in the last couple of months. Not once in any of these games would i have said that either of them were the best player on the pitch. But with flamini he’s been excellent all season long, and is playing a vital role. If we had Gilberto playing instead of him all season, we would not be top of the league, no chance. Don’t get me wrong, Hleb Fabregas and even Rosicky have been very important for us, but the flamster has been on fire while they havent and very consistent all season long. Sorry, didnt mean to start preaching!

  14. the van persie situation is a worry, he’s 24 still only young but footballing terms approaching his best years, i hope he gets to fulfill his vast potential, make no mistake about it he has it all, he could reach superstar status if only he could stay fit we’ve seen with players like gascoigne (although acting a fool dont help)and most recently louis saha
    (who if he stayed fit is more potent than rooney)how injuries
    can diminish your career no matter how talented you are.

    i watched him in the games this season when he had been brought down by a tackle it took him ages to get himself up always very slowly (you see this in gilberto too) not a good
    sign to me looks very fragile.

    but like everybody else im looking forward to seeing him back,as i said earlier a fit van persie is a potential superstar.

  15. Having taught, I know that grading is tough work. Do you weigh improvement or just average up individual performances? On improvement Eduardo gets an A or A-, overall, less of course since he barely played during the first part of the season. One thing that your grades show and that has become evident is the gap that has opened between our first and second squads. Lots of As and Cs in there.

    I do have comments on two players. First, the C grade Eboue is way off. He is a jerk, no doubt, but he is miles better than Theo on the wing, both offensively and defensively. Although he hasn’t scored goals does it matter if the team is winning? He is excellent at unlocking defenses and when he is playing out best attacks often come down the right side. I am going to guess that he might just start scoring soon. Remember, he has only been a winger for four months. Finally, he should get bonus points for breaking J Terry´s foot :-).

    As for Denilson, I agree that he has regressed somewhat since last season. Either that or our expectations have risen very quickly. However, I suspect it is because he is being asked to do more. If you have ever learned a language you will be familiar with the experience of actually regressing during the learning process as your brain reorganizes all of the information it is receiving. Likewise, if Wenger is giving Denilson new things to think about his intuitive way of playing the game might suffer for a time.

  16. good grading SF though i’d give Ebuoe a B coz eventhough he ain’t smelling like a mid fielder yet, he adds an important defensive element to th midfield having been a defender for quite sometime.
    can’t wait for RVP to come back to th squad n if wenger is reading this…i know an african witchdoctor who can cast a spell on anyone who injures RVP again!:d

  17. knightman why dont you get your man to stop Van P from getting injured haha

    SpanishFry absolutely great post it jus helps at times like these when there no games to even concentrate on.I absolutly agree that Denii has been the most dissapointin this season starting to feel that maybe he was way ahead of his average las season.

    all the improvements im this team are jus pointing us to getting sumn this season

    We Gunner Gunn Em…

  18. I agree with vlcgooner on points he made. Many players who have barely played at some point will be harshly judged since it may not be their faults if not given a chance, or played out of position. I will specifically name Rosicky, Diaby, Eduardo and Bendtner as the main victims this season. As we know Hleb even when played at RM plays best when he moves into the middle. Being right-footed, he has had more time playing on the right and Center of midfield than Rosicky, another right-footed CM, had.

    Stats time: Rosicky Vs Hleb


    Rosicky: 3r Top Scorer[6 Goals 2 Assists]; Appearances; 18 [15 starts, 3 Subs];

    Hleb: 8th Top Scorer[2 Goals 5 Assists]; Appearances; 21 [20 starts, 1 Sub];


    Rosicky: 4th Top Scorer[7 Goals 2 Assists]; Appearances; 24 [19 starts, 5 Subs]; 1611 Minutes on pitch

    Hleb: 6th Top Scorer[5 Goals 7 Assists]; Appearances; 27 [225 starts, 2 Subs]; 2072 Minutes

    As for Eboue; A defender just turning into a Midfielder and doing well, I will give him an A-(I don’t include theatrics).

    Diaby: He deserves more kudos for playing out of position and I think his dribling/ball retention when in tight spots is the best in the team(he seems to have the ball screwed on to his boots somehow)

    Eduardo: Simply not playing his preferred position/role as the main striker and almost never finishes the game upfront without being shoved to the left.(he is learning a new position)

    Bendtner: Not enough chances.

    Theo: The time he exuded confidence nothing worked for him. He has taken a hit a little bit and we need not to scrutinize him too much. He has definitely developed, just can’t express on the pitch well enough. Now the weight of expectation is diminishing. Give him the rest of the season to “Marinade”

    Denilson: As I said in December after the Blackburn game, I like his progress. He is in the process of integrating “steel” into his game. The end product appears “regressed” but I believe it not to be the case. More physical exertions leaves you drained a bit and it interferes with your silkiness. Fabregass and Flamini got the integration done during pre-season. They came into the season ready for physical exertions. Denilson’s timing is a bit off. I believe he has been asked to do it NOW in mid season and the effects is what we see.

    Sorry again for a long one.

  19. No problem, TayGoon. Long comments = lots of things to discuss = fun! I’ve a couple of general comments to make:

    (1) Flamini has been outstanding all season. Every game he has played he has played well and in my opinion is the only player worthy of an A+, both in his performances and his improvement.

    (2) Walcott v Eboue – they have the same mark, perhaps one is a little harsh on Eboue and one is a little generous on Walcott. But Eboue’s histronics and lack of a goal peg him down a mark (it is part of his performance) and Walcott’s limited opportunities and youth push him up a mark. Both will hope for better for the rest of the season.

    (3) I think a lot of people seem to think any sort of ‘B’ is a poor mark. It’s not, it’s a great mark! Guys like Bendtner, Rosicky and Diaby have done really well in my eyes and I don’t want their grades to come off like they haven’t. They just have more room for improvement than others.

    (4) Noone has said anything about Diarra which is surprising considering how much of annoying little idiot he is.

    Any further comments?

  20. Hey SF – I agree with nearly all your reviews of the midfield/attacking players, except for rating Rosicky and Diaby a B. I would say that Rosicky edges out Diaby by at least half a grade, given that he has contributed more to goals, and more assists, than Diaby. I would give him a B+, and Diaby a B, maybe B-.

    Otherwise, great article as usual.

  21. SF: About Diara, this is what I would say. “Normal intelligence is my God given right, my stupidity is my own creation”

    He is forgotten.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *