Sunday, 6 June 2010

2009-10 player ratings: defence

The aim is to manage to actually get through the whole squad - as different from last year - so I apologise for perhaps being overly brief.

For an explanation of how the rating system works, look at this post.

For clarity's sake, last year's rating is in brackets and by way of comparison, I've linked to last year's ratings here.

Gael Clichy 6 (6)

Last year I gave him a 6 and said he needed to play better. Frankly, I think we've seen more from the Frenchman. Sure, one can mitigate and say he had a serious back injury but he hardly inspired before that injury. There has been nothing wrong with Clichy's performances. But he no longer contributes a lot going forward and frankly, he no longer inspires confidence.

The big by-product of his injury seems to be that he has lost some of his pace. And that doesn't go with being a top full-back in the modern game. I'd like Clichy to do well: back in November 2008 I seriously thought he could replace Gallas as captain. Now, I'm ambivalent towards him. He's obviously one of the good guys in football but Gibbs seems the better player. Maybe with a full pre-season behind him, Clichy will appear quicker and back to his best, but to me he has seemed in a rut for the last two years. Needs to contribute a lot more, and certainly could do better.

Kieran Gibbs 7 (7.5)

Patrick Barclay has a long history of football journalism and has described this kid as the best young player in England. I'd struggle to disagree and it was a shame he picked up his untimely injury because my perception is that Clichy would have struggled to reclaim his place in the team.

Gibbs gives more going forwards and although he may not naturally be as good a defender, his phenomenal pace means he can make great recovery tackles. I have truly high hopes for Kieran Gibbs, and but for being pole-axed by an angry Belgian, they might well have translated into reality this season. Instead, he just appears to be a player on the cusp of achieving something. But I will confidently predict he will in 2010-11.

Mikael Silvestre 5 (5.5)

To be fair to him, he actually played really well against Hull and at the tail-end of December. But the abiding memory is of him being outpaced in the Nou Camp. Reportedly he is leaving the club, and although he brings experience, he won't be missed.

Thomas Vermaelen 8 (N/A)

Vermaelen epitomises what so frustrates Arsenal fans: that when Arsene Wenger spends money, the players he brings in are absolutely brilliant. Sagna, Eduardo, Rosicky, Arshavin, Vermaelen - all the recent signings have been really good players, we just need to see a few more of them.

The Belgian has been almost ever-present at the heart of defence and the sighs around the country when the news he had not broken his leg came through said it all.

He's an excellent defender who clearly communicates well and also chips in with a fair few goals. Moreover, the partnership he formed with Billy Gallas has been very solid. My only complaint, is that we don't have more players who can display his level of application and consistency.

William Gallas 7.5 (7)

Since having the captain's armband taken away from him, Gallas seems to have gone from strength to strength. As well as scoring goals whilst trying to re-create the lyrics of 'head, shoulders, knees and toes', he genuinely defended well with the partnership with Vermaelen being outstanding.

The reality though, is that if he is going to be injured for three months each season, how reliable is he? I think it's probably a moot point. Much though it displeases me, I'd be surprised to see Gallas in an Arsenal shirt again.

Sol Campbell 7.5 (N/A)

To be honest, when Campbell was signed I thought it was an absolutely bonkers signing: bringing in a 30-something has-been was not the January signing needed to push us forward to trophies.

And half of that was true. Sol Campbell could never have been the January signing to push us on to winning trophies. What was needed, was a player who could inspire the rest of the squad. Sol clearly cares. He clearly understands how much playing for the Arsenal means and he clearly has a great will to win and actually performed excellently.

For all these, I say bravo and say I was wrong. Sol should be kept on as he has played magnificently. But equally, Sol was not the right January signing and everything he did has to be viewed in this light.

Bacary Sagna 6.5 (6.5)

He's been a little better than Clichy but the fact he is always the first man hauled off if Wenger wants to have an extra attacker instead of a defender shows the manager's opinion of him.

Sagna is a good, solid right-back because he is solid defensively. But he does nothing inspirationally and is only very 'solid'. A title-winning team can have players like Sagna but only in moderation. I would question how many more years he will be in his position - three seasons in and he seems to be going backwards not forwards. Disappointing.

Conclusion:

It's probably fair to say Johann Djourou was missed: he's the third-best centre back at the club and one of Wenger's biggest errors this season was the misdiagnosis of Djourou's injury.

With Gallas and Silvestre almost certainly leaving, Wenger needs to find more reinforcements in defence, with players of the ilk of Thomas Vermaelen desired but understandably hard to come by.

Gael Clichy should fear for his place in the team but that aside, there simply isn't the depth to put any player under pressure. And that, is the single biggest issue which needs to be addressed.

2 comments:

Davi said...

Pretty fair ratings. Did you forget traore?
Imo he should get a 6-6.5 although I doubt many will agree. He looks like a solid LB in the making and most of his performances were excellent. He came into the side at a bad time, and perhaps consequently there were occasions where he looked the best player in our team. His time at pompey seems to have toughened him up mentally. On the other hand he certainly had a couple of games where he looked out of his depth, Everton being one. Someone suggested before that game that he struggles against good dribblers and donovan did give him a tough time that game. Nonetheless I thought he did pretty well, much improved.
On Gibbs, I dont know that the rating should be so high for someone who only managed 3 league games, but I agree with the comments on him. He is a fantastic player in the making. He not only has great pace and a more than decent level of skill, he also has a winning mentality. He was probably a big miss in the end this season.
I actually think he could do a good job for us in the middle of midfield. He's a real fighter and his pace could help him to win a lot of challenges, as flamini's used to I think. He's also good in the air and his passing range is excellent. He'd definitely be an improvement on the form denilson has shown this season, and possibly diaby as well. Worth a thought imo.

Adam said...

I didn't feel Traore had played enough to judge him fairly - at least I couldn't remember enough.

But in general my issue with Traore is that he isn't good enough defensively to play LB and isn't good enough going forward to play LW. He would be a good wing-back but they seem an outdated concept...

With regard to Gibbs, I just think he's a little slight to play in central midfield. And I think it would be a shame to not really make use of his pace by having him stuck in the middle...