Sunday, 4 July 2010

2009-10 player ratings: strikers

Today this blog has a proverbial cherry popped: although it was started back in April 2008, I had never posted in July. Until today.

But I felt I owed it to myself, more than to my loyal readership (of one) that I should finish the player ratings which I started over four weeks ago.

So, in the hope that somebody is still interested with the World Cup ongoing, here are my player ratings for the strikers. (As I never wrote any player ratings for the strikers last year, there's no previous ratings in brackets. But there are some brackets here so all's well that ends well).

Eduardo 6

It has become popular to say that Eduardo's top-level football career was ended at St Andrews in February 2008. While it would be disingenuous to say this is completely untrue, I for one don't agree with that assessment.

Nobody said that when he scored that brilliant goal against Burnley in the FA Cup. Nobody said that when he was showing great movement at the beginning of the season. And nobody said that when he powered home that header against West Ham also in the Cup.

But for me, the crucial point about Eduardo is that he was signed to be a 'fox in the box' and score tap-ins. Playing that sort of game is all about timing runs to perfection and getting matches to always be ready to take your chance. Which is why I find it so odd that Wenger is planning to sell Eduardo.

Now I'm the first to say he hasn't played particularly well this season. He definitely suffered from the backlash after the Celtic penalty incident.

But this is somewhat moot: we waited a year for him to get his fitness back and then he wasn't really played. Nobody really knows whether his top-level career was ended at St Andrews because they haven't seen him play enough. So by all means loan the Crozilian out. But don't sell him, Arsene. Please.

Carlos Vela 5

I appreciate it must be depressing for Vela. Even with Van Persie, Eduardo, and Bendtner out, Wenger chose to play Arshavin up front on his own in December rather than turning to the Mexican. He must think he'll never get near the team and this is self-perpetuating because the result (seemingly) is that he doesn't train hard enough and often looks overweight (and doesn't get near the team).

But I have little sympathy for him. For one, apparently he played 20 games last year. Now I remember his goal against Fulham because it was our most recent game. And I remember his cameo against West Ham because he was quite good. But isn't it an indictment on Vela that those are the only memories of his season?

He's only 21. He still has a chance to make it at Arsenal. But only if he bucks up his ideas and stops ridiculous fiascos like his lost passport. Must do better.

Nicklas Bendtner 7

The problem with Bendtner is that that he attracts derision. There were the trousers falling down outside a club. There was his crashed Aston Martin. The pointless changing of the squad number. And there was his talk of being the best player in the world.

But on the other hand, Bendtner is clearly a player who cares. When he came on as a sub at Stamford Bridge, he clearly wanted to change the game and make Arsenal win. This desire is something certain players in the squad (Diaby) lack big-time. He clearly wants to be a fans favourite and he definitely does try harder than he did a few years ago.

Also, a record of 12 goals from 21 starts this season is nothing to be sniffed at. It would be interesting to see how good that would be if he hadn't pulled a muscle against Spurs when in form. And he's still only 22. I have high hopes for Bendtner to be another Arsene Wenger success story. I just hope he doesn't slip too far down the pecking order with the arrival of Chamakh. Losing him would be a mistake.

Robin Van Persie 8

It feels like a long time ago that I wrote 'The Strange Case of RVP'. Probably that's because it was a long time ago, November 2008 to be precise.

But it also feels like such a long time because Van Persie has changed so much since then. He scores lots of goals and he also creates lots of goals - he is the consummate attacking player. His cameo against Spurs after 5 months out was nothing short of breathtaking.He genuinely is one of the top strikers in the world.

The only shame is that he can't stay fit. It's a weak argument to say Arsenal should not sign Joe Cole because of his injury record - Van Persie's is much, much worse. That said, it's fair to question what would have happened if Giorgio Chiellini hadn't broken Van Persie's ankle. It might just have been a glorious season for Arsenal.

Conclusion: Eduardo and Vela both have appeared not to be up to the Arsenal standard, but I hold out more hope for Eduardo than Vela although I think it's more likely Eduardo will be sold as he's older. More depth was clearly needed, as shown by Arshavin having to play as a lone striker for over a month. With the signing of Chamakh, Arsenal have three good strikers in RVP, Bendtner and the Moroccan. It's simply a case of getting them to play well together, because I don't foresee another striker coming in.

And with that, I have finished my player ratings. Suffice to say, that what I've established was pretty obvious before writing this - Arsenal need signings. Can you hear me Arsene?

Keep the faith,

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