Morning Grovers, we have a split post between Pedro and Geoff today… enjoy!
I’ve been thinking about Arsenal’s player of the year so far and there are a number of obvious candidates.
Samir Nasri would be most people’s based on his goals and assists this season. He’s stepped his game up a notch and he’s finally adapted to the rigours of the Premiership. Earlier on in the season he was virtually unplayable. His mixture of skill and pace was hard to track and the development of goal facing instincts helped push him into the public consciousness.
What has to be said is that his form has seriously dipped in the second half of the season, he’s gone into his shell a little and he really hasn’t taken charge in the absence of Cesc. I’ve been pretty disappointed about that. My main gripe with him over the past 2 seasons has been his mental strength and where it goes when the chips are down.
Still, 15 goals and 4 assists can’t be sniffed at… I’d like to see a return to form before he gets my vote.
Another player we’ve all been pretty excited about this season is the emergence of Jack Wilshere. Last year he was a reserve for the first 5 months of the season, then he moved over to Bolton where it took a while for him to break into Coyle’s starting 11… then he blossomed with some top performances.
This year, he killed the career of Joe Cole and his mooted move to Arsenal. On this site, we said it was fine not to sign the England star providing Jack was given a decent shot at the first team in his place. Well, Arsene didn’t disappoint and nor did Jack. Arsenal have developed a young player who has all the silky passing of a continental player yet all the aggression and fight of a traditional tough tackling English defender. Jack’s ability to defend hasn’t gone unnoticed either. Fabio Capello sees him as a Claude Makelele type player in the future and Wenger has also dabbled with him in the holding role. This was something Geoff called at the very start of the season, something I couldn’t see happening.
Jack has been one of the few players at Arsenal this year who has never hidden on the pitch, who has always given his all and has Arsenal blood coursing through his veins. He has 2 goals, 8 assists and 40+ appearances to his name, not bad for your first full season. I’m not sure Alex Hleb managed productivity stats like that in his whole Arsenal career.
I heard he’s got a bird up the duff. I’d say congratulations, but let’s be honest, no one plans for that type of news when they’re a 19 year old footballer at the start of their career. Jack, for future reference,
‘Don’t be a fool, wrap your tool’
My final suggestion for player of the season is a bit of a curve ball. It’s none other than Bacary Sagna, the greatest braided defender since Taribo West. He’s put in a solid 35 performances this year off the back of a very indifferent season last year. He’s returned to the form that saw him installed in the team of 2008 and he’s absolutely impressed me all year.
First and foremost, Sagna is a defender. That is a rarity for an Arsenal full back. He’s incredibly quick, he’s committed and he’s a fearsome opponent not many get the better of on the pitch. This year he’s clearly worked on his attacking senses, after scoring a total of zero goals over the past two season he’s popped up with a few memorable goals this year, particularly the one against Everton where he ripped one past Tim Howard. He’s also popped up with 3 assists which can be credited to his much improved crossing ability.
I’ve always said it’s harsh to label a full back inept if he can’t cross, they’re defenders first and foremost and that’s why I was always fine with Sagna. This year he’s worked hard, he’s remained fit and he’s now a regular with the French team. He’s a real asset and he’s another player who I can honestly say I’ve never questioned when it comes to attitude. That’s why I’m putting him in the mix for the player of the year.
Let me know your thoughts for player of the year in the comments and we’ll knock together a poll for the end of the season.
In Other news…
It’s ten years since Rocky Rocastle passed away. I was a touch too young to truly remember anything poignant enough to put in a post so I’ll pass this over to Geoff who is one of the few that watched him come through.
My first memory of David Rocastle was when I was at Highbury, where they sometimes trained with George Graham, I was producing an Ad for JVC featuring the Arsenal team and some video equipment. The previous year I was with Don Howe and I featured Charlie Nicholas and about 5 players, amongst them were Tony Woodcock, Steve Williams and Paul Mariner, well when I was with George, they were gone and the ad out was out of date.
So I said George, I don’t want to pick your team (I did) and I don’t want any secrets (of course I did) but can you give me a few players that will still be here next season so I don’t waste JVC’s money on yet another ad (I wasn’t bothered in the slightest) He said sure, that I understand, he called over Adams, Merson, O’Leary, Thomas and one Rocky Rocastle. I remember looking and thinking where is Charlie, my hero? It was then I knew he wasn’t the future and saw the new breed.
Rocastle always played like his life depended on it, I was at White hart lane when he scored in the League Cup semi final and remember his face exploding, I also remember the day Graham told him he was going to Leeds and the poor kid burst into tears, much the same as a lot of us did, David I was there at the start and sadly there at the end, no one likes to outlive their stars, if we had a few of him in this team we would rip the league and the other three trophy’s, sadly under Wenger that will never happen.
Bless you Rocky, you were the spirit of Arsenal and you are sorely missed!
I called Arsenal yesterday for spare tickets for a customer, I went through the Platinum member’s line and would you Adam and Eve it? Wenger was answering the phone with the worst auto system message I have ever heard in my life, now if that’s not the antipathy of control freakishness I have ever seen, I don’t know what is, here have a listen! 0845 262 0001
Follow us on twitter @LeGrove
Follow us on Facebook
Subscribe to our daily e-mail