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Updates on Ramsey’s Injury and Thoughts on his Replacements

Ramsey will miss the rest of the festive period

Aaron Ramsey has been one of the standout performers for Arsenal this season and his goalscoring exploits have endeared him to the fans. When he’s not scoring, he’s on the pitch giving a 110 percent for his side with his energy, work rate, tackles and of course, his neat passing range.

With his indispensable status in the team, Ramsey has featured heavily for the Gunners this season and these run of games have taken their toll on the Welshman as he pulled up short in the game against West Ham and he signified the bench that his time on the pitch was up. Arsene Wenger brought on Lukas Podolski in his stead and the rest they say was history.

West Ham United v Arsenal - Premier League

In his post-match conference, Wenger was asked about the extent of Ramsey’s injury,

“It looks [serious]. It looks like a thigh strain. I don’t know how serious the thigh strain is but the Christmas period certainly is over for him. It was his birthday today.”

This means that Ramsey is likely to miss the crucial Premier League clashes against Newcastle and Cardiff. He may also miss the FA Cup third round North London Derby clash which would make him gutted because the game against Tottenham has an extra incentive, feeling and atmosphere about it.

According to the PhysioRoom.com, a player with grade one thigh strains should be rested from any sporting activity for about three weeks, and grade two thigh strains for about four to six weeks. In the case of a complete rupture, the thigh muscle will have to be repaired surgically and the rehabilitation afterwards will take about three months.

Ramsey is a player that could actually do with some rest, so that he can recharge his batteries and come back stronger and refreshed.

Santi Cazorla is a player that has been eased into action following an ankle injury but the manager chose to rest him in the crucial games against Manchester City and Chelsea. When he took to the pitch against West Ham, he became a beast of a player when he went to the No. 10 role alongside Mesut Ozil and was directly involved in Walcott’s first goal.

Ramsey’s stats this season (via WhoScored) have been jaw-dropping to say the least,

STATS (EPL Only)

Aaron Ramsey

Appearances (Subs)

17 (1)

Goals Scored

8

Assists

6

Overall shots (Shots per Game)

40 (2.2)

Bookings (Yellow / Red)

2 / 0

Total Tackles (Tackles per Game)

66 (3.7)

Total Interceptions (Interceptions per Game)

19 (1.1)

Total Fouls Committed (Fouls per Game)

27 (1.5)

Dribbles (Attempted/Per Game)

27 (1.5)

Total Passes (Accurate Passes)

1262 (1064)

Pass Completion %

84.3

Total Long Balls (Accurate)

89 (62)

Total Through Balls (Accurate)

23 (7)

To lose a player with such amazing stats to injury is heartbreaking but Arsenal is a team with sufficient depth to cover for his absence. With the game against Newcastle coming up next, Wenger can opt for a more defensive approach with Mikel Arteta playing alongside Mathieu Flamini.

When Flamini plays in tandem with Arteta in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield, there’s this solidity they bring to the team and they offer a lot of protection to the rearguard. They are both seasoned veterans and their experience and discipline are always on show when they take to the pitch.

This season, Flamini has proved to the fans that some of the best things in life are free. His arrival mitigated a short-term challenge at the club, as Arsenal was desperately in need of cover in central midfield following the injury suffered by Mikel Arteta. In his second debut as a first half substitute for Jack Wilshere in the North London Derby, Flamini made his presence felt and he has been very vocal, directing his teammates and he has been willing to put his body on the line for his team.

He has offered some steel in midfield and his presence and influence have been hugely felt in the games he has played so far.

According to WhoScored, listed below are Mathieu Flamini’s stats this season,

 

Premier League

Champions League

Appearances (subs)

9 (4)

4

Tackles made (per game)

19 (1.5)

9 (2.3)

Interceptions made (per game)

16 (1.2)

12 (3)

Fouls committed (per game)

12 (0.9)

5 (1.3)

Clearances (per game)

20 (1.5)

6 (1.5)

Blocked shots (per game)

4 (0.1)

3 (0.1)

Total Passes (accurate passes)

507 (435)

294 (264)

Pass Completion percentage

91.7%

89.8%

Bookings (Yellow/Red)

(5/0)

-

Flamini stats this season have shown how he has been an asset to the team in the games he has played thus far. When he’s not with the ball, he keeps barking instructions to his teammates, putting them on track. His passing range is very impressive too, and from the tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocked shots, you’d know he’s the real deal as an anchor man.

Wenger can also opt to bring on Jack Wilshere to play his favored box-to-box position where he made his breakthrough in the 2010/11 campaign.

All-action: Wilshere produced a man-of-the-match performance against Barcelona in Arsenal's 2-1 victory

This season, the acquisition of Mesut Ozil and the emergence of Aaron Ramsey has seen Wilshere drafted to the wings and he hasn’t been too effective, even though he has scored four goals in 17 appearances – his highest goalscoring tally in Arsenal colors.

Bringing Wilshere to the middle of the park alongside Arteta would see the maestro make those trademark lung-bursting runs and he’s be seeking to create something out of nothing for his team, which will be beneficial to the team’s cause as each game progresses.

Wilshere has dominated the back pages for his off the pitch shenanigans but it’s high time he earns plaudits for his performances on it.

Sayonara.

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Troubled Times for Wilshere as he Faces FA Charge

Controversial: Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere appeared to make an offensive gesture at The Etihad

Wilshere gives Man City fans “the finger”

This season hasn’t exactly gone according to plan for Arsenal’s poster boy, Jack Wilshere. 

Since breaking out of the scene in the 2010/11 season where he deservedly won the Young Player of the Year award, great things have been expected of him and his performances were monitored closely by the club, the English national team and of course, his ever-adoring fans.

He was fondly remembered for his 5-star performance against Barcelona at the Emirates that season where he completed 93.5% of his passes overall and 91% of his passes in the final third of the pitch. However, Wilshere couldn’t build on his brilliant season as a stress fracture in his ankle sidelined him for the best part of 14 months.

When he made his long-awaited return against Queens Park Rangers (home), every touch was appreciated by the Emirates crowd as they saw their No. 10 strut his stuff for the first time. Things turned sour for the Englishman when he received his marching orders against Manchester United (away) but he learned from those events and scored a goal against Montpellier after some good work from Olivier Giroud.

However, he still suffered more injuries that made him miss the key fixture against Bayern in the Allianz Arena and he subsequently lost his place in the team to Tomas Rosicky. Towards the tail end of the campaign, he was nominated for the 2013 Young Player of the Year award alongside Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku, Danny Welbeck, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale.

This season, the acquisition of Mesut Ozil and the emergence of Aaron Ramsey coupled with injuries to some playing personnel has seen Jack Wilshere play out of position for a considerable chunk of the campaign on both flanks. This has considerably affected his performances and we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly from Wilshere this season.

He played very poorly throughout September but managed to break his scoring duck when he found the net against West Brom and Norwich. During that period, he was also pictured smoking a cigarette, which caused a stir in North London, as his manager expressed his disappointment in Wilshere’s act.

Then there was his bizarre foray into the Adnan Januzaj naturalization debate in which he said “the only people who should play for England are English people” and that if you lived in England for five years it didn’t “make you English“. This didn’t go down well with a lot of people and all of a sudden, Wilshere began to enter some bad books.

His performances on the pitch failed to improve as he kept on losing possession and couldn’t connect well with his passes but he put on a great show when Olympique Marseille came to the Emirates scoring two goals that put the French side to the sword.

Jack Wilshere

He then slammed the bar when he played Cardiff but his performances against Hull and Everton weren’t too inspiring. Last week Saturday, Arsenal came up against a Manchester City side in bullish mode following their amazing return in Munich and as the final result showed, the Sky Blues outclassed the Premier League leaders with some excellent attacking football that saw them net a whooping six goals.

Wilshere had 67 touches in that game, managed a meager two shots, attempted only three tackles and made just one dribble in the entirety of the game. His pass completion percentage was 83 percent, and his sloppiness was on show again. As if his atrocious performance against Manchester City wasn’t enough, Wilshere was caught on camera making an obscene one-fingered gesture at the home supporters.

Arsene Wenger was notified about the incident in his post-match press conference but he stated that he didn’t see it and accepted that Wilshere will have to be banned if he did it. According to the official website, the FA has released a statement charging Wilshere for making an “offensive and abusive gesture”.

It was also stated that the incident is equivalent to a sending off offence, which would mean that Wilshere might miss the games against Chelsea, West Ham and Newcastle. This same scenario has happened to another player in the past, as the notorious Luis Suarez earned himself a one-match ban for his gesture against Fulham supporters.

Past: Luis Suarez of Liverpool aims a middle finger at Fulham fans, which he received a one-match ban for

If Wilshere is slammed with a three-match ban, it would be a real shame but Arsenal will have to face the music and play someone else in his stead. With Theo Walcott back in contention, the right wing will be his for the taking while a poor Santi Cazorla will probably man the left flank with Mesut Ozil playing in the hole behind the striker.

I really hope Wilshere learns from this because he’s no longer a kid. If my memory serves me right, he even has two children so he shouldn’t be making “gestures” that would put him in hot water.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on the Tug-of-War Between Arsenal and England over Wilshere

Jack Wilshere is undoubtedly one of the most talented footballers to grace the English soil and his success and progress has been monitored keenly by Arsenal and English fans alike.

After a successful spell at Bolton he was introduced into the first team setup in the 2010/11 campaign which turned out to be his breakthrough season as be rightly won the PFA Young Footballer of the Year at the end of that campaign. Since then, Wilshere has suffered a lot of injuries with the most notable being the stress fracture he suffered on his ankle that sidelined him for 14 months.

Wilshere is a player with reserves of energy and he loves to make lung-bursting runs and sometimes, rather unfortunately, he attracts tackles from the opposition which makes him to spend some time with the physios.

Despite the fact that he has Arsenal DNA all over him, Wilshere is a son of the soil and the English National team always do their bit to ensure that he’s available when they need him. Wilshere has notched up just 12 caps for the Three Lions but his performance against Brazil earned him more plaudits than the amount of gel in Cristiano Ronaldo’s hair.

Wilshere even harbored hopes of going to the 2012 Olympics to represent Team Great Britain even if he wasn’t fit and although his manager praised his attitude, he didn’t sanction the move.

The season, Wilshere hasn’t really blossomed as you’d expect and much of this is due to the acquisition of Mesut Ozil and the inspirational form of Aaron Ramsey.  With Ozil arguably one of the best No. 10s in the business and Ramsey flourishing in the heart of the midfield alongside Mikel Arteta, Wilshere has been used more on the flanks, a position where he hasn’t had much joy. Even Ramsey gets displaced when the manager wants to use Arteta and Mathieu Flamini and that’s where versatility comes in handy.

Wilshere enjoyed a good preseason under his belt and with Arteta suffering a thigh injury at the start of the campaign, he played alongside Ramsey in the holding roles but both players have been moved to various advanced positions to accommodate the more natural holding midfielders.

Wilshere also earned a place in the back pages when he was caught puffing a cigarette in public, as well as his quotes about English players playing for the nation, which sparked mixed opinions.

Prior to his off the pitch shenanigans, Wilshere had scored two goals in 69 appearances but in the space of a fortnight after his smoking chronicles, he bagged two goals against West Brom and Norwich. Smokin’ performance? Maybe.

A niggling ankle injury prevented Wilshere from playing in the victories over Liverpool and Dortmund but he made his comeback in the disappointing loss to Manchester United in Old Trafford. On the night, his directness was well appreciated as the fans had seen poor showings from Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.

Wilshere is currently on a specially devised training regime for his inflamed ankle and the Gunners are hopeful that he’d recover fully on time because Arsene Wenger needs all the men he can get for the grueling set of fixtures coming up.

With England already qualifying for the World Cup, there are many midfielders they could use in the games against Chile and Germany. When they took on Montenegro and Poland in their run-in for a World Cup berth, Wilshere started both games from the dugout and had a total of 18 minutes over the course of both matches.

Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick were all preferred ahead of Wilshere during these games but with Carrick suffering an injury, Wily Ol’ Woy Hodgson would want to use Wilshere from the onset.

Arsenal has instructed England to feature their star player in just one of the friendlies. He’s far to important to their title ambitions and they clearly feel that he shouldn’t be used in frivolous friendly matches.

If my memory serves me right, Robin van Persie was in a hot streak in the 2009/10 season scoring seven goals in eight games and he had already helped Holland qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. A meaning friendly against Italy, a team that also qualified, took place around this period in November and both sides shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. However, a poorly timed tackle by Giorgio Chiellini caused RVP to rupture his ankle ligaments which kept him out for five months.

I only rate international fixtures highly when they are played in a tournament or qualifiers but there are some friendly matches that are just a thorn in the flesh, especially when a player that’s not fully fit like Wilshere is summoned to play.

There are so many players in the Premier League that could have been called up instead of a half fit Wilshere but Hodgson in his infinite wisdom has decided to make Arsenal fans watch one of the England games with their hearts in their mouths.

I’d prefer to see Wilshere play against Chile but I have this gut feeling that he’d be used in the high octane game against Germany.

Let’s just hope that he returns in one piece.

Sayonara.

Rating Arsenal’s Midfielders in the 2012/13 Season

The Matadors of Arsenal’s midfield

In the yesteryear, Arsene Wenger lined up a formidable 4-4-2 formation that had the right balance in defense, midfield and attack.

Using the Invincibles of the 2003/04 season as a classic example, the defense had rock-solid personnel that instilled fear in opposition forwards, the midfield had a mix of doggedness, aggression, panache, flair and creativity and the attackers smashed in goals with ruthless and clinical efficiency.

As the years went by, Wenger changed his approach, fixing his focus on his team’s technical side, which involved passing the ball around intricately before unlocking defenses with that killer through ball for a teammate. With this approach, the manager sacrificed a striker to accommodate an extra midfielder, thus the 4-2-3-1 formation came into fruition.

Wenger used this formation to bring out the best in his prized asset, Cesc Fabregas, and his 19 goals as well as numerous assists in the 2009/10 season epitomized the fact that Arsenal had resolved its football around its Spanish creative hub in midfield. After his flirtations with Barcelona, El Capitan departed North London but the formation remained intact.

Soldiers come and go but the barracks still remain intact, I presume.

Deploying Aaron Ramsey as the creative outlet in the 2011/12 season with Mikel Arteta and Alex Song providing the fulcrum was regarded as a failed experiment as the Welshman became a lightning rod for vitriol from the Arsenal faithful. Tomas Rosicky’s renaissance was a bright spark in a relatively dark campaign and a third place finish was meant to pave the way for good things to come.

This season, the Gunners acquired the services of Santi Cazorla and to everyone’s surprise, Arsenal made their second major sale, when Alex Song joined Barcelona, rather their bench, for £15 million. Song’s shock departure caused a stir but with Arsenal not bringing in any replacements, Arteta took one for the team, curbing his attacking instincts to become the team’s primary holding midfielder.

As the season progressed, Cazorla became the team’s creative lynchpin while Abou Diaby and Arteta provided the pivot supporting defence and attack. Diaby had his trademark injury layoffs but players like Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Francis Coquelin put in decent shifts while Jack Wilshere made his comeback from a lengthy injury.

This is the third installment of a four-post series focused on Arsenal’s performances in the 2012/13 season. I’ve already published my ratings on the performances of the goalkeepers  and defenders but today’s post is focused on Arsenal’s fulcrum in the middle of the park.

Feel free to share your comments.

Abou Diaby – 15 Apps, No Goal, One Assist

Abou Diaby’s career went downhill after that horrific tackle in 2006 when Arsenal visited the Stadium of Light. After seeing different specialists all over the globe, Diaby finally managed to get some preseason games under his belt  and it was widely believed that he was going to realize his potential with a consistent run out this season.

He began the campaign in the curtain raiser against Sunderland (home) and his physicality was highly welcome when the Gunners visited that Rugby playing lot. After his Man of the Match performance against Liverpool (away), everyone ran out of superlatives for the midfielder and comparisons between him and Patrick Vieira came in faster than Usain Bolt’s 100m Olympic World Record.

He was largely disappointing in Arsenal’s away draw against Manchester City (away) but when we thought that Diaby was going to get an extended run of games, he suffered an injury and was sidelined for a considerable chunk of the season. The lanky Frenchman finally made his return in the home fixture against Manchester City and his rustiness was glaring as he struggled in the game. His poor form continued in the Chelsea loss (away) and he was dropped from therein.

His hot and cold season continued when he followed up an outstanding performance against Stoke (home) with a rather disappointing outing in the nervy win over Sunderland. (away). His season came to an abrupt end when the club announced that he had ruptured his cruciate ligament on his knee and he’s to be out for nine months.

As they say, a picture speaks more than a thousand words

What’s the point of having a Lionel Messi in your team if he cannot play. In my honest opinion, I feel very sorry for Diaby but its high time the club cuts its losses with the Frenchman, as he cannot be banked upon to stay fit when his services are needed.

Rating – 4/10

Francis Coquelin – 22 Apps, No Goal, One Assist

After his stellar performances as a utility player last season, many had hoped that this would be the year of the Coq and with Song out of the equation, everything seemed to be in place for the young Frenchman to finally make his breakthrough. The midfielder featured sparingly in the Premier League but got run-outs in the domestic Cup competitions as well as some game time in the Champions League.

As for his performances, the midfielder didn’t light up any fireworks and his sporadic amount of games didn’t help his cause either. Coquelin managed to play 90 minutes in only five games this season with his remaining appearances being bit-part roles as the season progressed.

Till this day, I’m still struggling to understand his introduction for Olivier Giroud when Arsenal needed a goal against Aston Villa (away).

With Schalke reportedly linked with the midfielder, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t jump ship this season.

Rating – 4/10

Aaron Ramsey – 47 Apps, Two Goals, Five Assists

If words could kill, Aaron Ramsey would have been in the other realm.

He battling hard to come back to playing football after he was Shawcrossed but replacing the departed Cesc Fabregas in the attacking midfield role was a big burden for his shoulders as he struggled with form and fitness. With Santi Cazorla given the mantle of creativity, Ramsey had to make do with a place on the dugout as he appeared as a substitute in his first five games this season.

Like last season, there were games when Wenger tried to make Ramsey a jack-of-all-trades but he still a master of none. However, he put up a very decent shift when he was deployed as a right winger in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City (away). Abou Diaby’s unfortunate and untimely injury in the game against Chelsea (home) afforded Ramsey a chance to get more games under his belt.

He marked his return with a delicious chip against Olympiakos but thankfully, no famous figurehead gave up the ghost.

Jack Wilshere’s long-awaited return to the team saw Ramsey spend some time on the bench but the lad always put up good shifts when he was summoned. He supplied an inch-perfect assist to Theo Walcott in the 1-1 draw against Everton (away) and a neat assist to Gervinho in the win over Swansea (away).

Unlike last season where Ramsey tried to over-complicate things by being too stylish on the ball, he kept things simple this season and this improved his game. According to WhoScored, Ramsey had a pass completion percentage of 88.3 percent in the Premier League and he also created 44 chances for his teammates. His carefully-weighted pass against Everton (home) certainly caught the eye but Olivier Giroud’s wayward finish couldn’t match the excellent buildup.

Since his return to the squad in the holding midfield position, Ramsey became a refined player and worked in tandem with Arteta, balancing defense and attack. His performances were so good to the extent that he was voted as Arsenal’s Player of the Month for the month of April, which is a welcome return from the same fans that rained curses on him in the past.

Ramsey ended the season in full bloom, I certainly hope he builds on this.

Rating – 7/10

Tomas Rosicky – 16 Apps, Three Goals, Two Assists

Tomas Rosicky was one of the best things that happened to Arsenal in the tail end of last season.

After suffering a niggling injury that halted his progress for his nation in Euro 2012, the Czech midfielder went under the knife and didn’t make any appearance for the Gunners till the winter, and to be honest, he wasn’t missed. The fans had been wowed by the excellent Santi Cazorla, and with his age becoming a factor, a few felt it was high time for Little Mozart to call it quits.

In Rosicky’s first full game this season, he put up a Man of the Match performance in that dead-rubber game against Olympiakos (away) that ended in defeat. He featured sparsely after that game but he came to life in spring when the Gunners visited Munich to rock the football world with that spirited victory over Bayern.

With Jack Wilshere out injured and Santi Cazorla drifted to the left, Rosicky had more games under his belt and was instrumental in Arsenal’s win over West Brom as he scored a well-taken brace. He also supplied an assist to Theo Walcott in the league match against Manchester United.

With Wilshere failing to regain his form after his return from injury, Rosicky continued his extended run of games till the end of the season. At the age of 32, Rosicky is living on borrowed time but Arsenal fans can be thankful for Little Mozart as he delivered when he was summoned in the business end of the season.

Rating – 7/10

Jack Wilshere – 33 Apps, Two Goals, Six Assists

14 months out of the beautiful game.

For a player like Jack Wilshere that’s known for his passion and zeal for the game, it must have felt like an eternity. With Robin van Persie leaving for Manchester United, the No. 10 shirt was vacated and it seemed as if Lukas Podolski was odds to take the jersey but it was specially reserved for Wilshere and he expressed his delight in being bestowed with the honor.

When he made his long-awaited return against Queens Park Rangers (home), every touch was appreciated by the Emirates crowd as they saw their No. 10 strut his stuff for the first time. Things turned sour for the Englishman when he received his marching orders against Manchester United (away) but he learned from those events and scored a goal against Montpellier after some good work from Olivier Giroud.

He continued to put up stellar performances and the assists were flowing in as well, with some defense-splitting passes against Newcastle (home), West Ham (home) and Liverpool (home). The English Press sang his songs in the wake of a high-profile friendly against Brazil in Wembley, and he didn’t disappoint with another magnificent outing for the Three Lions.

Amid all the justified hype around the midfield maestro, things turned very sour when he suffered a thigh strain against Sunderland. Arsenal had harbored hopes of the midfielder playing the home clash against Bayern, so the club doctors had to work their magic on Wilshere.

Wilshere was on the end of some rash challenges against Sunderland

Wilshere played the game against Bayern and even supplied an assist on the night but he and his teammates were powerless as teh Bavarians outclassed Arsenal at the Emirates. Wilshere missed the second leg through an injury and he never rediscovered his form afterwards, with uncharacteristically appalling outings against Norwich and Everton.

He was replaced by Rosicky and made a couple of substitute appearances towards the end of the season. It’s believed that he requires a surgery this summer to fix up an injury but it’s good to know that Wilshere’s performances weren’t unnoticed as he was nominated for the 2013 Young Player of the Year award alongside Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku, Danny Welbeck, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale.

Rating – 7/10

Mikel Arteta – 43 Apps, Six Goals, Six Assists

With a pass completion percentage of 91.5 percent, Mikel Arteta ranks among the best passers in European football. With Thomas Vermaelen promoted to the rank of captain, Arteta assumed the mantle of the Verm’s second in command and he led the troops whenever the Verm wasn’t available.

With Alex Song leaving for the sunshine of Barcelona, Arsene Wenger tasked Arteta with an unfamiliar holding midfield role, and he excelled admirably in the role this season. In 34 Premier League games, Arteta made 108 tackles, 97 interceptions and 2,750 passes with 2,517 passes reaching its intended target.

Arteta also had the coolest of heads from the penalty spot, converting spot kicks against West Brom (home), Wigan (away), Norwich (home) and Reading (home). He will forever rue his late penalty miss against Fulham (home) that was the difference between three points and one.

His influence on the pitch was unrivaled and I must confess that my heart skipped a beat when he was forced out of action with an injury in Arsenal’s game of the season against Newcastle.

Rating – 9/10

Santi Cazorla – 49 Apps, 12 Goals, 16 Assists

Arsene Wenger was puzzled to know that Santi Cazorla didn’t make the PFA Team of the Season and he’s not alone on that argument. Arsenal fans have been blessed with the sheer brilliance of Santi Cazorla in his debut campaign with the club, and he’ll probably be a good pick for the signing of the 2012/13 season.

The Spanish magician has been a model for consistency this season and he’s the only player in the team that has managed to play every Premier League game thus far this season. The manager also spoke about how Cazorla has surprised him this season with his consistency and amazing fitness levels in a physically demanding league like the Barclay’s Premier League.

In my honest opinion, he has been a joy to watch and in as much as many Gooners have endeared Tomas Rosicky to their hearts, he has spent a considerable chunk of the campaign on the bench due to Cazorla’s imperious form. Cazorla’s versatility has also seen him displace Podolski with Jack Wilshere moved further up the pitch to hone his attacking prowess, which is still a work in progress.

His ambidexterity is a stuff of legends. Like the great Pavel Nedved in the yesteryear, Santi Cazorla can release a surface to goal missile from both feet with consummate ease.

12 goals and 12 assists in his debut Premier League campaign is no mean feat and it’s fair to say that Cazorla has exceeded every expectations. According to WhoScored, Cazorla fired 115 shots, created 96 chances, attempted 86 dribbles, was fouled 50 times, made 184 crosses, passed the ball 2,471 times with a pass completion percentage of 86.8 percent.

Even if he failed to be recognized by the FA for his amazing exploits this season, you don’t need any soothsayer to tell you who Arsenal’s best player is this season.

Rating – 10/10 #Shikenah

So there you have it, the penultimate posts focused on different playing positions in the team. The final post on the attack comes up next.

The voting sequence for the 2012/13 End of Season awards is still ongoing, so feel free to make your votes count in the polls.

Sayonara.

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Latest Updates on Wilshere’s Injury and Post-Swansea Ramblings

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Jackie Boy out for 6 weeks?

I know that these “Oga at the Top” jokes are getting ‘stale’, but I urge you to check out this video of how Adolf Hitler responded to the Oga at the Top escapades by Shem. It’s goddamn hilarious and epic in every sense of the word.

****

Every Arsenal fan couldn’t have wished for a better weekend.

Tottenham lost yet again and to make it sweeter, they were doomed by a player they once loved. I’m pretty sure that the soundtrack at White Hart Lane after the game was “Somebody I used to Know” by Gotye

However, the weekend didn’t begin too well as Everton’s surprise victory over a shockingly lack-luster Manchester City made the Toffees leapfrog over Arsenal temporarily, making the game against Swansea a must-win clash. With Chelsea and Tottenham playing the next day, Arsenal had it all to do against a Swansea side that has been a thorn in their flesh this season.

We all know how the game panned out as the usually dependable Miguel Michu was locked in a cage and the keys were thrown away. The manager also had some big balls in benching Wojciech Szczesny and his captain, Thomas Vermaelen which has coincided with two clean sheets on the trot – a rare feat in this part of the world, judging from our “usual defensive displays” all season long.

The manager has spoken about the urge for competition, and it will definitely bring the best out of his players. When Szczesny won Fabianski’s shirt in the tail end of the 2010/11 campaign, he put up a lot of breathtaking displays and his league debut was one to remember, as Wenger thrust him into action in one of the league’s most feared grounds – Old Trafford.

Fabianski couldn’t command a starting berth when he made his long-awaited return from injury despite putting up great displays prior to that unfortunate shoulder injury that halted the little progress he had made. After battling hard to finally secure Manuel Almunia’s jersey, it must have hurt the Pole really badly to see a new player take his place with such consummate ease.

One of the harsh realities of football – Fabianski isn’t the first to lose a place in a team, and he will certainly not be the last at Arsenal.

Wenger placed his undying faith on Szczesny and to be fair to the young Pole, he repaid his boss with some great outings in goal but after realizing that his position wasn’t threatened, complacency crept into his game, and he was culpable for some glaring errors last season and this season as well.

There’s a lot of football to be played and Wenger knows what’s best for his team. If it requires Mr. Szczesny to continue some time out in the bench, I have no qualms with it – provided Fabianski doesn’t revert to the “Flappyhandski” of old, which would prompt the fans to call for Szczesny’s return faster than Usain Bolt’s 100m Olympics world record.

Laurent Koscielny’s return to the heart of Arsenal’s defense has shored things up at the back, and the return of two clean sheets in a row is highly welcome. The Big Friendly Giant, Per Mertesacker, recently spoke about the team’s new approach to defending, and it’s highly encouraging to say the least,

We saw ourselves as a unit on the television and I think it was a good thing to do because sometimes you have a different view on the pitch and you feel different. We all had the feeling there was something to do so everybody was involved and everyone felt we needed to improve and speak more.

The most important thing we learned was to cover each other more. There were a lot of situations where there was no pressure on the ball and the back four was not prepared for any balls between us.

Times without number, we have seen how Arsenal’s back line has been exposed when there wasn’t adequate cover for a teammate under pressure.

Take the home Champions League tie against Schalke for instance, Andre Santos may seem as a shitty defender in every sense of the word but Jefferson Farfan and Astuto Uchida ravaged the Brazilian and his captain, Thomas Vermaelen, failed to cover up for him when he was left for dead. It was only befitting for Ibrahim Afellay’s match clincher to come from good wing play by the visitors.

Things have changed for the better, as the defenders drop deeper while the midfielders close the opposition higher up the pitch.

Just like that early run of clean sheets at the start of the season, I don’t intend to get carried away by Arsenal’s newly-found defensive stability, but the unanswered question would be whether Arsene Wenger would be ready to leave out Vermaelen for some more games in the future.

His able replacement, Koscielny, hasn’t put a foot wrong though.

Elsewhere in defense, Carl Jenkinson had some sweet words to say about Nacho Monreal, as the newbie opened his Arsenal account with a somewhat scrappy goal against Swansea. To be honest, I didn’t care about the nature of the goal – the bottom line was that it went past Michel Vorm to give Arsenal a vital lead before Gervinho sealed the tie.

Speaking of Gervinho, Wenger hopes that his late match clincher would give him some confidence in the run-in for a Champions League finish. Gervinho, quite rightly, has come under some serious criticism for his below-par performances this season and his manager hopes that he can build on this in the coming weeks.

Before his moment of glory in the climax of the game, Gervinho showed great pace and directness to skip past his marker on the wing only to deliver a shambolic cut back that didn’t go beyond his first marker in the box. That horrible pass epitomized what the Ivorian had been all about this season and it’s really sad to know that he was Arsenal’s highest goalscorer with five goals early on in the season.

I really like the lad because of what he offers to the team – he’s fleet-footed, quick, agile, has good dribbling skills and runs at defenders drawing them out of their comfort zones but if he had some threatening output in the final third, he would have been a valuable asset to Arsenal, rather than the liability he seems to be.

With crucial games against Reading, West Brom, Norwich, Everton and Fulham coming up, players like Gervinho will have to do their bit to contribute immensely to the team’s cause.

One player that won’t be around anytime soon is Arsenal’s influential midfield maestro, Jack Wilshere, as Goal.com reports that he’ll be out for another six weeks,

Jack Wilshere has been ruled out for six more weeks in a savage blow to Arsenal’s top-four hopes, Goal.com can reveal.

The midfielder is facing an uphill battle to play again this season after his ankle injury was assessed by a specialist in Dubai last week and, then, again when he returned to the club.

Goal.com understands that Wilshere has been told he needs an enforced spell of rest that will keep him on the sidelines for a minimum of six more weeks, until at least the start of May.

Arsene Wenger had initially stated that the midfielder had an inflamed left ankle and it is believed (via Goal.com) that he might be having a recurrence of the ankle injury that kept him out for an eternity. The club doesn’t plan to send the midfielder to go under the knife just yet, but the manager feels that he might have overplayed him.

According to Wenger, Wilshere told his manager that he feels ‘perfect’ whenever he’s asked out the condition of his ankle but a recent scan conducted showed that the lad had bone bruising on the heel of his right foot.

At this point in time, Arsenal will have to make do without their star man but there are able replacements in the forms of Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky and even Aaron Ramsey.

I’ll keep you posted as the events unfold but I wouldn’t want to tell you one thing while my Oga at the Top would say another one.

Sayonara.

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