Goalkeeper: Wojciech Szczęsny
When he was at Brentford I hailed the Polish stopper as a keeper good enough to play in the Premier league but got shot down for rating a so called “substandard goalkeeper” in a “substandard league.” But Szczęsny was and still is a more than competent keeper and proved many of his critics wrong. But as is often the way after such episodes, he has begun to look more and more erratic. And what annoys me about Arsenal fans in particular is that they tend to scape-goat certain individuals (Wenger, Walcott, Eboue, Arshavin, Gervinho, Ramsey etc) while others can do no wrong (Chamberlain, Szczęsny) and one or two others. As me and my friend Arlen, a United supporter discussed the issue and as a keeper myself I pay a lot of attention to the goalies in the Premier league and we concluded that Szczęsny is no less erratic than Manchester United’s David de Gea who has come in for a lot of stick for a number of high profile errors. The difference between the two is the fee involved and that is why people perhaps expect bigger and better things from de Gea; I just thought it was necessary to point out the similarities.
Right Back: Bacary Sagna
Once one of Arsenal’s most reliable players but this season, since his return from two broken ankles, Sagna has been very poor indeed. He gives the ball away considerably more than he used to and is found out of position on a regular basis, probably as a result of lost fitness. Sagna plays so high up the pitch that he struggles to get back and help out a very wobbly Arsenal backline. Furthermore, his credentials going forward are fairly limited anyway and he just doesn’t contribute in a positive way to Arsenal’s cause anymore. Time to give Jenkinson another go methinks.
Centre back: Gary Cahill
Gary Cahill has out of nowhere found himself England’s first choice centre back and strangely has public support. Joleon Lescott has been in and out of the City team this season but is surely more reliable and reads the game better? Equally Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jagielka and Ryan Shawcross are surely preferable to Cahill in terms of consistency. On his day, when he is focused, Cahill is a top player but that “day” is not a regular enough occurrence and he certainly does not fill me with confidence at centre-half.
Centre back: Phil Jones
Had a great start to his Man United career but is being touted as a potential England captain of the future which is somewhat worrying. Of course he is only young but he does seem like a liability and is often too keen to impress which can be detrimental to his performances. The injury problems of the past 12 months have not helped Jones in that regard.
Left back: John Arne Risse
He has been pretty poor for at least a year now and Fulham fans are beginning to get pretty frustrated with his performances. The idea that he is still capable of scoring screamers is unfounded and defensively he looks slow and suspect.
Midfield: Emmanuel Frimpong
People love Frimmy for various reasons and when he came onto the scene a couple of years or so ago I was excited about him as a potential England player but it proved to be a false dawn and the emergence of Francis Coquelin has consigned Frimmy to a loan spell at Fulham. At Arsenal in recent months he has made very little of an impact and that showed at the start of this season when Wenger was reluctant to play him even after the sale of Song and after he recovered from injury. He is a tank but technically he is not quite up to it yet and needs to learn to hold his position and pick a pass.
Midfield: Ji-Sung Park
The first of three QPR players in this team and probably the worst too. After signing from Man United, QPR fans were promised a player who will work his socks off and be really reliable. Well frankly no one has even seen a glimpse of that. He has been stripped of the QPR captaincy and rightly so. I’m afraid he has been so dreadful this season that he probably doesn’t even deserve a place on the bench. His work ethic is there but when you are that incompetent what is the point of even trying? He is not good enough to play in the Premier League and would do well to play in the Championship. It’s all very well playing well when there are competent players around you like at Man United but when there aren’t then some people just don’t have the character to step up.
Midfield: Esteben Granero
What a disappointment. Following a huge £9 million transfer fee from Real Madrid, Granero’s start at QPR has been patchy to put it mildly. There have been glimpses of his class but too often he gives the ball away in costly areas. His build is not adequate for the Premier League and it shows when he lines up against players like Fellaini, Nolan and Diaby who all like to dominate the midfield. I have some hope for him because I know he can play but he needs to up his game and show some character.
Midfield: Shaun Wright-Phillips
A mile off from the flying winger we saw at Manchester City and Chelsea, Shaun’s career began to go downhill when he went to Eastlands for his second spell. Money splashed out on foreigners ruined him and now he is a true disappointment. Bar that one goal against his former employers earlier this year, his goal record is dreadful, having only scored once in three years. He has lost more than a yard of pace and simply doesn’t have the confidence to beat a player on a regular basis anymore. He is not a bad player but it seems to me that people are still judging him thinking he is as effective and entertaining as he was when in reality he has regressed significantly over the last three or four years.
Midfield: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
I love Chambo but not nearly as much as the average Arsenal fan. He has a bright future in the game but fans must appreciate that he is far from being the finished article yet and stop putting so much faith in him that he will be some sort of Paul Gascoigne. The Ox is exciting and is a joy to watch but he is naïve and often runs himself into trouble. He will learn to control his runs with age but right now according to a large proportion of Arsenal fans he can do no wrong.
Attack: Carlton Cole
Was once one of England’s finest forwards but is now a huge disappointment. He looks lethargic; has probably put on weight. He doesn’t chase the ball as much as he used to. And more importantly, he has stopped scoring hence why he’s doesn’t play as regularly. Cole was England standard and is now a mediocre Championship attacker who has lost a huge degree of his presence on the football pitch.
Written By Joshua Banks