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Under-rated or over-rated players; who is leaving, who is stepping up.

Untold Arsenal on Twitter  @UntoldArsenal

ARSENAL ARTILLERY PLAYER BY PLAYER

By Don McMahon,M.Ed.

I will briefly explain what I intend to achieve in this article and then begin the analysis. There are incessant criticisms and dismissals of some of our seasoned and less experienced players from all corners of the Gooners community.  Lets see if their criticisms are justified as I will rate a few players on a very subjective scale of 1-10, with 1 being atrocious and 10 being irreplaceable and basing these evaluations on their actual win/loss or performance records, their continued usefulness, and their relative fan support/manager’s trust:

Established first team players often criticized;

Manuel Almunia, (34) – Spanish/English – Keeper -joined the club on July 18, 2004 and has played 176 games in all competitions since then. Apparently he cut short his honeymoon to complete his transfer to Arsenal in 2005. He also used to run with the Bulls in Pamplona. His most active season was 2008-9 when he appeared in 44 games.  The EPL record shows that out of 38 EPL games, he won 20 and kept 10 clean sheets with a +31. While these are pretty respectable results for any keeper, his high profile blunders have painted him as an unreliable and nerve-wracking keeper and neither Wenger or the fans rate him any more. I would generously award him a  5é5/10 because he left his bride for us.

Sebastien Squillaci, (31) -French -Centre-Back – joined us on August 27, 2010 and has played 32 games in all competitions at Arsenal. His 2 goals for Arsenal last season helped keep us in the race mid-season but he also scored an own goal. He tried his best to replace Vermaelen but the outcome was a foregone conclusion as he never really struck up a viable partnership with Koscielny or Djourou.  Fans and pundits criticized him for being ineffectual and error-prone but he was there when he was needed. Wenger seems to feel he is a good bench option but the fans aren’t convinced. I would give him a 5/10.

Emmanuel Eboue, (28) – Ivorian – Right Back -came to us on January 02, 2005 and has played 209 games in all competitions scoring 10 goals. He is one of the most versatile players in Wenger’s side but it is very much a case of jack of all trades,master of none. He was openly booed in 2007 but came back to become a cult hero the following season. He married his Belgian girlfriend just before joining Arsenal so didn’t have to cut his honeymoon short! He has been a faithful and stalwart servant for AFC but will never be more than a bench player. AW and the fans have a fondness for him and he can still play a useful bench role. He deserves a 6/10 for his loyalty and character shown since 2005.

Nikolas Bendtner, (23) – Danish – striker – signed by AFC on Aug.1st,2004 and has played 204 games in all competitions scoring 58 goals and earning 28 assists. This is a pretty good return but when seen in the light of how many of those goals were game winning, (20) it is really appreciable. Never known for a lack of confidence, he has alienated some fans with what they interpret as his arrogance and excessive self-promotion. The issue here is whether he can start to put his money where his mouth is and improve his goals to games ratio. Wenger seems to have lost confidence in Nick and recently stated that he is available for transfer. In my opinion, he has had his chance and needs to grow up somewhere else. He is a definite talent and simply because of his promise,I give him a 6.5/10.

Andrei Arshavin, (30) -Russian – striker – came to Arsenal on February 03, 2009 in a last-minute transfer. In 106 games in all competitions has scored 28 goals and 33 assists. Many fans have turned on him after an initial honeymoon, where he showed great brilliance and skills. Last season, he was accused of being ¨lazy¨, often ¨invisible¨ in key games and also being overweight. Dick Avocatt, who had coached him at Zenit, stated that he was not a 90 minute runner and had to be used more as an impact player. Wenger values him a great deal as both a wide striker,midfielder and when playing behind the striker. AW also considers his assist to game ratio to be invaluable. I agree with Arsene’s assessment and value him, but he is getting older and will likely only get a one year contract, if that after this season. I would rank him a 7/10 because of his impact player status and assists record.

Abou Diaby (25) – France – defensive midfielder – brought to AFC on January 13, 2006 , he has missed a significant part of almost every season since his arrival due to recurring injuries. Over 158  appearances in all competitions with AFC he has scored  20 goals and had14 assists. He has never played a whole season injury-free but when he does play he can be very powerful attacking from midfield. He has been compared to Vieira but he is more offensive-minded which many claim is his greatest weakness. He is intelligent enough to admit that he needs to play with a true holding midfielder beside him to be most effective. If he can ever stay fit for an entire season, he could actually justify Wenger’s faith in him but the fans are beginning to doubt his self-control and fitness. Due to his chequered record of injuries and half-starts, and his raw talent when fit, I believe he merits a 6.5/10.

LOANEES and WANNABES:

Vito Manone, (23) – Italian – keeper – Vito came to us on July 01, 2005 and began showing his stuff almost immediately. Various loan spells have kept him out of the first team but when he has played, he’s done very well. It is hard to believe he has played only 9 games for AFC since 2005 but all of them were wins! Interestingly enough, 4 of those games were clean sheets and he has never lost a game when playing for Arsenal in league or Cup competitions.  Rate him very highly but believe he needs far more exposure to ever consider knocking out Fabianski or Szceny for 1st place. It is his great misfortune that one of the two is younger than him. I give him a 7.5/10.

Jay-Emmanuel Thomas (20) – English – striker – JET as he is fondly referred to came to Arsenal via the Academy on July 31, 2007 at the tender age of 16. He has only played 5 games for AFC and never scored but he has been extremely prolific for the Reserves. He is one of the few loanees who needs first team exposure to break into the lineup but it looks like he’ll be sent out on loan again this coming season as Arsene feels his fitness and maturity still needs to be worked on. I rank him as a 6.5/10.

Henri Lansbury (20) -English -Midfielder – He showed up on Arsenal’s book on July 31, 2007, another Academy graduate. He has appeared for the first team 6 times and scored 1 goal but that was against the Spuds so it counts as 1.5! He has had the unfortunate timing of trying to enter Arsenal’s midfield when they are considered among the top in the EPL. It looks like another loan spell for him but AW says he rates him highly and will ensure that he gets his opportunity to break into the first squad. I rank him as a 7/10 because of his excellent skills and success on loan.

Carl Jenkinson (19)-English and Finnish – right back – Our first signing of the summer, Carl signed  a professional contract on June 08, 2011. We saw him play two games so far, both in the Asia Tour and he looked very solid for a 19 year old. He has been criticized as being a nobody, another diamond in the rough, and not what the fans wanted or expected but he is definitely an asset and in my opinion could replace Eboue as Sagna’s backup. I rate him very highly thanks to his mature and skilled start. He gets a 7/10.

We could go on but this article is about our most under-rated or over-rated players and hopefully it has hit the nail on the head.

26 comments to Under-rated or over-rated players; who is leaving, who is stepping up.

  • bob

    Don,
    Because Almunia ran with the bulls at Pamplona, I side with the bulls and would give him a 1. Had he stayed with his bride, maybe a 5. But that’s the beauty of subjectivity, objectively speaking.

  • Dec

    Good analysis.
    I strongly suspect you could go through the rest of the first team squad and get a lot more 5,6 or 7s.
    To challenge at the highest level we need to to have a significant core of players who could rank a widely accepted 8.5 – 10. I reckon that only Cesc, Nasri, TV5, Jack, RVP and Theo currently fit the bill, although another season and I’m sure Szczesny will qualify too. Two of those are unlikely/unsure of being at the Emirates next season. Hope Arsene can force himself to do what it soooooooo obviously needs.

  • Donnie

    good analysis
    you got it all spot on and the ratings
    players who are lower then 7 should not be at arsenal.

    there are atleast bout 6 players that need 2 go
    and with them taking in round a 50k cheack everweek adds up round 300k a week
    with that kind of cash they can make nasri happy and give him that extra 10k.

  • Dark Prince

    Is this the first time a rating is given to the players on this site?? 😛

    Good analysis. And yes, this analysis should be done on every player, and also should be done after every match. And after the end of the season, all the ratings should be added and an average should be found. This average could be the real rating for the player for the whole season. Plus it will also help to see a player’s performance across the year, and when it dips and when it rises.

    Though have to admit that Eboue, Squillaci, Bendtner and Almunia were given ratings more than they deserved. I’d hav probably subtracted 1 from each of them.

    A nice initiative!! 🙂

  • shakabulagooner

    Don,
    I don’t know what to make of the ratings you’ve awarded.

    Wenger is not letting any player go because he became unpopular with fans. He has proven to have a more objective and longer term perspective than that.

    Nonetheless, I believe a player’s history counts for nothing; only his current form and future relevance to the club’s objectives matter.

    To this end, it seems clear that Denilson, Ebuoe, Bendtner and Almunia have reached the end of their development or relevance prospects in Arsenal hence it is fair to both parties that other options to their footballing careers are explored.

    For the others: JET, Lansbury and a few others, it is a matter of whether or not they would be better off leaving because the players ahead of them in the positions they play are too many for them to have a reasonable chance of breaking into the team.

    I don’t know why or how Carl’s name got included. He just joined; if he doesn’t have a good prospect in the team why would the club have bought him?

  • bob

    Dom,
    In the transfer window, this was fun to read as a one-off (or five-off, if you’re so inclined). But, subjectively speaking, I would find any regular, UA match-by-match player rating feature during the season would be a significant diversion of energies; and would drain off or what makes UA different from all the rest of the tabloid-style Arsenal blogs. One commentator today suggests this is a welcome initiative, to encourage this very practice. As if there’s not enough of this on almost every other online blog, Arsenal or not, across football fandom. Surely fans can find other places, during the season, to play out their personal ratings needs.

  • bob

    p.s.: sorry, meant to say: “would drain off or divert from”

  • Gooner Gal

    Shakabulgagooner, I agree with your comments. I too was wondering about how this very subjective system was devised and players rated. I don’t like it when there are generic statements of fact about how all fans feel about the club and players. Reading a few blogs and newspapers is not enough justification to determine how every fan feels, draw a conclusion and then formulate this into a rating system. Even a very subjective one.

    No one in the Arsenal squad is totally irreplaceable. Say for example Lansbury is stalling on signing a new contract, because he wants assurances he will get more 1st team chances and I don’t think he will play until it is sorted. Right now he is a possible mid field option, but he is not a necessity, so based on the criteria set, I would score him a 3/10 as the longer it drags on the less likely he will be considered for the first team this year or even at all.

    But as I have stated previously elsewhere on this blog the players I would like to see given a chance next season are Bartley, Afobe and Lansbury. I rate them all highly and my personal view is that they offer the team something a bit different.

  • Chowdhury

    I am not sure whether I want to see this sort of rating on this site or not. I know this is a very popular practice in lot of other sites but I don’t know whether it suits “Untold” or not. Please understand that this is my personal opinion and if majority likes this or if Tony, Walter and the rest thinks this is OK then I’ll keep quiet. But I really don’t like the concept of us mere supporters assigning numbers to our players. We all have our own perspective and reasoning regarding a specific player or his performance on a given night and how can you possibly represent all those differences with just a single digit? Also, what is the whole point of a practice such as this? Will this vague effort of number tagging an individual serve any purpose other than perhaps satisfying our own ego? I don’t know, I might be missing something and welcome any comments to point me to that. But at the end of the day, I refuse to be drawn to such futile attempt to rate someone when knowing full well that I am [speaking strictly about me here] neither qualified[for I never played in or managed any professional club] nor entitled to rate anyone who plays for the team I love and support.
    Hope I am not making too big a deal here regarding this, but just don’t like the concept that’s all. Thanks.

  • DeeDee

    Any opinions about Bartley? I think he should be given a chance this season, but Arsene keeps leaving him behind.

  • Gooner Gal

    I don’t have a problem with the idea of a general rating system if the basic criteria which formulate’s it is reasonable, say for example if you know that you are assessing a player on their ability find space, pass accurately, off the ball movement, close down a player, read the game etc.

    I used to read Desi gunner’s match analysis and rating which was quite good. After all, it is just a simple way of giving a view on how well you think the team and the individual players performed overall.

    As long as it is clear that it is an individual’s opinion based on certain criteria, then I don’t see what the problem is. Everyone has an opinion whether a player did well or not in a match or not, even if they thought the performance was good, bad or average.

  • Gooner Gal

    Dee Dee, Bartley had quite a serious knee injury and his recovery is being monitored. He played 90 mins during the week so maybe they are being cautious.

  • Gooner Gal

    I left Frimpong off my list of players I would like to step up and make his mark on the first team.

  • bob

    Chowdhurry,
    I fully agree, but from the start of the regular season on. It’s a waste of time and practiced others like Desi do it so much better, and without the manic need to assign numbers that are supposed to add up to something at the end of the season? Hmmmm…
    Gooner Gal,
    Why not just do as ever after each match and weigh in as you wish. But do you really want to see a subjective rating system, fan by fan, on these pages, 2-3 times a week? What makes this site unique would be drowned in that exercise. Please have a think.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Walter, what was the match atmosphere like? I had to put up with that Robson bloke commentating.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Bob, I don’t get you, most blogs are about opinion’s. What would be so bad if someone did one on here? How would it harm the uniqueness of the Untold site?

  • bob

    Gooner Gal,
    Of course it’s about opinions, and you know we both know that. And my opinion is that if everyone offers a rating scorecard after every match for every player then we will be consumed in it and be no different from any other blog, Arsenal or otherwise. That said, do your thing. It’s just my powerless opinion, I can’t stand censorship, and it’s surely not my website. I’ve only asked you to reconsider and not be a cheerleader for everyone’s doing a weekly rating system, IF that’s what you are favoring. But again, I’ll surely be interested and read everything you post, no matter what.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Bob
    I am not sure if I can be bothered to get into a long drawn out argument about a hypothetical article that doesn’t exist.

    What is the big deal or difference if I said ‘player X played good/bad/average’ instead of ‘I would give player X 1/10, 10/10 or 5/10?’ If you don’t like an article, read something else. There is no need to get nervous or worried about the direction Untold Arsenal as a blog might go in because a player was marked out of 10.

    All I was saying is that I have read articles in the past which used a rating system, that worked fine.

  • bob

    Gooner Gal,
    Amen.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    If people want to rate players, can I reccomend Castrol and Opta.
    For instance, if you want some idea of how good Cesc really is, Opta reckons Iniesta lays on a goalscoring opportunity every 48 minutes. Xavi does so every 27 minutes. Cesc? Every 25 minutes.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Gooner Gal,
    I have written my “match report” on the game against Cologne. I think it will come online tomorrow. If it is good enough. 😉

  • jazbo

    Intresting read, I like the wannabes because this the part of our club which excites me the most, we have a wonderfull youth system which to my mind is the envy of every other club in the league.
    Here we have so many players that go under the radar each season as they learn the the trade.
    I’ll throw in a couple of players for the first team squad next season.
    Frimpong… All gooners should know about him by now
    Afobe…Why we made a bid for the young Costa Rica striker is beyond me when we have a fine English talent waiting in the wings.
    One more just for the hell of it.
    Chucks….Watch out for him sooon

  • bob

    Walter,
    And don’t forget to quantify (sorry, subjectively quantify) all player performances and add them all up for a mid season and end of season ratings report.:)

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Well done Gooners. You are as astute and perceptive as I believed you to be. First let me make things clear! I am definitely NOT in favour of a weekly rating of games on this site. I agree with most of you that it doesn’t add much to the quality of this blog and as no rating system can ever be anything other than ¨subjective¨, we are exercising our hubris and nothing else. Secondly, I agree with those who say, where do we obtain the right to ¨assess¨ anyone if we haven’t played at that level or managed professionally. I wish I could get a look at Wenger’s rating system, which I know he uses. But that system is vastly more inclusive than anything we could hope to create. He has access to data we couldn’t dream of having (the GPS running statistics for example)so he will always be light years ahead of us and I am sure he won’t share this information publicly for many reasons.
    Therefore, my real motive for writing this article was to stake my claim to the little bit of Arsenal I hold dear…the unpredictability of ever ¨knowing¨a Gunners’ true value, which is always more than the sum of its parts!

  • Ed

    i seem to rate and appreciate Eboue alot more than most Arsenal fans. i still remember a few years back when he first got into the team and he caught my eye. He had pace, direct running, great overlapping and was a very good attacking full back. Yes defensively, he is not as assured as Sagna, but i think against some of the smaller teams who play defensively, his more attacking outlook would have helped?

    its only been the last couple of years that he hasnt had a chance at Right back, and been forced to play left side or central midfield where he hasnt been able to show his skills. but in terms of right back, i think hes one of the best backups in the league and for a smaller team would definitely be first choice (I even rate him better than glen johnson at right back). we shouldnt judge him on performances as left midfield bceause even cesc wouldnt play as well if he was in central defence or left wing.

  • Gord

    Is there some place which keeps track of ALL player ratings made by various media on Arsenal players? It seems to me that on occasion I’ve looked for player ratings after games, and seen some situations where a player might get an 8 from one rater, and a 4 from another. Perhaps group the data by source (domestic journalists, domestic bloggers, European, North American, and so on).