Let's discuss our "fives"… Part 2…

Life's a funny old game and depending on what you read, where you read it and how you read it, you'll think many different things about many different things. This morning Arsenal moved to dispel rumours that Pat Rice was going to retire this season, here's the official statement from AFC:

Contrary to media reports this morning, Arsenal assistant manager Pat Rice is NOT considering retirement at the end of the current season. He remains a key part of Arsène Wenger’s backroom staff is currently helping prepare the team for trip to Manchester United on Saturday.

Yesterday we looked at the top five players you’d pick, and Kolo Toure’s “love for the club” comments were very timely for him, hitting many hearts and propelling him into many top fives. A few emails and comments questioning the choice of Eduardo in my top five – but I did say – if all players are fit and on form, who would be in your top five – and I’ve seen Eduardo on fire before – I’m convinced Arsene will think of him as our #1 choice when he’s back 100%.

Okay, onto today…

Instead of taking a look at the top five worst players, or the bottom five best players, depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty… today I’d like to take a look at the top 5 most improved players… 

The World Of Arsenal Top Five Improved Players

A characteristic of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger in particular is to take a player with potential, sometimes at a very young age and train them up to become a superstar. Players like Vieira, Henry, Ljungberg have flourished under Arsene and become world class players.

So this season, the question is… who do you think has flourished, who’s got better? Who’s impressed you?

1. Kieran Gibbs

The young English left back definitely gets into my top five. Last season, and even in pre-season in Summer, I was a little bemused how he was getting so much playing time, and when Armand Traore left, I thought it was the wrong decision. But Arsene and Gibbs have proved me wrong. As Clichy has got injured, the young left back has seized the opportunity and put in a string of impressive performances. He will be remembered for his slip in the CL semi-final, but he really should be remember for keeping many a right back at bay. Another left back off the production line…

2. Denilson

Denilson has had a stop / start career so far at Arsenal – that is until this season. With the departure of Flamini, Gilberto and Diarra – Arsene chose not to replace them and instead allow Denilson, Diaby and Song take the mantle. With injuries to Diaby and Song with his International team, Denilson took his chance in the team and never looked back. He’s played more games for Arsenal than any other midfielder this season and that’s a testament to his ability and improvement. He’s also scored a few crackers too.

3. Manuel Almunia

It may surprise many, but Almunia gets into my top five. He’s been very consistent this season and really shown he is as good as any other goalkeeper in the league. He’s been unfashionable in some respect because he came from a 2nd division Spanish club rather than one of the big boys. Almunia has kept us in many games, he’s won us points and kept a lot of clean sheets over the season especially considering we’ve had one of the softest centre’s that any Arsenal team has had before. (Yes, I expect a comment about this by Dani D The D-meister D!).

4. Alex Song

A sign that a player has vastly improved is when this time last year, fans ask why he was chosen, but this time this year, ask why he was omitted. When Song didn’t start against Chelsea in the FA cup semi-final, many questions were asked. He’d been superb up to that point – his performance against Villareal home and away was immense and his view amongst supporters has changed dramatically. Well done Alex Song.

5. Niklas Bendtner

No matter what you think about the Danish striker, the amount of misses he’s had this season, the inability to convert 6 one on one’s with Burnley’s keeper in the Carling Cup… he has undoubtedly improved. So far this season, he’s amounted 15 goals in all competitions, and that is no mean feat. Last season’s 30 goal hero, Emmanuel Adebayor has only managed 16 all season, so if you compare them together, considering where Niklas was last season, you’d have to say that the Dane has vastly improved. Of course, he’s not the finished article, but he’s four years younger than Adebayor and starting to reach similar levels.

Do you agree with me? Who would be in your top five most improved players? Comments please?

Til tomorrow…]]>

  • Pete

    Cant argue with you there Dev. Might have a case for young Theo, although he’s not the finished article either, he showed glimpses of real form prior to his shoulder injury, which was a big improvement from last year, and has established himself as a starter too. But the lads you’ve selected pretty much deserve to be. Nice one mate!

  • Fo

    < ![CDATA[Pete - You've won the COTM Award for April - lol, no announcement though!

    Congratulations!]]>

  • Fo

    < ![CDATA[On the subject of most improved players - do you think Eboue should get a shout - he's nortoriously famous for being a bad player, but in the last few months he's been pretty awesome - maybe he's turned the corner?

    Also, what about Johan Djourou - he's pushing Toure / Gallas for a starting berth - I know that a few of us were upset that he hasn't played much!]]>

  • Pete

    Seriously? Whoa, thanks guys :D

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Eboues' a good bloke, I really like him as a person and he's very popular with the squad. He dealt with the booing situation really well, took it on the chin even when he was obviously upset by it, and was very pleased to see him score a few goals soon afterwards (love that goal celebration of his!!! lol). But if I'm honest I do see him more as a squad player now than a starter.

    Djourou could very well strike up a good partnership with either Gallas or Toure at the back. Gallas is still capable of being a very good player, he showed that in the Arsenal-United match at the Emirates last November where he was pretty much the best defender on the field in that game (not easy when Ferdinand and Vidic are playing too).

    So I guess you can make a case for many of the players improving. Hopefully all of this will serve us well to win something next year, because its long overdue.]]>

  • Fo

    < ![CDATA[In that case - maybe Gallas is one of the most improved players???

    Congratulations on your award... maybe one day I will win, but I've got to spend a bit more time commenting!!! I do too much reading!]]>

  • zohaib

    Congrats Pete ! Great stuff mate.

  • Pete

    Thanks a lot mate! :D Cant believe how happy I actually am about this lol :P

  • Berth
  • JDD

    < ![CDATA[top 5 most improved

    1-EMMANUEL EBOUE(in my opinion hes a key part of the squad he may not be the most talented football but hes got pace good cross/shot and hes a got aggresion he also seems to get along with everybody a very popualr player)
    2-NIKLAS BENDTNER(he may be very frustrating at times but 16 goals this season is a good record hes still not good enough to start but hopefully he will be in the near futeure)
    3-ALEXANDRE SONG(hes been good wen hes played at the moment he should partner fabregas in the middle obviously a more experience player would be better)
    4-DENILSON(at the beginning of the season he wos playing very well seemd to lose his way around christmas time but since then when hes played hes looked good)
    5-KIEREN GIBBS(practically unheard of last season now hes starting champions league semi finals when hes playd hes lookd good but he needs some more experience before he can oush clichy for a place in the starting 11)

    some players iv heard us being linked with

    Rafael Van Der Vaart-Real Madrid midfielder
    Pavel Pogrebnyak-Zenit striker
    Xabi Alonso-Liverpool midfield
    Gary Cahill-Bolton defender
    Bruno Alves-Porto defender
    Mathieu Coutadeur-Le Mans midfielder
    Abdoulaye Faye-Stoke defender]]>

  • devday

    < ![CDATA[Berth - the shareholders meeting was on Monday wasn't it? Gadizis said the right things at the AST meeting and appeased many fans by encouraging Arsene to buy....

    Let's see what's in store tomorrow!]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Oooooh question-answer session. Wenger-grilling ! lol

    Interesting. I'm actually excited !]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Btw Dev, Arshavin has 6 goals, not 7. Arsenal.com confirms.

    I believe the confusion arose from his very first goal. It was actually a deflection, an own-goal and not Arshavin's goal.]]>

  • Berth

    Any feelings that Arsene may not renew his contract?

  • AJ

    Theres more going on about Usmanov’s offer to pay off some of the clubs debt, but apparently some of the directors don’t like this as it doesn’t fit the self sustainable ethos that they have and they are still very suspicious about Usmanov.

  • devday

    Zohaib – in my opinion – Arshavin has 7 goals – I’ve put his first goal down to him rather than a deflection!

  • zohaib

    I see