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…
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?