Who are the underrated stars in this Arsenal side? by SV
After almost all recent games, fans have been clamouring about how underrated Alex Song is. They say that his terrific performances in front of our defence (and often further up the pitch) deserve great recognition. And I agree, Songinho’s performances have been almost as important to us as Van Persie’s goals. However, I think that it should be realised that all Arsenal fans do now realise this, and that Song is no longer underrated.
But there are other players in our squad who don’t get the recognition that they deserve. Today, I want to look at three players who I think have been very valuable during this campaign and, yet, haven’t got quite the same praise as some of their peers.
1) Wojciech Szczesny: Earlier in the season, everyone was heaping the praise upon our young Pole. This was perhaps due to the fact that our defence was so dire at the time, that Sczcesny was getting a chance to showcase his talent far too often. Since then, the rest of our team has improved greatly and so focus has shifted onto some of them. But Sczcesny’s performance levels have not dropped since then. He has a consistent exemplary level of play. The confidence he brings to the back line cannot be underestimated; our back four will feel very comfortable in the knowledge that they have a commanding, talented and confident keeper to mop up should they slip. In fact, throughout season, I can think of only one game (Fulham away) in which I have been disappointed with the lad.
2) Kieran Gibbs: This young Englishman has actually come under some considerable criticism recently. Many believe that he does not make the standard for us. I beg to disagree. We all know that Kieran has been plagued by injuries; but I think that, since he has come back, he has been putting in pretty consistent shifts. He is a great athlete and, contrary to what seems popular belief, is a strong tackler. Yes, he bolts down to help the attack, but I think that he does actually track back and fulfil his defensive responsibilities too. In addition, he seems to have decent technical ability and his crosses, though not quite like Sagna’s, are of a good quality.
3) Yossi Benayoun: This is the big one for me. Yossi gets very little game time, but when he does play, he is exemplary. He is often chosen for the big games (such as Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City) as he brings a huge injection of guile. Him and Walcott provide totally different weapons and so complement each other well. If Walcott (and, similarly, Chamberlain) is a hammer to break down the enemies’ armour, then Benayoun is the stiletto to slip between the enemies’ armour plates. The Israeli captain also has a terrific work rate and work ethic, and you will always see him tracking back to help out his full back. I, for one, will be very sad to see him go back to Chelsea, which unfortunately looks like a likely course of action.
It’s difficult to keep a list of unsung heroes to just three as there are so many who have played with 100% commitment to the Arsenal cause this year. The truth is that football is a team sport and, this season at least, almost every player deserves the praise which we, as fans, only give to a choice few.
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