Who Deserves A New Contract at Arsenal? by the Cosmic Kid
After Monday’s cup tie I just began thinking to myself that it’s March and we have only 10 Premier League games left. That’s crazy isn’t it? It only feels as though we are half way through the season. We now have a Cup semi-Final and have to play that return leg against Monaco in the Champions League, whether our chances are slim or not. So, we are only guaranteed a minimum 12 games left this season, hopefully 13 should we progress to the Cup Final (more if a miracle happens in Monaco). That leaves the manager with some decisions to make. I would certainly hope that he already has in mind what he plans to do not only in terms of recruiting players this summer, but also in terms of which players he wants to keep at the club. Let’s have a look at which players deserve a contract extension.
Here’s a look at the player’s with contracts running out at the end of this season;
Francis Coquelin: At the end of January the Manager was asked (not for the first time) about the contract status of some of the players and while at the time he didn’t have much to say. He did say that Coquelin was ‘99% done’. This is great news for Arsenal fans as he really has grown into one of the key players in the squad this season. Since he came in for the injured Mathieu Flamini away to West Ham, he hasn’t looked back. There were many question marks about how he would settle into the team and even many questioning whether he could handle the physicality of the Premier League, well he has certainly answered those criticisms. In the recent game against Everton he suffered a broken nose and while Arsenal were adamant that he should come off; he wanted to play on (He was eventually forced off when he received another blow to his nose late on the game). Even in the win over Man United within the first 5 minutes, Fellaini elbowed (Accident? you’re having a laugh) him into the face and he got straight back up, that showed the kind of fighting spirit that would see us gain such an important victory. Verdict: Extend.
Mikel Arteta: The captain has missed most of the campaign through injury, making only sparing appearances. There have been conflicting reports on whether or not he has actually signed a contract extension. Sky Sports, say he has while his agent also says he has, yet at that time Arsene Wenger had denied the reports (see the Coquelin report above) that he has offered him a one year extension to keep him at the club past this season. Arteta has only made 7 Premier League appearances in total this season and while many may think it’s time for him to move on, I still think he has a lot to offer the club. Yes, he will turn 33 this month and yes, he is quite slow, however what Arteta offers is leadership and experience. How many times have we, as Arsenal fans said that we lack any real leadership or experience? Or even wish that Wenger kept the more experienced players around longer? Arteta also plays a fundamental role in keeping the team ticking over and retaining possession, there have been games this season where his calming influence would have helped the team, the Monaco, disaster for example. Verdict: Extend.
Abou Diaby: It’s really hard not to feel sorry for Diaby and his struggles with injuries, after a ridiculous challenge from Sunderland’s Dan Smith in 2006, but once again another season has come and passed him by, as he remains on the treatment table. He has to be given a lot of credit for his willingness to return from injury after so many setbacks, but there comes a time where the manager will have to look at what’s best for the club. According to the Daily Mail, Diaby has suffered 42 injuries at the club, while also averaging a set back every 80 days. Wenger has already said that he will discuss Diaby’s future with him in March, have a look at this post from The Daily Canon here. I think that the manager will have to accept that it just simply isn’t feasible to keep a player at the club that can hardly string 5 consecutive games together, it’s a shame because he is a really gifted player and had a lot to offer the squad. Remember that performance at Liverpool anyone? Verdict: Release.
Right here’s a look at the players who still have another season, after this, left on their contracts;
Tomas Rosicky: Once again this season Rosicky has been in great form and while he may not be able to complete 90 minutes three times a week any more, when he does play he gives the team bags of energy. Rosicky is the one player in the squad who, I think, is capable of coming on and really changing the tempo of the team. We have seen plenty of games where Arsenal start the game slow, and lethargically, only for Rosicky to come on and add new emphasis to the attack, he isn’t afraid of making a few tackles either. While Rosicky will turn 35 next October, once again, like Arteta, while it might be obvious that he will get even less game time, I think he still has a lot to offer the squad. Here’s a question, who has had more of an impact on the team this season, Rosicky or Wilshere? Rosicky has another year remaining on his contract, so it’s very hard to judge, with a player of his age. Verdict: N/A
Mathieu Flamini: It has not been the greatest of seasons for Flamini in his second season of a second spell at Arsenal. He has struggled to get into the squad this season and, yep, you guessed it he is currently sidelined with injury. Flamini has been caught out numerous times this season, giving away the ball for Chadli’s goal for Spurs at the Emirates, for example. While I don’t usually mind a player’s age (Arteta, Rosicky), they have to perform for their age not to be an issue, and while 31 is not necessarily that old, it just seems that Flamini’s game has suffered the older he has got, and he has struggled to adapt his game accordingly, like Rosicky and Arteta. Although he has another season left on his contract, I’m not sure he offers the squad enough to earn his keep; I would look to cash in this summer. Verdict: Sell.
Lucas Podolski: Podolski has been a great disappointment to me at Arsenal, as I was expecting a lot from him when his signing was announced. While his goalscoring stats are excellent, according to The Telegraph, Podolski’s ratio at Arsenal is 172.11 minutes per goal. That puts him behind four of the most effective Arsenal strikers in recent times in Emmanuel Adebayor (169.24 minutes), Ian Wright (154.12 minutes), Robin van Persie (138.48 minutes) and Thierry Henry (121.78 minutes). It really is disappointing that when you analyse his overall game he does not offer a lot; if football was a game based on goal scoring instinct he would be one of the best, but it’s not; it’s about a whole lot more. Podolski is a very static player, he hardly makes lung bursting runs to either make a chance for himself or create space for his team mates, he is not technically gifted (beside’s his shooting), and put very simply; he does not fit into this Arsenal team. Like with Flamini, I would cash in this summer after his loan move to Inter Milan. Verdict: Sell.
Theo Walcott: This is the hardest of them all to balance, and I did mention this in yesterday’s post about Chamberlain’s injury. Although I have a feeling the manager might well cash in on Walcott this summer, and while I would’t really complain if he did, I would still be unsure, however, because unlike Podolski, he does offer the team more than his goal scoring. Walcott primarily relies on his speed to create chances for himself, but he also uses this asset to create space for the team. If you look at any Arsenal game in which Walcott plays you will notice that he never stops moving and he really would be a nightmare to defend against. While I think Oxlade-Chamberlain’s overall game is better than Walcott’s (Welbeck too), Theo is far better with the final ball, be it an assist or a goal. I still think Walcott has plenty to offer the team, even with his limited technical abilities, he deserves the chance to come back from his injury, at Arsenal, but the club won’t be held to ransom over a new contract this time, and rightfully so. Verdict: Extend.
Right so that’s pretty much it, but I’d like to know which of these players contracts you would extend or which you would not. Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Subjectively, Cosmic Kid.