Arsenal Squad Player By Player: Who To Keep And Who To Ditch?

Chris Wright

13th, December 2012


By Chris Wright

You may have noticed that Arsenal are going through a bit of a slump of late which has culminated in them losing a few football matches against supposedly lesser opponents — in other words, IT’S CRISIS TIME AT THE EMIRATES!!!

Despite what you are being led to believe it’s not the end of the world; they’re still a fairly handy football team with a brilliant manager, but it’s apparent that the squad needs a good kick up the arse – failing that, a total overhaul – if expectations are to be met.

We thought we’d have a sift through, player by player, and see just who we’d keep and who we’d cast into the fiery pit that is the transfer list. As you’ll see, we haven’t concerned ourselves with the logistics of maintaining squad balance or providing replacements, we’ve just rated ’em and/or slated ’em…

Wojciech Szczesny – An athletic shot-stopper but fleetingly prone to poor decision-making and lacking in the kind of dominant reassuring presence that centre-backs crave. Absolutely worth keeping, but the procurement of a senior superior would be a fairly high priority. Verdict: Keep.

Lukasz Fabianski – An able deputy left low on confidence by years of second fiddle syndrome. Also seems to play in complete silence – a dangerous trait in a goalkeeper if so. Verdict: Ditch.

Vito Mannone – We’ve long considered Mannone to be the better ‘keeper of he and Fabianski but, for a club with upper Premier League aspirations the Italian should be considered as a back-up and nothing more. Verdict: Keep for now.

Bacary Sagna – By virtue of being utterly tireless, positionally sound, vastly experienced and having a fairly under-rated cross on him these days, Sagna’s definitely one to keep hold of. Verdict: Keep.

Per Mertesacker – Per has his knockers *ahem!* but you don’t pick up 85 Germany caps without being incredibly good at something. He’s a solid centre-back but, unfortunately, Mertesacker can struggle to keep up in flat foot races with the Premier League’s nippier strikers (we can sympathise) meaning his one defensive shortfall is glaringly apparent when it crops up. Verdict: Keep.

Thomas Vermaelen – The best (and most versatile) defender at the club by a clear margin. Verdict: Keep.

Laurent Koscielny – He may have naff games from time to time but Kos is essentially improving all the time. Verdict: Keep.

Sebastien Squillaci – You could see the logic in adding a fairly cheap, grizzled, seasoned campaigner to a reedy defensive garrison, but Squillaci’s signing just hasn’t paid any noticeable dividends other than padding out the bench. Verdict: Ditch.

Johan Djourou – The time has come and gone for Djourou to burst through. He was poised at one point a couple of seasons ago, but has lay dormant since for one reason or another. Verdict: Ditch.

Andre Santos – A groaning liability whenever he plays at left-back. Wayward and ineffective going forward, undisciplined and easily brushed aside coming back. A gamble of a signing which we reckon Arsene secretly regrets making and a figurehead for the flimsy fringe of the Arsenal squad. Verdict: Ditch.

Carl Jenkinson – As with Koscielny, Jenks is ever improving though yet to fully convince. There is plenty of time for that though. Verdict: Keep.

Kieran Gibbs – A promising young left-back who just needs to toughen up – though of course there’s every possibility that there’s nothing he can do about his persistent injury niggles because sometimes DNA is just a complete bastard. Verdict: Keep.

Abou Diaby – You keep him; you get three imperious performances a season and a mountainous physiotherapy bill. You ditch him; you surrender the possibility of him eventually fulfilling his incredible potential at your club. Verdict: Keep.

Tomas Rosicky  – Still floats around effortlessly when called upon, but a sustained starting berth is almost definitely out of the question these days due to general knack. He’s a high standard squad player to have in reserve, but maybe a clean break would benefit both parties. Verdict: Ditch.

Mikel Arteta – A steady presence in Arsenal’s midfield this season though you cant help but feel Arteta is the kind of player Arsenal should have been signing 3/4/5 years ago. Verdict: Keep.

Jack Wilshere  – No brainer really. Verdict: Keep.

Aaron Ramsey – Has looked relatively sluggish and hesitant since returning from his gruesome broken leg. Might be worth loaning him out at one of the Championship’s better ball-playing sides to help him get the ‘edge’ back while Arsenal’s central midfield is relatively plush. Verdict: Keep.

Santi Cazorla – No question. Verdict: Keep, and don’t ever let go!

Francis Coquelin – Looks alright but it’s far too soon to make any judgement on his longevity. Verdict: May as well keep.

Andrei Arshavin – We love Arshavin, but for purely non-footballing reasons and that’s the problem really. Just isn’t going to be part of Arsenal’s future. Simple as that. Verdict: Ditch.

Lukas Podolski – Doesn’t possess quite as much class as many people appear give him credit for, but the German forward is definitely too good to let go in the current climate – though we’ve never rated him much as a wideman. Might be worth trying out ‘up top’, possibly playing off Giroud. Verdict: Keep.

Theo Walcott – We’d be sorely tempted to sever all ties if he keeps carrying on like he’s the second coming of Thierry, but there’s a more than decent player in there somewhere. Verdict: Keep.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Only 19-years-old and definitely needs the rough edges polishing, but a gem’s a gem. Verdict: Keep.

Olivier Giroud – After an unsteady start, we’re starting to see an effective battering ram frontman. Fearsome in the air and more than capable of leading the line when he plays with the wind behind him. Could do with a ‘little man’ (Podolski?) darting around to help him on occasion as he’s not really agile enough to play up-front alone all the time. Verdict: Keep.

Marouane Chamakh – The look of outright shock on his face when he scored against Reading said it all. Even he doesn’t expect it any more. Forlorn, out of form and unlikely to recover it at The Emirates. High time for him and his terrible, terrible hair to move on. Verdict: Ditch.

Gervinho – The Ivorian wisp almost perfectly typifies Arsenal at the moment: a lightweight stopgap solution, routinely disappointing and prone to tragically misfiring at crucial moments, all the while offering momentary, though increasingly rare glimpses of why you kept faith in the first place. Verdict: Not good enough. Ditch, ditch, ditch.

* * * * * 

There we go; that’s Pies’ verdict, how about showing us yours? There are no rules, you don’t have to worry about funding replacements, etc. All you have to do is sort the wheat from the chaff.

Here’s a handy copy-and-paste list of the Arsenal first team squad if you fancy having a stab…

Wojciech Szczesny
Lukasz Fabianski
Vito Mannone
Bacary Sagna
Per Mertesacker
Thomas Vermaelen
Laurent Koscielny
Andre Santos
Sebastien Squillaci
Johan Djourou
Carl Jenkinson
Kieran Gibbs
Abou Diaby
Tomas Rosicky
Mikel Arteta
Jack Wilshere
Aaron Ramsey
Santi Cazorla
Francis Coquelin
Andrei Arshavin
Theo Walcott
Lukas Podolski
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Olivier Giroud
Marouane Chamakh

Right. We’ve kitted you out, now let’s hear it!

Posted in Arsenal, Featured, Opinion, Top 10s & lists

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  1. bear says:

    Disagree with you on Rosicky and Diaby, I also think Coquelin is better than Ramsey, but the rest are pretty sound.

  2. Ashley says:

    Great piece Chris. Agree with almost all of it. Ramsey is being played out of position and he still has a great future at Arsenal if he starts in the middle.

    Rosicky must stay. He will be very important in the second half of the season

  3. Pes says:

    Bang on with almost every single one. I think my only difference would be in keeping rosicky for the time being and cutting our losses with Aaron Ramsey.

    Having ditched all the players you suggested, arsenal would have to buy a centre half, someone to replace santos (not sure if that person should be a first choice ahead of Gibbs, probably should be if we’re breaking out this spiral of averageness), a centre mid like diaby for the 95% of games he misses, and another centre forward. If I’m getting greedy, a winger who has a bit of creativity rather than just pace would cap it off.

  4. Jamie says:

    Why not have Walcott as the little man in and around Giroud?

  5. Mr Sensible says:

    I’m no Arsenal fan but from the past 2 seasons Vermaelen has been nowhere near their best defender, in fact he’s been pretty poor. Mertesacker and Koscielny have been far better, think people are basing their opinions on Vermaelen based purely on his first season. Similar with Ramsey, never seen a great performance from him, seems to get sympathy because of the injury. Carzola is also overly hyped, a great player but 2 assists in the last 12 games (one of them being the dive for the penalty) is not good for a player bought to create goals.

    I’ve always felt one of Wenger’s faults is his stubbornness to spend big now and then. If you have the money then there’s nothing wrong with doing it, maybe Wenger’s scared to take the risk, but it’s something Ferguson has never been scared to do, he can get your bargains like Schmeichel, Kanchelskis, Solskajer, Vidic, Hernandez but he can also splash the cash on players like Rooney and Rio who may seem ridiculously expensive but when you see what they contribute to the team over the years they’re worth every penny.

  6. af says:

    Agree with most decisions.

    But Walcott out, smug and inconsistent. Go crash at Man.City.

    Let’s just stop Arsène from buying French just for the sake of buying French, and it will all get much better.

    Buy players from the Bundesliga, it will all get much better fast and for little money.

  7. df says:

    Vermaelen hasn’t been good recently, which is weird since he’s quite good when he plays for the National Team (having Kompany by his side helps). I’d keep him though. Just buy a great central defender with a big personality to help him manage the lot.

    Cazorla is overrated. He’s good but who cares if it does not help the club to win anything.

  8. Eeny says:

    Ditch them all and sign Barcelona.

  9. Matt says:

    What about throwing the manager into the mix?!

  10. ian says:

    keep Ramsay and ditch Rosicky? Goodness no, swap those two names in a heartbeat.
    Walcott doesn’t want to stay so should also go.
    Keep or ditch Wenger? Ditch if Arsenal fail to reach champions league. Get rid of him if he does qualify for champions league but doesn’t win a trophy between now and the end of the 13/14 season.

  11. will says:

    ditch walcott if he doesn’t sign and santos,
    at the moment with those 2 on the pitch we lack a left and right wing
    walcott drifts inside and disappears for the rest of the game while santos likes to run up the left wing and then spend the rest of the game fouling people so they can’t break past him, bg problem this season is tactically astute players deciding where they want to play then offering very little productivity when they play where they decide they are best

  12. Congo says:

    Keep Rosicky, ditch Ramsey. Rosicky is capable of, and has, man of the match performances. Ramsey does not come close.

    Agree with Chamakh and Gervinho=ditch.

    We never replaced Song with the likes of an M’vila(although I agree with buying non-french for once) so that Arteta can play in his natural role.

    We need a world-class striker. Giroud and Henry(sadly) are not that. I feel that Giroud is going the path of Chamakh, and that saddens me. I am unsure of the name of who that would be (it certainly is not Podolski or Walcott as a central striker). I dearly miss the days of Ian Wright, then Henry+Bergkamp, and then RVP. We need to find the next in a long generation of legends for the club.

  13. Joe says:

    I’m not an Arsenal fan and so haven’t seen as much of the team as others here, but I tend to agree with Ian (11) – Ramsey looks more and more like one of the What-could-have-been Brigade, whilst Rosicky retains an air of class.

    I’d also ditch Mertesacker as, as slow as he is in a straight line, it’s nothing compared to when he’s forced to turn or change direction. Also, for such a big guy he only seems to be able to aerially dominate when he’s in the opposition’s penalty area.

  14. Allan says:

    I agree with everyone but Diaby. Is he good enough? Yes but will he ever experience what its like to be match fit? Nope never has never will he was signed at 17 while out for 6 months injured and thats were hes stayed for nearly 10 years.

    The frustrating thing is that im far happier with the team on paper this season than last but its just not clicking without a good defensive midfielder. we need some bite.

  15. Tom says:

    Disagree with rosicky and ramsey. Ramsey is a championship/low prem standard players who is simply not good enough to compete at the top level after his injury. Rosicky is very underrated and proved at the end of last season what he is capable of. Apart from that agree with the rest.

    Completely agree with Congo, we need a top class stiker, as well as a holding mid. (m’vila)

  16. Toni says:

    I agree on every decision except for Walcott. Great player on his good days, but too inconsistent for the money that one could earn by selling him.
    One problem with having Podolski play as a second, deeper striker is, which system are you gonna play if you want Cazorla, Arteta and Wilshere on the pitch? Only possibility would be a 4-4-2 with a diamond with Diaby on the deepest position. I don’t see that happening. The system seems to old-school and it doesn’ t provide enough width on the wings.
    Thought experiment: Buy one of the Benders (preferably Sven, but Lars will do just fine as well), let him play the holding role in a 4-2-3-1 and get an intelligent, modern winger to replace Walcott. I hear Alexis Sanchez is for sale.
    Alternatively, buy as much Dortmund players as possible (which will be very little, since they don’t have to sell anyone). Wilshere taken aside (who is equivalent too Gündogan), the Dortmund midfield is superior to Arsenal’s on every position. And if Giroud isn’t becoming the new Henry, Lewandowski just might (maybe more Bergkamp then Henry).

  17. Mr Sensible says:

    Like I said earlier I ain’t a Gooner but why don’t you play Walcott up top, surely Carzola was made to have a guy like Walcott ahead of him, to thread through balls for Walcott to run onto.

    Playing Giroud is very limited, he seems alright but someone who’s gonna get most his goals from crosses which isn’t very Arsenal.

    I’d go with

    Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker Gibbs
    Wilshere Arteta
    Ox Carzola Padolski

    I would prefer Diaby to Arteta but he’s injured all the time. Toni’s right, you wouldn’t be bad trying to get a few Dortmund players, Gündogan, Lewandowski, Subotić, Bender, Hummels, Götze and Reus would all drastically improve you, not that they would sell all of them.

  18. az says:

    @Mr Sensible

    He’s injured all the time anyway. You need another striker ready at anytime

  19. Fac says:

    -Lukasz Fabianski Ditch useless

    -Laurent Koscielny Ditch everytime makes some disasters

    -Andre Santos Ditch why we bought him?

    -Sebastien Squillaci Ditch useless

    -Johan Djourou Ditch but better than Koscielny

    -Mikel Arteta Ditch always impalpable

    -Santi Cazorla Ditch with him Arsenal is playing the worst football of the Wenger era, slow and predictable. Think is enough… (and, Arshavin is way way way better)

    -Marouane Chamakh Ditch usefull

    -Gervinho Ditch a striker that can’t strike

  20. Delgie says:

    I’m a Gooner. Here’s my list:

    Wojciech Szczesny – Keep
    Lukasz Fabianski – Ditch for Jack Butland
    Vito Mannone- Keep for now
    Bacary Sagna – Keep
    Per Mertesacker – Keep
    Thomas Vermaelen – Keep
    Laurent Koscielny – Keep
    Andre Santos – Ditch for Leighton Baines/ Sergio Ramos/ Aly Cissokho
    Sebastien Squillaci – Ditch
    Johan Djourou – Ditch
    Carl Jenkinson – Keep for now
    Kieran Gibbs – Ditch for Leighton Baines/ Sergio Ramos/ Aly Cissokho
    Abou Diaby – Ditch for Blaise Matuidi/ Yann M’Vila
    Tomas Rosicky – Keep
    Mikel Arteta – Keep
    Jack Wilshere – Keep
    Aaron Ramsey – Ditch for Mario Goetze
    Santi Cazorla – Keep
    Francis Coquelin – Keep
    Andrei Arshavin – Ditch
    Theo Walcott – Ditch for Willfried Zaha
    Lukas Podolski – Keep
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Keep
    Olivier Giroud – Keep
    Marouane Chamakh – Ditch for Klass Jan Huntelaar/ Fernando Llorente
    Gervinho – Ditch for Loic Remy

  21. Andersinho says:

    Yep I tend to agree with you on all but Rosicknote. I think he is a great player and adds something every time he comes off the bench.

    Gervinho is fucking useless…

  22. jules says:

    I think that Ramsey still needs time and has the quality and ability to make it as for Rosicky he is a class act and should be kept! I would like to see Huntelaar brouht in because he is a finisher proven unlike Chamakh and to a lesser extent Giroud. As for Walcott the time and money spent on this guys development the fact that he is considering leaving on a free not even giving us a chance to recoup some money we wasted on him makes me feel sick. I think he is capable of playing up front if we played a 4-4-2 formation not centrally though in the current 4-3-3 either way he is still a slimey jerk off.

  23. Nanny Plum says:

    Diaby has to go which is a shame because he’s a damn fine footballer. He’s fucked though. AFC need someone in his role who can play for a whole season & not a few weeks.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Santi Cazorla is way way overrated, Arshavin was (is) so much better

  25. John Terry says:

    Summary of comments:
    Keep Rosicky 8
    Ditch Rosicky 0

    Now please fix your article.

  26. Luke says:

    Big fan of your analysis of Gervinho as typifying Arsenal. But I would disagree with ‘ditch’ because here is how I see Gervinho – same as I see Arsenal – a huge amount of raw talent being watered down for some reason or other. Whether its because he hasn’t found the right chemistry with the other players, whether he is being asked to play differently to how he’d like to play or whether he simply hasn’t got the mindset of a world-class player – both Gervinho and Arsenal are at a breaking point – will they prove they are still worthy of being considered at the very top of English football or will they let their potential fade?

  27. Herman says:

    Ditch Wilshire. He is overrated beyond belief.

  28. squiggle says:

    For myself, I’d keep Rosicky, although I can see that leaving might be better for his career.

    I’d also keep Gervinho. Incredibly frustrating, of course, but that’s partly because he’s very talented.

    Chamakh needs to leave, but I agree that it’s not because he lacks talent; it’s just that he’s never going to use it at Arsenal. I’d love to see him team up with Gourcuff again.

  29. […] View original article. This entry was posted in Arsenal and tagged Alex, Arsenal, Arshavin, Arteta, Best, Chamakh, Diaby, Djourou, Fabianski, Gibbs, Koscielny, Mannone, Mikel, Ramsey, Rosicky, Sagna, Squillaci, Thomas, Vermaelen, Walcott by admin. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  30. Ben says:

    Strongly disagree on Diaby and Rosicky..

    Diaby is on £60k per week and is never fit… even if he managed 6 games in a season (which he wont) that is £500,000 per game!!

    he has the potential but he will never live up to it.. he cant stay fit

    as to rosicky.. he has had a couple of poor seasons with injury but he is still playing 20+ games a year.. last year after xmas he saved our season. admittedly not a starting 11 player anymore.. but a good squaddie as can play across mid

  31. Chris says:

    Wojciech Szczesny – keep the keeper
    Lukasz Fabianski – done; let him go elsewhere and be a starter
    Vito Mannone – keep
    Bacary Sagna – DITCH; Jenkinson is the future at this position. Offload Sagna while we can get some money for him. His crosses are very poor and he dives to much bringing shame on the club
    Per Mertesacker – keep; he has really stepped up and been playing like a BIG man finally
    Thomas Vermaelen – keep; no brainer best defender on the team
    Laurent Koscielny – ditch; plenty of top class replacements for him; unreliable on defense no presence on the attack
    Andre Santos – ditch please; fat slow and lazy and not much quality to speak of
    Sebastien Squillaci – who? ditch
    Johan Djourou – ditch; own goals are bad
    Carl Jenkinson – keep; future for arsenal at right back
    Kieran Gibbs – keep; epitome of an English full back; good hustle, good marking, good in the attack; future at left back
    Abou Diaby – keep; at a minimum it gives the physios sharp; if healthy could be a better holding mid than Song
    Tomas Rosicky – keep; i have been a Rosicky hater but you cant deny his determination; great asset when the schedule gets busy
    Mikel Arteta – keep but STOP PLAYING HIM AS A HOLDING MID!
    Jack Wilshere – easy keep; should captain the side next season
    Aaron Ramsey – keep for now; loan out to a competitive team and see if he can re find his form
    Santi Cazorla – keep; Cazorla and Wilshere plus another world class mid could round out the best midfield in the world (once Xavi retires)
    Francis Coquelin – keep for now; loan out and see how he develops
    Andrei Arshavin – hard to say but time to offload
    Theo Walcott – ditch; not worth his buck, sell to Juve
    Lukas Podolski – keep; probably has the best eye for goal on the squad
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – keep; best winger on the squad
    Olivier Giroud – keep; found his role and playing like a top class striker when he gets the ball
    Marouane Chamakh – ditch; not living up to potential; Giroud fills the role he was brought in for
    Gervinho – ditch; potential brings nothing to the team

  32. There's only one john tierney says:

    I’d sooner get rid of Diaby and keep Rosicky.
    MY team from what remains (i.e. with no new signings) would be :
    Sagna, Mert, Vermaelen, Gibbs
    Walcott Wilshere/Cazorla Ox

    Would like to see Fellaini and Lewanovski come on board tho!

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