Blows hot and cold – scored a sublime first goal for Arsenal against Hamburg, then provided the miss of the season against Moscow. He’s been badly hampered by injuries this season and we have to hope that’s down to luck. Towards the end of the season, he showed a goalscoring touch, timing a couple of superb runs into the box. Could be a regular on either flank, cutting inside. He’s got the ability, and he can hit them too.
Many think he’s past it now and should be sold. I say keep him, as long as he’s happy playing the squad role. He showed against Bolton that he still has the finisher’s touch when he feels comfortable, and although his pace is gone and he suffers from continual injury, he can fill in when we need him to. Sure, he’ll never be a regular first choice again, but if he’s happy to accept that I think we should keep him for another year. If he can’t, the we should get 3-4m for him. He’s not old yet, and could still do a fantastic job for a lesser team.
Hleb comes second only to Julio Baptista on the list of players people seem to want kicked out the door. Personally, I’d like to see him stay at least another year.
There’s no doubting Hleb is a skilful dribbler, but his main two problems this season have been an inability or unwillingness to shoot, rather try to pass, and his repeated trick of passing to the opposition and not tracking back. He has recognised the first problem, and needs to be given a chance to rectify it.
As for the second, we get constantly frustrated with Hleb playing poor final balls. I’d like to see him play alongside our first choice strikers, making the runs he is looking for, and with the ability to finish those chances he creates. Then we’ll see how good he is.
Give him another year.
I mention him here because chances are he’ll be playing on the wing again next season. He’s shown flashes of ability to justify his price tag, and at the age he is we can expect no more than that. His cool finishing for the Under 21s and in the Carling Cup final bodes very well.
I’d like to see him play 20-25 games next season, playing up front in the League Cup. Has a lot of promise.
Player of the season? Certainly a strong contender, for a whole host of reasons. He protected a back four gallantly, he led the team and appeared to be captain by proxy at times, and he scored more goals than the rest of the midfield. What concerns me is that I think this season’s goal tally is a one off. There were quite a few penalties, and other than that, he only scored in that superb run he had before Christmas. Since then, he’s back to normal. I can’t help but think that even though he’s been in goalscoring form this season, we’ll have to look elsewhere for goals from the midfield next time around.
Overall though, he’s had a superb season, and now he may even have competition for his place, which should drive him onwards.
After Dan Smith assaulted him last season, he took some time to recover, but since he’s returned he’s, at times, prompted us all to comment how Vieira-like he is. Other times, he looks a bit out of place, but that’s probably because he can’t get into he favoured position. Central midfield is a crowded place, we won’t know how good he is until he gets a run there.
What can be said about Cesc that hasn’t already? He is approaching legendary status already and he’s only recently turned 20. It’s astonishing to think how could he can be, and with most players with his ability you’d expect a little complacency. Not Cesc. When interviewed, as a teenager, is a language other than his native tongue, he still came across as one of the more mature players around.
His eight year contract will make Arsenal fans everywhere smile. Sure, he wants to go back to Spain one day. But not yet, not even nearly.
As for this season, his first half was awesome, before he tailed off a little. What impressed me the most is that he came out to say the midfield needed to score more, and then took it upon himself to take those shots and drive himself forward. Inspiring.
What a prospect. Who wouldn’t want to have a young skilful Brazilian with a terrific work ethic and a willingness to wait for his chances in the team?
Denilson crept in almost unnoticed on deadline day last year, and although he wasn’t expected to feature at all this season, contributed well, in the cups especially. It’s too early to heap too much on his shoulders, but a squad player like him really helps fill out the ability in the squad. Still needs to build himself up physically though.
Chose to fight for his place in the most crowded area of the squad, and failed. Always tried his best, scored a few important goals, but will probably move on this summer, and good luck to him.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Conclusions – sell Song, Flamini, bring in a winger. Get Cesc, Rosicky and Hleb into goalscoring positions more, and make another call on Hleb and Ljungberg next summer.