Marouane Chamakh, Sebastian Squilacci, Johan Djourou, Andre Santos and Andrei Arshavin – when does the exception become the rule?
Marouane Chamakh could have been rotated in to the Arsenal squad more often and had his confidence built back up again.
There could have been more of an attempt to tailor a system to his qualities in the way Wenger has adapted his system slightly to incorporate Olivier Giroud. Crosses from wide areas and a focus on set-piece training could have been introduced when he still had a shred of self-esteem left.
Sebastian Squilacci was an experienced international centre-back who should (on paper) have qualified as much more than just a worst-case-scenario second-string substitute. He’s another one whose confidence is non-existent and whose career is over.
Surely his previously commendable record provides reason enough to question the manager’s commitment to merely maintaining a standard of performance that had been built up for the best part of decade at a number of Europe’s top clubs.
It won’t come as a surprise that Johan Djourou wishes to leave Arsenal, despite being the club’s longest-serving player in the current squad. For over a decade he’s been waiting for his chance and when it came no one could genuinely fault his effort.
He is not a right-back and I wouldn’t even begin to suggest Wenger doesn’t already know that but, when needs must, he was played there and he looked ridiculously uncomfortable. That won’t have done his confidence any favours.
It’s not exactly as if the trio I shall refer to as ‘Vermelnacker’ have set the world on fire with their defensive displays – I wonder whether Djourou could have been played a little bit more often. He probably couldn’t have been much worse?
Santos is a strange one – is he really a left-back? Shirt-swapping treachery aside, he’s a decent winger – he wouldn’t be the first choice on the flank but if someone somewhere in the world wanted a Brazilian winger with a capacity for a dead-ball special every once in a while, he’d be a good shout.
But the fact that he can’t even dislodge Kieran Gibbs from his position says it all really – it’s a case of better the devil you know isn’t quite there yet and Wenger should never really have brought Santos in in the first place.
Finally, the biggest underachiever of the bunch in many ways is the formerly world-class Andrei Arshavin. Arsenal’s record transfer was simply magical in his first couple of seasons. Even when he appears here and there now, he’s capable of exceptional quality.
The fact that he apparently can’t be bothered to demonstrate his talent anymore cannot just be down to the player. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes but something must have gone awry for him to have fallen so far down the pecking order.
I could understand it if he was up against a higher pedigree of competition for his position but, with his talents and even at his age, he could have remained one of the league’s really special players. As it stands, his memory represents everything Arsenal Football Club used to be and his disintegration represents the most worrying trend stifling their future.
image: © wonker