The curious case of Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh

Chamakh 2

What happened to Marouane Chamakh at Arsenal? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

The 29-year-old Moroccan striker moves to Crystal Palace on a one-year deal with the Eagles after failing to make the grade at Arsenal in what is a very curious case indeed.

Chamakh arrived in 2010 with great promise at the Emirates after an impressive and progressive eight-year spell at Bordeaux in the French top tier.

In his final season at the Ligue 1 outfit back in 2009/10, Chamakh scored 16 goals in all competitions, equaling his record from the previous term. Upon his arrival in North London, the striker appeared eager to impress – in the absence of an injured Robin van Persie, he was a welcome addition to Arsene Wenger’s squad, on a free transfer no less.

However, despite a promising start in his first term with the Gunners, Chamakh graduated faded away into the periphery at the Emirates – Van Persie’s return to full fitness saw his inclusion dip from an initial 29 league appearances in 2010/11 to just 11 in 2011/12 and finally, as his requirements deteriorated, he made not a single league appearance last term.

From the players’ perspective it is very difficult to score, impress and improve when you’re not getting regular access to first team football and from the club’s perspective it’s cumbersome to place any faith in a striker who isn’t regularly scoring goals.

In his first term, he managed 11 goals and 8 assists in all competitions but in the last two seasons he managed just one goal and one assist in all competitions – it’s no surprise the manager, the club and the fans lost patience with him.

But what actually happened? That’s my question. He was clearly not completely devoid of talent and enthusiasm when he arrived. I suspect Van Persie’s return to such spectacular form and fitness last term gave him a bit of a confidence shake. It would be hard for any striker in the league to not feel immense inferiority to such a world-class talent and I suspect his confidence, as well as match fitness were the crux of the issue.

It didn’t work out for him at Arsenal – no one could deny that fact – but I suspect it wasn’t his fault and I don’t think you can blame the manager or the club. He found the competition with Van Persie damaging to his confidence and, in reality, he just didn’t have the conviction, the fight or the capability to compete for his place at a top-four club in England.

image: © ronmacphotos

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