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Posted: 28/08/2011
By Darren Bowser
Category: Panel

One to watch: Part 2 Defining season for

Part 2 of 3 - In this 3 part feature our panel will be identifying the 'One to watch' in 3 categories. Part 1 looked at the impact of 'Emerging talent' and Part 3 will look at the club's potential 'key performer'.  In this article, Part 2, we asked AL writers Mike Strevens & Adam Pembrey and forum member Joe Kiddle to provide their views on which players have a 'defining season' ahead of them both for their own career's and the club's fortunes.

Joe Kiddle

Theo Walcott
was one of our best players last year, a total of 9 goals and 8 assists was bettered only by Van Persie. However, for all his improvement, goals and assists, there is still a lot of criticism of our pacy striker-come-winger, and in my opinion, a lot of that criticism is fair. For all his pace and finishing ability, we still often see Theo sprinting towards his full back only to see he's either left the ball behind or has no way of getting round the defender. It's something that has improved over the seasons, but still needs a lot of work. At 23, Theo will now be entering his peak years and expectation will be higher than ever. He no longer has the youthful, inexperienced card to play and this season will be his opportunity to really make that step up from an exciting, promising youngster, to a consistant, top class player. His delivery of crosses is much improved and with extra bulk and strength, he has the chance to make himself a nightmare for fullbacks to play against. Whilst it may not be a 'career' defining season for Theo, I definitely think this is his year to make that step up to the next level.

Adam Pembrey

Andrey Arshavin signed for Arsenal at the end of (well just after if we're honest) the January 09 transfer window. His first 4 months or so were terrific, notably for his outstanding first goal against Blackburn and of course his 4 goal haul at Anfield. However in his 2 full seasons since then he hasn't quite lived up to expectations. It would be harsh to say he has been a flop, and overly generous to describe him as a hit, the truth is somewhere in between. The stats bear this out to a large degree, he has 84 starts, 24 sub appearances and 28 goals to his name so far, not terrible by any means and he crops up with a fair amount of assists as well.

The thing is though, many of us were hoping and expecting him to be a hero, a superstar, a trophy winner, and so far he hasn't provided that. In fact for the last few months of the 2010-11 season he spent a lot of time on the bench with Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri occupying the wide positions when fit.

The latter has of course departed however with new signing Gervinho and additional young recruits in Chamberlain and Ryo added to the aformentioned Walcott, Arshavin won't find himself being picked by default for long. There is an argument that he is more suited to a central role than out wide but Arsenal employ a fluid system that allows him to drift inside regularly, therefore he now needs to show he is a world class talent and we right to be so  excited by him arrival. If not we could see him depart and become another quickly forgotten name.

Mike Strevens

This is definitely a make-or-break year for Marouane Chamakh, who may find his Arsenal career coming to an abrupt end unless he is able to rediscover the form that made him such a nuisance for the first few months of last season.

When he poked home his tenth goal of the season at Villa Park last November, it appeared to confirm that Arsene’s eye for a bargain was as sharp as ever. Having been on the radar for some time, Wenger finally got his man on a free transfer from Bordeaux and the Moroccan made a good early impression, scoring three times in the warm-up matches.

With Robin van Persie’s annual lengthy spell on the sidelines falling even earlier than usual, Chamakh did an admirable job leading in the attack, providing an aerial threat that we had been sorely lacking. Fast-forward a year and his stock has plummeted. That goal against Villa proved to be his last in the league, with a solitary strike against Leyton Orient in the FA Cup bringing his final tally to 11.

Chamakh suffered the reverse of what often happens when we buy a player from the French League. Instead of taking a few months to settle in, he made an immediate impact followed by a rapid and alarming decline. In January he complained of burn-out, admitting he had ‘lost his edge’.

With Nicklas Bendtner on his way out and van Persie’s notorious injury record liable to strike at any time, our chances of success may well depend on him regaining his edge quickly. Sadly, there have been no signs to suggest this will happen any time soon as a series of limp displays in pre-season suggest a player whose confidence is still shot.  Wenger will demand to see a vast improvement from him this term and if that doesn’t materialise, he may be tempted to cash in on him as soon as January.

Editor's summary

It is no surprise that our panellists have all picked attacking players with the loss of two key players in that department. Gervinho has signed to form a potentially very potent front 3, however our newly appointed captain has history of missing a large part of most seasons whilst Dane Nicklas Bendtner is another set for an Emirates exit. Chamakh at some point, as last season, will need to play a telling role and contribute goals and performances. Arshavin may be a cameo performer, playing in spells, but his numbers in goals and assists are impressive and vital we'll need more of the same. Whether the fitness and hunger is there to facilitate is the question.

Theo Walcott is a different case to the afore mentioned pair, a first choice player yet to reach his peak years but there is a necessity for Theo to make a step forward this season. He will be a part of a front 3 that may need to take a larger share of the teams goals but equally part of front line that is capable of doing just that. There are calls for a central role for Theo from some quarters but haven already taken two goals he has proven he has the movement and freedom to make the use of his pace and movement in central positions and turn that into goals.



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