LONDON ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Louis Saha of Everton is outjumped Johan Djourou of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates Stadium on February 1 2011 in London England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
The Short Fuse's player season review series continues today with Swiss defender Johan Djourou.For Johan Djourou, the 2010/11 season was a reminder of his talent that was missed when the Swiss defender missed the entire 2009/10 season with a knee injury. Pressed into duty when Laurent Koscielny got injured, he started a little shaky, but improved as the season went on, forming successful partnerships with Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci. Starting with Arsenal's 3-1 victory over Chelsea, Djourou was a rock in the team until he suffered a dislocated shoulder away at Manchester United in the FA Cup, prompting fears that his season was over. He would return, but perhaps having been rushed back from injury (which says a lot about Squillaci), his performance suffered, and he was culpable against Tottenham, Stoke and Bolton. That perhaps may indicate his greatest weakness, losing concentration, but to say he's a bad defender because of that would be unfair, especially as he was part of a defense that conceded 2 goals in a period of 6 weeks.
Djourou's greatest strength is his aerial prowess and skill on the ball; in fact, according to whoscored.com, he completed a higher percentage of passes than any other player who started at least 15 games, and the percentage of aerial duels that he won, 58%, is more than vaunted strong English centre backs that are leaders Ryan Shawcross and Scott Dann, (and Arsenal targets Phil Jones and Ryan Nelsen) and is comparable to Jamie Carragher (and is the same as human battering ram Kevin Davies). Djoruou is also quite skillful for a centre back, and many a time used a silky touch or tackle to win the ball back and to initiate attacks.
One cannot ignore his end of season performance, which was quite poor, and lowers his grade for this season, but it is exciting to think about the partnership he could form with Thomas Vermaelen next year, which is a partnership that unfortunately we have been denied with them at their best. If Arsenal do get to see those two healthy, along with Laurent Koscielny and Kyle Bartley to deputise, there may be no reason to buy Chris Samba. After all, the set piece problem can be fixed with the players at hand.
Ted's emoticon: :D -----> :/