Position : Centre-Back
Nation : Switzerland
2011/2012 Appearances : 27 (8 as sub)
Considered by many to be a player not good enough to represent the Gunners, Swiss centre-back Johan Djourou has had another mixed season.
After coming on as a sub in injury time against Newcastle in the opening league fixture, he came on as a sub again in the Champions League Qualifiers First Leg against Udinese to replace Gibbs, just after half time after the English centre-back suffered a hamstring strain. His match ended 8 minutes later, after he too suffered an injury, but not before he made a crucial tackle on Antonio di Natale, who was in a position to score.
In the absence of Koscielny in the second leg, he would play a key role in keeping out Udinese for large parts of the game. He was also involved in the humiliation at Old Trafford, where he conceded numerous free-kicks, assisting United on their way to a 8-2 win.
He then started in the 3-1 win over Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup, before replacing an injured Bacary Sagna in the 4-3 loss to Blackburn. He would go on to make an impact in Marseille, in the Champions League, where he crossed late on for Ramsey’s winner, after coming on as a 62nd minute sub. His next starts would be against Stoke and Chelsea, where he deputized at right-back.
An unused sub against Marseille at home, he would come on as late subs against Norwich and Borussia Dortmund. He, however did get starts against Fulham in the league and the Carling Cup exit to Manchester City.
Djourou played in the 3-1 loss to Olympiakos in Greece, where several defensive errors, led to a comprehensive win for the Greek side. With Arsenal out of right-backs, the Swiss was now playing as a makeshift. He started against Everton, and move to the central position against Manchester City, when both left-backs, Gibbs and Santos were ruled out. His injury against the Sky Blues, meant he had to be subbed early in the second half and would go on to miss the next league game, against Aston Villa. He returned to the squad for Wolves and QPR.
Arsenal lost all their league games in January. The first was an away loss to Fulham, where Djourou struggled against the likes of Murphy, Dempsey and Ruiz. He received marching orders, rather harshly, when he bundled over Bobby Zamora. Arsenal conceded 2 goals late on to lose 2-1. He would start against Manchester United at right-back, and was played out of the park by the combination of Giggs and Nani. He suffered, and rarely got in a block or a tackle. He was replaced in the second half by 18 year old defender Nico Yennaris, who put in a much better display.
He would not feature till another calamitous performance at the San Siro, where he replaced the injured Koscielny at half-time. The Gunners concede twice, including a penalty, when Djourou clumsily tumbled over Zlatan Ibrahimovic. His poor form continued against Sunderland in the FA Cup, when Arsenal lost 2-0, when he partnered Sebastien Squillaci in the centre of defence.
Owing to Koscielny’s injury, he would start against Aston Villa, where he put in a much improved performance. He would get two more starts, at the expense of Koscielny, due to suspension, against Wolves and Wigan. While he was rarely troubled at Wolves, he put up another poor display against Wigan, where the impressive Victor Moses had him under wraps numerous times. The quick counter attack of Wigan saw them score the first, with the Swiss defender hopelessly out of position.
Here are few key features of Johan Djourou‘s season.
Clearly lacking decisiveness. He has been played at right-back, but yet you would expect a defender with 150 Premier League games under his belt to do better. His tackles can go horribly wrong at times, and have cost the team this season.
An aspect which needs a lot of working on. The goals conceded against Milan and Wigan, were the results of poor positioning. Against Manchester United, he was in poor position as Giggs crossed for Valencia’s opening goal.
3. Other Defensive Aspects
While his positioning clearly needs working upon, so does his pace and his ability to tackle the more physical attackers. Short of pace, in a league with speedy wingers, is not good enough. Also, when he had to face the physical challenges against Fulham and Olympiakos, he failed miserable.
SUMMARY AND RATING
Despite all the negativity surrounding him, it ain’t bad to have him as a 4th choice centre-back. With nearly 142 league appearances for the Gunners, as well as 15 for Switzerland, Djoruou does have a bit of experience with him. Whether he is good enough to play for Arsenal, is yet another question. He gets a 6.