Position : Central Midfielder
Nation : Israel
2011/2012 Appearances : 25 (10 as sub)
One of 5 players who came on deadline day to Arsenal, but rather a loan than a permanent, Yossi Benayoun has gone to play a vital role this season. A technically sound and experienced midfielder, the Israel captain has helped the Gunners through a turbulent season.
Here is a lookback at Yossi Benayoun‘s season.
He came on as substitute for Andrey Arshavin in the second half against Swansea, and was given a start against German champions Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. He played a more forward role, owing to the fact that Arteta and Song played deeper in midfield.
He was an unused substitute in the 4-3 loss to Blackburn, but started in the League Cup, against Shrewsbury and scored a goal in the 78th minute, as Arsenal progressed 3-1. He missed the next two games, to injury, against Bolton in the league, and Olympiakos in the Champions League, but came on as a 72nd minute substitute against Tottenham and 76th minute substitute against Sunderland, but with little impact.
He was an unused sub in both Champions League games against Marseille, and in the league against Stoke. He started in the league cup game against Bolton, where he assisted Arshavin, for the equalizer. Arsenal went on to win 2-1. He was ineligible to play against his parent club Chelsea, and came on as a 72nd minute sub against West Brom, a 77th minute sub against Norwich, a 74th minute sub against Dortmund and a 80th minute sub against Wigan.
Surprisingly, he was named captain in the League Cup loss to Manchester City. Arsenal played really well, but lost to a late Sergio Aguero strike. He started in the Champions League loss at Olympiakos, and his industry earned him a fine goal in the 57th minute. He was again an unused sub in league games against Everton and Manchester City. But, he handed Arsenal a vital 3 points, scoring a 87th minute header.
He was rewarded with a start against Wolves in the next game, and he impressed with some neat play and even assisted Gervinho’s opening goal in the 8th minute. After missing the QPR game, he was a sub against Fulham, but didn’t make any impact. He would start in the 3-2 loss against Swansea, but was left a frustrated figure for large parts of the game. He was again relegated to the bench against Manchester United and Bolton in the league, and Aston Villa in the cup. With the game already in the bag, against Blackburn, Benayoun came on as a sub for Song.
He was back warming the bench, against Sunderland in the league, the 4-0 trouncing in Milan, and a 2-0 Cup exit against Sunderland. However, to everyone’s surprise, he was on the starting lineup in the North London derby, where he was brilliant, in the midfield, along side Rosicky and Benayoun, as Arsenal raced to a 5-2 win, after going 2-0 down in 34 minutes. He was partly responsible for causing confusion in the Sp*rs penalty area, allowing van Persie to score a screamer past Friedel.
He returned to his old club Liverpool, and was on the starting lineup again. This time, he didn’t build on his Sp*rs performance, as Liverpool’s enterprising midfield dominated, but Arsenal escaped with a 2-1 win. After being ruled out of the second leg against Milan due to injury, he was an unused sub against Newcastle, Everton, Aston Villa and QPR. He was back in the starting lineup for the big game against Manchester City, and he duly played his part, as Arsenal dominated the game from start to finish, winning 1-0 at the end.
He was Arsenal’s best player in a 3-0 win away at Wolves, constantly making good runs, and scoring a fine goal as well. He started in the home loss to Wigan, and despite some perfect headers, which were kept out by Al Habsi and some good buildup, Arsenal went on to lose 2-1. The Israeli was ineligible to play against Chelsea, and started the next game at Stoke, where he put in another hardworking display. He also helped create the first goal, robbing Ryan Shotton off possession, and setting up Rosicky to assist van Persie. He should have won a penalty late on, when he was bundled over by Glen Whelan, but the referee didn’t oblige.
He scored on his birthday, against Norwich, with just 70 seconds gone on the clock. His fine curling effort beat John Ruddy at the far post. Arsenal were held to a 3-3 draw. Benayoun would go on to score again in the final game of the season, when he made most of Martin Fulop’s hesitation to tap in front of an empty net. Arsenal secured Champions League qualification with this win.
Here are few key features of Yossi Benayoun‘s game.
1. Midfield Play
Benayoun is a smooth midfield player, with good skill and pace. He has the ability to score goals, as he was a striker before, and he can play as a holding midfielder, as well as an attacking midfielder, as he has demonstrated this season. His experience is undoubted, as he has played in Spain with Racing Santander, and in the Premiership with West Ham, Liverpool and Chelsea.
2. Possession and Passing
He has settled in well with the Arsenal style of play and rarely gives the ball away, making him a good backup for Arteta or Rosicky or Ramsey.
Benayoun was used in big games such as Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City as he is a box to box midfielder. He tracks back well, to help put Arteta and Song.
4. Work Rate
The Israeli has a consistent work rate. Though one cannot expect 90 minutes from him week in, week out, he has shown he can put in impressive displays when called upon.
SUMMARY AND RATING
Despite being a peripheral, or a squad player, Benayoun has shown true professionalism. He has been a real asset and has helped the team through a turbulent phase. I doubt he will hang on any longer in search of more first team football, in his final few years as a footballer. He gets a 7.