Handle Djourou With Care


First of all, the recent Arsenal injury news has been driving me nuts. At the end of November, Eboue’s injury looked serious and we were told that he would out for 4-5 weeks. He then returned just a game later. Koscielny’s injury scare was even worse, as it was thought he would be out until the New Year. Now he seems to be fit to face Partizan tonight. It’s great that our players are recovering so remarkably fast! However, do think of us fans when you tell us that a player is out for so long, it just increases our tensions!

Djourou is also apparently taking no part in tonight’s game against Partizan because of a thigh problem. Although Wenger did tell us that they’re being ‘cautious’ more than anything else. It just also shows how important Djourou has suddenly become for our campaign this season.

When Djourou was sent out on loan to Birmingham in 2007, I didn’t think he’d have a chance to break through into the Arsenal first team. He did play relatively well though, and then came back. His horrific knee injury then set him back again, adding doubts to his future at Arsenal last season.

His transformation and rehabilitation after injury has really been superb. I don’t know to whose credit his revival should go to, but nonetheless, Djourou has been like a new signing to Arsenal this season.

In all his appearances so far at Arsenal, he hasn’t done too much wrong. His performance against Fulham really did showcase his defensive capabilities, especially in the air. Arsene Wenger used the word ‘dominant’ to describe his game against Fulham last weekend. That really is the perfect word. Dominance is something we haven’t seen recently in the Arsenal defense, especially since Vermaelen’s absence from the first team.

He’d probably still not make the first team on a regular basis after Vermaelen is back. Either Squillaci or Koscielny will partner Vermaelen at the heart of defence then. Atleast now we have a strong defensive cover that is dependable even on difficult matches.

Djourou (if injury free!) should still get match time in the remaining Carling Cup games and also possibly be a regular starter for the F.A. Cup campaign next season. He really should use these games to build more confidence and put together a string of consistent performances under his belt.

Arsene Wenger has seemed to put one of those stickers on him labelled ‘Fragile – Handle With Care’. He probably should be, but not to a large extent. If Djourou is to build into the quality world-class defender that we need him to be, then Wenger really shouldn’t hesitate or think twice before playing him. It’s time to put his injuries behind and treat him like a totally different player in the Arsenal ranks.

One thing I am happy that Wenger hasn’t done with him is turn him into a DM, which Djourou himself had proposed to be a couple of years back after the departure of Flamini. That would’ve been disastrous as he really does look like a natural CB and I can’t see him playing anywhere else now.

Finally, credit to Djourou for not turning into his erratic Swiss counterpart Philippe Senderos. Two thumbs up for Johan! The future for Arsenal just keeps looking bright.

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