Hands up if you’ve ever been involved in a football club where you know you’re good enough to help the team, but can’t really get a look in? Keep them up if you’ve played second fiddle to a world class player and you really understood why you were playing second fiddle to them? And leave them air-borne still if your playing stats suggest you can score one in every four games…at professional and international level?
I think I might have lost one or two of you, so this is my point and I’m saying it loud and clear:
Marouane Chamakh’s getting a rough deal.
Certainly not from the club; because when he signed almost 18 months ago and got a good run in the absence of an injured RVP, he knew he was fortunate. No, it’s the fans who are growing irritable. It’s obvious on Twitter during games when people suggest he should go in January. It’s obvious from the buffoon who sat behind me during the City Carling Cup tie and yelled “you Morroccan c**t!” (no fan is he, to me), and it’s obvious from the fact that he puts the work in even when things aren’t going for him. But many seemingly forget it all when he makes a mistake, mis-controls, makes an incomplete pass or goes an appearance without scoring.
Yes he makes mistakes – his confidence might be low – and he doesn’t score as frequently as we might like. But each time he pulls on the red and white he sticks to his game: he works his engine, makes himself available, and still closes defenders down, regardless of the fact that he might struggle to find the net.
But it’s not as if he can’t do that too. Remember the goal against Blackburn earlier in the season? A “thunderous header” that clawed us back to 4 – 3, and we hoped might help us push for a fourth? A header won in the middle of two Blackburn defenders, from an RVP cross. Name me another forward in the Arsenal squad who might be able to do that.
“But he doesn’t score regularly…” you might say. Err, well:
- 17 goals in 59 appearance for Morocco (a goal every 3.47 games)
- 76 goals in 301 appearances for Bordeaux (a goal every 3.96 games)
- 11 goals in 44 appearances for Arsenal in 2010/2011(a goal every 4 games)
Okay he’s not a 20 goal a season striker, but he’s a very effective forward and the distinction between the two roles needs to be clear.
So far this season he’s made six appearances and scored just once, but when he’s essentially Arsenal’s attacking Plan B (through injury or scoreline) is it any wonder that when our Plan A is working fine, he finds it hard not only to make appearances, but even then to score goals? I mean, I know I’ve quoted the statistics, but they don’t magic themselves up. Chamakh just being on the pitch doesn’t mean he’ll find a goal every four games.
After all for most forwards to score regularly, it stands to reason that they need to benefit from a regular service that will tend to play to their own advantages. We do that for Van Persie fairly naturally for sure, but if Chamakh replaces him in a game you really don’t need me to tell you that’s not a like for like substitution.
Here’s another interesting point: When a team is being – in the main – successful in executing its Van Persie-based Plan A, how easy is it really to switch when Plan B is a necessity? And how easy is it to effectively play both simultaneously when (like against Fulham) your Plan A and Plan B figureheads are both on the pitch…being that your forward line should directly influence your style of play towards them?
Perhaps how effective the Arsenal squad is at switching style is a whole other post. But what I’m really saying is, you can put Chamakh on the park but unless he’s getting the kind of service that plays to his strengths, then he’s not going to score regularly – and probably not at all. And if a forward isn’t scoring, it normally seems he’s not performing regardless of the fact he’s running himself silly.
Finally, in an acutely odd twist of logic, do you know who provided the cross for Chamakh’s only goal this season? Our Captain Vantastic – the very player he’s playing second fiddle to. Chamakh himself might see some unfortunate cruelty in that, because what chance has he to score when the man keeping him out is the only one to effectively assist him so far this season? But probably not. Because as he recently told Arsenal Player, he understands he needs to wait, and his focus looking forward is:
To play more, to score more goals, and to help Arsenal win something.
So, you know what, I’m going to keep on supporting him in all of that. Because even if he’s doing only two of the three, and he’s putting a shift in, then he’s alright by me.