The Short Fuse's season reviews continue with loanee Yossi Benayoun. The Israeli, who joined from Chelsea on deadline day, made 25 appearances in all competitions and scored 6 goals, including an 87th minute winner at Aston Villa. It's highly likely that had Chelsea not loaned him out to Arsenal, Arsenal wouldn't have finished 3rd, ahead of Chelsea.
Aidan: Yossi Benayoun was the model professional in the past campaign. Despite frustration at his lack of playing time in the first half of the season, he didn't sulk in training, and was hardworking both in games and in training, as well as setting a good example for younger players, something they've repeatedly said on Twitter. When Benayoun played, he added a little bit of creative quality in wide areas that had been missing following the departure of Samir Nasri, and became Arsenal's "Big Game Player", starring against Tottenham and Manchester City towards the end of the season. He closed down as much in the 80th minute as he did in the 1st minute, and it's this pressing that led to Arsenal's first goal in the final day of the season. He brought experience and know-how that was again evident on the final day of the season. I've written a lot about what he adds to Arsenal, and I'd like to keep him, although that is looking unlikely now. Whatever happens next season, Benayoun will be fondly remembered for his contributions this season. So, in the unlikely event he's reading this, thanks Yossi.
Paul: Yossi Benayoun is a useful player. He doesn't do a ton of things fantastically well, but he does do a ton of things reasonably well - which given the wackadoodle nature of Arsenal's season this year, was exactly the stability that was needed. I was very surprised that Chelsea would have loaned him to another top Premiership team - I don't know if that speaks to Chelsea's disregard for Arsenal as challengers of theirs in the Premier League, in which case bwahahahahahahaha 6th place, or if they wanted Benayoun to get better competition than he would get at a lower league side, but either way I was glad to have him around. He is one of the few players whose midfield wanderings were actually purposeful, and he can still put the occasional ball in the occasional net; I would be very interested in having him around next year if Chelsea decide he's surplus to requirements.
Ted: Yossi Benayoun probably should have started more than 15 games on the left this year for Arsenal. He's basically as offensively apt as Andrei Arshavin at this point, and he, at least visually, seemed to have a better workrate than Meerkat. He certainly was a welcome load addition when he scored the winner at Villa Park, provided spark when Spurs came to the Emirates, and was slinging in goals against Norwich and West Brom. His tendency to wander into the middle more would help combination play behind van Persie, and he fit in well with Arsenal's pressing scheme (even if the team, as a whole, didn't do to well). He's a useful player to have around, he has load of experience, and he's shown that he can still score when he finds himself in the area. I'd not be averse to keeping him around beyond the end of his loan in a couple weeks' time.
Thomas: I'm not sure what exactly I expected from Yossi Benayoun. I was pleased when Arsenal brought him in on a loan deal on deadline day, as I felt he was a good player who was competent in a few areas where we needed help. I really didn't see him as a player who should be starting a lot, more as a depth guy who could play against bad teams and in cup competitions. OOPS. Benayoun was a huge steal for Arsene Wenger this season, and ended up to be borderline crucial, turning in massive performances in some of the most important matches of the year. He particularly impressed me against Tottenham at home, but honestly whenever called to duty, he hurled himself in at full speed. He's a player with quality and industry, and though he's not young I'd like very much to see him back at Arsenal next year. If he doesn't return, I hope he can go to a good mid-table team where he can start regularly. He's earned it.
Grade: a steal
Bonus YouTube video:
Yossi Benayoun - Thank You 2011/12 (via G4MEZtv2)