The Short Fuse's Arsenal season review continues with left back Gael Clichy.
If attackers didn't do vulgar things like win the ball back or break offside lines, Gael Clichy might be one of the best left backs in the league, if not Europe. Certainly, he'd be as highly regarded defensively as his predecessor at Arsenal, if not more so. Clichy beats Cole in tackles won per game, and interceptions, and lead Arsenal in those categories last year. This suggests that he is good at anticipating; however, it is his positional play, and lapses of concentration that cost Clichy the chance to be one of the elite left backs in Europe, and will probably mean that come next season, Arsenal will have a new left back. Time and time again, Arsenal's offside line has been broken because Clichy didn't step up quickly enough, with a perfect example being David Villa's opening goal at the Emirates back in February. There, Emmanuel Eboue, Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny all step up, playing David Villa offside. However, Clichy failed to step up in time, and Villa was put through. Clichy also has an unhealthy tendency to win the ball back, and then lose it. There was Eduardo's goal in Donetsk, when Clichy lost out to Dario Srna. These are not isolated incidents, and with Clichy entering the final year of his contract, it would not be surprising to see him depart this summer.
Furthermore, Clichy's attacking game isn't as good as perhaps it could be. Again, let's compare Clichy with Ashley Cole. Cole is one of Chelsea's main attacking threats, and, as often remarked upon during Chelsea games, is almost playing as a winger rather than a left back. During his time at Arsenal, he formed a fearsome left three with Robert Pires and Theirry Henry, and his attacking prowess has not been adequately replaced by Clichy. Last year, Cole had more assists, more key passes, and, crucially, more accurate crosses than Clichy. One reason Arsenal's crossing game isn't very successful is because of the poor quality delivered by the full backs, and here Clichy is behind Cole, Bacary Sagna, and rumoured Arsenal target Leighton Baines (who delivered the second most key passes per game at Everton). Clichy is not awful, but neither is he great, and that is why he gets a decidedly average grade for his 2010/11 season.
Ted's Emoticon: :\