Next up in our season reviews is Swiss defender Johan Djourou.
Djourou made 23 appearances for the club at center and right back this year. He was fourth choice behind Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen, and Per Mertesacker at center half, and only filled in at right back due to long-term injuries to Arsenal's regulars there.
More after the jump:
Ted: Djourou didn't have his most spectacular year in 2011-12. He's struggled a bit for fitness ever since his knee injury in 2009, and being a rotation option more or less since then, Djourou hasn't often had a run of games to get into form. When he does, as he did last year, he can be solid choice, but this year, he only made 14 league appearances and 23 overall, often filling in at right-back when both Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson were out injured (this would be in January, when Arsenal mainly lost games, and Djourou would struggle through getting sent off at Fulham, etc.) Most of Arsenal's players seem to run really hot and cold based on confidence and form, and Djourou this year was no exception. Playing out of position sucks, but he wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire from the middle, either. Here's hoping that he can rediscover a bit of last season's form soon, because he was off the pace a bit this year overall.
Aidan: Ah, Djourou. If you had told me last March that Johan Djourou would've prompted Squillaci-levels of fear in Arsenal fans when he came on, I would've said you were crazy. Fast-forward 6 months, though, and Djourou is making a mistake to let Shrewsbury Town, of League Two, go 1-0 up at the Emirates. It hasn't been an easy year for Djourou. He hasn't had a real sustained run of fitness, but when he was fit, he was often played at right back during the Great Fullback Crisis. Needless to say, it didn't go well, with his performance there being capped off in two different ways; the sending off against Fulham, where he gave away 3 silly, silly fouls, and being outperformed by Nico Yennaris against Manchester United. To be fair to Djourou, he performed fairly well in place of Laurent Koscielny towards the end of the season, and he isn't Squillaci.
Grade: D+ (added points for persevering at right-back).
Thomas: Ah, Johan Danon Djourou-Gbadjere. He was so good last season in the long march without Thomas Vermaelen, but when he injured his shoulder against Manchester United in the FA Cup, he lost his momentum completely and hasn't really been the same since. Upon Vermaelen's return and Laurent Koscielny's emergence, he was relegated to third-tier in the center back pecking order, then when Arsenal acquired Per Mertesacker, he dipped further. Because of this (and his form, let's be honest) he got little playing time until the Great Fullback Crisis of 2011-12, and when he got it he was usually playing out of position at right back. He wasn't very good at any of it, but he could have been a lot worse. He did play well on short notice against Aston Villa late in the year, and again against Wolves, but those weren't exactly offensive powerhouses. Overall, his year was very...meh.
Paul: Ah, Johan Djourou. So much promise, so little delivery. He seems like he should be a good player, but he pretty much isn't - the best that can be said is that he's a warm body that takes up a space in the starting 11 when needed. His performance against Fulham this year pretty much destroyed any interest I had in him - he was outclassed by a team Arsenal should be outclassing regularly. He was an adequate sub at times, but that's not enough - when he was needed he didn't perform as we would have hoped or expected. For a player who saw reasonable amounts of playing time, he was embarrassed fairly regularly, and I wouldn't be too sad if he was part of the rumored off-season cull before August.