The recent season has been analysed and scrutinised by many fans, bloggers, journalists and even by the players and manager. It had it's ups and also it's downs and, after a more than disappointing ending, most of us are pleased to see the back of it.
However, over the next few weeks I aim to conduct some blogs that give a more positive message from Arsenal's 2010-2011 season, and look at some of the good things that happened over the course of the year. In this post, I'm looking at the excellent spells our loan players had this season.
Benik had wonderful time on loan at Huddersfield, it took him a while to really get going and adapt to life in league 1 but after a while his class shone through and came ever so close to promotion. He faced tough competition from Huddersfield's other two main strikers but still managed an excellent return of 8 goals and 10 assists in 32 games in all competitions. The young striker, still only 18 years old, showed why he was 'approached' by Barcelona before signing professional terms with Arsenal and looks destined for a spell in the Championship or League Cup squad next year.
Hopefully he can progress quickly too as he's been likened to none other than Samuel Eto'o and Ian Wright and if he can be half as good as either of them then we'd be very happy. I'm not saying he'll definitely make it at Arsenal though, as he could easily fall into a Simpson bracket and end up at Hull. Hopefully not though.
The young Brazilian has had spells on loan before as he tries to gain a work permit. At both of those spells though (at Salamanca and Celta) he only showed minimal signs of the talent he possesses, and much of that was overshadowed by his bad temperament. However this year at Cartagena in the Spanish second division, Botelho had a great season managing 4 goals in 39 games as a Left Back or Left Winger. Likely sings suggest another loan next season, possibly to Levante in La Liga, but he seems bright and a player with pace and good crossing that we've lacked in previous years.
Lansbury started the season at the Emirates and many were tipping him to challenge for a first team place. However, he only managed one first team appearance in the first few months of the season. Mind you, it was a great performance as Arsenal beat Tottenham 4-1 at White Hart Lane with Henri getting o the score sheet. After joining Norwich on an emergency month loan in November, Lansbury signed for the rest of the season in January, in what turned out to be a memorable season for the Canaries. Henri managed 4 goals and 5 assists in his 24 games as Norwich gained promotion to the Premier League. He showed his Arsenal class on the ball and gave a notable contribution which may earn his a first team squad place next year as Denilson looks to be on his way. He has also been linked wiht a return to Norwich in the Premier League which would further his development.
Sanchez had a good season with Leeds, who on their return to the second tier nearly managed another promotion to the Premiership. On the wing he showed agility and touches of brilliance, although he could have featured more than he did. He only managed a solitary goal in his 26 appearances although he did get 5 assists. At 20 years old he likely to go out on loan again next year, or even be sold as other, young and brighter prospects seem to be overtaking him.
Ryo was perhaps the most exciting loanee this year. This time last year, still playing for his high school team came to Europe from Japan for trials at Ajax and Arsenal. His raw talent impressed Wenger so much that he snapped up the young starlet despite a horrific leg break he suffered playing for Ajax. After recovering form the leg break he joined Feyenoord and started amazingly, his pace and work rate, combined with excellent technique with both feet helped him make a massive contribution to Feyenoord's relegation fight. The 18 year old scored 3 goals in his 12 games and made numerous assists as he became something of a fan favorite.
He may have to go on loan again as he tries to get a work permit but playing regularly in Holland will help his development as he gets stronger and plays against seasoned professionals. As he comes closer to Japan's first team he could also get the chance to of a special work permit, but whatever happens with Ryo over the next few years he looks like he'll be worth the wait.
Coquelin's transfer to Lorient as part of Koscielny's transfer went under the radar with many gooners, but slowly and surely the young Frenchman tidily went about his business in getting a first team place. He looked good on the ball at both right back and in central midfield and although he lacks the physicality that many Arsenal fans want from a holding midfielder he could be in the first team in the next few years. He played 24 times in the French first division and even scored a goal, although primarily he contributed defensively. He was predicted to feature in pre season and maybe the first team next year, although playing in the under-20 world cup wont help.
The young Centre Back had two very successful loan spell last year at a struggling Sheffield United and the eventual Scottish champions Rangers. Bartley showed desire, passion and amazing aerial ability on his loan spells and ended up with a medal as Rangers won the league. He even played in midfield in his matches for Rangers and we seem to have a good Centre Back on our books. Unfortunately, his loan at Rangers was cut short was due to him sustaining a knee ligament injury. Hopefully he'll be fit for pre-season so he can stake a claim for the first team, you never know he could be the Centre Back we've been waiting for. More likely though, Kyle will probably face another loan and Rangers have expressed a desire to take on the 20 year old again. He's definitely one for the future though.
Not all of the loanees were as successful as the ones above though. Vela did score a few important goals for West Brom but he failed to nail down a starting place which is not the best news since we want him in our first team. Armand Traore had a similar problem at Juventus and may be moved on this summer. Giles Sunu was at Lorient too and did make a few substitute appearances, and may be back in France next year. Eastmond and JET failed to get enough match time at Millwall and Cardiff respectively, whilst Galindo suffered from injuries whilst at Salamanca.
Vito Mannone did impress whilst at Hull City, although again injury did affect him as he didn't feature in the second half of the season. Moreover, after the hype which featured as Wellington Silva joined the club, the fact that he only made two substitute appearances for Levante was a big disappointment.