We all know Nikki B has been chopsing about how good he is, how he should be playing instead of Chamakh and if Wenger doesn’t play him he’ll find enough club etc etc etc but while all this is going on you just have to spare a thought for Johan Djourou.
Once a defensive midfielder and bought by Wenger as that, typical scenario took place with our boss, he changed JD to a centre half. He’s 6’ 4” and still only 23 years old. JD came to us back in 2002 but signed professional terms the following year, forming part of the youth squad.
He’s not had an easy time at Arsenal, following a loan spell at Birmingham in 2007 he returned to Arsenal ready to play, even suggesting he would be able to revert back to his original position of defensive midfielder and would be good enough to replace the departed Flamini. This never happened but his chance came to slot in the defence when Kolo Toure jumped ship and joined the northern money bags in the city side of Manchester. But injury struck!
April 2009, Djourou suffered a bad knee injury against Wigan Athletic. September the same year, following surgery on his knee, Arsenal announced that Johan Djourou would be out for a long time, six to eight months. What a sucker punch for the lad, just got his toe into the first team, only to be out again through injury. Many Arsenal fans thought that could spell the end of his career with us; after all, he hadn’t really proved himself had he?
However, this young man had a very different idea, he had his operation, worked hard to get fit and finally in March this year Johan himself announced that he was ready for a return. In fact he made a cameo appearance in the 4-0 victory against Fulham, the last game of the 2009/10 season. A reserve game here, a bit performance there came his way in this pre-season and the heavy strapping around his knee did little to convince me, I bet it didn’t you either? He played a part in the reserves game that saw Squillaci make his debut in the red and white and to be fair, he wasn’t too good.
But life changes, we all know that and Johan Djourou has grown and grown since that game for the reserves….
His chance came in the league when Koscielny saw red against Newcastle, he stepped in and played alongside Squillaci for the away trips to Wolves and Everton and on both occasions we came out winners, both occasions we defended solidly and during both matches we really were put under a lot of pressure by the opposition.
Johan Djourou may not be the best centre half in the world but he is really strong in the air and is dedicated to whatever test comes his way. After the two away trips we were at home against our North London rivals, Koscielny was available again after serving his two match ban and straight back in the side he goes. Djourou was the player to make way and we lose, sloppy defending being part of the reason we suffered that loss.
With Djourou starting in defence, we haven’t lost in the Premier League which does make you ask the question, is Arsene Wenger getting our defensive pairing right in the league or should Djourou be playing alongside either Squillaci or Koscielny?
My preference would be Djourou alongside Thomas Vermaelen but we don’t have that option.
Djourou probably knows he should be playing too but we never hear him moaning, he just gets on with it and when called on he gives his all. Maybe deep down in his mind he knows his chance will soon come, just like Fabianski did and no doubt like Szczesny does now! Another top performance by our ‘young’ centre half tomorrow night and surely that day won’t be far away.
Tomorrow we face Wigan at The Emirates in the Carling Cup quarter-final. Wenger has hinted he will play the big names and give us a real chance of getting to the semis. In days gone by I would have taken a win tomorrow for granted but these days you just can’t be too sure.
Finally the FA Cup draw has been and gone, Leeds are coming to The Emirates on January 8th or 9th. That should be fun, remember what they did to Manure in this fixture last season…..
Have a good day all