Ex-Arsenal boss Graham pulls apart squad man-for-man

Former Arsenal boss George Graham says it's time for a group of current Gunners to start producing consistently.
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Former Arsenal boss George Graham says it's time for a group of current Gunners to start producing consistently.

The men that Graham is looking to see progress are Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie, Abou Diaby and Nicklas Bendtner.

“The talent is there, everyone can see that,” Graham told the Sunday Mirror. “But what I would like to see, what the fans I am sure want to see, is for the team to go one step further.

“They defied many predictions last season when they took their challenge into the last month. But now, can they go one better?”

England star Walcott has had a strange four years at ­Arsenal. In 2006, he went to a World Cup without any Premier League experience and got no action.

It was assumed, after his hat-trick in Croatia in a 4-1 win in 2008, that his destiny was to star in South Africa. He didn’t even make the squad.

Graham said: “Has he improved in the last four years under Arsene Wenger? I would say there are question marks,

“Pace? Yes, he has that in abundance. But what he seems to lack is an awareness of what to do at the right time.

“He has had injuries, I know. But now he is fit and he has the chance to show this season that he can take his game to another level, that he can fulfill the potential he showed that night in Zagreb.”

Turning to Van Persie, Graham said: “I want to see him have more minutes of playing time.

“Yes, he is talented but he must now be at a level where he scores 20-plus goals a season in the Premier League.

“He is one of the best players in the Premier League but you want your best players out there for the majority of the games. For whatever reason he seems to miss too many.”

Diaby, the lanky French midfielder, frustrates Graham. He said: “He has everything you want in a midfield player – he is strong, he can tackle, he can score goals and he can pass the ball.

“But he can be outstanding one week and the next you are wondering how he got in the team. If he can be consistent, he can be a huge asset.”

Up front, Graham has a challenge for Bendtner. “I want him to step up to the plate, I want him to be the player he thinks he is.

“Then there’s Andrey ­Arshavin. He has special talents but again, he must be consistent.

“I would like to see Arsenal to get off to a flyer, stay basically unchanged for the first month to six weeks.

“There seems to be too many occasions when they are kept out by little niggles rather than serious injury.

“Mental strength is what is needed. Now is the opportunity for the players of ­Arsenal to prove they have it.”

 
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