Arsenal’s Emmanuel Frimpong has a strange reputation amongst fans. The young Ghanaian has a big personality that he’s unafraid of putting in the limelight. Whether he’s appearing on Soccer AM alongside Lethal Bizzle, advertising his own clothing range, or engaging in Twitter beefs with Piers Morgan, he’s certainly entertaining. But whilst he has kept us amused, can he keep the Gunners engaged with his football? Does he have the ability to cut it at a top club like Arsenal or does his future lie elsewhere?
Arsenal fans tend to be split when it comes to Frimpong. It strikes me that there are two major challenges to the progression of his Arsenal career. The first is overcoming injuries and the second is Francis Coquelin.
Frimpong has been remarkably unlucky when it comes to injuries. He’s just twenty years-old but has already faced two long periods out on the sideline thanks to bad set-backs. These time-outs were all the more disappointing considering that they both came during periods where he was really enjoying his football.
He injured his anterior cruciate ligament back in August 2010 after featuring regularly and performing well in Arsenal’s preseason and was out for eight months. He recovered well though and put in a few impressive performances for the Gunners before being sent out to Wolves on loan to prove himself. Unfortunately he ruptured a cruciate ligament in his right knee after just his fifth appearance and has to face the rest of the season out on the sideline.
Whilst there’s an element of bad luck to these injuries, I can’t help but wonder if his competitive, combative nature has had some part in his picking up these injuries. His development has been de-railed twice now and should he face another significant lay-off you’d worry about what it meant for his future. Arsenal’s midfield is congested enough and it’s unlikely there’d be room for him should he fail to stay fit.
This is especially true given the rise to prominence of Francis Coquelin who is also looking to make the defensive midfield position his own. He has similar qualities to Frimpong combined with some technical ability and can spray the ball about.
Yet Frimpong offers Arsenal another dimension. He’s not the typical Arsene Wenger, technically gifted footballer, complete with flicks and tricks. He’s a simple but effective battling midfielder who wont be bullied – just look at the way he scared the living daylights out of Samir Nasri when Arsenal played Man City in the League Cup quarter final. Best of all he knows his role and keeps it simple.
He’s there to put the fear in the opposition, win the ball back and get it to a teammate. As a result he always makes the simple pass to a more technically gifted teammate, instead of attempting an Aaron Ramsey-esque Hollywood ball.
He’s still got a long way to go, but I believe he’ll be an asset to Arsenal in the future. He’s the kind of player who will benefit massively from an entire season on loan so I hope that’s what lies in wait for him next year.
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