It has become very apparent, both from his team-mates tweeting and his managers and captains comments since his 87th minute winning goal against Aston Villa in midweek, that Yossi Benayoun is a very popular figure at Arsenal.
Robin van Persie said that the Israeli has been on fire in training and bursting for his opportunity in the startin line-up, but equally it is obvious from his own respectful quotes that Yossi is patient and understands that he needs to wait on his chances.
Arsene Wenger was certainly fulsome in his praise after the win at Villa Park:
‘He is a very intelligent boy and tonight he did fantastically well when he came on. The changes who came on did very well and stabilised our game I think – Yossi came on and won us three fantastic points.’
I have written in recent weeks that it should be Yossi orAlex Oxlade-Chamberlain, or both, who benefit from Gervinho’s pre-longed absence in January and February, rather than Andrey Arshavin. The Villa cameo for both players reassured me that I was right. Benayoun positively influenced the match from the minute he stepped on the pitch, whilst Arshavin did very little, again.
I feel that both Yossi and Thomas Rosicky are issuing timely reminders to Wenger that they are fit, ready and can lend valuable experience to a team that is tiring in some departments. I feel Aaron Ramsey certainly needs a recharge over Christmas. However, what Yossi adds, over perhaps Rosicky and certainly Arshavin, is boundless energy and an inspiring work ethic. We as fans demand 100% commitment from our players and Benayoun will never be found wanting in this department.
Looking back over the Israeli captain’s career he has been very unfortunate with injury, but in seasons when he has been mostly fit his statistics are hugely impressive.
His first full Premier League season in a struggling West Ham side saw Yossi start 30 matches and appear in 34, netting 5 goals and assisting an impressive 11 times. In his second and third seasons at Liverpool, between 2008 and 2010, he played in 52 matches, starting 40 and contributed 11 goals and 17 assists.
I think one of Yossi’s problems over his career has been his flexibility. What exactly is his best position? As it seems he is comfortable anywhere across the midfield. This attribute may mean he struggles to hold down a starting place for Arsenal this season, but it does make him a fabulous player to have on the bench.
For the past few years there has been a distinct lack of match affecting quality on our bench, but this has changed this season. It was superb for Wenger to be able to call on Benayoun and Rosicky on Wednesday night and both made huge impacts in the latter stages of the match when others were tiring. Fabulous to be able to introduce two international skippers to influence a game, either to hold what we have with their experience or push for more with their knowhow and talent.
Yossi is a huge plus for Wenger, as the Frenchman can bring him on for either wide player, and I for one hope he and AOC will both play when Gervinho is absent. Yossi can also cover in the advanced midfield role for Ramsey if needed.
I am not sure whether Benayoun at 31 will be content in the long-term with a role of super sub, but right here right now he seems content with what he has and is a major plus for his manager going into the business end of the season. I for one am very pleased to have the energy, enthusiasm and flair of Yossi Benayoun desperate to come off the bench and influence our games with goals and assists.
So in short, I do not think we necessarily need to think about Benayoun beyond this season, but I do feel he will have a very influential and growing cameo to play in this one.
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