cesc Fabregas 9/10
Fabregas now looks likely to do what he threatened for half of 07/08 and add consistent goalscoring to his otherwise perfect game. I was sceptical at first over his shift in position but it's proven a wise move by Wenger. Fabregas can still play deep enough to dictate things, because the wide players play further up the pitch. And of course with one or two midfielders always playing a little behind him, he can get forward to often devastating effects. His goals and assists testify to the success of this gambit.
One worries at the moment that we're over-reliant on him, though. Xavi plays with Iniesta, Henry, Ibrahimovic and Messi. With due respect to Diaby, Nasri, Bendtner and the mercurial Arshavin, none of them threaten to play more than second fiddle. It's a heavy load for a 22 year old to carry.
Alex Song 8/10
Fabregas' influence seems to rise with Song on the pitch. He has become by far our most effective option in the anchor role, and it's great that results have not suffered too much in his absence.
He can still look prone to the odd moment of madness, and plays with a carefree manner that sometimes seems ill-suited to the role he is assigned, but overall he has made me LESS annoyed about the way Diarra, Flamini and Gilberto were allowed to leave, unreplaced, in the space of six months or so.
His improvement shows that Wenger's unflappable belief in his players, while seeming at times his greatest flaw, is also his greatest strength. Not many had faith that Song was the man to solve our midfield problems, but he's developed into a formidable presence. His improvement and Vermaelen's emergence are the two main differences between this league season and the disaster that was last.
A survey of the countless Arsenal blogs reveals Denilson as a player who divides opinion. Some see an unfussy midfielder who will go unnoticed tracking runs, using the ball simplty and effectively, and helping allow Fabregas to dictate. Others think he's rubbish. I think he's a useful player who has failed to live up to his initial promise. I remember first seeing him, and it looked like he could develop into something similar to Fabregas. He doesn't show half the flair now that he seemed to have in abundance then. Going forward, his passing just does not have the incisiveness that comes effortlessly to the Spaniard. And in a defensive sense, he seems to get caught on the ball a lot, and make some silly decisions, like the ine that gave Bolton a penalty recently. Physically, he's hardly the most imposing. With everybody fit, perhaps a Song-Diaby-Fabregas combo is the best option. Denilson does not piss me off as much as Diaby does, and he generally does a good job, but is seldom outstanding, whereas Diaby does seem to provide a certain X Factor, for want of a better term. This is something I've got to give more thought to.
Boo Boo Diaby 6/10
This guy has a boat load of talent but rarely channels it to palpable effect. He seems lazy, dwells too long on the ball, has no discernible position. He has Vieira's physique but you'd struggle to find a more different central midfielder. But even on his bad days, he has the ability to run with the ball through the centre of the pitch and that is something the midfield otherwise lacks. It's just that too much of what he does is average. His passing is often sloppy and he seems to lack interest in the defensive side of the game. If we could only fuse him and Denilson into a mutant footballer with Diaby's stature and running power and Denilson's brain and selflessness... Ah well.
Some people claim that he's come good this season. I think that's a bit of a lazy assumption brought on by his ability to look good in highlights packages. I'd sum him up as a man who can be impossible to play against but is more often difficult to play with.
Aaron Ramsey 6/10
You can't really say he's had a bigger impact than Denilson or Diaby overall, but his contribution is more impressive in that he's not been at the club as long and so the rough edges in his game are forgivable. And there has been the odd game, in the comparative few that he's played, in which he's been outstanding. In the win at Portsomuth he made it look like we didn't miss Fabregas- no mean feat.