It seems strange to talk of a 24-year-old enjoying a 'breakthrough season' but that's exactly what 2010/11 was for Johan Djourou.

The Swiss defender made his Arsenal debut as long ago as October 2004 but, despite showing plenty of promise, his progress at Emirates Stadium has regularly been checked by injury. Knee surgery sidelined Johan for all but 28 minutes of the 2009/10 campaign and some wondered whether he would ever realise his obvious potential.

Johan allayed those concerns last season, emerging as Arsenal's most consistent centre back in the absence of the injured Thomas Vermaelen. The Swiss is still learning his trade but his height makes him an aerial force, his recovery pace allows him to sweep up effectively and his midfield background means he is technically sound.

Johan made 37 appearances in total - more than he managed in the three previous years combined - and forged an impressive partnership with new signing Laurent Koscielny. The Swiss must have been doing something right - Arsenal did not lose a Premier League with him in the side between November 22, 2008 and April 24, 2011.

Last season also brought Johan his first goal in an Arsenal shirt. He soared above the Newcastle defence to head home Andrey Arshavin's free kick at St. James' Park to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. They of course led 4-0 at half-time and it's no coincidence that the second-half collapse began after Johan had limped off with a knock.

He equipped himself well against the best when David Villa and Lionel Messi came to town and ended the season on a personal high after helping Switzerland to a 2-2 draw against England at Wembley.

Back in the international fold and back in the Arsenal red, Johan can go from strength to strength next term.

"I sometimes took a break [from watching football when I was injured] because when you're watching games you just think 'I wish I was playing' and it's not really good for your head. It was a nightmare. I mean for a footballer, for anyone that loves what they're doing, to be unable to do the thing you love is just a handicap. That's the sort of thing you realise, how lucky you are to be living your profession. Because as a professional that's the thing you love and it makes you realise that when you're out it is difficult and how fortunate you are to be playing the game."

Competition Appearances Goals
League 20+2 1
FA Cup 3 0
Carling Cup 6 0
Champions League
6 0
Totals 35+2 1

February's trip to Newcastle is one Arsenal would like to forget but it did include a milestone for Johan. He has waited a long time to open his Gunners account but soared to meet Andrey Arshavin's free-kick and head Arsenal into a 2-0 lead.

10/11: Newcastle United 4-4 Arsenal - Johan Djourou

Johan scores against Newcastle

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22 Jun 2011