Arsenal prepare to bid for CheikTiote or Yann M’Vila – Why?


M’Vila – The man fans seem to want

  I am constantly having an argument in my head as an Arsenal fan. We all have the same argument I suspect, but some of us more than others. What am I talking about? Well it is the dilemma we face when it comes to strengthening the squad and balancing that with what it might mean to those who have fought our cause in recent seasons. I probably beat myself up over it more than others, and want our existing players to be given longer to succeed. I am a loyal sort of a chap. I find it incongruous for Arsenal fans to scream disloyalty at RVP, Song and Nasri, whilst at the same time calling for new signings to replace existing squad members who have remained loyal to the club. I know, I live on a cloud.

Don’t get me wrong we obviously needed to strengthen the squad, as we were only good enough to finish 3rd last season. Despite the outgoings the signs are hugely promising but I would just like to have an honest closer examination of the implications of us signing a new defensive midfielder, Tiote from Newcastle, the most recent suggestion from the red tops which Wenger appears to have dismissed, but he has done so before and then signed the player. Because whether it the Ivorian international or the French midfielder M’Vila who some sources feel is back on the radar. Not sure if he has ever been of it but  today I just want to look at the midfield in general. I will provide a few facts which may surprise and then leave a few open questions to engender some debate.

I am not going to cover old ground as I have written on it before but I will just restate that I believe Mikel Arteta is the perfect player to sit deepest in our 3 man midfield. I am not persuaded by the theory that the DM has to be a tough tackling animal, and I am more in the Makelele, Carrick camp. The role requires intelligence, game reading and anticipation and it is about interception and not destruction. Those days are gone. The next element is quick and accurate distribution and there was none superior in the whole league to Arteta last year.This is why Michael Carrick is praised by the likes of Alonzo and Busquets. He quietly goes about his job, intercepting play and getting the side moving forwards with a swift simple pass to the correct recipient. In addition he was booked only about 3 times in 2011/12, whilst Alex Song got himself booked in 10 games and suspended for a stamp caught by TV cameras  as well. If you require further evidence that experience, anticipation and distribution are more valuable than crunch tackles and destroying tactics, look no further than the champions. Gareth Barry started 31 games for City as the deepest midfielder and Nigel de Jong only 11. This is another player many have called for us to sign. If he is not right or good enough for Man City week in week out, why the hell is he perfect for us?

Arteta the man for the deep lying CM role?

I am aware that Mikel Arteta has superb qualities going forwards and may well have been bought as a Cesc replacement, but with Wilshere’s absence he played deeper and was far more disciplined and effective than Song in that role. He played faultlessly against Sunderland and repeated that with a man of the match performance at Stoke.  I am sure if Wenger offered him the opportunity to move back and make the role his own to ensure a superb swansong at the end of his career; the immaculate Spaniard would seize the opportunity. Not having to play any international football would be a huge advantage as well.

This is a full piece from June predictinf Arteta would be trusted with the role he has been:

My main argument about additional midfield signing/s is around the numbers required and the implications for the existing squad. I hear many crying for a Song replacement as they have been all summer even before he left.  M’Vila, Biglia, Capoue, de Jong and now Tiote. One out one in I guess that’s sensible, only it isn’t one out one in is it? So far in central midfield it is Song out and Cazorla and Diaby in. Add to that Jack Wilshere and Frimpong in potentially October.  Add to that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who confirmed in an interview on Saturday that he and Wenger seen him playing centrally this season as he told the Daily Mirror:

“Obviously as you’ve seen I’ve played a lot more in centre midfield this pre-season and I thinks it’s good. I’ve been playing there and gaining experience before the start of the season.”

Central attacking midfield heir apparent

So come October we could have Arteta, Cazorla, Diaby, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky (last season’s saviour lest we forget,) Wilshere, Frimpong and Ramsey. Not forgetting the obvious progress of Eisfeld and Gnabry either. So even ignoring the 2 youngsters all things being equal we should have 9 central midfield 1st team squad members competing for 3 berths.

Now many of you will tell me that there will be injures and we will need to rotate the squad with so many fixtures. Yes there will be injuries but reality is you need double the number of players for the positions not treble. In 03/04 with 2 man centre midfield we used 4 players only, in a season that included ECL and FA Cup runs. Manchester City won the Premier League using effectively, Toure, Barry, Silva, Nasri, Milner, Johnson and de Jong. They used 7 players to cover what was predominantly a 4 man midfield. We have 9 to cover 3 positions and fans want another signing?

On the subject of rotation we must also consider that Wenger has not been an advocate of this in the past. Yes he tinkers but once he finds a winning formula he tends to run with it barring injuries or suspensions. Many suggest to me he will rotate this season but I would just ask on what grounds they suggest so. He has not rotated much in 16 years. Take the end of last season as a case in point. Gervinho loses form and is replaced by Yossi who despite being a loanee then keeps his place right to the end of the season, whilst our big money Ivorian sits on the bench. Possession is 9/10ths of the law with ‘Le Boss.’

Perhaps you are not convinced yet. Well in the past 8 Premiership seasons since Arsenal last won the league, only one triumphant squad has used more than 20 players to the extent that would allow a winners medal. So only in 2010/11 where Man United used 22 players more than 10 times. In 2004/5 and 05/06 Chelsea used 20 and 18 respectively. Between 07 and 09 with 3 successive titles Man United used only 18, 19 and 18 squad members on more than 10 occasions and Ferguson is known for rotation. Last season City used only 20. Now these are facts and are indisputable yet for some reason many Gooners believe that we can keep between 8 and 10 first team midfielders happy? Not a hope in hell!

If you do still not believe me by now, we can look at our own injury and suspension hit last campaign. Even with all our woes Arsenal only had 20 players who appeared on 10 or more occasions in the EPL. More pertinently only 4 central midfielders played more than 20 games in the league: Arteta, Song, Ramsey and Rosicky. So I strongly suggest it is time for a reality check for some Arsenal fans. The same fans that defend Ramsey and maintain he will come good are screaming for us to buy M’Vila or Tiote. That’s fine if they will improve us but stop being naïve about the trade off. Bottom line is that if Wenger does indeed bid for Tiote or someone else and he arrives, Ramsey, along with Frimpong, Coquelin and even Rosicky will not get game time. I am not saying this is necessarily wrong but please don’t continue to believe that Wenger can or indeed will, as he never has, rotate 9 or 10 midfielders. Particularly when Wenger is on record as recently as a few weeks ago that a fully fit Abou Diaby is the best midfielder France possess and his selection in the first two matches confirms his place ahead of Rambo in the pecking order.

Ramsey looking unhappy with good reason?

A final factor and for me perhaps the most significant was confirmed in the Oxlade-Chamberlain interview and he was confirming what I has suspected would be the case. That is the influence of the new first team coaching set up, the Bould factor if you will. Ox confirmed that the emphasis in the training ground has changed under Bould and the expectation is that the team will improve defensively but not as a back 5 but as a team. It will not be about one midfielder being the ‘DM’ and having to protect the defence it will be about the whole team sharing a collective responsibility. Let’s face it we all know the role model for this at its best and that is Barcelona.  Alex confirmed:

“Steve Bould has really worked hard with the defensive side of our game. Not just the back four, but with everyone. I think that brings a lot more unity with the team.


The Bould Factor is key

  If we are moving to a more inclusive team responsibility do we in fact need a new defensive midfielder?  If we find one are they better than Arteta, Diaby and crucially Wilshere?  Cazorla in his Sky interview confirmed Arsene wants him to play the free role behind the central striker occupied by Ramsey and Rosicky last season and Oxlade-Chamberlain is being groomed for that role obviously. Rosicky can cover wide positions when he returns but does the immediate future look bleak for Rambo already? If we accept that both Cazorla and the Ox have told us where Wenger wants them to play, which is the CAM role, we must presumably accept that none of Wilshere, Diaby or Arteta will play there. Seems to me then the only question left is whether Wenger feels Coquelin and or Frimpong are ready and/or of the quality required to be the 4th player competing with those 3 for the 2 deeper lying CM positions.

All these questions will all be answered by deadline day but please be careful what you wish for, understand the implications and don’t be naive about what a new signing means. Bear the following in mind:

–       Wenger has no history of active rotation.

–       Cazorla and Chamberlain appear to be our two main CAMs.

–       Wilshere if fit, whilst not to be rushed, will play.

–       Diaby if fit has a large role to play because Wenger rates him highly.

–       Arteta is the man in possession of the deep lying role and has not put a foot (or a hair) out of place in 2 games.

–       Even Man United when they used 22 players winning the league in 2011 only used 6 central midfielders, and Gibson on only 12 occasions

–       The most central midfielders deployed by any time to have won the EPL since 2004 is 6 and our fans feel we can keep 9/10 involved?

So in conclusion if we do sign a new experienced central midfielder I would suggest that 2/3 of our current first team squad will not play, or be sold or loaned. This would appear likely to be Coquelin, Ramsey and Frimpong. That of course assumes Diaby stays fit and Jack returns. Most fans I read or listen to think highly of both Ramsey and Coquelin so may see this as a shame, but for me that is price for a further big name addition. Is it a price many truly have the appetite to pay? I guess that come back to where we began and that constant argument inside my head – Spend, spend and win now or spend and blend an be true to our way?

Until next time thanks for reading.

Like what you read? Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter



You may also like...


    1. Are you actually serious? How many people put the effort in to deliver quality pieces compared to Dave? Not many. This is another solid piece and one which gets you thinking about the signings you crave. Kudos, Dave.

    2. Awesome article. I like the way you used facts here Dave. I never understand why guys like Shrey here find it difficult to compile together these facts and see the significance of such a debate.

    3. Spot on Shrey, this blogger is a true know nothing, probably on wenger’s payroll.

      ‘Diaby if fit has a large role to play because Wenger rates him highly.’ – says it all really. So many average to poor players clogging up the squad, Arsenal are becoming quite a sick old cow these days.

      1. Diaby is a great player, he needs minutes to become a top player. His dribbling is elite, tackles well, threat in the air with his height. Don’t know why so many gooners hate him. Stop hating the article just because you disagree it was well done.

    4. Well, Shrey, why don’t you send us a link to your blog and we’ll all have a read of your opinions?

  1. Nice piece, but 2 things to add:
    1. don’t draw parallel with Toure, Barry, Silva, Nasri, Milner, de Jong and Coquelin, Frimpong, or even Ramsey and Rosicky. We don’t have the same proven quality, and that is why people expecting signings. Diaby is 26 is no matter the cosmetics about his talent, he never ever played regularly throughout his career. Even with his age, he is a clear gamble. We just can’t put man to man with the other PL winning squads, period.
    2. why is everybody forgetting about Lansbury?

    1. Mate my comment is not so much comparing the quality as the numbers. Fans seem to feel is we bring in better those players will still get gane time which they won’t. I am just making the point that 6 good CMs is enough and if we bring better in some will go. The debate on quality is another argument although I would rate Arteta, Wilshire, Chamberlain and Cazorla right up there

  2. Really enjoyed the read! Completely agree with you apart from one point. Whilst, ideally, any player brought in should be better than current first teamers to improve the first team, shouldn’t some consideration be given to improving the squad or offering different options? Do we have a destroyer type MF in the squad should we need one? Just because man city didn’t use de jong as a starter they have used him and kept him around if necessary. Can we trust frimpong enough to play that role?

    Otherwise, like I said, enjoyed the read 🙂

  3. Feel for Rambo. Your post ties in nicely with Hazzaboy’s you linked to earlier on twitter. If Rambo is played wide & does well as he did against Everton, he could come back a stronger & better player for us – this if I am not mistaken you have blogged about earlier with a Ray Parlour comparison. And if it does come to pass,your fortune telling powers are legendary

    1. Yes I did say that in the Parlour comparison blog but like Hazza I think that is in a 4 man midfield as a wode player possibly and not current formation as he has not the pace

    2. Haahahahaa!! Now you say Ramsey is the next Parlour, what’s next black is the next white?? Give your idiotic propaganda a rest, you’re not fooling anyone other than yourselves.

      1. I have no recollection of saying Ramsey was next Parlour, and he is not fit to lace his boots as it goes. I had suggested that in a 442 Wenger moved Parlour to RM and it made him. He could do same for Ramsey. Thanks for your kind words but I suggest you are supporting the wrong team mate.

  4. Mr wenger.. after i saw the match with stoke. Definitely we’re in trouble. Our player somehow lack of creativity. gibbs and jekinson play well but they dont support when attacking. Bring Mbiwa to cover sagna position. diaby can’t suit as a defensive midfielder bcause he too slow and oftenly make mistake. Bring M’villa into the squad so he can make our defensive solid. I can see Giroud and cazorla try very hard but he does get any chance and support from the midfielder. Try to use 4-4-2 formation (attacking)
    Mbiwa Mertesacker Vermaelan Santos
    Cazorla Arteta Mvilla Gervinho
    Giroud Podolski

  5. Cazorla and The Ox are Wengers preferred CAMs? So why has Ramsey been used in that position in our two league games thus far? I don’t doubt that The Ox is being groomed for a central role, but the evidence isn’t there to say he’s ahead of Ramsey in the pecking order just yet.

    1. That was the one part of the blog I nearly changed BUT 1) Ox was not availble in game 1 and 2 He has no option yesterday as Gerv poor and Poldi shattered. Time will tell. I am not against Ramsey at all but I do think many feel we can keep 9/10 occupied and that is just a nonsense.

      1. Yeah, we won’t rotate all those players. I’d hate to see Ramsey pushed out though. He has the sort of mentality that we need and many of our players lack. He may have faded half way through last season, but that was to be expected considering how long he was out injured for.

        I’d much rather we brought someone in on the flank than add to our already congested midfield.

  6. Completely agree with your view on this but my main worry is will anybody else be ale to do justice to whatever role Arteta does ? Hope Coquelin steps up . I feel Wenger is looking for a technial player to play on the wings as he feels having 3 strikers is detrimental to our cause . Considering AOC is being moved inside we have only 4 wingers including Arshavin . I feel Wenger would strengthen that area

  7. Rosicky stil has a role to play as does a freer role for Arshavin. Even in a limited capacity – class is class. A fully fit Diaby can be a huge asset as France wil see.

    1 more class mf such as Carzola is needed to fill the gap left by cesc & Cas££hri – some 1 in the mould of Willian/Honda/Ganso/Affelley/Alicantra or Pedro/Navas wld be huge

    In Arsene we trust COYG

  8. Ive been saying the same thing all summer. however currently in our 25 man squad we have a number of players who have been told their futures will not be at arsenal. bendtner squillaci park are certainties to leave if takers are found whilst chamakh and arshavin could also leave as could walcott if he refuses to sign a new contract. that will free up space in the squad for more signings and if all of our back up strikers leave then we will obviously need 1 more. if squillaci is sold released or loaned wenger will bring a defender in he has already admitted that. i also think that we have enough in midfield and if the ox is seriously being considered as a midfielder and arshavin leaves and possibly walcott we will need at least one wide midfielder. for me mvila or any other DM is not being considered as like wenger i think between arteta diaby coquelin frimpong ramsey wilshire chamberlain we have more than enough players for the 2 deeper midfield roles. i am certain that arshavin is on his way to zenit and that wenger agreed not to use him yesterday as the deal has been agreed. once his replacement is signed he will go.

  9. .Didn’t care 2 finish reading the article…maybe u are quick to forget that after arteta got injured we drew nd lost 7 games he didn’t nt featured…we’ve been crying 4 depth and thats what we’ve been lacking for years..maybe u forgot that arsenal is a team which is not friendly with injury..

    1. Vic you are entitled to your view and if you finished it you might see the point and be surprised.

  10. I see your point, but the main reason we’ve not won a trophy all these years is due to the fact that we used very young players as midfielders especially the DM department. The average age of our MD’s ( AMF, CM, and DM’s ) for the past 5-6yrs have been between 22/23. This was corrected last season. Another very important factor is our players being prone to injury abou diaby, rosicky, etc etc. last season we had an injury crises to our full backs ( something I’ve never seen before in any team ) and this cost us valuable grounds in the begining of the season.
    What you should be asking is can Diaby, wilshere, rosicky stay fit?? In as much as I would hope they stay fit, I have it as a fact that Hope is not a Strategy. So I’ll prefer we sign a DM, then send coqelin, frinpong even Rambo on 3-6months loan. That’s just my opinion ( what do I know hey!!)

    1. You know as much as me and make a lot of sense. My point is that so manay feel we can keep all 9/10 happy and hostory tells us we simplyu cannot. So yes loans make sense but cannot see a player who afterall is captain of his country accepting that.

  11. An interesting read I however must remind you that we placed too much on Arteta last season an after his injury the rails came off. Diaby as you have mentioned is injury prone I would like M’Villa to come so that arteta can play a more advanced role and provide santi with more support from a more advanced position diaby can be a substitute. I also think Rambo would be better playing further up the pitch than in a holding role. Theos body language tells me he doesnt want to play for us and needs stiff competition on the right wing and Affelay would be a great signing considering the number of players barca have poached from us over the years they owe us one and the boy is pure quality. Rosicky is nearing the end of his career and is also injury prone and players must fight for a place in training as some players will feel they are entilted starts and this will breed complacency. Competition in defence is great as we know laurent will take back his position in the center with our captain but per looked good in the last 2 games and that bodes well for us. Definately a right back is needed and a clinical striker then we are ready yo roll, in a nutshell Mbiwa,M’villa, Affelay and Llorente would complete the team.

    1. Ha ha you don’t want much Pablo. I just feel Jack will play closer to Santi and if he does come back fit and his old self we are there.

      1. Where is there again?, no trophies, nothing for the players to look back on in their careers as having accomplished something for a once great club.

        Seven years and nothing, and in all liklihood another season of nothing and you are just fine with that?

        Find another club mate, youre’ not Arsenal quality.

  12. I would have shared your sentiment if Wilshere were fully fit and ready but if we are serious about fighting for the league and Champions league, we need another experienced and creative midfielder in the mould of Hazard and not ‘potentials’ like Ramsey, Coquiline, Frimpong and even Walcott. We can keep them as backups and for CapitalOne and FA cups.

  13. If we do sign a new midfielder than it is certain that Ramsey will be loaned out. He won’t get game time in this team let alone when Rosicky and Jack are fit. Out of the midfield 3, we have Arteta and Cazorla whose positions are secured(baring any injury), thus that means only one position is up for grabs. And we have Chambo, Diaby, Ramsey, Coquelin fighting for that spot.

  14. u r just posting nonsense.dese r same set of players u’v been trusting without results for amazes dat u put ur trust in Diaby,Ramsey etc(cosmetic players)players who r beta off as sold or loaned to d championship.cnt u c wat Mikel Obi plays 4 Chelsea on a weekly basis;always candid view:Arteta,Wilshere nd a good signing(a constant performer nd trophy hungry)4 d DM role.Carzola,Rosicky 4 our AM role.Chamberlain is beta as a winger.

    1. Mate read it again. I have not said I do put faith. I just us ethe evidence. Wenger does rate Diaby whatever you think and I am not saying we should not invest. I am just making the point that if we do we need to sacrifice players

  15. I believe two more player will be enough for the gunners to compet to any level, such players like m villa and navas. They will fit perfectly into the squad. Up GUNNERS

  16. as far as I see your biggest mistake here is take quantity instead of quality.

    just because we have 11 midfielders for 3 positions, does not mean that they are all suited to play at top level.

    in my personal opinion, frimpong/coquelin could be the replacements for song (taking the physical presence sort of destroying midfielder). yet they are far away from the final product.

    and if you want to consider wilshere as the 1st CDM, you might wanna consider that even thought he my be back by october, untill he finally get his form back it might take a couple of months (hopefully if he doesnt get any muscular injuries, which is very likely due to his long term problems)

    personally, i dont rate diaby at all. I honestly do not think he could make into everton, newcastle or even fulham first XI. the best i can say about him is that he might come usefull as a sub from time to time (i still would rather keep arshavin on the bench, much more creative and better passer and finisher).

    bottom line is, we are alright to do fine in the league, but if you want to challenge for titles signings are much needed.
    not to mention the psychological side, for now every one see arsenal weakened by the departures of their two key players last season, regardless of anyone thinks if they actually are that important or not.
    so bringing in “big names” it would mean, besides the quality itself it may bring, a statement from le prof saying that arsenal still is thinking of fighting for the top level.


    1. You need to read it again. I have not come down in favour either way. What I am saying is that we don’t need quantity we need to decided the 6/7 we need. I justy feel fans somewhat naively feel we can keep the likes of Ramsey, Cow etc happy with a hadful of ganes here and there. If we bring in better they need to be sold or loaned. It is not my decision but no team challemging has used morw than 6.

  17. Good article, I’ve been of the opinion for a while we don’t need a pure DM type player. Arteta handles that role fine, with better discipline than Song did last season (not knocking him because he left).

    If another midfielder is to come in, of the ones we’ve been ‘linked’ to I think Cabaye at Newcastle would be the best fit IMO, though the barcodes would no doubt price us out of it.

    Still think we’re a player light in defence esp. right back. Maybe another forward, Llorente would be nice but can’t see it happening.

    Re: Rambo, I’ve always viewed him as a traditional centre mid rather than attacking mid where Wenger played him a lot last year.


    1. The current squad can best be described as thin, weak, youngish, frail and wins nothing year after year. Just ask cesc, nasri, rvp, or anyone who bothers to acknowledge that oh so inconvenient thing called reality.

      How’s this for a prediction, cazorla is the next arshavin, able to work magic in small spaces but surrounded by such mediocrity that he is utlimately overwhelmed by the stench that it’s all he can do just to show up.

      Tiote is the one player that can give our midfield some power and credibility, you bloggers haven’t a clue. I hope wenger is paying you for this shameless propaganda, otherwise you lot are truly thick as a brick.

      1. Mate it is a broad church and we are all entitled to a view. Mine if different to yours but that does not make me thick. If you read my blogs there are as many criticising as praising Wenger, and I have been screaming for a change of formation for ages. There is just no need to get that abusive over a blog

      2. Paul, you are being really stupid for such comments. If u really think that only your opinions has to be viewed and be considered best, then better to start a blog of your own…..but please don’t bother writing about arsenal. We fans are right to criticize but need to respect the club as well and have faith on club. We certainly don’t know better then Wenger, do we?
        By the way, nice article Dave and I agree most of the point. However will never say no for a quality midfield signing. Choosing two out of Arteta, Wilshere, M’villa, Diaby is certainly better than that of coq and frimpong in it. However, given the history of injuries at emirates, we might be able to keep everybody happy when fit.

  18. we need a Striker and one more creative play-maker and Versatile defender who can also play as DM.
    Adrian Lopez/Llorente[ striker]
    Pablo hernandez/younes belhanda[play maker]
    yanga M’biwa[Versatile Defender]

  19. Lawal I share your view but that creative player should be a winger, Jesus Navas comes to mind here or a player in Di Maria’s class. We missed a gem in Harzad. Just like Arsene said, we need at least one top top top qaulity player, anything short of top qaulity is not needed as we don’t lack in numbers at present!

  20. Interesting, thoughtful article that brings the mid-field dilemmas into focus. I think why many fans are hoping M’Vila will be signed, is because he would fill the dedicated central defensive mid-field role – the ‘Makelele’ role – whereas no-one of the correct stature can do so, now Song is gone.

    Yes, Arteta has done brilliantly in a deep-lying role but when it is a real ‘backs-to-the-wall’ situation, you feel Arsenal still need a tough-tackling player – possessing a good range of passing to initiate attacks – but patrolling in front of the defence in a disciplined way. Wenger seems to be fatally persisting with Diaby in the same way he did Denilson. Diaby is a talented player but more an attacking mid-fielder. For me, he simply has not fulfilled his early promise and gives the ball away too much to fill that role.

    M’Vila may thwart the progress of Frimpong, Coquelin and even Eastmond but that may be the price you have to pay. If those players wish to step up a level, they could still displace him. But certainly the number of surplus mid-fielders is threatening to reach Spurs proportions of old. With Wilshere returning and guaranteed a place in the starting eleven, the numbers do need to be thinned down to players of stature who offer distinct roles, options and variations.

    1. Cheers Les. I value your feedback but as I said I am not convinced the DM these days should be a tough tackler as Claude was not in his latter days. That role was designed to combat No 10s in 442 few teams player like that these days

  21. Not entirely convinced here. Your list of available CMs is highly optimistic because it assumes that a) even players with a history of being sicknotes won’t be crocked and b) all of those players are or will be good enough. If we take this slightly more critical view, a selection of players that seems abundant at first glance quickly becomes worrying and one can see why another CM might be needed. You mention Arteta, Cazorla, Diaby, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Wilshere, Frimpong and Ramsey. Out of those, Diaby, Wilshere, Rosicky and Frimpong are more or less severely crocked. No matter how much Wenger rates Diaby, with his history he simply can’t be trusted to consistently contribute to the team over the course of a season. Rosicky is aging quickly and also has a troubling injury history. Sure, he was great during parts of last season, but he was also a sicknote for a much longer amount of time. Personally, I’d ship them both out, Rosicky even more urgently than Diaby due to his age. Wilshere is obviously great, but he’s missed an entire year – nobody knows how quickly he’ll be able to return and how good he’ll be. Frimpong’s knee exploded and IMHO he simply isn’t good enough for Arsenal. Right, so that’s Diaby, Rosicky, Frimpong and Wilshere out of the list for the time being. In my opinion, none of them can be counted on to make it through an entire season while playing at a high level. That leaves Ramsey, Arteta, Cazorla, Coquelin and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Out of those, Ramsey isn’t good enough IMO. I haven’t seen much of Coquelin, he appears to be a good prospect, but he’s very inexperienced. The Ox is quality, but let’s not kid ourselves – IF he’s actually being groomed for a central role (and I’m ready to believe that) it’s a long-term thing. I doubt he’s going to start and star in a central position this season (maybe during the League Cup and some less important games). This leaves us with two midfielders who are not only fantastic performers, but also very consistent and (presumably, in Cazorla’s case) not too injury-prone: Arteta and Cazorla. Both offer qualities almost none of the other candidates have. Cazorla is extremely versatile and creative and a better passer than anyone else in the team. If he gets a long-term injury, Arsenal will again have to resort to playing Rosicky or Ramsey behind the striker. Of course, the past season showed that this can still work out, but the club will only get one of the coveted CL-places, let alone a trophy, through a huge amount of luck if it actually has to resort to Rosicky and Ramsey. Arteta, for his part, is a phenomanal interceptor and distributor in the Alonso-mould. Again, he is irreplaceable. Even if we accept your optimistic list of available central midfielders, not a single player on that list could conceivable deputize for Arteta without impairing the quality of the entire team. Proof: The exorbitant number of games Arsenal lost last season when Arteta was injured. This is why I’m worried and saddened by the outcome of the Sahin-saga: Sahin would’ve been the exact player we needed to fill in for Arteta in case of an injury, because he too is a deep-lying distributor and creator. Also, Sahin could have taken over for Arteta in the longer term – let’s not forget that Arteta is in the twilight of his career.

    Long story short, your list of central midfielders at Arsenal’s disposal includes quite a few players who have a history of debilitating injuries, are way too inexperienced or simply lack the quality required to be part of a midfield that challenges for silverware (in some cases, a combination of these drawbacks applies). The only players about whom I have no reservations at all are, as I said, Arteta and Cazorla (and, to a lesser extent, Wilshere – IF he can recuperate his pre-injury form). Of course, a lot if this is simply a matter of opinion, but you have to admit that it might be worth it to scrutinize your list under slightly more critical and pessimistic premises.

    Personally, I’d rebuild the midfield completely. I’d sell Diaby and Rosicky. I’d send Ramsey and Frimpong on loan – in Ramsey’s case, there is the potential that he might be good enough to make it at Arsenal; I’m more pessimistic as far as Frimpong is concerned. Then, I’d buy a replacement for Diaby (and Song, if you will), e. g. M’Vila, Capoue or maybe even Tioté or Cabaye. I’d reintroduce Wilshere very, very slowly and cautiously. I’d give Coquelin a chance as the substitute for whoever comes in as a Diaby/Song-replacement. I’d also scout for a young deep-lying central midfielder who could replace Arteta in the medium term. As I said, Sahin would have been perfect, but alas…

    1. Thanks for takimng so much time for such a considered response. Glad it inspired you to comment. I am a glass half full sort of a chap.

      1. Sure mate, thanks for the interesting article. Always love a good debate on football.

  22. I agree whole heatedly.
    I also think Rosicky could play the “Arteta” role(see what I did there ? )
    Thomas can also tackle a bit.

    1. Seriously, Rosicky? I seriously hope that’s a joke for I cannot imagine anybody in the team doing what Arteta does. Even Wilshere. Arteta brings to the table, an intelligent acquired through years of experience. While I agree that buying a DM won’t solve all our problems, expecting someone like Rosicky to play the ‘Arteta’ role is idiocy. Remember when Arsene stuck Nasri in that role a couple of seasons ago?

  23. if we move to 4-4-2 or rather if we put podolski behind main striker and ox as his understudy and cazorla,ramsey,rosicky on right wing then we can easily rotate arteta diaby wilshere and a new dm. and also we can give players like coq and frimmy chance in fa cup capital one cup and cl grp stages…. that’s what i feel….

      1. Do you even follow Arsenal? Even that nitwit wenger has said numerous times that 4-4-2 would be ‘suicide’ for this team.

        We lack the midfielders capable of this formation and would be slaughtered in a twin striker formation. That’s why we lead the attack with one central striker and bulk up the numbers in midfield to neutralize the oppostion. Defensively it’s ok, but we won’t score very often, not without a striker that can score making something from nothing, which we obviously no longer have.

        And don’t call an honest appraisal abuse, it’s a bit sad really that your standards for Arsenal are so low and that your unsubstantiated argument is as hollow as it is. We’ve heard all this ‘potential’, ‘rated highly’, ‘class player’ nonsense many times before. A bit of advice, if you want more respect in the Arsenal blogosphere – smarten up.

      2. I do okay in the blog space but thanks for you concern. I do not agree with your assessment of the twin stiker system and have seen 5 of the last 6 EPLs won by City and United with 2 up top. Do I think Wilshere and Arteta are good enough yes. I would happily compare them to Carrick and Scholes. Let’s just agree to differ and I have no problwm with disagreement of criticism but calling me thick I don’t think come under either category and was uncalled for.

  24. Always enjoy reading your stuff mate, even if i dont always agree.
    surely when you highlight that United only used 6 central midfielders, that was for 2 positions as they play a 442 normally (Rooney may drop deep into midfield but he is still a striker). as we play with 3 central midfielders, the maths works out that we may need 9 CM players in total.
    i wouldnt be in the least bit surprised if Wenger doesnt bring in another midfielder, i think he may focus on an attacking midfielder and defender.
    but who knows?

    1. Fair point well made but:
      1) Ferguson in an avid rotator of players and Wenger is not
      2) Mourinho in 05 and 06 and Ancellotti in 10 not rotators. They both operated with 3 and used 5/6/6 CMs respectively

    1. For me Coquelin but we will buy so I am just saying accept soem young fan favourites will not play at all or go

    2. See my comment above – if Arteta gets injured, Arsenal are in trouble because there is no one else in the squad with his particular skill set. This was the case last season when we lost a crapload of matches after Arteta got injured, and we haven’t signed anyone who could adequately deputize for him. Out of the options you listed, I’d say a “pivot” of Diaby and Coquelin might work in Arteta’s absence – or maybe Wilshere and Diaby or Wilshere and Coquelin? But really, none of these guys replaces Arteta, with his calm, his many interceptions, his reading of the game and his metronomic passing. I’m repeating myself, but Sahin would not just have allowed us to reintroduce Wilshere much more carefully (that’s the communis opinio as to why we were interested in him in the first place), his arrival would also have taken a huge load off Arteta’s shoulders.

  25. Really good article, very thought provoking.

    What a stressful job, to be a football manager, having people’s careers/livelihood in the balance with your decisions.

  26. Great read Dave, once we see who AW buys things will slot into place. We certainly have better cover now as regards injury. Do agree with your points on Mikel . Thanks again

  27. You guys rate Diaby, Frimping, Theo, couqlein as talented players? You think they can win the league and champions league for us? I’m sorry to dissapoint you all. That isn’t gon happen. Once Arteta gets injured the team is finished. We need a quality CM, WF and CB. Felliani, Affelay and Mexes. Then we can compete again.

    1. Yes I do rate Diaby and Coquelin very highly but that is not actually the balance of my article. I have no issue with strengthening but am just advising that we only need 6/7 quality players for the 3 roles some some will miss out. Seeing as you are so blunt about the article without reading it properly I will give you Felliani but Affelay plays for an average 20 mins in 90 and Mexes is Squillaci standard and might just challenge Djorou to be a 4th choice.

    2. Coquelin is a quality player and everyone knows that no one can match pace of Walcott. Frimpong showed what he got last season and got praises everywhere. Not sure about Diaby but when Wenger says someone is good, means he has to be good.
      Another thing is that this team is creating crap loads of opportunities but not able to locking them. So why not ask for a quality striker? all the good teams have 3-4 good strikers except Arsenal.

  28. Great article. You make excellent comments regarding Arteta in the holding midfielder position and I totally agree. However, both Diaby and Ramsey are not at the standard to compete at the top level. Diaby is a significant risk due to his physical frailties. I think Mr Wenger has realised that creativity is the major concern. Carzola is class, but needs help. Cabaye from Newcastle would help create a perfect balance in the midfield. Also the return of Wilshire (not forgetting Miyachi) will add to the creativity.
    I agree- we don’t need a defensive midfielder, but we do need more top level creativity.

  29. Loved the piece as usual. I will be honest , I am one of those fans who thinks Tiote will improve Arsenal while still wanting Ramsey to be at Arsenal. But I am also of the view that its better to get Tiote than a M’vila. Frankly if we wanted M’vila we could have got it him by now. The fact we have not bid for him (guess that’s true) means Wenger is in two minds about him and has the same thought process as you. So kudos to your article in that way.

    Now lets see who do we have as “DMs” Arteta , Diaby ,Ramsey,Coquelin Wilshere and Frimpong . That is in order of availability and competence.

    Now the fear most fans is evident once you look at that list. Is Wilshere going to be ready ? Will Diaby last ? Ramsey back to his promised self ? Can Coquelin lift the burden already ?

    That is where the Sahin loan deal made tremendous sense. One year to see what he is like and he impresses he bumps out one of the guys and if no he is back to Madrid. But again the reason he was not bid for outright ? Wenger knows If Sahin had come in , its the end of the road for a frimpong or coquelin. We would have been fighting over which versatile defender or striker. But we ain’t gonna get Tiote on a loan deal. I love him as a player. Full of heart. Quality player who breaks play and is not too gentle about it. But I 100% believe Frimpong is almost the same and I love his combative style. Coquelin and Frimpong bossed the City midfield and showed tremendous energy in that Carling cup game. I instantaneoulsy thought “Wow two academy level players , something good going on there”. The tackles were pure and intelligent. Wenger said after that game , that Frimpong had a quality he admired and wants to keep him. If he wanted Frimpong off , he would have been off by now. But before his injury he lost way (probably it went to his head all the frimponged and dench stuff)and I believe he still has something to show.

    Sorry , I digress. So do we need a DM ? It’s as simple as this. If we get M’villa , its end of the gunners tag for one of our promising boys. That is where I think Wenger has yet again , shown faith in his players.(I hope to god that’s true).

    I personally think we will be 100% in for a versatile defender. One who can play Centre back and RB probably. If we hit that patch of injuries again. How about Kosc , Mertasacker at the back with captain helping out in the midfield ?

    Thanks for the post Dave. Wonderful perspective. Loved it 100%. Top top blogger you are.

  30. Another excellent article well done mate. Again, and I should imagine all supporters have their own opinions, I don’t 100% agree with you. Yes we have a plethora of mid-fielders on the books but I totally agree with ‘Parkettpolitur’ they are not necessarily good enough or their injury records do not instil confidence.

    I have always rated Wenger up to a point but believe for some reason he has blind spots with players. His faith in Diaby is great to see but truthfully, is this player really good enough to play for a side that is hoping to challenge for the EPL? And how good is Frimpong? A couple of strong tackles, a declaration of his love for Arsenal and a couple of stupid Tweets and the player becomes a ‘Legend’ come on, I want to see more than that.

    One other point that I feel has been missed, Arteta last year was excellent and his pass rate and stats. are fantastic but don’t get mislead by this. This season I have watched him closely and I’m afraid he is becoming too defensive. A statistic I would like to see (and I’m sure someone has it) is how many forward passes does he make? Yes, he hasn’t “put a foot or hair out of place” but if you don’t take some risks with forward play you’re not going to are you?

    Thanks for the blog mate, keep up the good work

    1. Agree on Frimpong but Arteta is playing deeper as I predicted in June so his role and distibution will certainly have changed and quick passes to start attacking will invariably not be a spenatrative as when he was more advanced last season.

  31. I rarely read an article about AFC that i agree with so wholeheartedly, you have got it spot on IMHO, Arteta could and most likely will play the Pirlo role for the next three seasons, that could be inspirational, AOC looks to be too good a player to play anywhere but AM, he needs to be bought along at the right pace Wilshere can be given time with our current midfield options and to add substandard players or good players who need to adapt would seem a waste of money,
    To the above respondent who suggest Ramsey should be sent out on loan should be aware that this guy is captain of Wales and played the majority of the season as an automatic choice in a three man midfield for a team who finished third in the EPL, if he can only parrot drivel written by attention seeking bloggers he should not waste his time repeating the views, The fact is Ramsey is a young player who already has proven quality, he may not be a fan favorite and ultimately may not be good enough for a Champions league side but to suggest a player such as him should be loaned is totally ludicrous the choice for Arsenal is keep him and hopes he improves again as he matures or cut him loose and take the £12-£15 mill he is worth on the transfer market.
    Some people have to learn to think for themselves as has the writer of this blog, not repeat thoughtless nonsense.

    1. Thanks so much for you kind words. I feel Wenger will bring in a midfielder and Coq and Frimpong sadly may be surplus. Interesting 4 days coming up. You can subscribe for future links direct if you wish to on the site.

  32. I genuinely agree with this article. You just echoed my sentiments after watching us play in the first two games. I feel we have a strong enough Midfield now and with Rosicky and Wilshere coming we will only get better. Arteta has played his role to perfection in the first two games. The question to be asked is, does he enjoy playing in a Deep role? Going by the speculations do you think Wenger is going for a DM to actually let Arteta play in CAM? I understand from your article that it was only at Everton did he become a CAM. And he did a wonderful job for us last season when he played a similar role last season. If he enjoys playing a Deep role in the midfield then I don’t think we can get a better player than him.

    My only concern in the first two games is the lack of goals. I know Podolski and Giroud are only 2 games old in the premiere league and that they need time to gel. But don’t you think we are making it difficult by not scoring goals? I’m aware that TH14 and DB10 took more than 5 games before they scored their first goal for us, but I would definitely like us to buy a premiere league proven forward before the transfer window expires. Someone that would ease the burden on Podolski and Giroud and help them settle in.

  33. Dave is one of the best tactical analyst bloggers I know so, I strongly disagree with you @Shrey, he DOES NOT write crap.

    I also think that Arteta has done a good job and has been more disciplined than disciplined than Song was in that area of deep lying MDs. I also think we have a plethora of talent in MD and if at all we have to buy another MD, we’ll have to shed some.

    My issue however is how we’ll cope as we don’t have a back-up striker. Ollie confirmed that before RvP left, he had resigned himself to being on he bench for a while; we need a plan B striker if we can rid ourselves of Cham-Cham (Chamakh).

    Also, we need a back-up RB/CB or a versatile back man. If we can get this right and concentrate on gelling as a team, I see us a VERY strong contenders in 2014/15.

  34. Great Article. One thing to note though, neither Gnabry or Eisfield are midfielders. Gnabry is a wide forward and Eisfield a forward/ second striker.

    1. Not my understanding. Both are CAMs. Serge being played wide at present learning to step up as Ox has done. Eisfeld is a passing CAM in the Cesc mould for me.

  35. great article. awesome debate I’ll probably get alot of stick for this but where is lansbury? walcott is like a broken iron box blowing hot & cold at will but I’ve noted he tends to be at his best with sagna behind him (any stats to prove my theory will be highly appreciated). diaby, rosicky, wilshere can’t be relied upon due to their tendency to visit the medics alot despite their immense potential. keyword being ‘ potential’ hence I do feel a proven DM is necessary in order to strengthen the team as well as a versatile RB, coz lets face it jenkison is good but with sagna out its not the same especially offensively. on a positive note, I thought gibbs was immense against stoke!! clean and crucial tackles as well as great
    positioning. he’s getting better (watch this space). all in all I’m a gooner for life! yours truly @mwanzaholic 😉

  36. So am I the only one who wants another good striker (like Llorente or Damiao) who can actually score from the day 1?

    I have been saying the same all this time that we do not have space for any other Midfielder even if he’s world class. but we’re lacking up front. poldi is more of a winger than a striker and he should be kept there, like Ronaldo. Giroud is really good and he will score many goals but is it fair to put up all the pressure just on him? like last season we only had RVP now its just Giroud. We seriously need another striker. we’re fine elsewhere!

    1. DW We will have double figures from multiple sources this season and poldi and Giroud will lead the way. Llorente has scored 2 goals since March by the way I think.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *