Why Arsenal Should Have Bought A Defensive Midfielder

Why Arsenal Should Have Bought A Defensive Midfielder

The summer transfer window has come and gone and the sensational reactions are all over the place.  Due to a lack of action in the window, Arsenal fans are freaking out all over the internet.  After buying only Petr Cech, many fans and pundits alike have declared the Gunners’ window a complete failure, proclaimed that the season is already over, and are calling for Arsene Wenger to be sacked.  Shocking, isn’t it?

arsemid

Despite what some people may tell you, Arsenal’s transfer window was not a complete failure.  They upgraded on their biggest weakness going from the good but not great David Ospina to the world class Petr Cech.  That said, they still did make a mistake with their inactivity in the window, but it’s not in the position that the media would have you believe.  While there has been much talk over Arsenal not buying a striker, even more so after Danny Welbeck’s surgery, in the end, no top strikers were available to be bought.  As much as Arsene Wenger may have wanted a Karim Benzema type, there weren’t any on the market. The position that Arsenal could and should have upgraded at was defensive midfielder.

Defensive midfield has been a need for a long time at Arsenal.  It’s not as pressing as it was a year ago due to the emergence of Francis Coquelin, but it’s still a position that they can upgrade.  This isn’t to say Coquelin is a bad player, he isn’t and his individual performances over the last nine months have been outstanding.  But he is a limited player and those limits hurt the team balance.

The biggest problem with Coquelin in the Arsenal team is his limited ability on the ball.  That means that his natural partner is the sensational Spaniard, Santi Cazorla.  While he is a very good player, pairing Cazorla with the Frenchman means that Aaron Ramsey is either shunted to right wing or left out all together.

Ideally, the Welshman would be paired with a defensive midfielder, but his style of play and Coquelin’s don’t mesh.  Ramsey runs all over the pitch and loves to make runs beyond the last defender, but that leaves the defensive midfielder exposed. The Frenchman isn’t comfortable enough with the ball at his feet to be left alone time and time again like he is with Ramsey.  Their inability to mesh together is the root a few problems with the team balance.

Since Arsene Wenger knows the value of having Ramsey in the team, he is reluctant to drop the Welshman and often plays him at right wing.  Having a playmaker wide can cause all kinds of problems in the team balance.  This article goes more into the ill effects of wide playmakers, but last season Arsenal had a 78% win percentage with two true wingers as opposed to a 34% win percentage with a wide playmaker, like Ramsey or Cazorla.  With Ramsey on the right, Alexis on the left, and Giroud up top, Arsenal lack a player that is going to make runs in behind and stretch the defence.  Giroud just doesn’t have the pace to threaten the back line, Ramsey’s runs aren’t as effective when coming from wide, and, for all his pace, Alexis wants the ball to feet and tends to avoid running in behind.  With Ramsey wide, they have to rely on Hector Bellerin for width on the right.  As we saw in the West Ham game, if Bellerin is unavailable, Mathieu Debuchy doesn’t have the pace to do the job of the young Spaniard, and the team becomes too narrow.  The lack of width and pace created by this imbalance causes the Gunners to be too predictable.  When their beautiful passing football through the middle isn’t coming off, Arsenal are much easier to stop than they should be.

While new problems may arise later, many of the current problems in the side could be solved by having a defensive midfielder that is more adept at controlling games.  Where there weren’t any available options at striker, there were plenty of defensive midfielders that moved this summer.  The defensive midfield situation isn’t as bad as it has been in past years for Arsenal.  Coquelin can still do an adequate job for them, but some of the problems they’ve experienced lately with the team balance could have been solved by simply buying a new defensive midfielder in the mold of a Mikel Arteta type.

by

Follow me on twitter @The_Jersey_Fitz.

Comments

4 responses to “Why Arsenal Should Have Bought A Defensive Midfielder”

  1. davi says:

    “Coquelin can still do an adequate job for them, but some of the problems they’ve experienced lately with the team balance could have been solved by simply buying a new defensive midfielder in the mold of a Mikel Arteta type.”
    You’re acting like everything was rosey when Arteta was playing regularly – some of the worst defensive performances in recent years came with him playing DM! He was fantastic when he first joined and was pair with Alex Song who had a bit more of a box-to-box role but had the legs and physical power to win in midfield (that partnership was the real strength of the team and was the biggest factor in our recovery from the 8-2 defeat), but when Song was missing for a few games, you could see Arteta’s performance levels start to degrade. If we were to sign an Arteta-type DM, we’d have to sign a second, physically strong partner for him. Ramsey also did the Song-role very well for a year but I think he’s become too focused on scoring goals now and would leave the midfield exposed too often – something Coquelin is far better equipped to handle than Arteta.

  2. davi says:

    “The biggest problem with Coquelin in the Arsenal team is his limited ability on the ball. That means that his natural partner is the sensational Spaniard, Santi Cazorla. While he is a very good player, pairing Cazorla with the Frenchman means that Aaron Ramsey is either shunted to right wing or left out all together.”
    I also disagree with this. Coquelin is not especially limited on the ball and I didn’t really see Arteta doing much more with the ball than him. Both are experts at not-losing the ball in front of the defence and both are capable of playing clever passes. Arteta may be slightly better but not so much that it makes up for his defensive deficiencies (which really come down to him being small and not very robust; technically he’s sound). I don’t think it’s a necessity that Cazorla plays in midfield with him, he was given the chance to play centrally (because Ozil owns the no.10 spot) and he took it better than players like Ramsey. The reason he’s done better than Ramsey there is not particularly because he’s so much better on the ball, it’s because he sticks to his job and isn’t overly focused on scoring goals at the expense of the team. This is something that has developed in Ramsey since his goalscoring season and is no reflection on the abilities of Coquelin or anyone else. If Arteta was in the side, Cazorla would still be alongside him because he’s shown himself to be the best man for the job currently.

  3. Sean Williams says:

    There is no problem with Coquelin at all. He is up to the challenge. The problem is that Arsenal have up to 65 games this season. With injury, suspensions, loss of form, tiredness, rotation, and tactics it is plainly obvious we needed another DM . Who on earth believes that none of Kondogbia, Schneiderlin, Carvalho. Khedira, Imbula, Vidal and others were not good enough for us. To me Wenger should be shot for not taking us to that next level. The man is surely damaging Arsenal FC in many ways. He is deceiving the supporters and should be let go of immediately. Why O’ why did he not buy a top DM? He must go.

  4. jon fox says:

    Wenger is now acting as an enemy of the fans and the lapdog of the board and owner whose ambition seems to be to always finish fourth. Preferred by them to third, as fourth brings in extra game revenue provide we win it as we always do. We fans are being cheated, lied to and taken for mugs, mugs who pay sky high prices to stay as mugs. Well the worm has turned, at least for me. Fool that I was until Sept 1st, these fraudulent custodians of our beloved club, one that I have been regularly attending since 1958, have lifted the rose tinted specs from my non- seeing eyes. I now see the club in the hands of, effectively, the enemies of we fans. And I remind everyone that all fans, everywhere, are the moral guardians and lifeblood of their club. If you doubt this truth, consider this: clubs could survive the loss, even overnight, of any manager, the board and the owner, BUT not the fans. Without us the club is meaningless. We now should IMO exercise this nuclear deterrent power to rescue our club from it’s enemies within.

Leave a Reply

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

Published by EPL Index
Updated: 2015-09-06 10:20:15
14 Views