Arsenal Mid-Season Evaluation – Midfielders by Jonn Hirons
Today I wanted to have a look at how I feel our squad is doing this year, there been some highs, lows and of course injuries. I rated the Keepers and Defence earlier so now let’s discuss the midfielders.
Defensive Midfielders –
Francis Coquelin – Coquelin stunned everyone after returning to Arsenal from Charlton due to injuries. He, like Cech, showed us all what we had been missing for so long, this time an actual Defensive Midfielder. Disciplined in his role, he is very rarely caught out of position, he is strong in a tackle and seems to relish a physical battle His technical ability also developed over the course of the first few months of this season, and his passing improved along with his ability to twist and turn out of trouble, but of course what we had all been dreading came to pass…, Coquelin was injured vs West Brom, and has missed the last month, and is going to miss at least two more, I am of the opinion that we would be in a much better position than we are now if Coquelin had stayed fit. I give Francis an 8/10.
Mathieu Flamini – Flamini is in the side by default right now. If Coquelin is fit, Mathieu would be warming the bench until his contract runs out. He has, however, done a decent job for us recently, despite often moving much too far forward (at times he has been bombing past GIroud !!) He has been reasonably solid. His performance vs Man City was possibly his best in an Arsenal shirt. He has provided good cover for our back four and has started being a bit more disciplined in his role of late. He is also very vocal, barking orders at teammates and can often be seen dragging them into their correct positions. Flamini gets a solid 7/10.
Mikel Arteta – Our club captain has seen very little football, usurped by both Coquelin and Flamini in defensive midfield, it looks as though his time at the club could be over, as a player anyway. There is talk he may well take a coaching position within the club, and he often works with our youngsters when numbers are low. He is undoubtedly a leader in the dressing room and has always been said to be a great presence who is always happy to help the younger players with whatever they need.
Centre Midfield –
Santi Cazorla – Santi is integral to the way we play football, quick feet, both feet, exquisite passing, he dictates the pace of our games, and usually if he is not on his game then neither are we. Since his injury we have not looked too assured in possession, often giving away sloppy passes, and often not being incisive enough. Although he has improved the defensive side of his game, I still feel that it is not strong enough to truly support Francis Coquelin. His goal scoring record is also quite horrific and is yet to score this season. He has scored just 11 in his last 3 seasons. Santi’s creativity is greatly missed however, creating a superb 37 chances in just 14 premier league games, Santi was injured a month ago, he will be out for a further 2. Santi Gets a 7/10.
Aaron Ramsey – Aaron Ramsey started this season as a Right Winger, much to the annoyance of our fans and the man himself. RW is not Rambo’s position, and it was not very fruitful for the Welshman, scoring just one goal and failing to create a single one. I also felt he was coming inside much too often leaving young Bellerin alone and outnumbered on the right. Since injuries to Coquelin and Cazorla, Ramsey has moved to his favourite position. Seven games here have brought him 2 goals and 2 assists, he seems more assured in this position and much more confident. His immense energy levels allows him to run up and down the pitch for 90 minutes, meaning he can attack and provide cover too. He still has some way to go to match his performances from a couple of years ago so I give him a 7/10.
Mesut Ozil – What to say about Mesut Ozil? The improvement in Ozil is phenomenal this year. He is working harder, running further, he has started putting in a shift defensively, he dribbling is superb, and he can squeeze through the smallest spaces with the ball still in his possession. as AW noted a couple of weeks ago, he seems more willing to get into the box and he wants to score goals. He is also taking more responsibility in possession, driving forward, playing one twos, as seen in his wonderful goal vs Bournemouth. He is often seen as the man most frequently pressing the opposition defence when they are in possession, and then we come to his creativity.. Mesut Ozil is the best creative midfielder on the planet, that is unquestionable, he has created more chances than any other player in the top 5 leagues in Europe, he has created 80 chances in 18 appearances in the premier league and only 21 of those chances have come from set pieces. Take those away and he would still be 2nd in Europe. He has had 16 assists in that time, 7 more than the next best in Europe, double the next best in the premier league. Mesut Ozil is arguably the finest player in the league this year, he is currently making a mockery of Thierry Henry’s assist record, and he needs just 5 more to beat it in 19 games. Mesut gets 10/10
I can’t see any Arsenal fans disagreeing with my assessment of Ozil, but what about the ratings for the other midfielders?