Options for Arsenal’s Midfield and Defence after the Transfer Window by Supertuur
Being an Arsenal fan on transfer day is a pretty stressful event. Fans would like to see the club buy a central defender, a defensive midfielder and a centre forward for the long term injured Giroud. There were initial talks of Falcao joining Arsenal but that was put to rest quickly when Manchester United closed the deal. Welbeck was the only purchase of the three positions that were needed.
There were a lot of central defenders we were linked to, but none of them materialised. I think various factors were at play here. First central defenders targeted wanted first team football at Arsenal which is hard when you have Koscielny and Mertesacker as the backbone of the defence. Arsenal are not a club wanting to overpay for players to sit on the bench. Take Alderweireld for example who moved from Atletico Madrid to Southampton, he will get first team football instead of sitting on the bench for Arsenal. The wages offered will be comparable. All other targets linked to us preferred first team football as well.
The holding midfielder position is more pressing for Arsenal and it is a shame we have not filled that position. In the end the amount of available players was not that large and only Carvalho was seriously targeted. Carvalho is partly owned by a third party which makes negotiations more difficult. The release clause was high for a player that only had one full season with Sporting Lisbon and 6 senior appearances for the Portugal national team. What the exact figures that Sporting Lisbon wanted I don’t know, but it was deemed too high for Wenger.
One other target we were linked with was young prima donna Rabiot from PSG, a 19 year old promising star who could play holding midfielder, although his defensive qualities needed to improve. He was also courted by Roma and Juventus but in the end none of the clubs including Arsenal got the deal. He has one more year left on his contract with PSG. We can see how he develops at PSG over the next year and pounce on him during the winter transfer or next summer transfer.
Central Defence Options
Arsenal’s full backs are covered well with Gibbs/Monreal on the left and Debuchi/Bellerin on the right. With Callum Chambers being an excellent 3rd Central defender we need to promote Isaac Hayden to be our 4th Central Defender. Hayden is one of our best prospects coming out of the youth academy. He made his first team debut at the Capital One cup last season against West Brom. He should be given more apps in this year’s Capital One Cup and FA Cup to be eased in more. Further down the line the academy has another exciting prospect in 17 year old Pleguezuelo.
Fans all seem to love Shaw and Chambers, and both are 19 years old. Southampton is great at developing talent because they give young players a chance in the first team. With a shortage of home grown talent in the Premier League, good players like this will command a premium as can be seen from price paid to Shaw and Chambers. Premier league clubs are only allowed to feature 17 players above 21 that are non home grown.
Another option tested by Wenger was using Monreal in the central defender position. The results were mixed and not something to rely on for the whole season on. I do think Monreal has stepped up this season and he is good providing crosses so he is good as a left back starter and back up. I am more concerned here with the frequent injuries of Gibbs and who will backup Monreal. Vermaelen did OK as a left back.
Holding Midfield Options
Both Arteta and Flamini are ageing and cannot be considered long term options for the holding midfield. Our options we have for this position are:
• Francis Coquelin – We have Francis Coquelin coming back from an unsuccessful loan spell at Freiburg where he almost played everywhere but holding midfield. At the academy he was once regarded as a better prospect than Wilshere. I have honestly no clue how well he is in this position but a loan move to QPR did not go through so he must have some value in Wenger’s opinion.
• Calum Chambers – Chambers is another prospect that could be introduced in holding midfield. However with the lack of proven CBs this is something I see not happen now. It is a position we can slowly introduce to him when both Mertesacker and Koscielny are playing.
• Jack Wilshere – Having Wilshere play here is talked about often but I see him more as a CAM or B2B player, he lacks the discipline and defensive qualities to make this position his own. If he does step up he will be another Arteta, a small holding midfielder with good ball skills but could be dispossessed of the ball quite easy.
• Abou Diaby – If we have Diaby fit long enough this could work although I think he is more a B2B player replacement for Ramsey. I doubt he is a long term prospect and I think Arsenal will let him go after this season when his contract expires.
• Oxlade Chamberlain – There is not one position the Ox has made his own. He has been used as B2B replacement of Ramsey and be used on left and right wing positions. I wish Wenger would make up his mind and nail a position for him. I don’t see him as a holding midfielder as he likes to go forward and he has lapses in his defence. He did play rugby at a younger age so he may have the steel we need as a holding midfielder.
• Gideon Zelalem – This is another B2B player with immense talent from our Academy. I do not see him as a holding midfielder though.
With Flamini and Arteta on contracts expiring next year we needed someone to make this position his own. I have listed 6 possible candidates and would like to see them tested at this position. I still think we need to buy someone for this position the coming winter transfer period.
Now with the transfer window over I would love to hear your opinion. So no Wenger Out or AKB comments or what we should have bought. This is the squad we have till the winter transfer and we have to make the best of it.