Posted on June 30, 2015 by ADMIN

Tactics – Why Arsenal will NOT buy a Defensive Midfielder

The Holding Midfielder transfer by TJ

The discussion about Vidal and the holding midfielder role has centered around being an upgrade to Coquelin…but I think it fails to recognise one important point. Aaron Ramsey is the equivalent to Vidal in many respects and maybe/perhaps Vidal just shades him…but Vidal is not a big quality step-up over Ramsey.

We keep comparing Vidal to Coquelin but I think perhaps we miss the real comparison Wenger is making. In my mind, it’s Vidal vs Ramsey. It’s instructive that Squawka chose to compare Vidal with Pogba, Kroos, Toure and Ramsey in assessing the Chilean (Squawka July 14, 2014). A year on from there – Is Vidal equivalent or an upgrade or a massive step up in quality over Ramsey? And for that matter is/was Schneiderlin an improvement over Ramsey?

One could argue Vidal may be slightly ahead only (but not Schneiderlin). So, if we agree that Vidal is NOT a big improvement on Ramsey, and they are like-for-like players (which most people in football agree on) then why would we buy Vidal? The answer is we wouldn’t unless we wanted Ramsey and Vidal to compete for that holding midfield position. The question is certainly not about Coquelin. I don’t believe Coquelin will be the automatic starter for that role with a full roster of fit players.

Ramsey will partner Cazorla as the double pivot and Coquelin IS THE COVER for Ramsey. Wilshire plays up front (where Ramsey was) as part of the 3 attacking mids with Ozil and Sanchez. Oxlade-Chamberlain will probably push Wilshire for that spot.

Ramsey playing up on the right was just a stop-gap in light of the injuries to Wilshire and Ox and to bring balance to the side, especially with a young Hector at right full-back who needed someone with more defensive discipline covering his forward runs. Ramsey’s optimal role and position is through the middle and that puts him playing alongside Cazorla (similar position to Vidal’s at Juventus).

Based on the above I seriously doubt we are in the market for a holding midfielder. AW clearly doesn’t want a Defensive Mid – he doesn’t want someone for the Makelele role. He clearly wants Coquelin to improve his recycling of the ball from the defensive 3rd to start attacks, he wants Coquelin to improve his in-game intelligence and decision-making. Arsene is not after a “beast” or “destroyer” midfielder. Other options available to him right now for the rotating double pivot – Rosicky, Wilshire, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arteta and Coquelin.

The Coquelin/Cazorla double pivot was a little one dimensional since Cazorla was the really the only one making the late runs into the box from deep, and eventually he was tracked by the better teams who did their homework. Coquelin did push ahead but very infrequently – I guess those were his instructions. I don’t believe Arsene saw this as the long term partnership and probably stuck with it since it delivered the results (and the best balance) while Arteta, Ox, Wilshire and Walcott were on the mend.

With the 4-2-3-1, the ideal rotating double pivot enables BOTH players to fulfill the role of supporting the attack. For example, If Cazorla is marked than Ramsey rotates with him. Both players need to have the discipline and knowledge of when to go forward and support the attack and when to hold and support the defense.

In the old days, the destroyer or even deep lying creator would not be so far up the pitch and this highlights the change in the formation. Cazorla’s and Ramsey’s late movement into the box would mean they are often unmarked which gives them more time closer to goal to create or score. Yet the difference is that this is not just a one-man role but two.

So if the team structure is right then the only plausible reason for Arsene to go out and splash the cash, is if he wants Vidal as competition for Ramsey, pushing Coquelin out to third choice or out on loan again. I doubt that will happen. Arsene, and most fans, would be very comfortable with Coquelin being the cover option for that role….in fact most fans on this site have said that about Coquelin!

So frankly I don’t see Arsene going out and buying a Holding Midfielder, but what do you think?

Tejinder

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42 thoughts on “Tactics – Why Arsenal will NOT buy a Defensive Midfielder

    1. sevenitti

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

      Out of tune?. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 27

      1. Wonder

        Surely OX if he stays free is one of the best midfield players be it at right wing or in central midfield!

        Top Gooner!. Agree or not?: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 4

        1. Champagne Charlie

          Based on what may I ask? A RW is typically judged on his ability to create chances, get assists, and score goals……OX is pretty darn average in both assists and goals so far in his career at Arsenal.

          Opinions divided. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 8

          1. sevenitti

            My point exactly. Average player for a top PL-club, but will develop into a top notch RW if things go his way.

            Rate this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

            1. Champagne Charlie

              He’s definitely above average, but fans are too quick to equate his enormous potential to his current on pitch ability. He’s not that decisive a player right now by any stretch, but his potential is crazy.

              Rate this comment: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

              1. jonestown1

                I used to work with a long-time Soton supporter and remember him telling me that Ox was by a distance the best player to come through their ranks – way ahead of Theo, and Bale for that matter. But not sure if Wenger doesn’t trust him or is still weening him in – 78 PL matches, just 40 starts, subbed on 38 times and subbed off 32 times ie: only 8 full matches. Whilst we obviously cannot afford the luxury of giving him a proper uninterrupted run in the team I think that is what HE needs. So easy to forget he is still only 21 – feels like he has been around for eons.

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                1. Champagne Charlie

                  All very valid, but top talents often get that uninterrupted playing time after producing game influencing moments time and again (chances/assists/goals). Arsenal should never be in a position to simply gift talented youngsters an extended first team run in the hope those players mature in their game.

                  Ox is crazy talented, but he’s not “one of the best” in terms of current output is my only comment. I’ve few doubts we’ll see him blossom into something spectacular, but to pin hopes on him would be foolish imo.

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                2. jonestown1

                  No “reply button” under your last post.

                  Mate, preaching to the converted – Ox is one of a number of Arsenal players I have been critical of in terms of end product. It could be my number one most frustrating specific player performance issue at Arsenal. I agree – no gifts can be afforded in terms of playing time, I think I said that – but it remains a classic chicken and egg situation.

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                3. Champagne Charlie

                  You did say as much, I was rambling a bit in that last comment so my view was a bit scattered but I think we’re on the same page concerning Chambo.

                  Mega ability but needs to have more substance now basically. Tbh it’s why this ‘Theo to ST’ has me chewing my lip….Theo is the senior RW at present so if he’s moving up top now I do wonder who’s earmarked for the RW starting berth.

                  I don’t want to be “that guy”, but I was told by a mate of mine that we’re trying to do deal for Reus this summer and the 28mil Drax bid the papers caught wind of was actually an opening bid for Reus. Reliability of his “source” I can’t begin to say….but as far as sense goes it would make plenty of it given where Theo’s headed in the team. Something to keep an ear open for if nothing more. I’m certainly not going to paste it all over here like some kind of ITK type. Same guy has reassured me Schneiderlin is our man despite the water being doused on it recently…time will reveal all, as I said I wouldn’t dare call this stuff ‘info’.

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  1. fred cowardly

    I disagree with Vidal and Ramsey being of similar quality. Ramsey is very good but Vidal is WC. I believe Vidal would increase our chances of winning the PL.

    But generally I agree with the article
    I believe that Wenger is happy with Coquelin and backups Arteta/Flamini/maybe diaby
    Wenger is an attacking minded manager and won’t spend BIG on defensive minded players

    Also I think Wenger will try to strengthen our defense by increasing quality with new Goalkeeper- Done and New defender.

    Opinions divided. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 16

    1. Wonder

      I am really sick and tired of people misusing the word WC? Why is Vidal a WC and Ramsey is not? If I was a coach I would choose Ramsey over Vidal any day! What has Vidal really done at Juventus to deserve WC status? winning the Italian league? Come on guys lets appreciate what we already have and strengthen areas which need strengthening. The box-to-box role is really over-stocked.

      Top Gooner!. Agree or not?: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 18

      1. Champagne Charlie

        Because Vidal has produced a particular performance level over a consistent period of time at the top of the game – I mean seriously, if Vidal isn’t world class who the hell is? There’s no denying Rambo is quality, but you’re talking nonsense to say he’s better than Vidal….he’s not yet close.

        “If I was a coach I’d choose Rambo over Vidal any day”….if I had to make a guess I’d say it’s crap like this that stops you being a coach.

        With regards to them being ‘comparable’ that too is simply not true. Vidal is noted for his defensive input whilst Rambo is noted for his attacking input….both can produce at either end of the field sure, but one is a defensive specialist whilst the other is an attacking one.

        Pretty bored of Arsenal fans comparing some of our players to genuine world stars who have earned such a reputation through consistent high quality. Undermined in an instant with comparisons to coquelin/rambo/jack…give me a break. If all our players were as good as some believe we would;t have finished 12 points off Chelsea last term.

        Top Gooner!. Agree or not?: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

        1. jonestown1

          Vidal is right near the top of the pile – no argument from me there. But suggest Ramsey is a bit closer to the top than you give credit for. And you make an interesting point about both can produce at either end of the field – a point you have repeatedly made about AV – the balance of attack and defence he provides. I know you love stats (!) so the 90min metric Squawka for the last 2 seasons for both is revealing (I agree isolated and selective stats are meaningless but the full stat records across 2 seasons can be at least strongly supportive of a theory). And they do support your observation about Ramsey’s attacking ability and Vidal’s defensive reputation.

          Long story short Ramsey has superior attack/possession stats in just about every relevant metric – and Vidal has superior defence stats in the majority of relevant metrics. Suspect these strengths are as much a reflection of their tasks/roles allotted by the manager as to their respective skill-sets/attributes.

          But it might also suggest that comparing AR and AV may not strictly be comparing apples with apples.

          Rate this comment: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

          1. Goonsquad8

            Vidals “defensive stats” need context though, a lot of his defensive contributions are high up the pitch where he plays 90% of the time. Most of the time he’s the first line of defense and gets a toe in or tackles a breaking midfielder, that is a lot different than screening the back 4 by yourself

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            1. Champagne Charlie

              The stats highlight his propensity to defend and competency in doing so…where he is on the pitch is tactical, the ability to perform the task of ‘defending’ is what’s in question.

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  2. supertuur

    I wish he did buy schneiderlin. We have a destroyer type but one that also can initiate attack.
    We could play 4-4-2 diamond and have a more attack minded play.

    ———-Cech———-
    Bel, Gab, Kos, Mon
    —–Schneid/Coq——
    –Ramsey—Cazorla—
    ———-Ozil———
    —-Walcott, Alexis—

    Width has to come from the full backs. This line up will produce more goals and my feeling is a Schneiderlin type will do better in the built up. Wilshere / Rosicky can compete with Ramsey / Cazorla for the midfield positions. Also we can rotate the front 2 with Giroud & Welbeck.

    Opinions divided. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 17

    1. supertuur

      I forgot he OX can also compete with Ramsey & Cazorla.

      I would really love to see Arsenal play 4-4-2 but for that we need more of a footballing CDM than we currently have in Coquelin. With Coquelin we need Cazorla next to him to provide the balls for the attack.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  3. Robertthegooner

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Out of tune?. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 29

    1. Wonder

      Again the therm WC is being abused here! Vargas who was even struggling at QPR is now a WC?

      Top Gooner!. Agree or not?: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  4. KickAssFan

    Bla, bla, bla!!! Just waiting impatiently to see who we sign next.

    Top Gooner!. Agree or not?: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  5. KickAssFan

    By the way, I hope Argentina gets knocked out. Sorry to all the Argents.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  6. BVR

    how about trying a change in the formation to 4-3-3!

    Cech
    Debuchy/Bellerin, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal/Gibbs
    Coquelin (DM)
    Ramsey/Wilshere/Cazorla (2 CMs)
    Sanchez (LW)
    Walcott/Ox (RW)
    Giroud/New ST (Lacazatte/Benzema etc.)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13

  7. Darlingbudsofarse

    As they say, ‘No FT, No Comment’, equally No DFM and 20-25 goal a season Striker, No Title! End of. You all can argue till you are blue in your faces.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

    1. RSH

      Don’t fully agree on CDM argument. Most gooners want a CDM b/c we worry about Coquelin getting injured If Coq stays fit then we really dont need Schneiderlin or another CDM. Arteta and Flamini are average but they can play against smaller teams when Coqulin needs a rest. If you dont think Coquelin is good enough then I 100% disagree and think if Coq had cost 40mill and had not been a homegrown player then everyone would be singing a different tune. ST without a doubt needs an improvement though or no title. Giroud is good but its laughable that he is good enough to win us the title. He has yet to get even close to 20 league goals per season.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  8. goonerwineverything

    if we are looking for a d/m that can pass the ball maybe illaramendi might be worth a punt. he is he doesn’t seem to be in vogue at real madrid. and would probably want a move away to get more game time and would come quite cheap(prob £15-18 million) for a position that doesn’t always need a lot of money thrown, at it its the sort of project wenger likes to make players that come under his tutelage to improve them. he could be one of them he has good skills clean in the tackle and always looking for a forward pass, straight after winning the back which as the writer of the piece said we would need more than just winning the ball back like le coq, and he is the same age would be the perfect replacement for arteta in d/m role back up or work along side le coq.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  9. RSH

    Vidal never made any sense to begin with. Many Gooners warned others to ignore the rumours and now people are upset the Vidal rumours have been 100% proven false by multiple outlets that have far more credibility than some random Twitter account.

    ST should be the priority anyways. I know we only have Coquelin as our CDM but goals win titles. The fact that Giroud is still not consistent and still cannot get 20 goals a season with Alexis, Ozil, Cazorla etc. supporting him just goes to show that he isn’t quality enough. Giroud is surrounded by top players and its clear as day he doesn’t cut it. He’s a decent back up but nothing more. Coquelin’s fitness record is excellent and I think Arteta still has a bit to offer if he plays irregularly. Time to lower expectations a bit, we aren’t getting a CDM this summer, but hopefully we get our striker.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

    1. Champagne Charlie

      Clean sheets win more titles actually…..Jonestown will give you details on that one.

      We scored 100+ goals last term so don’t think it’s as cut and dry as you’re claiming it to be.

      Rate this comment: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

      1. RSH

        You’d have more of a point if Arsenal played defensively but we dont, so we do rely more on outscoring opponents over keeping clean sheets. And the fact we have Cech no and Coquelin makes our team much more balanced anyways. I think its a waste having Alexis and Ozil but no top striker to compliment them. Do you not agree?

        Rate this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

        1. Champagne Charlie

          I don’t share your enthusiasm and belief in coquelin obviously. I think it’s just pointless having an RVP type season again where we have a top class ST but get rear-ended by having a DM that isn’t as good as it could be.

          Also, keeping clean sheets is a big deal whether you’re a defensive team or an attacking one. Barcelona have insane attacking ability but how’s there clean sheets looking? Pretty damn good, hence they win a ton.

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        2. jonestown1

          Not having a go at you here RSH but every time I see Arsenal “need a top striker” and “Alexis” in the same sentence I tend to get upset and confused. Alexis is a striker/wide forward/second striker and he is world class and he is capable of scoring a bucketful of goals for us – 4th in goalscoring in first season in PL and 4th in last season in La Liga – he is a goal scorer and that is he primary function in the team – I can’t say it any simpler than that. I recognise everyone has a different idea about player labels/roles/position etc but many seem to think “centre forward” and “striker” or “forward” are mutually exchangeable terms. Bugs me but it shouldn’t – however it does, probably because it distorts the arguments and discussions, particularly regarding OG – at least half his “replacements” offered up on here have never played in a specialist CF role.

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  10. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    JT, hi. I tell you, a fit and infom Coquelin is a regular starter next season. The Ox is versatile but what is his best position to operates from. Left, center or right. He scored Champions League goals from the left and from the center against Anderlecht and Monaco and he can track back too. I think the Boss should figure out his best positional play inbetween the left and the center and stations him there. I think I will favour seeing him stationed at the left to be the understudy to Sanchez. JT, don’t forget that Arteta, wilshere, Ramsey and the Ox are seasonally injured for uncomfortable spell to the team. Therefore, the Boss as a matter of contingency have to support their playing positions with 1 top quality CDM and a top quality left winger. Let’s not forget that a top quality left back is desirable at Arsenal next season to instill timber and caliber into the Gunners’ team to fully be ready for their title rivals and beats them to the titles. But where is the money to buy those 3 would be timber and caliber new players. A 6ft 2inches tall Algerian LB at Napoli is being tourted for us but the Boss has the saying and the doing. For his 28 year old age, I will prefer a younger DM signing by the Boss than to his signing Vidal, if he can find 1 top quality in the market. Or alternatively, forget all about signing a DM and covert Gibbs to one to compete with the quartet of Coquelin, Arteta, Cazorla & for a dual starting slot as Ramsey and Wilshere are being pushed to the right wing to compete with the new top quality right winger signing. I think the Boss has only £40m left in his kitty to sign a left back and right winger after signing Petr Cech for £11m. Sorry Gooners, maybe there will be no money left to sign the much anticipated Vidal. But I am just saying my own thinking because none of us knows what the Boss might do.

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  11. Darlingbudsofarse

    I noticed Cech wears glasses too apart from his headgear. O dear! At this rate we may be needing much more than a DFM! I hope JM hasn’t sold us a dud for £11M. Hahaha!

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  12. hasib1522

    I don’t think we will get a striker this window. Walcott signing the deal and then we also have welbeck and Giroud. I hate to say it but I think Arsene will try to transform welbeck to the ultimate striker this season. My reasons are, he is both fast and strong. Walcott is fast and Giroud is strong but Welbeck has both the qualities.

    If we strengthen anywhere else, I think I will be DM cover for coquelin and LB position as a future backup for Monreal. Monreal is Spanish and you can expect him to hang up his boots in Spain.

    And Vidal is an upgrade on Ramsey for the time being but when Ramsey reaches 29 years, he will also have the WC status. Wilshere has to step up his game to be in the first XI.

    And hopefully Ox will have an injury free season this time. He has got bags of potential. If we are serious about playing Theo upfront, an uninjured Ox will pretty much own the right wing.

    Top Gooner!. Agree or not?: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

    1. RSH

      welbeck has no scoring instinct. impossible for him to be a top striker. its not something a striker magically gains at 24-25 years old. Welbz is decent winger, squad player, nothing more. and when i say no scoring instinct i dont mean he has a bad shot, he just doesn’t have the instincts to know when to shoot or get in a position where he can shoot.

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  13. Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    JT, hi. I tell you, a fit and infom Coquelin is a regular starter next season. The Ox is versatile but what is his best position to operates from. Left, center or right. He scored Champions League goals from the left and from the center against Anderlecht and Monaco and he can track back too. I think the Boss should figure out his best positional play inbetween the left and the center and stations him there. I think I will favour seeing him stationed at the left to be the understudy to Sanchez. JT, don’t forget that Arteta, wilshere, Ramsey and the Ox are seasonally injured for uncomfortable spell to the team. Therefore, the Boss as a matter of contingency has to support their playing positions with 1 top quality CDM and a top quality left winger. Let’s not forget that a top quality left back is desirable at Arsenal next season to instill timber and caliber into the Gunners’ team to fully be ready for their title rivals and beats them to the titles. But where is the money to buy those 3 would be timber and caliber new players. A 6ft 2 inches tall Algerian LB at Napoli is being tourted for us but the Boss has the saying and the doing. For his 28 year old age, I will prefer a younger DM signing by the Boss than to his signing Vidal, if he can find 1 top quality in the market. Or alternatively, forget all about signing a DM and covert Gibbs to one to compete with the quartet of Coquelin, Arteta, Cazorla & Flamini for a dual starting slot as Ramsey and Wilshere are being pushed to the right wing to compete with the new top quality right winger signing. I think the Boss has only £40m left in his kitty to sign a left back and right winger after signing Petr Cech for £11m. Sorry Gooners, maybe there will be no money left to sign the much anticipated Vidal. But I am just saying my own thinking because none of us knows what the Boss might do.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  14. ArseOverTit

    We are going to sign Zlatan on the 12th hour of the last day of the transfer window.

    Wenger will apologise to him for daring question his imperiousness with a football and pledge that he will address him as your royal highness during all future dialogues during his stay at AFC

    This will be written into his contract as well as the clause that states all the teams wives will be subject to a monthly offering to ZI based upon his fancy for that month.

    I have this information on good authority…

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

    1. TJ

      It’s curious that some fans don’t see Ramsey as an equivalent quality player as Vidal. A lot of commentators and external “experts” tend to think he is.
      In terms of being a replacement for Xavi at Barca…
      “it’s apparent Ramsey has all the right characteristics to join Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic at Barcelona: the ability to break up play intelligently, distribute the ball immaculately and dart through the lines energetically. He even has a penchant for Xavi’s trademark scooped pass over the top. Certainly this potential transfer would make more sense than some of the recent moves from North London to Catalunya”

      Ramsey is in the same class as Vidal as far I am concerned which takes me back to the original question. Ramsey has to be played in the middle and Wenger has said it is only a temporary to Ramsey. “It is my favourite position and where I play my best football,” he said of a central role. “I am very happy to be playing back in the middle for Wales. I had a chat with him [Wenger] a few times and he said it was temporary.”
      So where logically would Ramsey play? There are only 3 central midfield roles and Ozil has one. So it’s playing deeper and centrally. Now back there we have Coquelin and Carzola…would you drop Carzola or Coquelin for Ramsey?
      In my mind, Coquelin would drop to the bench and therefore he becomes the cover for Ramsey.

      Our 3 up front mids we get to choose from – Gnabry, Ox, Jack, Ozil, Sanchez, Welbeck, Rosicky – with probably Jack, Ozil, Sanchez being the preferred 3.

      So like I said when we look for a Holding Midfield player who is “top, top quality”…Wenger is using Ramsey as the benchmark not Coquelin.

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      1. El Blaze

        Did you say drop Coquelin on the bench for Ramsey for the DM role? In case you have forgotten Ramsey is a very attack minded player who loves to always join-up with the attack and get a crack at goal and he has so far made a good of it. So obviuosly, that kind of player should never be considered for the holding midfield role. In my opinion, Carzola should play that box to box role while Ramsey acts as a back-up for him.

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  15. El Blaze

    I think its rather unfortunate that most of our fans are really eager to see us truly compete for the EPL title and yet keep making the same mistake of thinking that we can truly compete by making do with what we already have rather than adding quality in depth. It has been proven time and again that to win the EPL takes not only depth but depth in quality, thereby creating stiff competition for all positions and adequate replacements in times of inevitable crises during the course of the season. If we make the mistake of not finding a quality DM to make the holding midfield role competitive for Coq and to ensure we always have a fresh pair of legs to do the dirty job for us in the midfield is equivalent to shooting ourselves in the foot. Before we recalled Coq from loan it was obvious to all followers of the beautiful game all across the globe that Arsenal lacked an adequate DM. But fortunately that was sorted out when Coq was recalled from loan and we are all witnesses to how we improved defensively all thanks to Coq. So isnt it obvious that we will go back to the same dire situation if Coq gets a suspension, gets injured or loses form due to burn-out? And if we think non of the above will happen sometime during the season then we all must be very naive and have obviously not learnt anything from our past 10 seasons. Now, if you ask me i think we should sign-up Krychowiak of Sevilla for this purpose, not to serve as a substitute for Coq but to create stiff competition for him and to ensure that we are fully covered in that position all through the season. Thats how Manccity, Chelsea and United have done it over the past few years. And i must add that Vidal is not who we need, we have Carzola, Ramsey and Wilshere all competing for that spot and they are all qualiity.

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