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?