Arsenal have had a longstanding problem without a strong intelligent defensive midfielder for many many years, but a few years ago Wenger got lucky when Francis Coquelin was recalled from a loan at Charlton and immediately became our beast in that position.
But even he fell out of favour with Wenger this season and was part of Wenger’s clearout and was sold to Valencia in January. The boss seems to consider that Granit Xhaka is going to grow into the role, but there are very few fans that would agree with him! There are very few options. According to Gareth Southgate, being DM is Jack Wilshere’s best position, but Wenger thinks he should be in a more advanced role. Saed Kolasinac played as a DM at Schalke but Wenger prefers him to be playing as a wing back, but Maitland-Niles, who is also playing as a wing-back, is considered to be a DM by Wenger (confused yet?).
This was what Wenger said when he announced the departure of Coquelin: ‘First of all the best way to replace him now is to get Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil back. After that, we see,’ .
‘I think Maitland-Niles had an outstanding performance tonight. He’s a defensive midfielder basically, what he’s doing at the moment will help him as well to develop as a player because he plays in a different position.
‘But at some stage, I’ll play him in there because we have Monreal injured, Kolasinac injured. They will come back.
‘There will be an opening for him in midfield.’
It would certainly be interesting to see the youngster playing in his supposedly best position, but surely he is a little too inexperienced for such an important role just yet. Despite what Wenger said, there is no way that Ozil or Ramsey could be considered as DM’s. In my opinion, while we are waiting for Maitland-Niles to mature enough to play there, I think we should be playing either Wilshere or Kolasinac in the role. Wenger left Wilshere on the bench against Everton, but I think it should have been Xhaka sitting there.
Who do you think the best defensive midfielder in Arsenal’s squad?