Why We Don’t Desperately Need A Defensive Midfielder by TJ
First of all let’s look at the role – a key defensive asset for the team, a player who offers support to the defensive line, closes the space between defence and midfield, breaks up play of the opposition, and looks to start attacks as they recycle possession.
Key aspects of the role – intelligence, decision making, positioning and discipline.
It’s not enough to be just a “spoiler”, you just hand the ball back to the opposition and start all over again. Probably why Fernando at Man City didn’t really work. Milan dumped Pirlo because they wanted a “combative” midfield player – a classic spoiler and destroyer but look at the role Pirlo does for Juventus who are in the UCL Final. The destroyer is a very outdated role. The player has to be able to break up the play and be able to PLAY.
Outside of Arsenal, Schneiderlin and Matic are very good examples of this role in the EPL.
Within Arsenal, we have Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Arteta, Flamini (and perhaps Rosicky). Of these, Coquelin tends more towards the “destroyer” type but his recycling of the ball is improving (Flamini is a destroyer but I don’t think he will feature in 2015/2016). Compared to Coquelin – Cazorla, Arteta and Ramsey are less of the ‘destroyers’ and better at recycling the ball. Quite simply any combination of the four would be very effective as double pivots in front of the back four. Rosicky has all the attributes for the current Cazorla role.
The likes of Vidal, Pogba, Gundogan, Khedira all fit this bill. No question adding one of these (including Schneiderlin) would improve our stocks but do we desperately need one? I think not. Let’s also remember that any player coming into the side will require a good amount of time to sync in with the way we play, missed passes from the holding midfielder invites disaster.
The preferred double pivot combinations would be: Coquelin/Cazorla, Ramsey/Cazorla, Coquelin/Ramsey, Coquelin/Arteta, Ramsey/Arteta.
Wenger talks about team cohesion and harmony – it’s very important to embrace this and to understand the impact of introducing a new player. If these players and the likes of Beilik and Chambers are being developed into holding midfielders how will the introduction of a new player disrupt their development and evolution? Have no doubt, this is a role for players with a lot of experience and very little ego (hence probably why Wilshere is not suited for it at the moment).
Here’s something to consider…this is Coquelin’s first HALF-YEAR in the role for Arsenal…what’s the ceiling for him? What will he be like next season? That to me, is the exciting bit for him and all these players. When you see this…
# Koscielny from no-where wanted by Real Madrid?
# Ramsey whom the fans wanted to discard wanted by Barca?
# Wilshere wanted by Man City?
…by the end of next season, Coquelin will be pushing to be a regular for France (watch for him in Euro 2016) and one of the most wanted players in the world, because he worked for it and was given the chance. All the other fringe first team players are looking at him and Bellerin and saying…We can do this too!”…it becomes infectious!
About Jack Wilshere
What I have seen suggests to me this young man is adamant that he is a No 10 and he is willing to fight Ozil for that spot. He is willing to play on the right and left to prove himself but he DOESN’T want to play deep. You can cut it either way – ego or self-belief, and I think Wenger has played it well.
So let me end this one by saying simply this – a Schneiderlin, Pogba, Vidal, Khedira or Gundogan would improve our squad… but do we need one of them desperately? No. Let me answer some obvious questions too: Can we compete for the EPL title without one of these signings? Yes. Would our chances be better with one of them? Yes it would!