I know that people will always trot out that famous old football saying about it being a ‘nice problem to have’ when, like Arsenal right now, a club has a lot of competition for places in a certain area of the pitch. But a problem is a problem and the centre of midfield and who to play there is certainly a problem for Arsene Wenger right now.
While the football media and many Arsenal fans are calling for the manager to sign another player to go in there, with the likes of Schneiderlin, Khedira, Carvalho, Bender and many more having been touted recently, Wenger reckons that he already has a hard choice, as he explained in a report on Arsenal.com this week.
The boss said, “It’s an impossible job but that’s why I tell you I always get asked two questions, ‘Why don’t you buy more players, and how do you keep them all happy now?’.
“I believe that competition is part of our job. On the other hand you have to get the number right – too many players in the squad goes against competition.
“If you have a certain number of players who think they never have a chance to play, they killed something. Not enough players creates too much of a comfort zone.
“It is tricky, because he is an important player in the build-up of our game. He is naturally a guy who brings fluidity, and gets you out of tight situations.
“My thinking [putting him out wide] was more about physical power in the centre of the park, to win the ball back and be capable of winning challenges. Santi is a more technical player. And also to get him higher up, next to Ozil, to play through the lines, find those two, and combine in the final third.
“It worked sometimes, and sometimes not. The first goal in these games is vital. But anyway, against West Ham, I changed in the second half and brought Cazorla back to central midfield.”
As well as the Ramsey/Cazorla question, Wenger also has the small matter of our club captain Mikel Arteta to consider, along with the soon to be fit again Jack Wilshere. Now the Spaniard has got over last season’s injury, he is already itching to get back into the first team, as you can see from his comments on the Arsenal website.
Arteta said, “I’ve never been like this before, a substitute. When you’re sitting on the bench you just have to keep trying to see things happening, where the danger is, and think what can I do if I go on the pitch?
“Going from the outside to the inside is very different. Outside, everything looks slower, and when you get in there it’s 100mph so you really need to be ready. You have to warm up really well and when you get there you have to be ready to go straight away.
“I’m feeling really good. After a difficult season, when I didn’t play since November 26, eight months is a long time to catch up. All the players are getting applause and you’re getting nothing so you need to work hard to catch up.
“I knew that I was starting at a disadvantage compared to everyone else because when you haven’t played you have to start slowly. The time will come when hopefully I get my reward.”
Realistically, though, can you see Arteta getting a start before the Capital One Cup games come around? And how will Wenger fit Wilshere into the team in a few weeks? And is the real problem not more to do with the defensive side of things, and what we would do if Coquelin was unavailable?