New Midfielders Are a Priority
If you asked most Arsenal fans where the team needs reinforcements the most, the chances are that many of them would mention defence. And that was right. The defence has been awful for a while now. Even under Arsene Wenger, it was always an issue.
Yet Arsenal have a glut of centrebacks in their side now, plus four fullbacks if you exclude Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bukayo Saka. The defence is clogged… And better.
Miraculously, the central partnership of David Luiz and Mustafi has been really solid under the new coach. There’s Sokratis, Holding, Chambers and Pablo Mari on the bench. Even if Mustafi and Sokratis were sold in the summer, Arsenal have William Saliba, one of the best defensive prospects in the world, and Konstantinos Mavropanos coming in. Whichever way you want to look at that, Bellerin-Luiz-Saliba-Tierney is not a very bad lineup, with both Holding and Chambers on the bench.
The attacking lineup is not so bad as well. The only spot we do not have a top’player in is at left wing. And all of Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli can all fight it out there. That’s not mentioning Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
When you look at the midfield, especially the advanced positions, things are less bright. Mesut Ozil, Ceballos, Joe Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe are our best options there. Mesut Ozil is on his last legs and his contract is running out. Ceballos is not quite proven as a 10, has shown more promise from further deep, and is only on loan from Real Madrid. Both Joe Willock and Smith-Rowe cannot carry Arsenal’s attacking ambitions throughout a whole season. We have to do better.
Looking at our financial situation, it seems that Arsenal can get two very good attacking midfielders if that’s all they concentrate on in the summer. Well, that’s exactly what they should concentrate on in my opinion.
Advanced midfielders are vital if Arteta’s or any sort of attacking football is to be implemented. We have sorely missed someone like Aaron Ramsey this season. In fact, Mesut Ozil from three seasons ago would be godsent. Or even a lesser talented progressor like Alex Iwobi. All of these players have different play profiles but they are all undeniably good at one thing: moving the ball and themselves to important positions on the pitch. That’s how chances are created for forward players and that’s why Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City score a ton every season: they have some of the best midfielders in the game.
We don’t need the best midfielders in the world. We can’t afford them. We just need them to be good enough and talented enough. Able to pick the right pass at the right time. Keep the ball under pressure. Bring other players into the play. Move themselves into dangerous areas. Mesut Ozil is still the best we’ve got and he’s likely leaving after the season. Whether he leaves or not we have to do better.
Imagine an Arsenal with either or both of Jack Grealish and James Maddison. With Aubameyang up top. If the board gets their priorities right this summer, two midfielders of the same profile are absolutely possible. They would re-energize our attack, put a spring to our style of play and they can allow any of Willock or Smith-Rowe the time to develop into what they can be.
If need be, we can wait for the right centreback for one more season. If need be, one of Torreira, Xhaka or Guendouzi can always be transferred for funds. Attacking midfielders will improve this team more than any other personel. They are priority.