The mystery of Arsenal’s defensive midfielders…or lack of! by ThirdManJW
Talk to any Arsenal fan, and what is arguably the most intriguing topic…after Wenger, and Ozil of course: Why has the defensive midfielder position (DM) been vacant for a whopping 12 years?However my conversations start with fellow fans, we’ll almost always touch upon that subject at some point.
Giberto Silva left us in 2008, with the DM role then seemingly retired under Wenger. Because Wenger never performed squad assessments, he never addressed our weaknesses, which in time became chronic. The DM role was the most important position to get right within Wenger’s system when he changed to three in central midfield, with his gung-ho tactics, and we suffered without a DM. One could argue that Wenger never really used a natural DM role in his tactics, more box-to-box roles for his central midfielders, but in the early days he certainly used players that were physically designed for that position at the very least. As we all know, so many of Wenger’s later signings were smaller, and weaker, as he focused more on technical ability.
Straight after Wenger left, we all thought we had finally addressed this problem with Torriera. Unfortunately he didn’t have the height, and physical presence we desperately needed. Kante has proved those attributes aren’t necessarily needed, but it is at Arsenal, what with our weak spine. Emery bizarrely used Torreira further forward, but to be fair, he did apparently want Thomas Partey, which is exactly what we need.
Under Arteta, we still are not really deploying the traditional DM role, although he hasn’t had a transfer window yet, but the team as a whole are working together defensively the best I have seen in over a decade, meaning the DM position isn’t as big a problem as usual.
Will Arsenal finally use the natural DM role next season? Partey is being linked to us again, and the new regime, even pre-Arteta, have been focusing on our weakest areas, which has been great!
Have I put too much emphasis on the DM role/position, or like me, do you feel the lack of a DM has been so costly in the past, and has to be the priority for next season?