Who should be playing as Arsenal’s Defensive Midfielder?

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?

Sam P


  1. Miles says:

    I really think it’s wilshere

  2. I would have Wiltshire and Ramsey and under instructions to not go past half way line
    Bellerin only to go forward if Montreal stays and vice versa front four Auba Mhki Lac
    with Ozil behind pulling the strings. If any fullback helps out in attack centre back covers and one of Ramsey Wiltshire falls back to cover centre back

    1. Atid says:

      Absolutely, I remember the pair bossing United, when they were the best. However there needs to be a leader either between them or behind them

      Give Jack and Rambo better deals but tell Jack there has to be a caveat based on his previous injuries. It will be hard to accept, when diaby, rosicky and arteta have been given ridiculous deals whilst injured in the past. Personally I think we should look at Jacks commitment and progression since he joined the club at the age of 6 or whatever it was? He only got injured cos he was giving his all for Arsenal after all.

      Lets try them together, may be with out wenger as boss?

    2. Jaydawg says:

      This is basic coaching that kids get taught. One goes one sits.

      Wenger clearly doesn’t care for defending. The amount of defensive mistakes Xhaka has made is alarming and Wenger knows this he isn’t blind. Wenger focuses on attack attack attack. Therefore Xhaka is perfect with his long balls across field

  3. Kenny Rolfe says:

    I didn’t realise that Kola played defensive midfield for Schalke. With Wenger now at last thankfully going back to back four and Monreal being a better left back, now is the perfect time to push Kola forward into the DM role. At least until the summer when hopefully we’ll be in the market for one. Definitely worth a gamble.

    1. Ozziegunner@Newcastle upon Hunter says:

      I wholeheartedly agree, Kenny! Kolasinac with Maitland-Niles as his understudy.

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Phil and Ozziegunner, I’m also a massive fan of AMN, Coolness personified, definitely one for the future.

  4. Phil says:

    Why are we experimenting two thirds through a season.The planning and buying last summer should have included an specialist CDM and we are now hoping to find a stopgap.
    Kola was bought as a Full/Wing back and that was where he was voted into the Bundesliga team of last season(which is no mean accomplishment).He is not what is needed and he should not be considered.The reason Wenger let Coq leave was he new firstly he was not good enough and secondaly because we have AMN coming through.If Wenger would just give this kid an opportunity in his proper position he will not let us down.He is more disciplined than Zhaka as well as being more mobile and defensive minded.Wenger plays Iwobi (why I just don’t understand) so why has he continued with a clearly struggling Zhaka when AMN could certainly be relied on not to let us down.

    1. Atid says:

      We are experimenting cos there is no way we can win this league. We have 2 trophies on offer and can may be make top 4. Getting the right deal now with our new signings and all the departures is vital. Let’s win all our games in February, bag a trophy and be in the mix for our other two targets, for the rest of the season.

      After all we might not all want the manager and owner, but winning trophies and qualifying for the champions league is surely what we all want now? The “big 3” have gone let’s win what’s left,.please, get behind the team, fcuk to the hatred, my club winning is so much more important. We all know Wenger is here until May 2019 at least, so get over it and be a fan of your team even if you cannot support your club

      1. Phil says:

        .You are wrong_Firstly we would have a better chance of finishing in the Top 4 if we had s settled side with a clear identity of who is responsible for the Defensive Midfield Role.READ WHAT I SAID.My post stated we should NOT be experimenting this late in the Season with Kolasinac.It also stated my opinion of AMN?
        If you reply to a post at least reply to the points the writer noted.Also what BIG 3 have gone?Are you sure? Both Manc clubs I agree but the others are not catchable? And I take it you do not consider Arsenal a big club now.
        Why do we know Wenger is here until May 2019?No trophy and no Champions League and he will not be here next season
        Very poor answers Pal embarrass you.

        1. Gooner Craig says:

          @phil I thought he meant big 3 are gone as in the league, FA cup and champions league (even though we wasn’t in it anyway)??

          Either way I agree with you that Kolasinac should be given time to settle at LB/LWB and I’d love for AMN to become our long term DM. Nothing like an academy prospect cementing their place in the team

  5. Rusty says:

    I think Arsene is the best manager Arsenal will ever have, but I’m with Southgate and Hodgson on this because every time I’ve ever seen Wilshere play DM he was best player on pitch. Maybe 2nd best when 18 against Barcelona. (Messi)

    1. ThirdManJW says:

      I remember Wilshere bossing Barcelona that game, what memories! Arshavin winner from a fantastic flowing move. I dread to think how many Barcelona would score if we played them now. How far we’ve fallen!

    2. chris says:

      Well then you have not been around long enough to see certain of the previous Arsenal managers. And they had much smaller resources at their disposal.

  6. Phil says:

    I don’t believe Jack has ever played as a CDM for Arsenal has he?He might have appeared to be one when playing Barcelona but that’s because we spend most of our games against them defending.England?Who cares

    1. Atid says:

      Yep I’m afraid he has mate. When him and Rambo bossed man u, it was like vieria and petit.but they had to be disciplined. I can’t recall who played behind them? It might have even been they were disciplined because what behind them was not good?

      But we stuffed them that day at home and they were our main rivals. Now we struggle against the best, although, this season we appear to have stepped that up? Wins against spurs and Chelsea at least

      Let’s give it another go and sometimes go 4321 with kolasinac in there, cannot be worse than xhaka?

  7. Ady says:

    There are some thick people on here if they think Wilshere or Ramsey are defensive midfielders, neither of them can tackle & are always attack minded. A DM needs be be just that! A midfielder who Defends first .

  8. Midkemma says:

    AMN needs to be given a chance in DM to show what he can do, he says he prefers it in the middle and if he performs then it isn’t like AFC spent £50+ million on a player that’ll need displacing…

    The road to becoming a regular is open for him and someone young with hunger might just jump at the chance and prove he is mature enough.

  9. Innit says:

    I wonder how Bielik is doing. He may be our only hope for the future because Wenger won’t buy a top quality one

    In the meantime i would use Kolsanic

  10. True gunner says:

    Wilshire as the defensive midfielder in utter nonsense. Arsenal fans can be delusional at times. Just playing him at central midfield where he needs to do some defending gave him those injuries he sustained. He a diminutive fellow with a big heart, so don’t that thinking he’s the answer in defensive midfield. There’s a reason why Wenger prefers playing him further up the pitch.

    1. Ozziegunner@Newcastle upon Hunter says:

      True Gunner, spot on regarding Wilshire; his physique and past injury history will not allow him to stand up to the demands of the position of DM.

  11. dragunov762mm says:

    We need a dirty man to supply the water. Man with tackles but also good passers and well reading of the game. Jack and Rambo might have it all in their DNA, but on the field, both are tent to attack rather than defense, making gap on opponents counter attack. They are not balance enough and therefore could not be play together. Sead Kolasinac, no doubt, is one tough bad ass defender. If Arsene looking for other option than Xhaka or Elneny, he should be Kolasinac pairing with Rambo or Jack.
    I prefer the formation of 4-4-1-1 (Cech, Bellerin, Kostafi, Nacho, Mikhi, Kolasinac, Rambo/Wilshere, Lac as winger, Ozil, PEA) or 4-4-2 (same goalie and back four, Mikhi, Kolasinac, Rambo/Wilshere, Ozil as winger, Lac, PEA). And please, no 3-5-2! Our defense have been exposed too much rather then we exposed opponents defense, specially when we talk about top 5 PL sides.

    1. Splendid says:

      Why do fans keep picking Czech ahead of Ospina? If we consider performances this season, Czech should be demoted to cup competitions why Ospina is given a good run at league matches.

  12. Simon Williams says:

    Love to see Kolsanic and Jack ahead of a back 4

    Kolsanic Is a beast – and I think would be disciplined. Could really help boss midfield – with our creative forces ahead

    AMN – impressive. But he doesn’t look natural DM to me. His lightening pace be wasted in the middle

  13. Ackshay says:

    Arsenal defensive issues are due to our coaching than the lack of a defensive player. We have gone from having the likes of djourou, senderos to koscielny and mustafi so we’ve improved considerably talent-wise but you still see us making stupid mistakes. A pure defensive player will never work at arsenal under the current regime e.g look at coquelin he had pace, tackling, aggression and we all loved him but wenger tried to make him a box to box player again( he was originally a b2b player then a dm then b2b again) because he is too stupid to either realise our need for protection or that coquelin was average going forward.
    Ramsey will be needed when facing park the bus teams as his kamikaze runs will destroy any tactical defensive setup while wilshere will be suited when playing a more fluid play against good football playing teams or kamikaze does not work. So we will either need a casemiro or kante style defensive mid whose primary task is to defend but going forward is better than average. I believe a dm is the only thing preventing us from competing for the title, but to actually win we will need better defensive coaching.

  14. Ozziegunner@Newcastle upon Hunter says:

    Ackshay, agree re the coaching. Arsene Wenger has had the resources of Pat Rice and Steve Bould (two of the best) available; why hasn’t he used them to coach the defence?

  15. Joe says:

    Alex Iwobi! What do you all think? Big, strong, energy, outstanding distribution, great tackler too.

    1. GB says:

      Not a bad shout Joe, his defensive awareness and tackling has been good recently but I wouldn’t experiment against spurs. For this game it’s Wiltshire or Niles which is less of a risk for me as they have both played there, Jack for England and Niles for under 23s.

  16. GB says:

    Not Kalasinac, his defensive side has been shown up recently.
    The again Xhaka has been shown to be poor in most games!

  17. Grandad says:

    Maitland Niles has the attributes to be an effective DM but will be ever get an opportunity with Wengers blue eyed boy xhaka around? Nditi of Leicester is the most impressive DM i have seen this season. He just happens to be a close friend of Iwobi _a potential summer signing?

    1. Phil says:

      Hopefully a swap

      1. GunnerLoy says:

        you should really hate Iwobi to suggest that

        1. Phil says:

          I don’t hate him I just don’t rate him

  18. Grandad says:

    Now Phil. Iwobi will develop into a fine box to box midfielder.The fact that Wenger chooses to play him out of position on the wing or at wing back is not the fault of the young man who,along with AMN will be stars of the future.

    1. Phil says:

      Sorry Grandad I just don’t see it.Yes he is still raw and playing out wide is not his position but good young players will aleays show something.Iwobi for me is never likely to reach the standards and levels required at Arsenal.AMN is a different story and this boy will really show himself when he is moved to a CDM role

  19. Grandad says:

    Fair enough Phil but will they be given a chance to play in their true positions under AW?

    1. Phil says:

      Grandad-does anyone know what Iwobi’s position is?

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