Will Arsenal regret not buying a solid DM?

Will the lack of a solid defensive midfielder cost Arsenal? by SE

An Overview
There has been a staunch debate over this, for a very long time. Arsenal, post the Patrick Vieira days, haven’t really had the luxury of a physically strong midfielder, sitting in front of the back four and doing a good job defensively. In fact, in the modern day game, as much as any team requires a ‘midfield creator’ who can provide assists and be the engineer to break down the defensive walls; it’s equally important that you possess a ‘midfield destroyer’ who, at times, proves to be the 3rd Center-Back, ahead of the two men at the heart of the defence.
And, for the way Arsenal play – free flowing, expansive, and possession based, it’s safe to have that midfield destroyer who can smother the opponents’ counterattacks or, attacks, in general.

Talking Points
Now, let us not be delusional of the fact that Arsenal play possession based football, which, some days, does work against you. If your opponent sets up to counterattack, and sets up a solid back four, you are always vulnerable to get caught on the break, and Arsenal isn’t the only side that experiences this repeatedly.

Bayern Munich, in the 2nd leg of last season’s Champions League semi-final, were torn apart by a Real Madrid side that solely relied on counterattacking, to reign supreme. Yes, contrary to other games – in which Guardiola used his talismanic skipper, Lahm, as the midfield pivot in his favored 4-1-4-1 system – he played Kroos as the deep lying midfielder and, with Alaba and Lahm bombing forward from their Left and Right-Back positions, respectively, Bayern didn’t have bodies in their own half, to thwart Real Madrid’s counter-attacks. Lahm, when he plays as the midfield pivot, is pivotal to the Bavarians maintaining a good defensive shape but, even he, with his lack of pace, cost Bayern in the first leg at the Bernabeu.

Translating that to Arsenal, who use Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini as their two defensive midfielders, with Abou Diaby ever so oblivious, they too face this problem. Arteta and Flamini aren’t the most mobile of defensive midfielders and, apparently, when their opponents possess a pacey winger or forward, it becomes rather easy to get past either of them on the break.

Will the lack of a defensive midfielder cost Arsenal?
Not having one is a gamble that Wenger, going by his reluctance in the just-past transfer window, is quite happy to take. More importantly, Wenger doesn’t change the way his side plays, in order to conceal the lack of a defensive midfielder. Yes, Arsenal can well do without a midfield destroyer, but, again, it depends on Wenger’s tactical flexibility.

In the Everton game last month, Arsenal experienced this problem, again, like last season…..
Second Everton goal: Arsenal are probing in Everton’s half; they have 7 players in the Toffees’ half, with Debuchy and Monreal, too, aiding their attack. That, subsequently, leaves Arsenal with Mertesacker, Chambers and Flamini as the defensive trio and, even they were stationed at a very high position (almost in Everton’s half) on the pitch; Ozil plays a through ball into the Everton box, cleared by Jagielka, with Lukaku at the end of the clearance. The Belgian picks up the ball, marginally fouls Mertesacker but the play carries on, young Chambers goes into tackling the buccaneering Belgian, gets brushed aside, leaving Flamini to keep up with the pace of Lukaku. Decide for yourself whether or not Flamini, in this case, deserves criticism. Or, is it his fault that Everton hit Arsenal on the break, and he could do nothing about it?

Final Thought
In football, there is nothing dogmatic about one tactic or another. It just depends on the manager, and how he wants his side to play, contending with the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Wenger is responsible for Arsenal’s defensive problems in scenarios such as the one narrated above. If the Frenchman is tactically flexible and is willing to change the way his side plays, at least in the big games, the lack of a ‘midfield destroyer’ would not cost Arsenal.

Tags Arteta Flamini Wenger


        1. I think when Wenger made Arteta captain he was making a statement to give him the chance. He might also start to play Wilshere in that role. Remember Chambers has also been sounded out for the CDM role too.

          I have to say, Arteta is such an unsung hero for Arsenal. Since he joined he has made the second highest number passes and is third interceptions in the league. He is slighter of frame than a typical CDM though and his age is a concern. Which is why we might go back in the January transfer period for someone like Rabiot or Carvalho.

    1. Now that the window is closed, it’s up to the manager to tactically apply wisdom in what ever he does with the available players. If he chooses the starters with out favouritism…we won’t look back. 2me arteta/flamini are not good in that position. Hope he uses chambers in that position rotate him him coquiline. And never should Orzill/Carzola/Rosicky. Podolski/Cambel/Ox. Ramsey/Wilshere be on the pitch at the same time. At some point i had started doubting Jack’s usefulness @Arsenal but later on realised it’s the managers fault not his, same thing with Ozill, Carzola n’ podolski(playing them out of position)

    2. HOLY FUKKIN CRAP!!! Let’s stop with the DM thing already! We didn’t Fukkin get one, so deal w it. Who cares if we regret it or not, it won’t change anything.
      It’s always about what another team has or what we lack. ” Man U has this many strikers and city has this many defenders” it’s never Fukkin enough for MOST of you stupid Fukkin dumb people. ” I can’t believe we got crappy welbeck, wenger an idiot” then Welbeck scores 2 goals for England and now “wenger an idiot if he doesn’t start welbeck vs City”.
      Most of you need to stop being such Neanderthal fans and get behind who and what we have. And shut the fukk up about what we’re missing and start praising what we have.

      1. @ijmos
        You’re wasting your bandwidth trying to talk sense into the “doom & gloom” brigade, dude. They only believe in the team when they win…

        1. I feel you, ijmos, and NY_Gunner (as terrible as NY is) is right. But, i’ll say this, based on the quality of some of the posted stories on this site, SE did a good job analyzing the issue, fwiw. But, still a bit late for the discussion. We’re at where we’re at and we gotta see where that takes us. We don’t get injured, we’re in good shape for a title challenge. We also can’t expect Wenger to react in January, pursuant to the past 17 years of his Arsenal management. Let’s just see what we do and any January signings (if there are no injuries) will come as a pleasant surprise.

          1. Spot on chaps.

            Absolutely spot on.

            These doom and gloom merchants suck the life out of other fans. they are relentless. It wouldn’t matter who we had, these ninkumpoops would always look at the other teams player and compare.

  1. Oh yeah. We will regret it. And it may be clear we need one. But wenger may be stubborn enough to not get anyone in the next transfer window.

    1. We definitely need an upgrade for our DM. We failed to address it in this window but at least we know the club is working on it (heavily linked with Carvalho and no contract extension yet for both Arteta and Flamini).
      But we need one at the title-challenger level, not just any DM. Arteta did a fine job on and off the pitch and it’s crazy to replace him with the like of ..err… Tiote. No great DM on the move this window -Fernando and Blind are OK but not great. Carvalho looks good on youtube but is he really great when us as the only club linking with him. When great players like Hazard available in the past, there’s a real scramble for them
      Wenger may be sometimes indecisive in transfer and very reluctant in paying over the odd but he is always spot on in which player can improve the team. He has done a good job bringing in Debuchy, Chamber, Sanchez and now Welbeck more and more like another master stroke.
      Let’s be a bit patient and finger cross that we will have a new right CDM come Jan.

  2. Yes they will, and it will be because of the next:
    Primary tasks of any DM:
    take out the opponent’s playmaker or secondary striker
    move the ball around when your own playmaker isn’t close or further up the pitch
    drop deep between the central defenders to provide another passing option

    Secondary tasks of any DM:
    succesfully take on other defensive challenges to provide other midfielders to focus on attacking more.
    cover your fullbacks when they’re exposed or too far upfront in the attack.
    cover when the opponent is countering in general.

    If Arsene wants to create a system that provides a starting spot for Ramsey, Wilshere AND Ozil, he will have to find a better (more phyiscal) defensive midfielder than Arteta, who just lacks allround strength and stamina for me. Flamini is up for the task, but only as a stand-in.

    Another defensive midfield signing (or a CB that can play there) would’ve been a great helping hand, especially when there are injuries. William Carvalho or Sokratis would’ve been fine additions because of their versatility, power and defensive skills.

    1. Jack played CDM last night. Not very good performance but he didn’t messed up a lot. It just shows that he is able to be disciplined and stick to what the gaffer instructed him to do. I believe we will se more of it this season. The hole is overfilled with class players and right now I can’t see who is the one Jack will replace.

  3. Form & injuries will determine what happens in the Jan window. We tried to sign cover at CB and Carvalho (DM & cover at CB) but couldn’t get the deal done. Maybe in Jan Wenger’s back for Carvalho or a Bender. Who knows? But it’s definitely hurting our title chances not having a true boss in the midfield.

  4. i do not think we actually tried signing anyone and just media speculation, because for us to go in so late for two very important positions is just RIDICULOUS

  5. Sorry completey off topic I’ve just read this: Fabregas told Spanish newspaper El Pais. “I will always feel a Gunner and I know that I am going to return to [the Emirates Stadium] and I feel that it will be a special moment but I am a committed guy.

      1. Can’t blame the guy for Wenger not wanting to resign him. I personally think he would have come to Arsenal if Wenger opened the door, even if Chelsea offered him double the wages we would offer… He wanted to come back to London (and Arsenal), Wenger didn’t want him, Chelsea is in London, they offered him a contract, end of story…

        1. it’s so boring sometimes!…
          this is a thread of DM, and you mourn about Fab, isn’t it strange? We have lots of AM, we need a better DM to push for title, and you blame Wenger not to sign Fab who left us in our difficult time. Move on, man!…

          1. I was merely replying to the fact that Fab doesn’t deserve to be foul-mouthed.
            I have moved on mate, hence the reason I said “end of story” at the end… Either you have problems reading, or you have ADD and find yourself playing with your nuts after two sentences…

          2. We should have knocked on Barcelona’s at the end last season . Given them a cheque for 75 mil to buy Suarez, and taken Sanchez ,Mascherano , and Fabregas off their hands .
            Sanchez for the same reasons we actually got him for .

            Mascherano because we’re screaming for a dm and he would have been perfect. Beast in mid field, pl experience, proven winner and would have provided good centre back cover if needed.

            And for Fabregas , for the simple reason we all love him and a with a player of that class you make room in the team . I personally think he’d have done more for team moral then any marquee signing.

            Like many am happy with the signings of debuchy , chambers and ospina. Not so much welbeck , in my opinion it would have been equivalent to signing Paul Scholes. Meaning he’s bled manure his whole life , one of are fierces rivals . The way I see it he only came to us cause we where his best option available . ( I mean really who wants to go to the spuds ?)

            Now that would have been a perfect transfer window for me!!!!

  6. Getting back on topic; I agree that we are in urgent need of a genuine DM. All summer we were being linked with Lars Bender and Morgan Schneiderlin and more recently with Rabiot. I would love to see Wenger go for Morgan Schneiderlin in January Transfer window. He’s not Champion’s League tied and he is deperate to move to a club in the Champion’s League. He also did not look out of place in a French Jersey this summer. I admire Wenger’s loyalty to Arteta who has been a great servant to the club since he joined when Fabregas left. But it is true he is not a natural DM and we need someone younger in the role with the energy of Ramsey.

    1. Arsen is on a death wish I mean why would you want to put your self through a nail biting season wondering if and when you will pick up injury and the whole world will say ” I TOLD YOU SO” sadist…. COOL

  7. I kinda want to try a midfield triangle of Ramsey-Wilshere-Ozil against City. Let’s gamble with youth a little. Arteta is a model professional and Flamini is a true warrior, but I’d rather play without a real DM than with a tired/unfit/average DM. Jack looks hungry at the moment and I think he can perform if given a run of games …

    So I’d play this team :
    Szcz – Debuchy, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal – Wilshere, Ramsey – Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez – Welbeck

    Depending on how the game goes, sub on Podolski, Campbell, Ox and Chambers.

    Sure, it’s risky but we’re at home and this is the best squad we’ve had in ages.
    Let’s have fun. COYG !

      1. You learned it here. Yesterday night was just the beginning. If he plays CDM for club and country then he will develop for sure in that particular position.

          1. @Tas
            In a year or 2? It’s not “rocket science” dude…
            At this point in his career Jack is considered a seasoned player. He knows what is expected of him and has the technical ability to pull it off. All that needs doing is he applies himself 100% to the task…

            1. NY_Gunner
              Last night Jack himself said it will take time in his new role, I was just being a bit sarcastically regarding Jack being ready for the City game in a bottom of a Diomond formation, I like Jack to be in a attacking middfiel role I think he has magic in the box but that’s my opinion and I know we are chockablock in that position.

  8. There’s nothing we can do about it. Wenger is Wenger. Very stubborn and won’t change. Everyone, pundits, fans for 2 years were telling him to get a top striker, but other than bungling of Higuain and silly offer for Suarez, he didn’t listen and only got Welbeck because Giroud was injured.

    I expect him to get a DM next summer but don’t be surprised if the DM is not of great quality as Wenger may put his faith in Wilshere and others.

    1. Well, you didn’t rated Welbeck either. That was until he proved you wrong last night. Shows that whoever is listening to you must be really bored. Wenger definitely doesn’t give a crap on what you say anyway. Why bother?

  9. In terms of making top 4 we probably wont, but for challenging for top honours we 100% will regret not gettin a bona fide DM. the team is full of gifted and technical midgets who can all spring a pass, yet theres not enough height power and steel, or enough midfield runners beyond the striker.

    Its painful because despite this lack of balance we are still only one solid DM (carvalho, wanyama, gustavo, kondogbia) and a cb cover away from being genuine title contenders.

    although i dont think welbeck is an out and out world class striker, he is good enough along with the rest of the attackers to provide enough goals. wenger just needs to provide adequate steel n we’re good to go.

  10. Highly Likely we will regret it but I hope not. A lot is hanging on the older limbs of Arteta and Flamini. Even if Wenger couldn’t secure a high profile DM then he should have gone for Tiote, Diame, Barry etc, maybe even on loan.
    The lack of this signing along with the CB we needed shows incompetence in my eyes.

    Off topic:
    I read this morning an article about the signing on Danny Welbeck and a suggestion that Gazidis pushed it through without Wengers knowledge whilst he was in Rome.
    I find this hard to believe but at the same time why one week on from the window closing has Wenger still not made a statement re’ Danny? Very un Arsene like.
    What do you all think? Wenger did state that if someone came in someone would leave as Arsenal have a multitude of striking options. Next thing we sign DW.
    I hope this isn’t true and than Wenger is actually happy to have him in his squad.

    1. i agree about better DM, but disagree about average ones you mention. They had to gel with our team first, our current DM can do same/better job than those ones.

    2. Regarding your off topic.
      Could you give a link bro?
      And if it is from either Metro or Mirror than don’t bother.

      1. Doesn’t even makes sense. Stan Kroenke himself can buy a player but is up to Wenger to put him on the playlist. Let alone Gazidis.

  11. Lets hope that Arteta and Flamini will be good enough. I think Wenger is slowly trying to replace Arteta with Wilshere for that role. There is a reason why we didn’t buy a Dm specially with Arteta aging and not performing like when he first arrived. Even Wenger can see that. I can see Wilshere and Chambers rotating for role in the future. Wilshere against small not physical teams and Chambers for big teams. Chambers the future Lahm for Arsenal and England?

    We are all seeing that Wenger is also trying to build the core of the England team like Bayern for Germany and Barcelona for Spain. Even tough I’m not from England I would be proud of Arsenal for doing that because thats how it should be. Lets just hope that Arsenal will benefit from it efforts as much as England will.

  12. I do believe we needed a DM in the transfer window but overall I think we did some good business, I am a fan of Flamini although he does make some rash tackles and accumulates alot of cards, he is not afraid to get stuck in and put a foot in which is what we need with all the little maestros we have, although I am not a massive Arteta fan in the DM role as he does not have the pace and the physical presence and is not his natural position.

  13. @roni. Arteta DM? Kind of! Flamini DM? yes.
    That leaves one true DM player for a long campaign including, CL, Cup runs etc.
    I don’t think it’s enough and if he gets injured we have to rely on someone like Jack at DM, (maybe Chambers). As for Jack at DM, we saw how that worked last night!
    Don’t mention Diaby either I hope he can get some playing time for us but I wont hold my breath.
    I just think one more combative DM player such as Tiote, Mulumbu, Diame, Jedinak and so on would have been a wise move for what will be a long season.

  14. We will regret not signing Carvalho. He would have been ideal for this Arsenal team. He would have also been cover for our central defense and a powerful, big tackler in midfield.

    1. Same as we will regret not signing Falcao or Cavani. Carvalho is overrated only here on this site. That guy from Monaco, Kongdobia, well that one was a stone. Who the fu ck is Carvalho and why didn’t Manure who was in dire need of defensive players paid the small price to have him? I guess is because he’s not good enough. If you want to splash that kind of money at least go and raid Wolfsburg for Gustavo. If needed.

      1. @Budd
        Kondogbia is a “beast”, while Carvalho looks like he doesn’t know whether he wants to be a DM or a box2box mid…

  15. I get fed up if saying this, Vieira was not a DM!!! He played in midfield with gilberto or petit, THEY protected the back 4. Patrick was a box to box, he won the ball all over the pitch and fed the attacks or made them, just like yaya toure does for man city.
    Yes we miss vieira but he wouldn’t complement Ramsey.
    We need a player that will hold his position in front of defence, not make charging runs up the pitch etc.

    1. Dude it pisses me off that people can’t differentiate between a DM and CM/b2b midfielder. It’s really not hard to tell the difference

  16. Has anyone considered the POSSIBILITY that Wenger believes he has already bought a CDM in Chambers and that CC could settle in to the role quickly, quietly and effectively.

  17. I wonder why people are so adamant of us needing a player to just “sit back and protect the back 4″
    Whats wrong with our forwards/mids doin their defensive duty in helping to slow down attacks? Or are they just there to”attack” and watch will the opposition runs through us?

    1. I think we need a DM. I always feel a team that anchors it’s midfield will be more solid.
      Saying that though, I suppose Chelsea don’t have a real DM do they. They have a whole team that defends. So fair point.

    2. Now that we have a strong and rapid attacking option we can afford to sit back and help with defending and that will open up the game for us to counter attack.

  18. Can we really say Viera was the midfield destroyer or our DM?? Um not being critical but think we almost always miss a point there. There is an unsung Hero,, in the form of Gilberto…… Viera was more like a defensive minded BTB mid… Now I would want to point out that Wenger could have done better by signing a DM thus fo sure… This will bite him big time.He screwed us ….

  19. Of course we will, especially, as usual, against the top teams in the league…
    Wenger still thinks he can avoid the “subject” and present us with an almost finished Arteta or even an elusive Diaby for excuses…!!

    It is not like he has (Wenger again) some kind of philosophy about football or acuteness in tactics…!!

    A DM would have made a difference and would always allow our creative midfielders to be more efficient. Our back 4 is never protected and we are lucky Koscielny, Mertesacker and Debuchy (Gibbs is sh*t as far as I am concerned and always injured) are on point.

  20. What we need more than anything this season is a plan B! Not go to city and play the same as if we play stoke or west ham.

    1. I agree with you but this team under Wenger only have one plan that is Plan A.
      Nice football up to the last 3rd part of the pitch then pass pass pass pass and so on till we lose the ball and get the sucker punch they score.

  21. Some fans are mentioning Chambers as a potential DM in important fixtures… The boy just arrived at Arsenal and he is already a big part of the squad (3 possible positions)… Just to say that a 19yo is a major piece of our team, it says a lot about the ambition and the status of the club (and this is a talented player who was not a first team regular at Southampton, but that is not a problem… If he is good he is good).

    After all this time, players like Chambers, Wilshere, Gibbs and more should have been understudy to experienced top players (not the case)…!!

    The DM situation will again slap us in the face, because the “truth” on the pitch never lies. Wenger could have all those theories (usually all wrong anyway), but the fact is he should have brought a strong anchorman.

  22. The Short answer to this Question is YES. Wenger has made a big mistake, but what is new if the fans say this is white Wenger will say it’s Black.

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