Xhaka Special Analysis (2) – Who will be his midfield partner?

Who starts with Xhaka in Arsenal’s midfield??‏ by JH

Having just written an article on how good a signing Xhaka is, before he has kicked a ball or even been announced, I thought I might as well go all out and discuss who i feel will be the best option to sit next to him, I feel he is the only player certain of starting in midfield next year. AW is not going to spend £30 million plus on a rotation option or backup. He will start at the base of our midfield, starting every attack with his superb passing ability and in theory, he will shield our back four aggressively and forcefully.

But the question lingers… Who will play with him, well I’m going to discuss that now, so if I’m wrong everyone will have forgotten by the time the season starts so nobody will remember to call me an idiot 🙂

With the signing of Xhaka, Arsenal probably have the best collection of CMs in the country.
Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Coquelin, Elneny, that is some list!!

With my assumption being that Xhaka will start, that leaves just one place in the centre for the other 5.

I’ll start with Francis Coquelin, the man who is probably being upgraded by Xhaka, he has similar ability defensively, but in terms of passing ability there is no comparison, Xhaka knocks Le Coq out of the park, I would suggest that Coquelin (The man who finally showed AW how important a real Dm is) is going to be cover for Granit Xhaka should our infamous injury curse take hold of him or just for the inevitable suspensions.

Next to Jack Wilshere, Jack has so much potential, had injuries left him alone he would be our captain already, he has the ability to pass or dribble through midfields, capable of sitting alongside Xhaka or playing box to box, he enjoys getting stuck in, he also has the passion and leadership skills we are always missing, the issue here is AW doesn’t like Jack playing deep, so I would expect him on the wing more than in the middle this year.

Now it gets difficult, Santi Cazorla, his injury probably ended our title hopes this year, we missed his incisive passing and quick feet in midfield this year, once he was out of the side every attack seemed so slow, laboured and uninventive, there will be rumours all summer about him returning to Spain, and the sale of Santi would go some way to pretty much pay for Xhaka’s transfer, the only thing that would go against him is his defensive contribution is not as great as our other options.

Aaron Ramsey, perhaps the most criticized on this list, he is the most frustrating, and even worse AW seems to think he has to get him in the side somehow, On his game Ramsey is immense, he has energy for days, can influence the game at both ends, however the Ramsey of 2014 doesn’t seem to be coming back, everything he hit that year was in, everything he touched was gold, the unfortunate fact is he has never got close to those standards since, even more unfortunate is that aw will probably stick with him still, I expect him to either start with Xhaka or start on the right.

Mohammed ELNeny has been a revelation since signing from Basel, at just £5 million he was a real find, he was also Basels replacement for Xhaka (funny how things work out). Elneny is superb on the ball, his passes always find his man, he can run and run and never seems to slow down, his contribution in the final third may go against him though, he doesn’t have the vision or technique of Cazorla or Wilshere or even Ramsey, he is however more capable in our back third than those players, very rarely making mistakes, he slotted into our side and style effortlessly and was probably our best player after Christmas.

In conclusion, I am confident that Coquelin is more backup than partner to Xhaka, at his best Jack is probably the best option but it will be a fight for right wing for him as Wenger prefers him further forward.

This leaves Santi, Ramsey and ELNeny. I think Ramsey may well fight it out with Jack and Theo for the right, leaving Santi and Elneny, I feel Santi is most likely, given how badly he was missed this year, i think he will start in the majority of games, although don’t be surprised to see Elneny come in when we need to be more secure in midfield.

What do you guys think??
Who will play with Xhaka??
Who Should play with Xhaka??

Please follow @jonnhirons on twitter for more Arsenal opinion.

By JonnHirons

Tags Coquelin Elneny Wilshere


  1. I say Santi without hesitation. El neny can back up santi.

    There are 3 guarantees in life;
    1 death
    2 taxes
    3 multiple Arsenal injuries

    Jack is too fragile to be a consistent partner, ticking time bomb waiting to happen. Ramsey lacks the discipline to partner anyone. He abandons Coq every time they started together.

    That being said, I’m interested to see how Xhaka handles Ramsey’s lack of discipline. Confronts him immediately, waits until later, or not at all. Just thinking out loud

    1. I am really curious about how Xhaka could deal with Ramsey, I will be hoping that we see the Ramsey from a few years ago if he has a commanding partner in CM.

      Coquelin is vocal but he didn’t yell at Ramsey when he got exposed, would have been nice to see Coquelin grab Ramseys collar and tell him to defend as well, so to speak.

    2. Was there any source to find Xhaka skills apart from youtube? The long accurate pass ability shown his good vision a bit, but I didn’t see many tackles there, areas where Le Coq roaming around. Base on these, I think Xhaka is bit like deep lying play maker (DLP) type which is good for us. Santi now might have rather equal back up.
      Furthermore, I think he can accompany Santi, Coquelin, Elneny, or even Ramsey as starting line up. He’s kind of hybrid midfielder (a CDM and DLP also).

  2. I read an interesting article about the potential of Ramsey and Xhaka, it raised some good points and missed a couple good points, Xhaka might be the player to get the best our of Ramsey.

    Ramsey has the stamina and if alongside a ‘leader’ who can tell him to get back and communicate with him then it could bring the old Ramsey back.

    Ramsey can pass and step past his man, link up well with others, unbelievable engine, got enough pace, not a bad shot and the guy can still put a tackle in when he is back defending.

    We can’t ignore the effect Arteta had on Ramsey, Arteta admitted he hasn’t been at his best and hasn’t been for a while, a few years ago though he had a bit more in the engine room and could stay a bit closer to Ramsey.

    Maybe… just maybe…
    Xhaka can be the man who is the catalyst to bring the best out of Ramsey?

    I wouldn’t be sad to see Ramsey leave but I would be happier if Ramsey finally develops into the player he promised a few years ago.

  3. I would say Santa, Ramsey and Jack on the bench if indeed we get a proper winger in that can track back as well…but not in every game this would work . some games would need a Ramsey or Jack in d midfield. what is the coach there for? this is entirely his job after studying the opposition and decides what kind of game he wants. but for swashbuckling futball, i’ll say play Granit, Santi and Mezut…then see what is left of the opposition lungs cos all they’ll do is chase and chase.

  4. 1st Choice: Xhaka Santi (Elneny as Santi sub, Coquelin as Xhaka sub’ just incase)

    2nd Choice: Xhaka Coquelin (Tough Away games esp. When we wanna play with two Dm’s or good tacklers if you like)

    3rd Choice: Elneny Coquelin (when we wanna give Xhaka and Santi some rest or maybe when fatigue or injury set in)

    Rotation is key. Lots of games to be played during the season and injuries will always set in. Don’t know where to place Ramsey in that mid field. I wish he steps up and give us a great season like he did few seasons back…

    Ramsey-Wilshere would be interesting but hardly works out…

  5. Santi is WC. He owned B2B last season
    Xhaka and Cazorla and Ozil will be a smashing central Midfield

    Coquelin will be a supersub and keep Xhaka on his toes.

    Ramsey, Elneny, Wilshere will need to fight tor a place but they will be needed for FA Cup and League Cup duties

    But remember that every season we have injuries …lots of them
    So it’s highly unlikely that all our midfielders will be fit.
    When we lost Coquelin and Cazorla it was a huge loss
    Thats why getting Xhaka Is a good decision

    But we still need a Top goalscorer

  6. To say Ramsey is one the best CM’s in the league is just plain wrong! Even when played in his favoured position, he’s not great, and his poor technique really affects our fluidity. Ramsey is one of the many deadwood’s that should be sold.

    For me, we have some great options for different types of situations. A bit more defensive minded, we choose two from Xhaka, Coquelin and Elneny, with Santi and Wilshere being an option for a more attack minded style. I remember Santi having to play as a DM against Bayern, and it just didn’t work at all, but now we’ll have the options. The only problem, is that Wenger doesn’t like to rotate much, so we’ll have to wait and see.

  7. Rotation is key here. AW should have 2 fully functional teams, able to intertwine if need be in order to put up a fight in “every” cup campaign we’re in. Because, this coming season should not just be about going for the EPL, CL, F.A. Cup or the League Cup. We should going for “ALL” the Cups…

  8. this should be jack Wilshere’s last season…..also theo if he stays this summer……This people re even more of a deadwood dan Ramsey…..Ramsey can manage 5goals in a bad season but Wilshere can’t even score 4 in his best year am really tired of Wilshere flirting with us…any player that doesn’t play well will leave with arsene wenger come next year because I know the next coach won’t keep this heartless men….Welcome zhaki

  9. actualy xhaka isnt the type of Dm player so he need some one who has more defensive mintality as coq or someone how can share with him the defensive responsibility like elneny (that is if really it is offically done and announced i mean xhaka transfer)

  10. Surely Xhaka is backup for Santi who’s not getting younger. That makes total sense to

    Elneny is paired with Coqueline

    Ramsey with Wiltshire

    So to simplify matters we have three playing styles in midfield –
    – quarterback – delivering great passes
    – defence – delivering great tackles interceptions
    – box 2 box – high energy, go through players

    And we have cover for each style. Looks good to me

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