A very good day to all of you out there. I am sure you will be hanging around the club site and BBC, and all of that, to catch a glimpse of our new acquisition from the land of supernatural footballing talent.
Santi Cazorla is 27, and will add to an existing array of midfield talent. The fact that we have banked on Malaga’s financial crisis, and snapped up the diminutive midfielder for all of £13 million, which brings our transfer spendings at £35 million on 3 vastly talented continental talents, is a testimony to the business acumen of the club.
So, now, putting things to perspective, as I had said earlier, Cazorla will add to a bloating list of midfielders at the club. Here is a comprehensive list of the players we have in midfield.
CDM (5)- Abou Diaby, Alex Song, Francis Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong, Craig Eastmond
CM (6) – Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Henri Lansbury, Conor Henderson, Nuri Sahin (?)
CAM (3) – Tomas Rosicky, Andrei Arshavin, Santi Cazorla
LW (2) – Gervinho, Lukas Podolski
RW (3) – Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ryo Miyaichi
Total – 19
Note that I have included left-wing and right-wing as well, just to give a clear indication of the players who play wide in midfield, to link up with the attack.
From the above list of players, in central defensive midfield, we all know Abou Diaby is a liability with his past injury record. I have really liked the ability that he possesses. He has been likened to Yaya Toure of Manchester City, and yes, there are stark similarities in style of play. What Abou Diaby can do best is be a proper defensive midfielder, that we require, and just sit in there, freeing the others. We have waited long for van Persie to shine, will it be the same with Diaby?
Alex Song, as we all know, wishes to play in a more advanced role. He is not an out and out defensive midfielder, and his 14 assists last season are proof of that. However, I envision him to stay as first choice defensive midfielder, for the foreseeable future. He is a pretty fit and strong lad (I really hope he stops cosying up to the opposition at the end of games.), and one of our best players last season.
Though, discipline issues stick with both Diaby and Song, and I am not just talking about temperament, but also tactical disciple. Both like to venture forward, leaving the defence exposed, and the opposition attack vast spaces to exploit, and this is something that needs sorted out. I do not see the both of them playing together, unless there is a defensive crisis, as both have pretty similar footballing traits.
Francis Coquelin is a massive talent, and I am pretty sure we will see more of him this season. And, by that I mean, in midfield, rather than at a full-back position. Emmanuel Frimpong, is slated to be out till around September, and I suppose Arsene Wenger will be looking to loan him out in January, should we be knocked out of the Carling Cup by then. Craig Eastmond, I have heard is looking for a team where he gets more first team chances, but he too will most probably end up being on loan.
Mikel Arteta will be among the first names on the team sheet. His passing and ability to link up play between defence and attack will be a real asset. Though he has set a personal milestone of 10 goals this season, I feel he will play in a much more deeper role, as a deep lying playmaker, which he was for most of the last season. This role would suit him perfectly, allowing the attacking midfielders, to bomb ahead, without having to add up to the numbers at the back. This will also facilitate us to have quicker counter-attacks, now with the more technical players that we have in the squad.
Jack Wilshere is not expected to return until early October, and I really think he won’t be thrust into much first team action, until late November. He has had a year out, and a couple of reserve games against Chesham and Darlington won’t really be the same level as the Premier League. He is a real box-to-box midfielder, and if he can keep fit, he will be a real asset towards the business end of the season. Though I would really like him to start, as soon as he is back, we would have to keep patience, because we all know how an early or premature return from injury, can have some serious aftereffects.
About Aaron Ramsey, I am a bit perplexed. Is Arsene Wenger having second thoughts about him, now that Cazorla and Sahin look set to be arriving at Colney. I am not too sure. I saw a bit of Ramsey at the Olympics, and I have to say he looked really good, despite the occasional lackluster moments. His passing, discipline, and composure have all improved. I can really see him and Wilshere strike a formidable midfield partnership, but I see a part role for Ramsey in the coming season. He was tried out on the wings last season, which didn’t really work out for him. He suits better for a deeper play maker role, though he has attacking instincts. Sure is interesting to see what the manager does here. Ramsey is all of 21, and much criticism has been aimed at him. Let’s remember, he had a horrific injury, and has bucket loads of potential. Surely, his best days are ahead of him. (Do away with the back heels though.)
Henri Lansbury looks set to move to a different club on loan or permanently, to get more playing time, whilst Conor Henderson could be retained and used in Capital One Cup games.
Nuri Sahin, if signed, will be an inch-for-inch replacement for Yossi Benayoun, who was instrumental, when played last season. Despite a limited role, Benayoun did have some impact in the season, and you can expect the same with Sahin. With our injury crisis, he is a really good player to have as an option. However, if signed permanently, at the end of the season, you can really have some serious doubts on the future of Aaron Ramsey, unless he performs at his best level the coming season.
Tomas Rosicky is another of those players, with abundance of talent, but with a chequered injury record. Last season, towards the end of February, we got to see the best of Little Mozart, as he was more prominent in an attacking role. His forward thrusts, and quick passing ability and vision helped create plenty of chances. He is slated to be out, for the initial part of the season, due to an injury sustained during the Euro’s. Again, with Cazorla looking imminent, it will only take an injury (god forbid) to Cazorla to see Rosicky back in the team. He will be a good option, when the fixture list gets really crowded, and everyone knows he wants to make up for lost time.
Andrei Arshavin is another who divides opinion among the Arsenal faithful. His views on settling down in London, of course are well documented, though that has not stuttered QPR and Fulham from making advances. I feel his talent has been somewhat underused at the club. He has been played on the left side of midfield, which really doesn’t give him the space he loves to work with. Remember, a couple of seasons back, due to injuries, he played just behind Bendtner or even as a striker, and he really flourished. Last season, though, he was plagued with the laziness bug and failed to impress, which meant he was loaned out to his previous employer Zenit St. Petersburg. If he stays, I would like him to play in a more advanced position, just behind the strikers, where he actually belongs.
To our latest signing, Santi Cazorla, then. Here is an article, which compares him to Juan Mata, Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott. He likes to play as an attacking midfielder, and like all other Spanish midfielders, is technically gifted, twinkle-toed, and the closest to what the country has produced to Andres Iniesta. I see him being a started right away, feeding right behind the strikers. His versatility on the wings with Villarreal will be an asset, and help us out during an injury crisis (God Forbid, again).
I was really impressed by Gervinho during pre season. He is a fantastic dribbler, with the right turn of pace. He can be woeful in front of goal, something which he has to work upon. Lukas Podolski is everyone’s favorite to start on the left side of midfield, but I think Le Forehead can really shine if played there. He had 8 assists to his name, till he left for the African Cup of Nations, and once he was back, you could see the tournament had its aftereffects. He looks fit, sharp and really raring to go now.
Lukas Podolski arrives with a vast amount of experience. Over 100 international caps and 44 goals. He plays as a left sided attacker, for the national team, and I can see him in the same role at Arsenal. I feel Wenger’s ploy would eventually be to slowly bring him more centrally as the game progresses to make use of his goal poaching abilities. Also, having him would really wear out defences, allowing Gervinho to have late impacts on games.
Theo Walcott’s contract situation still remains under much of scrutiny. Liverpool, Chelsea and Southampton look interested in signing the England winger. Many fans have been frustrated at the lack of a ‘substantial’ improvement in Walcott. Stats may suggest he is our second best attacking player, but we know he can do much better. He has pace to burn, and can be a real menace on his day. Now, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pushing for starts, will we see the best from Walcott.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has quickly built a reputation for himself among the Arsenal faithful. The Ox, with his bullish approach, dribbling skills and ferocious pace, will be influential next season I feel. He has bags of confidence and does look suited to fit anywhere across midfield. We saw against Milan, how well, he was able to dictate most of the Gunners’ attacking forays, though his best performance came against Manchester United, when he was deployed on the left side of midfield. On the wing, he won’t have the same space to exploit. Again will be interesting to watch where he is deployed next season.
Ryo Miyaichi looks set to be retained for next season, mostly playing the cup competitions. He was impressive for Bolton during his loan spell. He will have a real say in midfield in coming years.
It would be fair to say, we now not only have depth but also a really talented midfield. The Premier League has become so competetive that midfield has become very prominent. Whoever wins the battle in midfield, usually comes out tops. Here is how I expect our midfield will look next season.
Following are a couple of alternative approaches to our midfield, which underlines our strength in depth in this particular area.
Do let me know what you think about Arsenal’s midfield, and how they are most likely to line up next season. I would love to have feedback and discussions.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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