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July 2021

Consider a mid-field that looks like this….

By Tony Attwood

Consider a midfield that looks like this:

Cazorla   Oxlade-Chamberlain   Diaby


Diaby   Oxlade-Chamberlain   Arteta


Oxlade-Chamberlain   Arteta   Wilshere


Oxlade-Chamberlain   Wilshere   Cazorla


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Wilshere   Arteta   Rosicky


Wilshere   Diaby   Ramsey


It goes on and on, and I have not even put the fast developing Coquelin in there yet nor come to that Arshavin – who I know is not the favourite of many, but who did have a fine season out on loan in Russia.

My point however is simple.  I can’t recall a time when we had so many choices in midfield.  At the moment I can’t see the equivalent of the Vieira-Petit combination, or the Gilberto-Vieira combination of the Invincibles but what I do know was that during the Invincibles season we did not suffer the sort of injury run that has bedevilled us in recent years.

Which is why there is a new game: a much bigger squad with huge flexibility to allow different selections for different games and different competitions.

So in midfield we have in alphabetical order…

  • Arshavin
  • Arteta
  • Cazorla
  • Coquelin
  • Diaby
  • Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • Ramsey
  • Rosicky
  • Wilshere

Of course Coquelin is just learning the trade, Rosicky can’t play every match, Wilshere’s recovery is taking a long time, but as a range of choices it is extraordinary.

Put Oxlade-Chamberlain in the centre of the midfield and he becomes a box-to-box player.  Play him with Arteta and Wilshere and we would probably have the most powerful midfield in quite a while.  And if Diaby continues his growth, you have another powerhouse, strong on the ball, always finding space.  Play Cazorla along with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arteta and you have one hell of a combination.

Now, if you accept any of this, then the departure of Song suddenly becomes perfectly reasonable, because we have such a collection of midfield talent.  It also suddenly begins to question whether we actually need any more midfielders at all.

So where does that leave Sahin?  I am having problems fitting the nine players we have into 3 slots – so why bring in a 10th?

The papers in the UK have been saying that Sahin is in fact going to Liverpool, although yesterday the German papers were saying that Sahin had just had a medical at Arsenal.  But I genuinely cannot see why we would want another player in mid-field.

Maybe we were just muddying the waters for Liverpool and making life tough for them.  Who knows, but here’s another little range of figures…

  • Arshavin (31)
  • Arteta (30)
  • Cazorla (27)
  • Coquelin (21)
  • Diaby (26)
  • Oxlade-Chamberlain (19)
  • Ramsey (21)
  • Rosicky (31)
  • Wilshere (20)

That is a very fine mix of ages.   Four players in the 19 to 21 age range, two at 26/27, three at 30+.  The mixture of youth, and experience, what every team should have.

It raises the point as to what a huge range of talent we have to take on different types of club – for if we are covering for injuries we are also looking at ways of beating rugby teams like Stoke, 12 man defences like Sunderland + ref, and football playing teams (if we get to find any).

I’m actually feeling rather good about our mid-field.


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49 comments to Consider a mid-field that looks like this….

  • Family Enclosure Man

    I take your point – and you haven;t even mentioned what looks to me to be the most exciting combination: Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere. Pure class.

  • wambam

    and there is no Vieira – Petit partnership because we no longer play 4-4-2. Arteta – Cazorla – Wilshere = awesome!

  • wambam

    and there is no Vieira – Petit partnership because we no longer play 4-4-2. Arteta – Cazorla – Wilshere = awesome!

  • you hav it man! its looking great.

  • Candid Gunner

    Good job Tony,

    I didn’t see Frimpong’s name on the list nor in the write-up. Another bully in the making. Even Manchester city and Barcelona will be intimidated with such midfield collection. Dunno what I’d be without THE ARSENAL! COYG…

  • Adam Francis

    You forgot The Frimpong. I really hope the kid can stay injury free as he has a real bite to his game that is missing from those already mentioned.

  • Vijay

    The most of all the important points is there can only be eleven on the pitch..And if you cant crack open a defence like Sunderland then there’s no use of having so many back-ups. Its not that any player offers something significantly different from the other..walcott being the only variation with pace if you’d may in a 4-5-1….

    The problem is not about nos…its about the quality of doing it week in week out…and there is no Proven quality for that yet…Hopefully santi jack gervi pod/giroud can for a spine for a whole season…cause 2 of last seasons four of Vermaelen-Arteta-SOng-Persie have left…!!

    Brave new World eh??!

  • Ed kae

    Another point of view: Diaby(terrible,will never make it at arsenal), oxo(not ready), walcott( not good enough), coquelin(not ready), arshavin(no hope), rosicky(always injured). From my point of view, we should be worried. This midfield will scare no one. This midfield cannot win the ball back.Only class act is Cazorla. What we need is a clear out with suitable replacements. First to go should be Diaby and Arshavin.

  • Qq

    Santos can play the DM if there is a cover for Gibbs

  • CharlieG

    Looks like we will be playing without a traditional destroyer this season. Arteta will play that role, more as a covering midfielder, with an eye to move the ball. He impressed me last week with his discipline. He stayed down and move in to cover whenever the centrebacks attacked.
    When Wilshire is fit again, he and Ox will make a terrific combination. Cazorla will then move to right wing. His crosses will be appreciated by Giroud.

  • Gunner Troy

    Good article. puts the midfield in good light , injuries do worry me though when rosicky and diaby are injury prone Wilshere coming back from injury. So that’s a third of the midfield at certain risk . So assuming this could happen 6 does leave us looking a little short considering four different competitions worth of games .

  • GoatMajor

    All agreed. Also first thought was Frimpong too

  • Lars

    Well leave out Diaby, he is not worthy to wear the AFC shirt. But still agree the rest is pure class

  • Francois

    I always wonder why AW haven’t tried Vermaelen in DM on occasion (you know, winning 1-0, we already got a red card, 15 min to go, those sort of things). I would have think he’d do a great job there.

  • @Tony (et al)

    Where’s the balance?
    It’s very easy to fill a midfield from our choices available. With players that are ‘exciting’. ‘Flair’ players. But… going forwards that is. Where’s the defensive, or holding midfielder (of top quality). Coquelin still isn’t ready yet. One more season needed. Frimpong same. That leaves Arteta or Diaby the only candidates. Defensively? No. They don’t have the true defensive qualities required.

    We have needed for a long time a good, a VERY good DM, and if the jury was out on Song in that role, the jury must surely be out on all midfielders shown above. Song was arguably the best player we had to fill the role last season, and this season too as things stand (had he stayed with us), and I say that as a big Song critic.

    So… where’s the balance?
    If we don’t purchase a TRUE holding/defensive midfielder we’ll have problems when on the back foot, big time!

  • Only time will tell !

  • rd

    Every world class team needs a good DM which we are still missing.

    Look at the best seasons for th big team.
    Arsenal were the best team with Vieira
    Chelsea and Madrid when they had Makelele
    Man Utd with Roy Keane
    Man City with Yaya Toure

    The above players enable the forward thinking players to do their job as they know they can rely on their DM for counter attackes and so on…. Arsenal need one more

    When it comes to Walcott, I say get rid of him if we plan to use as a winger, he does not have the class, no ball control, he cannot cross and he is not a fast thinker, dwells on the ball too long then has nowhere to use his pace, use him for counter attacks infront of Giroud or Podolski as a striker, would be much more effective and its his natural position.

  • Gooner S

    Excellent collection of players but to make the choices available more complete I think Wenger wants another player that can sit in front of the back four and break up play. But to your point, with the players we have, that will probably only happen if somebody is available that Wenger considers “a special player”.

  • bc

    Have to agree that arteta wilshire cazorla would be an awesome trio. But lets not forget a number of youngsters such as frimpong lansbury henderson yennaris aneke that are do damn close to the first team its scary. i believe that we are sorted in midfield. personally i would forget about santos as left back and turn him into a wide forward option then bring in another left back to rival gibbs. i would also bring in another defender in place of squillaci. simply pay up his contract or de-list him like we did with almunia.

    getting another right sided forward (navas) and dempsey to replace park chamakh and bendtner would be ideal.

  • Cromby

    I don’t know guys, we have nine midfielders alright, but do we have enough to quality to make a push for the title?

    Arshavin is a waste of space, we shouldn’t even count him.
    Arteta (30) – our most experienced player, and will be holding it all together for us this season.
    Cazorla (27) – Fantastic talent.
    Coquelin (21) – No where near ready.
    Diaby (26) – Just is not good enough.
    Oxlade-Chamberlain (19) – Still very young and just not experienced enough yet.
    Ramsey (21) – Excellent player and like OX will only get better.
    Rosicky (31) – Great when fit, but injured a lot.
    Wilshere (20) – Going to be the finest midfielder in Europe.

    The true strength in our midfield is Arteta, Cazorla, Wiltshire and Rosicky.
    Our promising youths are Ramsey, Coquelin, OX.
    Our squad players are Diaby, Arshavin.

    Out midfield is not as powerful as we like to believe, I can understand why Arsene wanted the excellent Sahin, he certainly would have been first choice quality, now watch as the Liverpool team benefits from having this very talented amongst them.

  • Angry gooner

    last year thanks to RVP and A.Song we get CL football,this year very difficult t if there is no DM addition…. Arsenal is a selling club….. The board don’t want 2 bother 4 z fan


  • goonerdhanesh

    Nice article. But u haven’t even mentioned the most anticipated midfield that arsenal should have in this season….
    And i still don’t know why everyone are insisting that arsenal need more midfield….

  • shedzy

    His name is Ryo, and he dances on the wing…….

  • Phil

    I still think that we need another creative midfielder.Arteta is good but often slows the play down so teams that park the bus can find it easier to defend against us. And Its like the Cesc situation with Cazorla, we will become very predictable as everything creativity wise will seem to have to come from him. Yes we have a high number of midfielders but most of them are sideways passers rather than creative ones.

    I sense wenger aknowledged this thats why he went for sahin, but there are others on the market. I for one find Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao is a perfect fit for us.

    Anyways, up the Arsenal. Stoke rfc this weekend for me. 3 points.

  • ogban

    I still think we need a deep-sitting midfield player like M’Villa especially in the more difficult games when we need to defend more.

  • @rd
    As regards your DM comments, agreed!
    When we won our first Double 1970-71 we had a TRUE defensive midfielder: Peter Storey. Even a good back-up in Eddie Kelly.
    Some might say “Hey the game has changed since those days…”; no, the game hasn’t changed in respect of a defensive midfielder being required. And at Arsenal right now it’s not a requirement, it’s a necessity.

    We ‘accommodated’ Storey by leaving out the more ‘complete’ footballers at times: George Graham, Jon Sammels, Charlie George. Those three playing together, with George Armstrong out wide might, on the face of it, appear a more mouth-watering prospect than a side containing the like of Storey. But BALANCE is crucial, and Storey was crucial, and the end result is History!

  • vincent

    we only need m-villa and maybe another versatile defender who can play cb and rb.

  • robl

    Since when did Mvilla become the deep sitting defensive midfielder? Every time I’ve seen him he’s played more forward. And just because he has an attitude problem doesn’t mean he’ll be a useful bad ass on the pitch.

    let’s see if Wenger pushes our captain forward when Kos returns.

  • Phil

    Tony, you’re absolutely spot on with that. The only way to really understand the million combinations we have more midfield is to break it down into two deeper players (Diaby, Arteta, Wilshere etc) and the attacking player (Cazorla, Ramsey, Rosicky).

    The only way we’ll be able to get them all consistent game time is due to the versatility. Apparently Chamberlain is going to play in midfield but of course he could go wide, while Rosicky is a solid, possession keeping wide attacker who could be used to shore up our team on tricky aways or late on in games where we’re leading.

    Not sure Frimpong is going to be sufficiently dynamic in possession to cut it with us unfortunately, a little like Muamba a few years ago. Coquelin on the other hand… he has it all.

  • alex

    I agree with Big Al Kohsui Thailand
    The defensive mstill up there.
    Losing Song is not an easy.The defensive midfielder question is still an answered for me.
    Song has a vast experience of premiership and his presence in the midfield is a bold statement in itself.Every time we play the Manure Roonie was completely under control of Song.simply he never give them any time to play was constantly in their feet.
    You guys are praising Arteta to much.His luck of pace worry me.Yes he is a disciplined player and positions himself well but other than i dont see much to be honest.Coquelin is fine for me.This guy is very energetic and quick.Not sure yet of his physical strength.
    Had Sahin be brought i doubt Wenger had a plan to give him the defensive role.Wenger had other plans surely.After all Wenger is notorious to give different role to what they are known to.
    Every player come at a price and does not much Arsenal ability to have him.I felt Barca got our midfielder on a cheap.I guess.

  • The font

    we have ox arteta wilshere carzorla diaby vying for 3 places with rosicky Ramsey coqelin frimpong sniffing at there heels Henderson eilsfield gnarby going to breakthrough this season Kos for me would and could be sensational at holding midfield we are totally covered

  • bob

    Have to agree with Big Al, and alex that all’s not alright: where’s the backbone to cover the defense backfield – as the departed Song was often at least capable of providing?

    Now to the business: What’s wrong with the picture painted in this article? Well, it presents a sparkling glass-overflowing view; when – from what we actually know right now – we have a half-full and half-empty situation. For your advert/scenario, everything has to go right – fat chance – to hold water. Here’s another (not the only) half-empty/half-empty view to people to re-consider:
    Arshavin (31) – we were trying to trade him all summer, right?
    Arteta (30) – excellent complement, returning from injury, was sorely missed last season
    Cazorla (27) – excellent signing and difference maker, with no close to equivalent backup if the EPL and aggro’s target him
    Coquelin (21) – fine potential, but unproven to date
    Diaby (26) – fine but still not yet proven potential, but obviously a comeback from another injury
    Oxlade-Chamberlain (19) – sky’s the limit and still learning
    Ramsey (21) – good potential, but as yet still unproven
    Rosicky (31) – proven, if limited value, but obviously a comeback from another injury and won’t hit the ground running
    Wilshere (20) – fine potential, but obviously a comeback from another injury and won’t hit the ground running

    I want every one of these names to surpass our highest hopes. But this article is equating its naming names to our having a finished midfield based on an assumed optimal performance. Because no one comes back from (moderate to serious) injury or develops meteorically in the EPL without an actual learning curve, this article only spins a beautiful dream seen through rose colored glasses. Less charitably, it is a feel-good antidote for what appears as the increasingly likely non-signings of Sahin, M’Villa and whomever; the sale of another AFC-developed Barca-quality player to Barca; the inability to say NO (like Manicini, Levy, others) to wantaway players; the seeming business imperative to achieve a zero net balance in the apparent transfer activity; and the whisk-away amnesia of whatever happened to the 35M from the Champions League that our hard earned, great turnaround of a 3rd place finish was/is supposed to achieve for us? That would be 35M above – repeat above – a zero net balance from the 3 signings and the sales of our two best players to our two worst enemies (in the EPL and CL respectively).

    This feel-good list makes me feel good. Then there’s the half-full half-empty reality of the present moment. This may change this week, or it may not. Some commenters here have written, well it’s Ok to lose RVP and Song, as surely we’ll be spending further and use the sales to improve our overall quality (and zap Darren Damien Dein’s toxic influence)- right? I remember because reluctantly, my fallback position (in opposing the sales) was to become one of these voices. We were prepared here on UA to cushion the blow of both those likely to happen sales. My reading of this article is that it is meant (or has the effect) to further prepare readers – with 6 days to go in the window – against the growing possibility of AFC taking no further action to fill the real needs of this team. And one of the several needs, imo (alex and Big Al, etc.) is to bring further reliable defensive quality and capability to this midfield. There are other needs, but that’s for another article’s comments to be.

  • Adam

    Bob sweetheart allow a man to air his dreams.

  • bob

    Compared to the marketing value, not only did Barca get Song on the cheap (in a fast-track out sale), but they also got x-Cesc on the cheap last summer, and – considering his Golden Boot, Player of the Year awards, international acclaim, and massive marketing opportunity – Manure got RVP on the cheap. Some are happy to achieve a net zero balance in a transfer window and call it victory, or shrewd business or hey, making the best of a bad situation when a player wants out. To me, it’s a rationalization of some kind of failure. Then, again, one line of analysis is that it’s part of a brilliant strategy to push Barca and Manure over the brink into non-competitive bankruptcy. Since none of us here, to my knowledge, has access to the inner circle and the books, such discontent is a mere analysis. I accept that, and can only hope – with no convincing counter-evidence – there is a silver lining to what I see as a chronic weakness that never seems to be buttressed by the 35M bonanzas that we garner each season through our hard-won (indeed courageous) CL successes.

  • bob

    Hey, sweetheart, go on and enjoy such aired dreams; but, please, darling, don’t tell me that the scent is perfume. Save that for the first date. 🙂

  • createstrain

    bob – spot on.

  • Adam

    Don’t be upset Bob no offence meant. Try and be a bit more positive concerning Arsenal. I tell you what Bob, Swansea are playing West Ham at the moment and their midfield looks great (albeit agains a poor Hammers side) tune in to the game and then compare Arsenals players with Swansea’s. Then with a positive mind just think of the heights that Arsenals midfield can reach (as long as they work hard and intelligently for one another).

  • bob

    Ta. 🙂

  • Sammy The Snake

    Sahin loan deal confirmed at 5 million plus 2.2 million salary for a singly year.
    I’m so glad AW didn’t waste Arsenal money and I agree, Gunners were just hiking the price for Liverpool. The Kop has just got themselves into another fine mess, remember Carrol?!

  • labanoob

    another stupid article

    wait until your so called capable midfield destroyed by tough teams in the next 5 games

    and we will see what your accuse will be

    will it be just like what was used for the last 7 years?


  • Arvind

    @labanoob – It’d be nice if you followed that comment/wish/desire with some rational analysis on why it is going to get destroyed. Somehow for some strange imperceptible reason, I do not expect you to ever return to this board…unless of course we actually get destroyed. In which case there will be many labanoobs here.

  • paul

    Good read.
    Like you I think this season we do have a lot of different combinations in the midfield. Will they sparkle? Will they shine?
    Only time will tell but at least hopefully this season we’ll at least have choices barring injures.
    It’ll be interesting to see how Arsene sets out the team Tomorrow.


    Absolutely love it when “fans” comment with a “stupid article” without putting forward why in fact it is stupid in the first place.
    If you don’t agree with Tony’s article then please just don’t agree. Maybe you should put some time aside and write something on Untold and put yourself out there for other fans to their say on your views?

    I know you comment on Untold and I actually like reading your comments. Debate is good but something I’m sure you have said in the past is that no one outside the boardroom and Arsene knows what’s going on when it comes to all those big decisions.
    I know that losing any top palyer is a loss and no team really wants them going to the opposition but what happens when Arsene is faced with the reality that a) the player announces to the world he’s leaving b) the board tells him he needs to sell the player c) the player leaves the following year and goes to the opposition for free. d) the players agent has already brokered a deal with a new club and the player loses intrest in Arsenal.
    We’ll never know what really goes on until the day some of those who are in the know tell us.
    I suppose we just have to keep the faith.
    My glass at Arsenal is always half full and sometimes when we’re playing well it runeth over.

    I am an optimistic Gooner for life.

  • Matt Clarke

    /cheer @ Paul

  • americangooner

    AW has already hinted that he might be signing a player, probably a DM. if he signs we might see more choices in the midfield. once wilshere returns to his best we surely gonna have a great control in midfield. the requirement is that the players should be playing to their full potential.

  • Pad Gooner

    I do think that we need to give Frimpong/Coquelin more chance atleast as substitutes or sign a def.midfielder.

  • immi

    great post but our injury record is terrible every season so to cover up we need at least one midfielder.. m vila would be perfect…

  • Kipshizzle

    I think Coquelin is ready to step up in my opinion, and I think the boss may feel the same way, which may be part of the reason why Song is no longer with us. LeCoq is definitely no Makelele, but even Claude had to start from some point where he was just a young lad looking for a chance to shine (or make some noise as his name suggests). We may sometimes be frustrated at the boss(and justifiably so I might add) for some of the decisions he makes, but his faith in his players is really what sets him apart. Putting some objective (but not over-bearing) responsibility on Coquelin as a critical member of the squad will do nothing but help him. His potential is quite enormous anyway, otherwise many people would not be of the opinion that he’s not ready. It may even take a while, but I believe Coquelin will surprise many of us, even those who may already think he’s that good! I for one was certainly impressed by his man-of-the-match performance against Spurs & I don’t think that was the kind of effort you see from a one-hit wonder. The arrival of the Sahins, the M’Vilas, e.t.c are always welcome (anything that improves the team is), but they don’t always imply we were hopeless, or that what we already have is insufficient or incapable.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Once again you can spot the people who either don’t watch football or don’t understand the game. Hint, the clue is in calling Vieira, Keane or Yaya a DM.
    You can argue for signing a ‘proper’ DM for those games where we are under constant attack, which by my reckoning is two a year if we’re unlucky and get Barca again.

  • Ed

    I think we have a good choice in midfield, but they are all very good players, but Carzola is probably the only world class players that can truly win most battles to bring us into the top team category.

    players such as arteta, diaby, rosicky are very good, good enough for top 4, very tidy and technically superb. i have high hopes for wilshire, the ox and coq, but they are not there yet. but if we had a vieira and fabregas at the top of their games, i dont really see many others in our midfield starting ahead of them. and they are the type of players who can force the issue (such as in our first 2 games of the season) and really change the game in our favour.

    We have seen games where fabreagas or veieira have taken the game by the scruff of the neck and drag us to a win (i remember a home game against villa a couple of seasons back with fabregas),

    however, we may see someone improve this year and really bring it on, or perhaps the reliance on team play rather than one individual will be the way to go forward?