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How we may have found an answer to the defensive midfielder issue

By Tony Attwood

Thinking inside the box, and clutching at stories that require no effort, these are the daily activities of most sports journalists.

The vision is of an audience that is only interested in the now, not the deeper analysis.  “Simple words for simple souls” is the motto.  It is as if the 1960s vision of the football fan who waves a rattle and is “up for the cup” was not only actually valid then (which it never was) but is valid now.  OK the rattle has gone, but the vision of journalists is as staid as ever.

Although I thought BT Sport’s coverage of the first day of the Emirates cup was a huge step forward, it was simply a step forward into the normal everyday of sports journalism – which is 99% of the time just plain dull, and the analysis of how us regular fans see the world was 99% inaccurate.  That is not to say I feel I want to campaign against BT any more – they have turned themselves around magnificently, and are now mainstream dull.  That’s the best one could ever hope for.

Nothing could epitomise the approach that dominates football broadcasting better than the silly poll that BT Sport ran asking people to text in yes or no, as to whether Arsenal were challengers for the championship.

There was no background to this – no reflection on the fact that if Arsenal had turned just two draws and one defeat into wins last season they would have been champions (I’ll do a piece on this shortly – just to prove the maths, but its only rocket science not quantum mechanics).  No there was nothing on the reality of Arsenal, just a treating of fans as silly people whose opinion could be counted with a yes no question.

We didn’t know – at least when I was watching – how many people voted, but it was certain that there was no control to make the vote representative.  Liverpool, Man U, Man C, Chelsea fans – and come to that anyone else, could vote, and I would have expected many to have done so.  I wouldn’t put it past some of the AAA to vote several times.

But still the Independent felt that they could draw conclusions from the poll – and the fact that they thought the readership would swallow this as a piece of worthy journalism, shows how primitive football journalism is.

What the weekend did show was that aside from our money signings, we have got players who have come through the ranks in their own ways and are ready to make a real contribution.

Top of the list must be Bellerin who is a stunning player and a half.  Forget all transfers and big fees, his emergence is huge news.  He’s 19, and the only thing that can get in his way is the mistaken belief that his DNA is somehow associated with the club he used to play for.

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Sanogo showed that a player can come back after two years in  the injury wilderness and that Wenger can still see what others can’t.  I have no idea if Sanogo can turn it on week after week, but the fact is that taking him and nurturing him back to health was a worthy cause.

And of course there was Joel Campbell, whose goal reminded us all of why he was the hero of the world cup.

But I’d also add a note about Zelalem.  We only saw him for a while yesterday, but he looked even more assured than when he made his cameo last season.   He really did look something and a half and we ought to see him in league cup matches now if nothing else.

As for the bought-in players, Calum Chambers looks like a bargain and a half – and its nice to know we can still find bargains even in the days of Arsenal the high-spenders.

Do we need another centre back with him in the squad?  Maybe, but on the basis of the weekend I wouldn’t worry about Chambers appearing on the team sheet in the centre of defence.

As for Alexis Sanchez we saw him on the right and in the middle which is good news all round.  Giroud unfortunately forgot to turn up to the party, and I don’t think Mr Wenger was at all pleased.

But we also saw the Ox get two halves – I felt he was much better in the second game than the first (although watching the first on TV and the second live makes it tough to compare exactly).

This means we are getting a very exciting range of choices in the forward line: Sanchez on the wing or centre, Giroud centre (when he gets back to form), The Ox on the wing or in midfield, Theo doing the Theo thing, Podolski – and all this with Ramsey, Santi Caz and Ozil behind.

They can’t all play at once – but no matter because we will certainly have injuries again this season if the ref’s inabilities on Sunday are anything to go by.  (Incidentally I would say that Arsenal really ought to advertise the competition as being played under a variant of the rules of football, since that was clearly what we saw from the ref on Sunday.  One rule is clearly no penalties and no sending off of the last man for horrible fouls).

What was so good to see however was how readily the team switched from one style of play with Giroud at centre forward to a ball on the ground approach with Sanchez here.  No fuss, just plan A to plan B in a blink.

So do we need the defensive midfielder? The argument is that neither Flamini nor Arteta are up to the job any more.  I think there are no less than five alternatives to buying now.

One is that another of our long-term players could fit into the role: Wilshere and the Ox are possibles.  Who knows what they are doing on the training pitches!  The second is that Arteta and Flamini are not past it and can do the job for one more season.  The third is that we are able to move the ball so fast that the post becomes redundant, and the fourth is that we use a combination of all these factors.

The fifth is Chambers.  Now I know what I have just said about him being at the centre of defence, but consider this.   Here is what Mr Wenger said of him.  “He can play central midfield as well, as he has good technique, great mobility and is a good distance runner. He was educated as a central midfielder, then played with England Under-19 at centre-back and right-back for Southampton. That is where I saw him the first time against us and I liked him. I made my mind to buy him after I saw him against us.”

One thing I am sure of is the fact that we don’t want to buy whoever we can get in desperation, when in fact waiting until January or next summer allows us to get exactly the right player.  Or only to find that we had the ideal player sitting with us all the time.

This is where the cries of anguish come; but I come back to the of how close we were last year.  We were the best team in the Premier League in the year 2013 – ok they don’t give prizes for that but it tells anyone with eyes to see a lot about the club.  And in terms of last season when we were destroyed by injuries, we were, as I said so close.  Turn two draws into wins, and one defeat into a win.  Take out one of those devastating injuries and we could have done it.

And I suspect we can do it this year, even if we don’t buy anyone else.  A reduction in the insane injury level and we will do it.

The books

The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.



52 comments to How we may have found an answer to the defensive midfielder issue

  • moray

    I’m not sure you’ve thought this through sufficiently.

    Flamini is a walking red card, Arteta’s legs have gone (both cost us important goals last year), Wilshire is obviously not disciplined enough even if he was a DM and Chambers is a child with only a handful of first team games under his belt. We saw how that backfired with Sanogo last season against Bayern. We desperately need a proper DM or we will be rolled over again by the big teams. I think Wenger knows this too, but I wouldn’t put it past him to go into the season looking to wing it with a big black hole at DM like he did last year.

    And just so that you know, we finished 4th last season, 7 points adrift and 38 goals short of Man City. Had Man Utd not shot themselves in the foot we would have been 5th and playing spursday nights instead of CL football this year. We have a lot of improving to do, and our opponents will have got stronger too.

  • oldgroover

    It looks to me that Chambers is the one signing that Arséne is most satisfied with. He seems almost smug over it doesn’t he, and why not.

  • Phil C

    Good post Tony, I’d go along with most of what you say. I thought there were so many positives over the weekend that it’s actually quite difficult to pull them all together into a coherent vision. Looking at it the other way there weren’t many disappointments. Firstly, Jack still looks a bit lost, more work to do there. Secondly getting outmuscled in midfield by the physical Monaco guys. I’d hoped, don’t laugh, to see Diaby strutting his stuff. Not sure what’s happening there. Apart from that, given the stage of the team’s preparation I think we can feel optimistic.

  • Yiannis

    Hi! I am a regular reader and I appreciate the work you do specially your studies on refereeing.

    But trying to find half solutions to a the only shouting problem of the team finds me on the opposite side to you.

    For me the answer is simple and should be a complete solution. Go out and buy any of the many available good defensive midfield players. All you mentioned above can be enforced in case of injury to the main man!

    The money is there. Let’s spend it if we are up for the challenge. Otherwise we will end up below the third and above the fifth…. again

  • Steve.


  • Mick

    There is some logic in what you say but the truth of the matter is that we did not come fourth last season rather than first or second because of the lack of a defensive midfielder. It was as Tony rightly says more a result of the horrendous injury list, or do you discount the validity of this assertion?

  • Ollie Hackney

    I agree with you about the 3 games and without the injuries it could of been a different story! Hopefully our added depth of breakthrough and new signings will alleviate this.

    From aspects of last season and these past friendlies I don’t think arteta is a first team player. His ball retention is great (ppl say about his sideways passing etc, but he is fulfilling a role to intercept and give to Rambo etc) His reading is good and he relies on interceptions. He gives away too many free kicks and can’t match the tempo or physicality for me. I loved arteta and think it’s a shame. Diaby god willing will be ok. Also I’ve always thought vermaelen could utilise that role. Good defensively, mobile and not too rash. Now chambers also as has been stated.

  • Robert

    “Do we need another centre back with him in the squad? Maybe, but on the basis of the weekend I wouldn’t worry about Chambers appearing on the team sheet in the centre of defence.”

    Well, ok — so what happens if Mertesacker gets injured and Koscielny is suspended?

    Clearly we need another CB with Vermaelen leaving (and Sagna having already left).

  • Robert

    The part about a new DM is terribly flawed.

    Don’t you want to win the league?

    1. We simply have NO TIME to experiment with Wilshere or the Ox.
    2. Nor with Chambers, who’s 19, new to the club and has hardly played a top-flight game
    as DM. How do you expect him to compete with a Yaya Touré och Xavi Alonso? This is
    the level Arsenal must aim for.
    3. As for Arteta/Flamini – I think no one could miss from last season how Arsenal suffered
    immensely because of their weaknesses in midfield. Arsenal were simply ran over by City,
    Chelsea and Liverpool. Of course you can have your opinion, but I would say that 99,5% of
    Arsenal fans completely disagree with you on this point.
    4.And what is to say a better DM would be available in January or next summer rather than
    now?? Nothing!

    If Arsenal doesn’t get a new, EXPERIENCE, SOLID, PROVEN DM, it’s race for 4th spot again

  • Yiannis

    Injuries might have been the primary reason but not the only one. If even reports that Wenger is/was out for one of Khedira, Schneiderlin, Bender or Carvalhio are half true, it means that the manager at some point at least considered the purchase of a D.M. I can’t see what has changed so we can do without one. In fact something might have changed for the worse and that the possibility that Diaby is out injured again…

  • moray

    Mick, we came fourth last season because of a failure to get goals in key games and execrable defending against the stronger sides, which is, yes, partly down to a lack of a natural DM shielding the back line. Having Arteta caught in possession or Flamini flying around is not enough.

    Forget our injury list: we have it every season and it’s patently down to overplaying the same few players. If the manager trusts the squad more, that will be a start.

  • bc

    Let’s not forget the squad limits and it’s not only about the 25 for the EPL. There is also the A & B lists for the champions league. I am pretty sure we are on the maximum for the 25 so unless we sell I cannot see us buying.

    We certainly have 25 players born 1992 or before and if campbell and ryo are classed as non-homegrown? then we have our 17.

  • Ghost rider.

    We have the money, And we need a good solid holding
    midfielder ,Never mind who could do this, and who
    cant, wenger knows we need a new player in this –
    position, and im sure he will get the right person.
    To me this is the missing peace of the arsenal team
    jigsaw. Without it we will struggle against the bigger
    sides, there is a month to go on the transfer market,
    so far so good.

  • Black Hei

    OX yes, Wilshire hell no!

  • clockendjim

    Well what a contrasting two days in the Emirates Cup. I was there on the Saturday to see us steamroll Benfica and watched the Monaco game on BT Sport
    It is incredible to say, but we looked so much better with Sanogo and Campbell and their terrific fight and pace; I thought they would only be fringe players this season; perhaps not now ?
    You would think this would liven up Giroud, but something is missing there. If we play Alexis in the middle with perhaps Campbell, then Giroud may be warming the bench this season, especially when Walcott is fit again. Another one that needs to sharpen up is Jack Wilshere what has happened to our wonder-boy ?
    I was disappointed not to see Diaby feature over the weekend; I thought he was our ‘new signing’, surely he isn’t injured again already !
    I still think we need that quality defensive midfielder. I am not keen now on Khedira, already making outrageous demands before he was even signed, particularly with the possibility he may be another injury-prone player; we have enough of those already. I would prefer Carvalho, younger and fitter.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Wilshire is the one I would like the most to improve. I’d like to see him removed from the potential star list and fulfill his promise to become at least a 1st team regular. And, in my mind it is not about staying free from injury but rather how he thinks the game that is most important (though they are linked, of course)

  • para

    Yiannis said ” it means that the manager at some point at least considered the purchase of a D.M.”

    I think he still does, just he is not going to say anything until it is sorted, we know this.
    i would love William Carvallo, but any of the other 3 mentioned would do too.

    Yes i also got the impression that AW was annoyed at Giroud’s performance.

    All in all, the 1st teamers now know that they have to perform, the youth are breathing down their necks, is all good for Arsenal.

    We may well get a few surprises more about who is going to leave, especially if another 1 or 2 players are bought.

  • Hisham Hashim

    I believe we have the squad to compete for all the top prizes this coming season. The players have the skill, the physical fitness and the team camaraderie to succeed. With Shad Forsythe now on board we hope the sickening injuries will diminish over time. But what about our mental strength during crucial games? Do we still have the psychiatrist to ease/overcome this burden?

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    I trust the Boss has a surprise or two for us.
    Chambers can be a super-sub able to cover several positions, as necessary.
    Ignasi Miquel does have a future as the fourth-choice central defender.
    The Boss has already told us he would replace Vermaelen if he leaves.
    And a midfield addition is likely, with Arsenal linked with Carvalho.

  • ArsenaI1Again

    I agree completely. Had Ramsey or Walcott not have been injured last season we would have won the league. If both players remained uninjured we would have won it in our sleep.
    We have the same squad as then with additions (counting Debuchy as a straight Sagna replacement). The league from my point of view looks an easy prospect at the moment without an added DM.

    I just prefer to add a quality DM as a precaution and preferably one who can play centre-half too. This means if Vermaelen is sold to Barcelona (hopefully not Manchester United unless we get Smalling as part of the deal) … I would like to see Carvalho or Alex Song bought, but any quality DM will assure me. I would personally keep Vermaelen by the way.

    If Walcott and Ramsey remain fit for most of the season, I think Özil will be double the player he was last season with these guys to pass to, but of course with Alexis Sanchez available to pass to aswell, I think offence could be the best defence.

    I think Flamini is more than capable to do a job, I am very pleased with him. Our heavy losses last season were down to team malfunction, not the failure of Flamini or any other individuals; and because of injuries.

  • Jesus casanova

    I couldn’t disagree more, arsenal lost the league last season because we didn’t have a recognised defensive midfielder and, to be
    Honest, injuries did have a huge say in it too, but injuries do happen. I don’t think we would’ve beaten Chelsea, Liverpool or city even at full strength and our fear of Manchester utd is clear for all to see. We haven’t won the league since the days of Vieira and Gilberto, when we were arguably the best team on the planet, so, in conclusion, I think the arrival of Khedira, Carvalho or any recognised defensive midfielder would make us serious challengers next season

  • colario

    From the way Arsene has enthused about Chambers I think the plan is to use him either at right back or centre back as the need arises.

    This means although he may yet not be first choice, he has a greater chance of getting games. I would not be surprised to see some rotation in defence this coming season.

    In Saturday’s game at one point the camera showed a scouring Szczesny, not the ususal smiling face we usually see. I guess he was wanting to play.

    Szcz has nothing to fear. He has possibly another 15 seasons ahead of him and if all goes to plan he will have established himself as not only an Arsenal Legend but our best GK of all time and that is saying something.

    Those who were ever demanding we ‘buy a gk’ should be holding their heads down in shame and admit that Arsene was right to believe in Szczesny.

  • Gunnerjoe

    You talk about changing two draws and a loss to wins and we would have won the PL.
    How about the tale of 5 penalties two against WBA away 1 at home to man city, 1 against Chelsea and the one given against us away to stoke.

  • Gunnerjoe

    Just a small point we did beat Liverpool twice last season and evening if you don’t believe injuries did not make a difference against the teams that you listed how about Swansea,southhamton and stoke.

  • Ben

    Arsenal have always been one sighing away from being complete, a defender or a striker as the case may be,and right now, it’s a dm.Agreed that injuries may be the reason we didn’t win the league last season, but with a real dm we may have gotten the needed 8 points b4 injuries set in

  • me

    We all know that wenger has a penchant for compromizing performance for sentiments… Otherwise bellerin & co should be starting ahead of debuchy & co.

  • Ben

    by the way,been reading ur posts for a long time now and do agree with most,but am just commenting for the first time.keep up the good work

  • swing

    People forget that we actually did beat liverpool, twice last season. And we should have beaten a Man Utd side that was terrified of us, we were maybe a bit too cautious in those games, And as for chelsea the 1st game we drew and a lot of the people thought they were extremely lucky as we dominated that game. Fact of the matter is no team was superior to us last season even though we had so many injuries, I haven’t mentioned the games against mid table opposition that we should have won instead of drawn. all that without a ‘proper DM’, so although I’m not against that addition I really don’t think its neccessary, as I believe there is such a thing as too many players brought in.

    And out of all the teams Liverpool is weaker, Chelsea is stronger, Man City is the same, Man Utd has strengthened but not enough to challenge, Arsenal has strengthened, Tottenham looks stronger, and wow Lamela is one we should watch for he looks like he is going to be the star for tottenham this season but I’m not frightened. So the teams to watch out for are Chelsea and Man City.

  • Pete

    DM should be flamini. Remember bayern at home. Magnificent performance. Unclear why not ahead of arteta?

  • ahmed

    Breath of fresh air. Great post. Zelalem needs to bring in some toughness to his game which will come soon.

  • Mick

    Walter, I fear the people who really should take notice of the message of the ‘negative comment’ link will not understand the writers point anyway.

  • H Bo

    I totally agree we were so close and without injuries to the extent we had last year would possibly of won it, but to win the big games against the challengers for the title against the big European teams we need a great DM and at the weekend Couqelin looked the best out the lot and he in 12/13 was a bit heart in mouth I know he’s been on loan and may be better and looked it at the weekend but don’t think Wenger will play him ahead of Flamini (red card waiting to happen) and Arteta (I ain’t got the legs no more). So for 40 or so games out the 60 we play we will be fine but the big ones the important 6/12 pointers we might come undone again.

  • Damilare

    So we have moved from “Arsenal need a ‘world class’ striker” last season to “If Arsenal doesn’t get a new, EXPERIENCE, SOLID, PROVEN DM, it’s race for 4th spot again”.

    We seem to always ‘NEED’ a player at Arsenal (while several players ‘snubbed’, ‘dumped’ or ‘slipped away’ from us). I remember the days of “Arsenal have not replaced Fabregas” and “You need world class GK not a bunch of kids”.

    @Robert 9:18am
    “1. We simply have NO TIME to experiment with Wilshere or the Ox.” No time? Is the EPL winding up next season?
    “2. Nor with Chambers, who’s 19, new to the club and has hardly played a top-flight game” It’s either you have not read what AW said about Chambers or you simply does not think AW knows (what is doing) better than you.
    “3. … but I would say that 99,5% of Arsenal fans completely disagree with you on this point.” Where is your proof?

    I’m sure after signing Khedira or whoever the geniuses say we ‘NEED’, they will suddenly discover another ‘world class’ player that is needed.

    I don’t expect them to stop anyway because if we win the treble, the media, pundits and the non-existent part of ‘Arsenal fans’ will still complain that we should have won 5 trophies like barca…sorry loserpool did.

    AW says he is still open to business this summer, how many people knows what that means? You see, ARSENE KNOWS BEST. lol

  • Gooner S

    Nice post. All @Tony is trying to do is to get the doom and gloom merchants to consider that things arent as bad as they think.

    Thats said, I do think that Wenger recognises he needs to buy another midfielder, but don’t think he will spend at all costs to get that person.

    Yesterday, after the loss to Monaco, I saw my first “Wenger Out” tweet for the new season. Unbelievable.

  • Mick

    You are right Damilare, the internet experts were all blaming our ‘collapse’ last season on the failure to buy a ‘world class striker’ last January. The fact is these sort of fans will never be happy. If we buy the best available defensive midfielder they will shift their attention to another perceived weakness in the team as being the reason we haven’t won this or that trophy.

  • Tom

    Starting Giroud against Monaco when he clearly isn’t match-fit was Wenger’s decision, so I don’t see how anyone can blame Giroud for his performance. You play like you practice. There’s only a handful of players who don’t come under this rule and Giroud isn’t one of them.
    If he wasn’t sharp on the training pitch then I can’t see how anyone should expect him to be sharp in a real game environment.

    Also playing Ramsey 63 minutes and 90 minutes in two consecutive days in what is essentially a meaningless competition where we should see as many fringe players as possible show off their abilities, brings back memories of last season when he was run into the ground and subsequently injured because of it(31 games before the end of the calendar year).

    On the subject of a DM. Neither Wilshere or Ox will ever fill that role properly because they lack phisical attributes for it and mental ones as well. Both players have too much to offer going forward and lack any discipline to take their defensive duties seriously enough.
    Arsenal have enough talent in the DM area for most of the PL and Europe when we have the majority of possesion and have numbers behind the ball but not against the likes of Man Cities and Bayerns, who can transition from defense to attack in a blink of an eye.
    If beating those clubs head to head to major honors is your goal then we are not ready, injuries or not.

    You can play with the numbers all you like , debating what points could’ve, should’ve been won last season to get us over the line but the simple fact remains, Arsenal weren’t good enough to win it last year and the lopsided loses to City, Chelsea and Liverpool were proof positive of that.

  • Ben

    @ mick 12:57
    I disagree, he is not right. The question is, are these demands justified? Arteta and flamini are good players but are not d best a club like Arsenal can Have.southampton should not have a better dm or any player in any position than we do.last season we called for a striker and we have one now dat is better Dan wot we had,that’s why attention has now shifted to another position

  • bjtgooner

    I initially wondered if Chambers was the understudy for Arteta – and this could well be the medium term option. In the meantime he offers cover at right back and centre back – probably as fourth centre back.

    Re Giroud – I don’t blame Wenger for playing him – if he is going to get match fit quickly he will need game time.

    Ox & Wilshere – agree Tom they are better employed in the creative role and that they are not as tall as the usual concept for a DM – but I would not write either off mentally at this stage – both are still young and still have a lot of development potential – both need to play more to their individual strengths and be clear just what their strengths are.

  • Damilare

    OK Ben 2:42pm,

    For the records:
    1. Which DM should AW buy now?
    2. What would our position be(on the EPL table) at the end of season if AW buys your man or any DM?
    3. What other position(s) should attention be shifted afterwards?
    4.If he did not buy your man or any DM, what would Arsenal’s position be by May 2015 ending?

    I have to ask because it’s like you have Arsene’s ears.

  • Tom


    I wasn’t blaming Wenger for starting Giroud as much as I was sticking up for Giroud who clearly wasn’t ready to start. A player can’t give you what he doesn’t have in him at the time. We all know what Giroud’s game is about and he will be there when the season starts in earnest.

    Re Ox and Wilshere in DM role. We have tried this experiment before and as a matter of fact it’s still going on with Arteta who was a creative midfielder at Everton ,took a pay cut and a change of position to play for Arsenal. All very admirable but apart from his game reading ability Arteta has never been known for physical strenght and pace needed for this role.

    Ox’s strengths are running at defenders at pace and taking them on, Wilshere’s are beating a man off the dribble and finding a killer pass with an occasional nose for goal. Sure you could dedicate yourself to another conversion project with either one of them but does Wenger have the time to transform either into a Mascherano ? I doubt it. Especially Wilshere who needs to figure out how to be at his best instead of acting like George Best.

  • saundygunner

    Guys, i really do not understand the clamour for a DM just to replace Arteta/Flamini so that we avoid the drubbing received in the big games. I mean in all those games, our midfield got bypassed/overrun not due to mobility or steel issues with Arteta/Flamini but rather due to our Attacking midfielders losing possesion in stupid areas like in the middle of the park with our full backs pushing on high up resulting in only 3 players i.e. our DM and CB’s , sitting ducks, for fast and lethal counter attacks. Again our attacking midfielders, barring Ramsey, are very slow to react and track back which exposes the team terribly. I really can’t see any top DM saving us from that situation unless the positional sense of full backs and attacking midfielders are improved. All the drubbing we got last year, barring the Etihad one, was in the absence of Ramsey, who has tremendously improved on his positional play. I am not against us signing not signing a DM, but atleast do not try and make Arteta /Flamini the scapegoats for our title miss last season.

  • Nelson Wong

    I remain that we don’t have the full picture not knowing how much the club and Wenger plan to spend.

    Net spending is already much higher than other years.

    I believe they can make one more 10-20 million signing and if the club can negotiate payment in terms and not case, they can get one more if Wenger really want.

    [My math is always 30 million + 30 millions from new deal + Vela money (>10 millions) thus 70 millions]

    The team already got 2 good players to every single positions except for DM / holding mid if one really wants to argue on it.

    I hope Wenger can get it covered one way or another but just 1 out of 11… Does that mean everything goes down to that?

    I don’t think so. The team were thinner last year and even more so the year before and had to live with so-so players for more than one positions due to injuries.

    Is it better to have 2 excellent players for every position? A child can tell you the answer.

    Is that the end of everything if the team do not?

    People talk about all sorts of things on DM… but that is only based on their assumption that Wenger keep the 4-3-3 ( or 4231) for the whole season. People say that he does not have a plan B…

    but with a much stronger stirker force (Bendtner out, Sanchez, Campbell .. and Sanago in) He can easily field two strikers.

    With more wingers and Chambers+ Monreal trying their time in the middle, Wenger can even do a 352 if he keeps TV5 (renewal or not).

    I am not saying he will do that. I mean Wenger has enough players to make tactical changes to cover a weakness.

    4-3-3 should be the mainstream but a system with two striker will definitely show up often. (We saw it working well in FA Cup final) In that case Ramsey can certainly do the mid fielder taking more of the defensive duty with Ozil, Cazorla, Wilshere, Roisky the player going forward.

    If Wenger signs another front guy, he will make the change to two strikers. He can also find someone to stay at the back in the mid three. It should work out whichever way things go.

    A “Perfect team” rarely exist, players and coaches adjust to the weakness. That’s how the world works.

  • bjtgooner


    The conversion of Arteta from creative to defensive midfielder has overall been a successful one. Arteta’s intelligence, reading of the game, control and passing ability makes up for a lot. He is not the quickest player and may or may not have one or two years left at the top. However, I cannot see him playing every match.

    His conversion to a defensive midfielder was probably fairly straightforward – I think he played the holding role earlier in his career.

    I would like to see Arteta retained after his playing days – he offers a lot to the younger players & is a good influence in the dressing room – could be a great coach.

    Ox has a lot of strengths – all of which need refining – he is quick, starting to make better decisions in the final third, has a good shot, can tackle/mark back quite well and has good control – most of all intelligent. With refinement I think he will be a top top player.

    Wilshere needs to change his game to move the ball quickly & not try to run with it too often – he is not quite quick enough for that. He can pass well long or short – but he needs to see that as a main part of his game.

    I would not try to convert Ox or Wilshere to a DM – but then I am not AW! There could be a case for either one or both being played as box to box either with or to rotate with Ramsey. But, my preference, especially for the Ox would be to play both further forward.

  • Tom


  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree sandygooner. We were set up badly on all those defeats…..with the full backs bombing forward, getting caught out early on, then getting worse as we lost shape chasing the game. We were clearly going for early goals, it worked at spurs, it did not elsewhere. May sound like excuses, but both those big
    Over pool and city defeats were aided and abetted by wrong decisions from the ref. much made of the ref performance at city but Liverpools first goal was offside, Sagna fouled for another…..of course not a word from the media.
    I back and praise wenger on most occasions, but unfortunately, I have to say that there was a common thread of something wrong with the setup and maybe even preparation in all those games. Something that I hope is not repeated, such results are costly in terms of our morale, and confidence boosts to rivals. These games demonstrate that wenger needs to be more pragmatic at times.
    Think the dm arguements are a bit of a red herring…..our double pivot could be very effective at times when key players fit.
    Flam and arteta can do a job, but maybe not in three key games in a week.

  • Genorm

    I, too, would like to see Arteta stay at the club, maybe in a coaching role. He is a terrific professional and has been unfairly picked on lately. He has never had speed (at any of his previous clubs.) His experience and total effort was a key factor for the past 3 years – tackling, cool penalties, accurate passing. Our own scissorman (Flamini) is also a tough competitor and worthy of at least another season. Whether we lash out on a new DM or not, shouldn’t mean these 2 guys are not required.

  • AL

    Agree with Tony, we need to wait for the right player at the right time. buying just for the sake of buying because the media says so is downright stupid. I’d rather we wait. For instance many were clamouring for a striker in January when non was available. Had wenger panicked and went and bought a quick fix of a striker (Berbatov is one of those who were mentioned quite a lot) we would not have got Sanchez right now. Who would you rather have, Berbatov or Sanchez?

    By being patient we have acquired two world class players over the last two seasons, who each have at least 5 years in them at the very top. Wenger is building the squad slowly, adding quality players, rather than some panicky buys who would now be sitting on the bench commanding wages in excess of 100k per week for doing nothing. Let’s leave the manager to do his thing.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Of course the Boss has a plan, but he will not share it with the journos.
    With Vermaelen almost certainly leaving, I expect a replacement; another signing may also happen, because Chambers was clearly a long-term project.

  • Micheal Ram

    I agree with Al

  • K9INE

    The basic question is if arteta and flamini are good enough to anchor d dm position next season.
    In my opinion they are not, neither will they be starters in that position in our top 6 rivals team. We need to eschew sentiments and realise that at best they can be be backups.
    this team needs and deserves a solid dm with height, pace and high workrate, only then can we say we have solid players for each position.
    As for why we lost d league last season, d drubbings did not cost us, we could loose to all the teams in the top 4 and still win the league. they only ontribute 12 points a season. we lost the league to d silly points we dropped at teams below us. that is what we must guard against starting with crystal palace. we should strive to get maximum points from the bottom 14 teams. not easy but thats 84 points if achieved. any other thing we get from other teams will be a bonus.
    And with more options for pae in the attack, top 4 teams will not adopt the strategy of very high lines around d center circles in the first 25mins knowing that it takes arsenal a while to settle and that with giroud, u could give him 10 yrds and still catch him in a race. Games in the first 25 mins of those matches were almost entirely played in our half. Avoid this and we will avoid future drubbings. Injuries robbed us of d required pace and teams exploited it.
    Let us hope for a better season where we break the 85 point barrier, that will represent success to me

  • bob mac

    Arteta is an exceptional defensive MF, with Flamini not far behind when you take into account his superb organisational skills.

    Arsenal do not need to buy a defensive MF for ages.