Showing posts with label DM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DM. Show all posts

11 May 2016

A £30m Granit Xhaka move to Arsenal all but set in stone...

With Arsenal's top-four position assured, it appears that Arsène Wenger has already turned his attention to the transfer window, with stories of a £30m transfer of Borussia Mönchengladbach defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka all but done. Said to be a taller, flintier, more-durable version of Jack Wilshere—think perhaps Bastian Schweinsteiger or Xabi Alonso, but younger and, you know, mobile—Xhaka is said to be keen on a move to the Prem. With just a point from our match against Aston Villa needed to qualify for the Champions League outright, could we see the confirmation of Xhaka to Arsenal within the week?

29 September 2015

Ramsey set to rampage against Olympiacos...

First, learned that we had lost Coquelin to an injury (and yes, he's back in training). Then it was Flamini, fresh off his heroics against Spurs, coming up lame against Leicester. His replacement, Arteta, finished the match only to come up lame. Just like that, we have no proper defensive midfielders any more, and even Cazorla is looking a bit leggy, not to mention longer in the tooth. To whom do we turn to plug the gap? We face a must-win situation already in the group-stage, and with a testy clash against Man U five days later, can we risk sending on Coquelin? Nah. Not when we have Rambo, chomping at the bit to play through the middle after weeks in exile on the wing.

15 July 2015

Who needed Schneiderlin when we have Ramsey and Wilshere and Ox and Cazorla and Rosický...

While it's been a bit alarming to see Man U aggressively signing players, even more so one or two whom we've pursued, a bit of perspective is perhaps helpful. Morgan Schneiderlin, for all of his virtues, is not the defensive midfielder we're looking for—not as competition, support, or upgrade on Coquelin, anyway. He might have made for a nice addition to the squad, but he's more of a traditional CM than DM. As such, he'd find himself fighting against Ramsey and Wilshere for time on the pitch at a position at which we're already ridiculously deep. Throw in Cazorla, Rosický and the Ox, and is it any wonder Schneiderlin figured that his best chance at playing lay with Man U, whose midfield was held together by duck tape and baling wire for most of the past season?

14 July 2015

Arsène's got an ace up his sleeve—doesn't he?

Feh. So it seems that those filthy Mancs have signed not only Schweinsteiger but Schneiderlin as well, leaving us to wonder and worry whether they'll go the route already trod by Tottenham and Liverpool before them, that is, signing a raft of players only to struggle to find any chemistry. Then again, they did that a season ago, signing Shaw, Herrera, Rojo, Blind, and di María while "loaning" Falcao. The additions of Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin may save your correspondent some keystrokes in the long run but they'll add to the heartburn as well. The squad is off to Singapore, and the news that Arteta has signed a new contract inspires concern rather than confidence that we will go into the season with him as the only backup to Coquelin? Flamini begs to differ, but that hardly offers much in the way of reassurances...

29 June 2015

Jilted by Schneiderlin, who can shield Arsenal from further heartbreak?

We another guest-author today, Jonathan Roberts, who offers his analysis of whom we might turn to now that it looks like Schneiderlin has slipped away. Whether Arsène dithered or decided against him is beside the point for now, Roberts reminds us that there are still options. Take it away!

Back in February Arsenal legend Martin Keown made the somewhat staggering claim “Arsenal do not need a new defensive midfielder”. To put it simply, he’s wrong. Yes, Coquelin has been a revelation, but he needs cover. The squad needs greater depth in that area. This would help the more expressive players to have greater freedom. After the signing of Özil, I remember reading a blog by Sam Tighe on how it would revolutionise Wenger’s plans and tactics. It seems that without more defensive midfield cover I can’t see how this would happen. Here then is a list of defensive midfield candidates and why Arsenal should—or should not—sign...

Arturo Vidal, a Gunner for £21m?

Kondogbia goes to Inter. Schneiderlin goes to Man U. What is it with these central midfielders trading down the table? In Kondogbia's case, he's traded AS Monaco's Champions League qualifier for Inter's eighth-place finish. In Schneiderlin's case, he's traded Southampton's irrepressible resilience and passed on Arsenal's Champions League ambitions for Man U's Champions League qualifier. Yes, I understand that wages matter, and that these players have a precious decade or so during which they have to maximize their earnings. However, when players of this calibre are looking at earning more in a week than most of us earn in a year, they can perhaps afford to bear a little skepticism on our parts. Isn't there anyone out there who's willing to trade down the table and trade up on prospects? I introduce to you one Arturo Vidal.

28 June 2015

Dear Morgan Schneiderlin: Get bent.

Dear M. Schneiderlin—
Apparently, you just don't get it. French defensive midfielders are *supposed* to come to Arsenal. Don't you want to be Vieira's heir? We were willing to overlook the, uh, *superficial* differences between the two of you because you are, after all, French as well as from Southampton. We were willing to compromise. You give a little, you get a little. But no. instead of making this relationship work, it appears you've jilted us for a "better" offer from Manchester United. Manchester United? They of the three managers in two seasons? A negative transfer balance over the last five years of close £300m? Morgan, they spent £171m on transfers just last summer and could barely manage to finish fourth—in a season without Champions League. Speaking of seasons without Champions League...

08 April 2015

Whether Wilshere whithers: Ramsey, Coquelin, and midfield-congestion...

Jack Wilshere's fit again. He's ready to take his position on the pitch. However, where is there room? For as heretical as it may be to suggest, it's hard to see just where he can find a way into the starting XI. The emergence of Francis Coquelin as a proper defensive midfielder, should it prove out over the long term, narrows Jack's options even more than before. Early in the season, it looked like his performances for the Three Lions hinted at a deeper-lying role with Arsenal; after all, Aaron Ramsey seemed to have secured the box-to-box role role in the 4-2-3-1 we so often play. If only be default, Wilshere's future might have lay in replacing Arteta in the holding role. Then, along come Coquelin. If he is serious about his desire to emulate Vieira (or, more fitting, Gilberto). Where, then, does Wilshere's future lie?

10 March 2015

Coquelin clobbers Matić, so who needs another DM? Not Arsenal...

Since his return from his most recent loan-spell at Charlton, it seems that Francis Coquelin has set the world on fire with his performances, almost singlehandedly resurrecting an Arsenal season that looked like it might have otherwise ended in ignominious fashion. From Boxing Day forward, Coquelin has become a bedrock in the defensive midfield, so much so that Arteta and Flamini have been all but forgotten, so much so that Arsène felt confident enough in Coquelin to sign only 17-year-old Krystian Bielik to buttress the defensive midfield, refusing to dig any deeper than £2.7m or so to reinforce what has arguably been one of our weakest positions over the last few seasons. Now, with Coquelin's emergence, it seems as if all of our prayers have been answered. For one, he bests Chelsea's Nemanja Matić. Actually, that—that should settle the debate right there. Right?

04 August 2014

Khedira, Carvalho, some other guy, and Wenger's Law; is there one more signing in the offing?

After what amounts to a mad-cap July, one in which we added Alexis, Debuchy, Ospina, and Chambers, brought Joel Campbell in,  sold Eisfeld, saw Sagna leave, and loaned Jenkinson out (among others), things seem to have settled down a bit. The arrival of actual football may have interrupted things, but that doesn't have to mean that Arsène has put away his chequebook. Yaya Sanogo's performance against Benfica doesn't prove that we are set at striker, but it may have convinced Arsène that we are. However, rumors continue to circle around us signing a defensive midfielder, with Sami Khedira and William Carvalho the most-often mentioned. However, something tells me we'll see someone else entirely. Who? Can't say. Perhaps Le Prof will pounce on this powerful player soon...

06 July 2013

Mikel Arteta: Minifig Maestro

In order to distract myself from the madness over Higuain—is he in London? Has he already had a physical? Why can't I seem to remember how to spell his last name?—I thought I'd look back over the season to glean some satisfaction from the successes we did enjoy and hope to build on, Higuain or not. With that in mind, I thought I'd look past the hoopla over goals and victories to find elements that underpinned it all, and the one name I kept coming back to is Mikel Arteta. Say what you will about the emergence or development of players like Koscielny, Gibbs, Walcott, or Ramsey; gush over the exploits of Cazorla or Podolski; lament if you will the inconsistencies of Szczesny or Vermaelen. Quite simply, Arteta was very literally at the center of it all, orchestrating the entire team with simplicity and verve.

Like Ramsey, he's had to adapt to the defensive midfield role, having played at Everton in a more attacking creator's role (even as a forward at times), but he's done so with aplomb. With a body-mass index of 19.1, on the low end of "normal" and verging on underweight (BMI>18.5), he's hardly going to intimidate anyone or throw his weight around, he seems to more than make up for that with intelligence, timing, and footwork. Cazorla, his fellow Spaniard might draw more oohs and aahs, but the subtler pleasures Arteta offers are no less sublime.

Using statistics from, you'll see on the chart that he leads the team in tackles and interceptions, as well as pass-accuracy and passes per game. Not shown but still worthy of notice is that he led the team with six yellow-cards, which might raise an eyebrow or two. However, a case could be made that many of these were tactical, bookings taken to break up an attack and to buy time to re-organize the defense. It's a shame that these bookings harm his overall rating. In addition to his skill on the ball and his ability to set up the attack, then, his ability to disrupt counter-attacks sets him apart from many of his peers. He's been compared at times to a metronome due to the steadiness with which he distributes passes, but I dislike the robotic regularity that this suggests. He's third on the team with 5.3 long balls per game (surpassed only by keepers) and his passes average 17m in length, revealing an assertiveness and creativity that the term "metronome" doesn't do justice.

When Alex Song left, we rightly worried that there would be a gap in the squad and no one to fill it. However, Arteta has emerged as a superior replacement, just as instrumental to our successes as to those who are putting the ball in the net, if not more so. He links defense to attack superbly and deserves recognition for helping to steady the defense and spearhead the offense. I might go so far as to say he's the best in the Prem at what he does.

To revisit and further dispel the "metronome" concept, one uses a metronome when it's hard to mark the rhythm. Arteta shows no signs of any such struggles. If anything, he is a maestro, setting the rhythm by which everyone else, opponents included, must play. Andante, allegretto, presto, whatever it may be, Arteta seems to sense the moment. To that, I tip my cap.

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