The Forgotten Midfielder: Alternate solution to Arsenal’s midfield situation


Post West Ham, most of the discussions in the Arsenal sphere centered on the choice of the midfielder playing alongside Francis Coquelin. Aaron Ramsey was the player doing the running from deep in the first half and Santi Cazorla was running things from deep in the second (until Coquelin departed for Walcott). We will, in the subsequent discussion consider things up to this point itself, because what happened after was purely circumstantial. Two theories were proposed.

1) Aaron Ramsey, a hard tackler and a willful runner playing alongside Francis Coquelin led to substantial decrease in the creativity from deep. Santi Cazorla settled in so well last season, it was seen by a section of the fan base as an almost baffling decision on Arsene Wenger’s part to disrupt the midfield pairing. This section of supporters want last season’s perfect balance to be restored and Aaron Ramsey moved back to the right, where his energy can help create an overload in the center without compromising the right full back.

2) The purists have a different opinion to the options on the wing. With Theo Walcott (and Alexis Sanchez) now available and fit, they argue that it would be unfair on the wingers if a central midfielder got the nod for a position on the flank. This produced an interesting scenario. Santi Cazorla was the stand-out player in the second half of last season while Aaron Ramsey has been the mainstay in this Arsenal midfield for two years now. One of them had to watch from the sidelines. They are, for varied purposes, essentially undroppable.

The argument following West Ham focused more on which player Arsene Wenger would leave out of the starting eleven. Those who believed both of them were undroppable sided with the first theory. However, a third, less-discussed,  situation presents itself. We need both creativity and a runner/tackler from deep. A Santi Cazorla-Aaron Ramsey axis would essentially be providing that; it would however leave the team defensively suspect. This is where the club captain and the forgotten midfielder comes into the picture.

Mikel Arteta was primarily used as a deep lying midfielder until his injury midway last season. He was also seen as the one who occupied the fabled Defensive Midfield position. Francis Coquelin’s emergence has been so exceptional, Mikel Arteta’s valuation has gone down.

The captain is certainly on the wrong side of thirty, but he possesses with him an ability to dictate things from deep and maintain shape off the ball. He could do the Cazorla role, albeit not as well as Cazorla and the Coquelin role, albeit not as well as Coquelin. Partnering him with the energetic Aaron Ramsey would also add steel to the central midfield. It would, most importantly, let Ramsey and Cazorla be on the pitch at the same time in addition to keeping the central midfield stability intact.

While this scenario hasn’t been much talked about, Arsene Wenger is paid to think all possible ways and surely his thinking hat must have told him that putting his captain on the field would be a possible solution, rather than keep him company alongside. As fans, we speculate. Its the boss who makes the decision. But if speculations were to be paid, this writer would put Mikel Arteta on the pitch in place of last season’s wonderkid, Francis Coquelin.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  1. Ramsey if he’s match fit – he’s clearly the better option (look at him in 2013/14 – one of the best CMs in europe). If he’s at 90% then go with Santi.

    No reason we cant mix it up too. Santi can also offer OZil competition if he reverts to first season form, and Jack is an off the bench option.

    Arteta – bit part role all round given his age. Still has something to offer though.

    I also woudlnt be suprised to see Chambers start to appear occasionally at DM – he sure as hell isnt a good option at RB, so its CB or possibly DM.