In my previous blog I wrote I wouldn’t mind Arsenal not signing a new defensive midfielder. In my opinion, defensive midfield and centre back should be last in the summer shopping list. Arsene Wenger always stresses that there are two ways to strengthen his team. The external- to buy players and the internal- to promote within the team or allow the development of a player. Before you all hack my head off for my temerity, I place forward my reasoning.
Our clamour for a new defensive midfielder has been loud ever since Alex Song left. Song was never a screen to the defence he just played in that position. Arteta replaced Song but it wasn’t like for like, Arteta isn’t a beast of a player looking for blood. He plays what you would call the Pirlo role, a deep lying playmaker. He isn’t blessed with pace or isn’t heavily built, but as Arsene says he is our ‘technical leader’.
He filled in capably and considering he was a No.10 at Everton his transition deserves more credit. Also his leadership and calmness helped Arsenal steer out of the doldrums. The signing of Mathieu Flamini helped alleviate some of that cries for a midfield beast as the Frenchman brought tenacity and steel to the otherwise fragile Arsenal midfield. However as the season progressed Flamini’s sometimes ruthless play led him to suspension at key junctures and he eventually lost his place in the starting XI. (However he should have started in that Chelsea game at least to kick John Terry in his racist face). Arteta too came in for bit of stick last season as he was horribly exposed by the big teams. I believe it is quite harsh to solely blame him for those defeats.
Analysing those big away defeats, I believe the Man City game could have ended 5-5, the game was affected so much by fatigue than by the personnel. The Liverpool game was a strange one, we played a suicidal high line, playing right into Liverpool’s hands. They pressed us high and attacked with real pace and power. That day we started with Wilshere and Arteta, Wilshere inexplicably isolated Arteta as he moved high up the pitch leaving the Spaniard to deal with Sterling, Coutinho and Henderson.
Had we dropped back a little and held out a draw in the first half, I think the result would have been much different. Also when we met the Scousers earlier in the season, Arteta and Ramsey produced a midfield masterclass and in the Cup a week after our Anfield massacre, Flamini was excellent. So was it just a psychological issue?
At Stamford Bridge, it was Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arteta in the centre of the park. The Englishman’s tactical naivety was exposed as he charged high up the pitch, lost possession and failed to track back. And who can forget Marriner’s heroics and his confusion didn’t end there, he submitted his match report to the English parliament instead of the FA. The dismissal of Gibbs greatly handicapped the already depleted Arsenal and it turned out to be one of the most forgettable days of Wenger’s Arsenal.
To add weight to my case, the best team we met this season was Bayern, didn’t we do well against them away from home? We played a tactical game and although the end result wasn’t favorable, we did more than okay. Dortmund away the perfect example of how Arsenal can win if greater emphasis is placed on tactics.
It’s my opinion that the so called beast of a player wouldn’t have helped Arsenal’s cause in those fateful matches. It’s the psyche and the tactical shortcomings that led to our defeats and ultimately we fell short in the title race. So it’s my belief that a better striker and a little more pace in the side would have helped the cause.
Giroud missed a great chance before Eto opened the account for Chelsea. That little bit extra quality up front is needed than a bit more security at the back. It’s here that Ramsey becomes indispensable, his all action and tough tackling midfield play and his superior tactical intelligence makes him irreplaceable.
I once again stir my temerity to say that he has become our new Viera, our internal solution is Ramsey. He is not a destroyer by any stretch of the imagination but with him in the team alongside Arteta or Flamini, Arsenal are more than capable of holding themselves against the big boys.