For many years now, Gooners across the world begged manager Arsene Wenger for a midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira. The problem is, Paddy was unique. He was a central midfielder with a physical presence, a natural-born leader with ability to pass, shoot and tackle. Players like Vieira are hard to come by.
The current lot…
Francis Coquelin is arguably the only Arsenal midfielder that is irreplaceable at the moment. He has become the closest thing to Claude Makelele in today’s English football – a defensive midfielder who protects the back-four, a defensive specialist who sacrifices his desire to participate in our attacks so our creative department can get the ball into the opponent’s box. With Coquelin on the pitch, Arsenal conceded just 14 goals in the league opposed to 24 goals conceded when he either didn’t start. (via transfermarkt.co.uk). He is going to be an important part of our spine for a long time.
Mikel Arteta is the club captain and one might say that he is a very successful one – Arsenal have won two trophies (Community Shield and FA Cup) since Thomas Vermaelen’s departure promoted Arteta from vice-captain to captain. However, it was clearly visible during the first half of the season that Arteta has deteriorated physically as he couldn’t cope with dynamic rivals which was clearly illustrated in our Champions League double-header against Borussia Dortmund. Given that his contract expires in June 2016 (via Sky Sports), we might consider him only as a backup player until his contract expires.
Now, Mathieu Flamini’s story is rather interesting. We were all expecting his contract to run out this summer when Flamini himself confirmed he has one more year at the club (via the Daily Mail). I don’t know whether his contract contains a clause of automatic renewal once a required number of appearances is reached or whether reports about Flamini rejoining Arsenal on a two-year deal were wrong but this information did surprise me. The Flamster, with all due respect to his aggression and fighting spirit, looked even worse than Arteta on the pitch this term. He didn’t offer enough protection to our back four, he was too slow with his tackles and he made mistakes like the one against Spurs at the Emirates which was brutally exposed by our arch rivals. If there is a chance for us to make the very first transfer in Flamini’s career that would involve a transfer fee, it would be good for us to seize it.
Tomas Rosicky will stay for another year (via Daily Star) and it’s something I’m very pleased about. Even if he is four years older than Flamini, Rosicky is capable of pulling magic tricks out of his sleeve and still injects energy into our game whenever he is called upon.
Abou Diaby’s contract is about to expire and his injury record suggests we should not renew it. It’s a shame how the talented Frenchman hasn’t had any luck with injuries during his career. His stature and silky touch should have made him a world-beater. Unfortunately, butchers like Dan Smith destroyed his career.
Arsenal transfer news
Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are all options for the centre of our midfield. The Welshman has been used on the wing lately, but his natural position is in the middle. Same goes for Wilshere who has had problems with injuries during his career. Cazorla’s case is maybe the most intriguing one. Despite the fact that Cazorla has been absolutely brilliant in the deeper role, he is going to be 31 next December and we need to prepare for his to begin a decline.
Here’s some analysis on some potential links…
Yes, it seems the battle for Khedira is already lost as the German World Cup winner is all but confirmed as a new Juventus player (via Goal.com). His contract with Real runs out this month so he would be a bargain signing for any club, especially for Arsenal where Khedira would rejoin his compatriot and very good friend Mesut Özil. He was also heavily connected with Manchester United at the beginning of the hilarious David Moyes spell, but Real Madrid didn’t want to sell him for £34million (via dailymail.co.uk). Now they are going to lose him for free. Good job, Real Madrid!