The aftermath of Arsenal’s surprising yet dispiriting loss to West Ham United on the opening day prompted the usual criticism levelled upon Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. Arsenal should buy that mythical DM who can pass, tackle, intercept, score, head and overall he should be a prototype Makelele, Pirlo and Zidane all in one. Also given our impotency in front of goal that day the Benzema rumours reached unprecedented levels even for the Arsenal rumour standards. But nothing has materialised. So we take on Crystal Palace with the same squad that lost to the Hammers.
I see the opening day loss as nothing but a blip. But West Ham merely adopted the tactic usually adopted by Chelsea against us and one that Swansea and Sunderland(home) employed against us so successfully. The Hammers game wasn’t a one off it was just yet another game that Arsenal failed to truly test the opposition while being sucker punched at the other end. Why is that Arsenal suffer these losses time and again?
For me Arsenal’s midfield balance is the key. Get the balance right and the Gunners can sweep teams apart, on the flip side imbalance renders this side completely ineffective. It’s easier said than done and getting the balance right is Arsene Wenger’s biggest challenge this season. How he shoehorn so many good players is a question to which he has to find an answer. Mesut Ozil place is untouchable at No.10 for the time being atleast, Alexis is a definite starter and Ramsey is the kind of player whose qualities bring the best out of his teammates as well. Giroud needs Ramsey for his flicks while Ramsey and Ozil have an almost telepathic understanding between them.
Here comes the conundrum, of the remaining 3 places one has to go for either Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott on the right. Coquelin is a vital cog but his limitations on his game means he just falls short of that complete defensive or the deep lying midfielder that would complete the Arsenal side. Coquelin needs a ball player like Cazorla alongside him. But having Santi in the centre means moving Ramsey wide. Coquelin and Ramsey in the middle is not the midfield that would help Arsenal dominate games. They both are not exactly playmakers. Ramsey and Cazorla is simply too attack minded. No doubt why most of the supporters crave for a younger Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard is the ideal kind of that DM that Arsenal require. He formed an excellent relationship with Ramsey that drove us to top of the table in 13-14. His passing accuracy and positional play is second to none and he makes Arsenal tick but he no longer has it in him to do it all alone for a full season. Last season some of our early season struggles can be attributed to Mikel Arteta’s absence. Although we recovered well to finish the season with the Coqzorla partnership, it was short term. Arteta can do an admirable job but his fitness is becoming increasingly what you would expect of an Arsenal player: unreliable. So with Coquelin being just a destroyer, Arteta not getting younger Arsenal have to find someone( internal or transfer market) to address the midfield balance that has been an issue for quite some time and that is the last piece in Arsenal’s title winning puzzle. Off to Pardew’s Palace later today.