A month into the new season, and it is already becoming clear to many members of the media, fans and even players that Arsenal are missing something. At the moment everything is failing to click, and I along with many others believe it is due to the lack of a midfield general, an enforcer, someone to win the ball, martial the side and as they say ‘get stuck in’.
As it stands Arsenal lack that. The Gunners have a whole host of flowing and skillful midfielders, but they still lack a world class defensive midfielder to act as the glue to hold the team together. If you look at the great teams, most of them have one, but Arsenal do not, and that is one of the main reasons why they are struggling.
The problem is not just against the top teams either, even smaller clubs such as Leicester and Crystal Palace have posed a threat on the counter attack, due to the lack of bite in the Arsenal midfield. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are both excellent players, but neither are exactly defensive midfielders. Wilshere can tackle and likes a challenge, but he is best going forward; the same applies to Ramsey and most of the Arsenal midfield.
That leaves Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini as the only two defensive minded midfielders, and with Arteta it is hard to describe him as a holding midfielder. The Spaniard is a superb passer of the ball and his skills lie in orchestrating the play rather than breaking it down. Tackling is not his greatest strength, and Arteta lacks the pace to keep up with the most dangerous attacking players.
Flamini meanwhile is the closest thing Arsenal have to a midfield general, but if we’re being honest the Frenchman is never going to go down as a great to compare with the likes of his countrymen Claude Makelele or Patrick Vieira. How Arsenal long for the return of Vieira in his prime; he was a true midfield general, and Arsenal have never properly replaced him.
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The stupid thing is Wenger had the chance to in the summer, with the Gunners strongly linked to William Carvalho and Lars Bender. Both would have been an improvement on Arsenal’s current options, and the former could definitely have made a difference in my opinion.
Arsenal though refused to part with the cash, so until January at least they must make do with what they have. The early signs are that the failure to make a major signing in that area may turn into a big mistake, but only time will tell. Sadly though for now I’m still struggling to find Arsenal’s influential midfield general.