Confusion about Arsenal midfield requirements: being big does not make you a DM
So we are into the second week of the January transfer window and still no concrete evidence that Arsenal are moving to address their issues. That is not to say that the club is not working hard and I am sure one of the 100 or so players the media are linking us to may arrive in the coming weeks. The question is will we strengthen in the areas that the whole of football recognise we need to reinforce? There is no question surely that we require a new central defender but for me a least there is some confusion among the fan base on the midfield requirement.
Most of you will instantly think that there is no confusion as we all know what Arsenal need is a purpose built top level defensive midfielder. I would not disagree with this and regular readers or followers of me on twitter will know I have wanted Morgan Schneiderlin for a few years. However Many of the same supporters seem to get excited by any big strong central midfielder being linked and shoehorning them into the ‘DM’ bracket. This is happening now with Sissoko in the same way it happened 12 months ago with Mo Diame and Fellaini.
Needless to say the press seriously don’t help the situation and are the ultimate shoehorners describing every big lad we are linked to as the DM we have been looking for. That is not to say such players cannot play the role if required in the same way that I am sure a fit Diaby (put that in for a bet,) could adapt and play there. I just think Arsenal are at the stage that where the next 2 big signings have to be ‘first name on the team sheet’ players in their actual positions and buying a player to then move him out of his comfort zone, purely because he has some of the attributes is not appropriate right now.
It is very interesting though to look at why there is this confusion and disagreement in the Gunner community and I think the answer is actually relatively simple. For me at least it emerges where there is a natural desire within our ranks to hark back to the good old days of Gilberto and Vieira or Vieira and Petit but this is where I feel some fans blur the issue. Because the roles of midfield enforcer and defensive midfielder 9 times out of 10 are not one and the same. Gunners since 2005 have longed to have a ‘new Vieira’ so much that they confuse that desire with the need for a deep lying defensive midfielder to patrol in front of the back four. Paddy was rarely if ever that man while Petit and Gilberto were.
It does however open another debate entirely because Arsenal are on occasion out battled or out muscled in the midfield areas in key matches and having a Makelele style DM would not necessarily change that. Whereas having a player of the stature of Yaya Toure, Mo Sissoko would. So does Arsenal’s need for a stronger physical presence in the central area outweigh our need for a specialist DM and is this why our fans cloud the issue and disagree about what they actually desire?
A further complication is our loyalty to and desire for, Ramsey and Wilshere to thrive at Arsenal and be here for the long-term. If we buy a specialist DM only one can in reality play regularly in a 4231 and if we buy a midfielder enforcer again in all probability again only one could play if they could adapt to the deeper role, as Jack has for his country.
Specialist defensive midfielder who happens to be strong physical presence as well
These players do exist and Chelsea have one of the finest in Matic and Barcelona have one in Busquets but there is no point in buying a player who has some and not all of the attributes and only offers half of what we need.
What I am really saying is that if we cannot buy the perfect player for Arsenal this January then there is no point buying a player who can do some of what the perfect addition can do. Unless that is Wenger is considering converting Ramsey or Wilshere into the deeper pivot and going for a Toure/Vieira physical CM. As I said earlier what are required are additions to improve the first 11 from now to May, not additions to bolster the squad with options.
So in conclusion we break the bank now for Schneiderlin or an equivalent or we do so in the summer but let’s not buy a bigger, stronger midfielder who is not the specialist we need unless we intend to change the way we play or are prepared to cash in on one of our 2 young prize assets. And if we are intent of buying an enforcer now then we should stick with Coquelin/Arteta or as I said last week try Aaron Ramsey in the deeper role which won’t be popular.
What is certain is that if we make top 4 and Southampton do not, the perfect player for us will want to join Arsenal.