So the mayhem is over and we bagged a player. That is one more than many thought we would get, but probably 10 too few for some fans on other websites. I can already hear those keyboard warriors punching in We__er O_t quicker than your David Beckham designer boxer shorts would disappear on a Come Dine With Me evening at Evonne’s.
To be fair Arsene had already expressed his distaste for wholesale buys in this window and had suggested 2 should be the limit, so he was hardly going to make himself look hypocritical and get more than this.
So who did we get. Step forward one Ignacio Monreal Eraso or soon to be better known to us as Nacho Monreal. I don’t know much about him but the early reports sound promising. I am sure in the ensuing AA discussion we will be able to collectively get snippets of information that will give us a better idea of what we have acquired. Peaches has already identified a song for him and I am sure if you all ask nicely the next time you see her she will give you her personal rendition of it.
There has been a consistent theme amongst us all on which areas of the squad we needed strengthening in, and this was one of those key areas. What it means to me is that our left flank will now be very strong with good strength in depth. With the addition of Nacho we have even, in a roundabout way, accrued a new attacking left winger who goes by the name of Andre Santos.
So both flanks look strong now to me, but what about the spine of the team. Up top David Villa was mentioned. Did we need another striker? I am not sure as we seem to be gelling and maturing in this department recently. Attacking central midfield I feel we are well covered in, possibly boasting the strongest in the EPL in this department. I had thought about an experienced keeper as back up / competition to Szczeny. We didn’t get one and I don’t feel the need to throw my toys out of the pram on this one, and am happy to see how it pans out this season. Ditto with the CD’s. I have mentioned the possible requirement of a beast of a CD in the Sol Campbell mould, but am happy again to defer judgement till the seasons end.
The one area I would like to examine a little more is the defensive midfield role. Many of us, if not most of us, and I would include myself in this, have called for a powerhouse of a defensive midfielder. A beast of a man, (I do like my beasts), a midfield “destroyer”. So I thought I would look at what we have already got and what it is that we really all want for this role. What is it we are crying out for?
You could form the impression that we are all looking for something akin to a Marvel Comic Book superhero, with superhuman strength and unusual powers, and I must admit I sometimes enter that frame of mind. However, I do try and step back and ask myself what is it I want and why? I would say that in our 3 man midfield you could set up in one of 2 key ways. The first would be with 2 deeper lying defensive midfielders who can work together to provide a defensive screen. This would leave one predominantly attacking midfielder with a more free role. The second is when you want to have 2 attacking or advanced midfielders with one lone defensive midfielder sitting behind them. That obviously places a higher degree of responsibility on the lone defensive midfielder than you have with 2 deeper lying midfielders working together.
Lets look at the current main candidates who for me would be :-
Diaby, Ramsey, Arteta, Coquelin, Frimpong.
Frimpong has gone on loan so I will not dwell on him and we can assess if he can still offer us something at the end of the season.
My opinion of Diaby, Ramsey and Arteta is that they are suited to playing in the 2 man defensive midfield system but don’t quite have the necessary strengths to play the lone defensive midfield role, especially against better opposition. Just my opinion and I would love to hear from other AA’ers on this.
The player that I feel could offer us the best option in the lone defensive midfield role is Coquelin. Not big enough or powerful enough I hear some saying. The question for me would be, is size and power the most important attribute for this role? Does this player have to resemble Frank Bruno on anabolic steroids? They obviously have to not be afraid to tackle, and be willing to get stuck in. If we all go back some 10 years, how many of us would have claimed Claude Makelele as being the best defensive midfielder in the world at that time, as many of his fellow pros seemed to think. That is all 5 foot 7 inches of him, according to Wikipedia.
I have often thought what is the most important natural physical attribute for this role, and I keep coming back to pace. The ability to cover ground quickly at a moments notice, “nippiness” if you like. I feel that the defensive midfielder plays a role that is more reactionary, in other words they respond to situations as they unfold.
Makelele, as well as reading the game well seemed to be able to quickly get from one point to the next to intercept danger or put in a tackle before the opposition could get the attacking move going. Diaby, Ramsey and Arteta, for me, all share the one characteristic of a lack of pace, that would allow them to play that lone defensive role.
You only have to be ½ second slower from point A to point B and then you don’t intercept or don’t have the chance to get the tackle in and break up play.
Coquelin in my opinion has that surge of pace that the other three don’t. His recent games, until injury, have seen many of us give him some high praise. So my question is, injury permitting, do we already have that excellent defensive midfielder, the one we are all crying out for, sitting there right under our noses?
Written by GoonerB