What is your best midfield?

The choices are Elneny, Cazorla, Ramsey, Xhaka, Coquelin.

Let’s make it more difficult and add in the attacking MF. So now we have to include Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ozil.

If we have 3 attackers and 5 defenders (inc Gk) it leaves 3 or 4 places.

Ozil is a guaranteed starter but no-one else. So, it is 3 from 7


Much as I love Santi, he requires a holding MF alongside him which has historically been Coquelin but I think both Elneny and Xhaka are better passing from deep.

This isn’t an exam so let’s not have any of that “it depends upon the game” lily-livered indecision.

And if we can’t make a concrete decision, imagine how hard it must be for Mr Wenger whose selection is scrutinísed by a million people a week.

written by Big Raddy


62 Responses to What is your best midfield?

  1. Jjgsol says:

    Santo, coquelin and Ramsey

  2. Peter says:

    The best offensive midfield constellation and the one I hope Wenger goes with long term is

    Xhaka (deep lying playmaker) – Ramsey (box to box)

    Ozil (advanced playmaker)

    Playing Cazorla and Xhaka together you essentially have 2 playmakers, unless Xhaka can play the box to box role. This is why the Coquelin – cazorla combo works so well

    Cazorla (deep lying or roaming playmaker) – Coquelin (ballwinning midfielder)


    For more defensive solidity

    Xhaka (deep lying playmaker – Coquelin (ball winning midfielder)

    I believe Elneny can play both as deep lying playmaker due to hiss range of passing and possibly the box to box because of his engine. When Wenger has played the Xhaka – Elneny combo, it frustrated me time and time again why Elneny didn’t make more runs from deep. It was too static but that can be worked on. But my preference long term is Xhaka – Ramsey, where the latter will open up space for the front 3 with his runs from deep. On paper you have got loads of creativity and great passing in the middle. It is no coincidence that the Xhaka – Ramsey combo has yielded 2+ goals. They will have the next 2-3 games to further forge a strong companionship.

  3. Ayokunle says:

    We play a kind of 4 – 3 – 3 system.
    My ideal midfield 3 are Özil, Santi and Ramsey.

  4. Big Raddy says:

    Xhaka Ramsey Ozil

    Just needs pitch time to develop into a wonderful attacking midfield.

  5. chas says:

    Interesting, BR.

    From those passing maps I like but don’t understand, Mesut plays further forward than Iwobi.

    Iwobi bolsters the midfield in much the same way as AW expects Rambo to do if he’s playing nominally as one of the front three.

    I’m not sure The Ox or Iwobi work particularly well in a midfield three (unless Mesut isn’t playing, of course).

    Midfield combinations are all about whose style of play complements who else’s style.

    Thought I’d have a rough punt at various combinations…..

    Cazorla Coquelin ✔ Ideal
    Xhaka Ramsey ✔ Ideal
    Xhaka Cazorla — Jury still out
    Coquelin Ramsey — Jury still out
    Xhaka Elneny — Jury still out
    Coquelin Xhaka ✘ Lack of forward mobility
    Cazorla Ramsey ✘ Tread on each others toes
    Coquelin Elneny ✘ Lack of forward mobility

    I’d probably still go with Cazorla Coquelin, as I think we’d have won the League last season if both had stayed fit.

    I’m sure it’s be much easier to choose if I was on £8mill a year. 🙂

  6. chas says:

    I know you all love passmaps and I know we’ve been given express orders not to be lily-livered, but here are a few illustrations of how the oppo can affect the choice…………

  7. chas says:

    Against a team with low confidence away from home

  8. chas says:

    Against a European team who haven’t perfected either the ‘run headlong at anyone with the ball’ in a high press, or know how to park a bus.

  9. chas says:

    Or for our best performance of the season so far (well, best first 45 and solid second half), though, admittedly, Conte hadn’t stumbled upon his current formation at the time.

  10. Pritpal says:

    3-4-3 – and not just because of the hype of this season.

    I’ve been saying it since we had Vermalen Kos and Mertesacker. I think Mertesacker’s positioning and leadership will bring out the best in Kos and Mustafi. Also this gives us more cover as both full backs bomb on all the time which is why team’s break on us all the time (and we have 2 at the back). This also means people like Ozil and Alexis have to do less defending (which Ozil in particular always get’s criticised for, he can have more a free role up front). When Giroud plays it can become a 3 upfront with Ozil moving more right (again it’s still a free role upfront with minimal defending).

    Mustafi Mertesacker Koscielny
    Bellerin Xhaka Ramsey Gibbs
    Walcott Alexis

    I like the current formation but it only works with Santi in the team. Ramsey can’t play in a 2 in midfield (I know he did well in 2013/2014 but that was with midfielders out wide like Jack and Santi, not forwards). As good as Santi is, we can’t rely on him any more. This is the second season in a row now and you can’t rely on 1 guy for your formation to work. The above formation would also work with Elneny, Coq and Jack in the midfield 2.

  11. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Interesting.

    From the diagrams it appears that Coquelin and Xhaka are interchangeable. Yet my impression is that Xhaka is more likely to it a long ball.

  12. chas says:

    Of course, the pass maps obviously only show passing.
    Le Coq adds a better destructive element with more tackles and interceptions.
    Xhaka adds more varied passing. Hopefully the defensive side of his game will progress as Wenger moulds him into a world class player. 🙂

  13. Rasp says:

    Morning all. Thanks Raddy, I think the answer to your question will define our chances this season … I hope Arsene has it 🙂

    I am also thinking that in the long term, AW sees the Xhaka/Rambo/Mesut axis to our attacking play.

    As usual, a lot has to do with which player(s) can lift their game to the next level as they all seem to have parity with the exception of Mesut.

  14. Big Raddy says:

    Pritpal. The whole club is sett up to play 4 at the back, though this is not actually what happens on the pitch as both of our FB’s are so attacking.

    I would say we played 3-4-3 on Saturday as Gabriel hardly took on his attacking FB role.

  15. RC78 says:

    I think it depends on the formation and opponent that we play to be honest.

    AW usually plays 4-2-3-1 so the idea is to know who is in the 2 and in the 3:

    The most complementary pair is:
    – Coquelin – Cazorla but they are prone to injuries; followed by:
    – Xhaka – Cazorla;

    In both cases, we have Cazorla. If he is out injured, then I think we must play Ramsey in Cazorla’s role as he is the most talented. However, he wants to play in the Mesut’s spot as 10. If he wants to play, he must play the Cazorla’s role so I would say the following:

    – Starters when all fit: Coquelin – Cazorla;
    – When Coquelin is injured: Xhaka – Cazorla;
    – When Cazorla is injured: Coquelin – Ramsey
    – When both Coquelin and Cazorla are unavailable: Xhaka – Ramsey

    I personally think that we should also play a 3-5-2 as we would make the most of Bellerin and Gibbs in that set-up:

    ———-Mustafi – Kos – Monreal (or Gabs)————–
    ——————–Coquelin – Cazorla———————–

    I play Giroud ahead of Walcott because of his aerial and link-up ability and because Bellerin can really stretch teams on the right.

    Now – this change of formation is utopic BUT a 4-3-1-2 is envisageable and I would then play:
    Cech – Bellerin, Mus, Kos, Monreal – OX, Coquelin, Cazorla – Ozil – Giroud, Sanchez

    I bring Ox to the team because he can really drive the ball through the middle or on the flanks.

    Anyways – here are my 2 cents.

  16. pritpal23 says:

    Hi BR,

    Just think the formation change caters to bringing our the best in our current personnel. I don’t think we look as fluid without Santi. Ozil doesn’t look as influential (same thing happened last season) and then people get on his back for not defending (i.e. Hazard earlier this season).

    Bellerin is a great full back but he does get caught out occasionally as he is higher up the pitch than the midfield 2 on average, similar to Gibbs when he plays. Would love someone like Ricardo Rodriguez if this were to happen.

    Think Ramsey is best for Wales because his natural game is the bomb forward from deep and he has 2 midfielders to cover him. When he plays in the 2 it leaves us short in midfield on occasions. Think the extra defender provides good cover.

    Finally Kos and Mustafi. As great as they both are individually, there is something about the partnership I don’t like (I know it’s early doors) but it’s also something I feared when he first signed. Mertesacker has proved to bring out the best in Kos, Vermaelen and Gabriel when he plays. I think he would do the same for Mustafi. He also has the experience, leadership and positioning to do well with Kos and Mustafi either side. Historically keep most clean sheets with Per in the side.

    This is all in theory of course but I can’t help but think that without Santi it’s the best way forward, and I don’t want to rely on Santi again next year for a similar thing to happen (looks like he won’t play again till next season). Plus when you see the blue team in London, that lot up the road and now Everton recently performing so well using this formation I would just love to see us give it a go 🙂

  17. fred1266 says:

    Ramsey Coq for me

  18. Big Raddy says:

    RC78. Welcome back. We wondered where you were!

  19. LB says:

    I was just about to write it depends on who we are playing when I got my knuckles wrapped…….

  20. mickydidit89 says:

    May I take this opportunity of thanking Mrs R for the fresh air that was clearly freshening the Erik noggin.

    Some excellent comments and ideas generated.

    In the spirit of not pussy footing about with any “lily-livered indecision”, I’ll go for Coq Santi, but to add a little meat I’d say that, bar buying someone, in twelve months it’d be Xhaka Elneny.

    In the here and now we clearly have no options other than Xhaka and Ramsey, so with it certainly being the midfield fulcrum that depends on teamwork and understanding between the two, I hope Arsene sticks with them even when Coq and Elneny get back.

  21. mickydidit89 says:

    ps do we realistically expect to see Santi back this season?

  22. chas says:

    Apparently Mike Dean has been demoted to the Championship for the weekend.
    Barnsley v Leeds.
    Unfortunately it is a televised game so I expect he’ll attempt to take centre stage as usual.

  23. Big Raddy says:

    Sadly not Micky. He had his achilles op in December.

  24. GunnerN5 says:

    Raddy your fine short post has created a very unusual event , and refreshing, on AA – all of the comments you have received are football related.

    The comments show a deep understanding of Arsenal’s tactics and the skill levels of our players.

    Without diminishing the worth of other players and their past and future contribution to the team my personal preference would be if we allowed the partnership of Xhaka and Ramsey develop and mature. The more games they play together the greater their understanding of each other and the teams interplay will become.

    Xhaka has, so far, been unable to show us his powerful goals scoring ability but when he gains the confidence to control his shots it will become another quiver in our bow. His passing is very accurate particularly when they are long range, and his tackling can be fearsome.

    With more continuous games Ramsey’s confidence will grow and the team can only but prosper when he gets back his lost mojo.

    Thanky ou for the post and all the fine responses it gained.

  25. mickydidit89 says:

    I would genuinely like to hear people’s thoughts on Elneny.

    Although I stuck him with Granit in my “12 months from now XI”, I am unsure. He is a smooth operator, physically imposing and has enormous energy, but maybe I’m basing my thinking more on hope than realism.

  26. mickydidit89 says:

    Rest uneasy Pal, at all times I’m one short click away from a string quartet 🙂

  27. mickydidit89 says:

    Bad news Erik. I was hoping he’d be back before the CL Semis 🙂

  28. GunnerN5 says:

    Micky, I have no issue with non football related comments I just found it refreshing that they have all been football related – but please resist your urge………..

    🙂 🙂

  29. pritpal23 says:

    Micky. Elneny really impressed me last season but I’m not sure whats gone wrong this season. Whether its not getting a run of games I’m not sure. It seems we play a 4-4-2 now with Ozil alot higher forward than last year. This could be the reason Elneny has struggled when next to Coq and why our results have suffered with the 2 this year compared to last. They seem a little similar in that they don’t pass forward as much as people like Xhaka and Santi do. I think Elneny would do well next to Xhaka in the current formation but still a little reserved to pass major judgement.

  30. mickydidit89 says:

    Interesting pritpal23

    ps I like the line up in your 3-4-4
    Call it 3-5-2, swap Theo for Danny, and we have a deal 🙂

  31. mickydidit89 says:

    I’m feeling an urge 🙂

  32. mickydidit89 says:

    it’s getting stronger

    no control guaranteed from here on

  33. chas says:

    Back on the football ( albeit briefly) 🙂

    Last Jan we had a post of similar nature.
    This was the result of the attendant poll.
    Bear in mind we still had Flam, Sicky and Mikel and were Xhaka-less.

  34. GunnerN5 says:

    Alright when I came back I saw that your urge overcame you, but the surprise is that I listened to both and found then to be very enjoyable – in such small doses…………..

  35. mickydidit89 says:

    Top work Chas

    I’m completely sold on string quartets and now listen to a lot of contemporary experimental stuff 🙂

    Great vote chart too, albeit a little footbally.

    Still think Elneny will come good. Still don’t know why I think that.

  36. chas says:

    Hey, ElNeny might be playing for Egypt against Mali at 7pm on Eurosport.

  37. GunnerN5 says:

    Oops I thought it was Micky who posted the video’s but now I see that it was Chas being mischievous…………

  38. Big Raddy says:

    Love the string quartet. I prefer Robert Smith to Philip Glass (did you know that Smith is 57!!)

  39. Big Raddy says:

    Great. I wonder if Eurosport is available on a stream

    Elneny: Could be the subject for tomorrow’s post mmmmmm

  40. mickydidit89 says:

    I think The Verve one is nice
    This WILL be the last
    (for tonight 🙂 )

  41. Top stuff Raddy

    Ramsey, Xhaka, and Ozil for me. We need Ramsey to provide the harmony , Xhaka to dictate the rhythm, and Ozil to conduct the orchestra. Then at least if we get shit results, we can still enjoy Adagio for Strings.

    The alternative is to go to a more conventionally athletic approach? I remember back in 1978 been in Crete sitting on my grans porch when all of a sudden I spotted an extremely large multi coloured Bee fly by and land on the tree opposite

    Within seconds a smaller one followed her, then another, then some more, then loads of the buggers. As they swarmed around the Queen, it occurred to me that one day, cynical coaches would employ pressing tactics to nullify quality.

    The whole swarm seemed to have a chaotic but yet organised quality, a complete contradiction. It was evident to me this was not the beauty of Liam Brady, it was more like David Price and Brian Talbot on a night out.

    I don’t want to be on a night out seeing Talbot and Price trying to pull sideways. I want Liam to junk past a Bouncer and effortlessly score with the most attractive woman in there. That’s class.

  42. mickydidit89 says:

    Do you enjoy all strings attached quartets, Transplant?

    Anyone watching The Pharaohs? How is Elneny and where does he play for them?

  43. Marvellous Micky. Classical music should be made compulsory. I guarantee, if brain dead plebs were forced to listen to string quartets, they would all become Arsenal supporters

  44. mickydidit89 says:

    Mmmm, not sure I like that thought

  45. mickydidit89 says:

    Back to Chas’ vote chart

    I reckon if we had the vote today listing the current crop but including Jack, he’d probably score higher despite being relegated to Bournemouth

    Grass greener thinking?

  46. mickydidit89 says:

    ok, back to me strings and things

  47. mickydidit89 says:

    Definitely scope for recreating Highbury in that garden.
    Wall behind North Bank for a slash…done

  48. mickydidit89 says:

    I will do some words for today

    I will send before I go school run

  49. mickydidit89 says:

    Just read some player ratings from the Egypt Mali game. Elneny scored 5.

    One person from Mali got a 4, so he wasn’t the worst player for those who like to take positives 🙂

  50. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    6.23 Just needs a Clock

  51. chas mobile says:

    It’s part of the remaining terracing from the Invicta Ground that Woolwich Arsenal played at from 1890 to 1893.

  52. mickydidit89 says:

    Wow, that is fabulous. Is the resident a Gunner, and if so, does he give tours?


  53. mickydidit89 says:


  54. Eddie says:

    micky – i have resigned 5 days ago.

  55. mickydidit89 says:

    I resign almost every day, but is there anything to discuss here or is it something you’d rather keep private

  56. Morning all

    Just found a post from Micky, will sort it and be back in a bit

  57. There’s a New Post …………………………

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