Our central midfield conundrum

Arteta said he knows where to strengthen the team. We also know that he wants to have more control of the game and more creativity in the middle of the park. So how will he address our midfield’s lack of robustness and creativity? It will be an act that requires fine balance because we also have to make some key decisions regarding our younger players like Willock and ESR for example.

So who is likely to stay this summer?- Xhaka has won Arteta’s trust and Ceba is due to extend his loan so these two are for sure staying. – Willock seems to be seen as a massive talent and Arteta recently had some really positive words about ESR.

Verdict: Xhaka, Ceba, Willock to stay for sure

So who is likely to go out this summer?-

Mkhitaryan is most likely not coming back to us and will be staying at Roma. People say we might do a swap deal with J. Kluivert but I ‘d rather want another player from Roma like Veretout or Pellegrini. –

Guendouzi is a goner, unfortunately. He is a player that I believe will go on to become a very solid central midfielder. I believe he should leave the EPL and join a team in Italy, France (ligue 1), Germany or Spain to further ply his trade. I can seem him in a team like AC Milan for example. He d form a great partnership next to Bennacer and Kessie. –

Ozil has also been frozen out and I think for him, it will take a destination like Barcelona, Bayern Munich (top clubs) or Monaco, L.A (more glittery clubs) to end his story at AFC. We saw some greatness from Ozil but his time is up – Arteta could not be clearer. – Question marks remain around Torreira and ESR…

Verdict: Mkhitaryan, Guendouzi, Ozil to leave for sure and I believe they may be joined by Torreira. Arteta to keep ESR and if he does not get enough playing time by December, he will be loaned out again…

Based on the above, these are our midfielders (before any acquisition) for next year:

DM: CM: Xhaka, Ceba AM: Willock, ESR

Given the above, I am rather certain we will invest in a DM and a CM. We have been pursuing Partey for a long time so hopefully this move materializes but let us keep in mind that Partey is not a DM per say but could be played as a trio in midfield. As we are still looking for a DM, I would say to make a move for Brozovic, Declan Rice, Zakaria, Neves or Zubeldia or Capoue (not ideal) as the likes of Ndidi may be impossible to get. If we do not get Partey, then we could go for Vecino, Veretout or Doucoure.

So, possible central midfield options Partey, Xhaka – Ceba ; Capoue – Willock, ESR OR
Brozovic, Xhaka – Ceba; Zubeldia – Willock, ESR

Any thoughts?


Note: This post was written before the idea that Willian may be about to join from Chelsea.


26 Responses to Our central midfield conundrum

  1. Thank you RC for the post.

    You’re right that the Partey situation has gone on for a while but is it just media speculation?

  2. RC78 says:

    The Partey noise (sorry for the pun) is not going to go away until he commits to a team…whether it is by singning a new deal with Atleti or signing for another team (Arsenal, PSG, Inter…). We may hear about Partey this whole summer if he takes too long in making up his mind.

  3. LB says:

    Thanks RC, quick question: if Partey is not a DM could you explain what he is? I simply do not know enough about him.

  4. Grandad says:

    Zakaria would be my favoured DM Ceballos is unlikely to be with us next season so why on earth are we contemplating selling AMN who could make a very energetic B to B.

  5. Frode Verningsen says:

    Mesut to leave for sure? Only way he’s leaving is if Arsenal buy out his contract.

  6. RC78 says:

    LB – Partey is not a typical Holding Midfielder like Makelele, Busquets, Ndidi. He is more like…Arteta in a way and in other comparisons may be like Wiljnaldum from Liverpool. In essence, he is more like an “improved” version of Xhaka. He plays more like a Defensive-minded central midfielder but he is a versatile player and can play further back and also further up the pitch. I think that he would do really well next to Ceballos (most likely going to stay grandad) and a midfield trio of Partey, Xhaka – Ceba may work out although it would be better if there was an actual DM instead of Xhaka in the team – someone like Brozovic maybe?

  7. LBG says:

    Partey – an inferior Vieira, (but hopefully not that much) and MUCH, MUCH improved version of Xhaka.

    Thanks for your post. Still feel we need an Alonso style dynamically creative, central midfielder to work ‘alongside’ Dani for the moment. Laca to go. Aubang to be moved centrally. Left Willian/Saka, Right Pepe/Nelson.
    ESR and Willock alternatives for central midfield box to box.

    Speculation…what fun!

  8. RockyLives says:

    Nice one RC

    In my fantasy version of Partey (of whom I have only ever seen a YouTube highlights video) he is in the Vieira, Yaya, Bryan Robson mould. All action, box to box, destroying the opposition in the centre of the park and scoring and making goals at the pointy end. Then he walks on water and feeds the 5,000 with just some loaves and fishes.

    However, when I recall that even Adebayor looked amazing in a YouTube highlights reel I get a bit more grounded.

    Nevertheless, I could feel some excitement about your MF trio of Xhaka-Partey-Ceballos, although it puts a lot of pressure on Dani to be a leading creator unless we play with a No 10 as well.

    ESR and Willock – back up players for the season to come.

    Agreed that Ozil, Gwen and Torreira will be on their way (and Mikhi won’t be returning).

    Frode – I’m sure we’ll have to agree to pay part of Mesut’s wages at whichever club he goes to next. MLS is not a bad shout for him.

  9. RockyLives says:

    I should add, I would really prefer to keep AMN as an incredibly useful all-rounder.

  10. jjgsol says:

    You all seem to be assuming that there is lots of money for other teams to buy our players and for us to buy with the money they give us.

    I dare say that there might be some money floating around but not the sort of sums that you are all talking about, whether in respect of transfer and signing-on fees or wages.

    IF we are going to pay Auba £300k or thereabouts a week, then how much is going to be left for other players.

    That we have a high-class midfielder, who is being ignored, for some reason, are we going to spend a fortune on another?

    Buy out Ozil’s contract you, say that would be money down the drain, the money I suspect the club does not have.

    What is going on at Arsenal is a mystery which gets stranger and stranger as time goes on.

    Please remember the more players we buy, the more unsettled the team will be and the longer it will be unsettled.

    Most new players need a year or more to settle in, so filling the team with more new faces is not necessarily going to signal an improvement in the style of play, which we all agree is in desperate need of great improvement, but also cohesion and positive results.

    Something is wrong there and may only get worse before it gets better.

  11. fred1266 says:

    I think partey is more similar to a a Ramsey type players but Ramsey better on offense and partey better after defending, the closest player I can think of currently that plays like partey is doucoure

    If we switch to 4231 I think mesut can still be used cause I consider Silva and KDB similar to ozil and they still put in a defensive shift so instead of freezing him out maybe arteta can work with him

  12. Sue says:

    Willian has undergone his medical 😉

  13. fred1266 says:

    Hope he fails it

  14. fred1266 says:

    I know it a bad joke am able to say so please forgive me

    Probably we should let the guys beat up/ rob mesut making him not want to stay in London

  15. Maxwell says:

    At last some rousingly cold water from jjgsol on all this transfer nonsense. Football’s in financial trouble across Europe, so Arsenal’s not the only club with no money. Add in the uncomfortable tenor of the current management team, and it’s easy to imagine that the only possible transfers will involve Joorabchian Inc. with Raul’s hand inside his trousers guiding him (or vice versa).

    I know I’m getting senile, but I don’t remember all this transfer garbage when I used to support that insipid mediocre team of the seventies, or eighties, or nineties. The media has generated the perception of a need to contract in expensive new toys every season. They portray the transfer market as a footballer supermarket – “Hmm. I’ll start with a Messi off that shelf, then I think I’d like a Van Dijk or maybe a Wes Morgan (bogof). There must be a few star midfielders down that aisle, and my credit card’s good for at least two hundred million.”

    The belief is encouraged that your team just cannot manage without these stellar acquisitions.

    But football is still a team game played by eleven valiant men (or women) against eleven. If you insist that to succeed you need these things, I give you Leicester City, Sheffield United, Burnley. Did Arsenal not just beat three of the four financial dopers in the space of two weeks? Do we not all firmly believe that Mikel Arteta will deliver accrued improvements month on month for the next few years? Do we have no faith in our Star Factory at Hale End?

    Only one team per season can win the PL. whichever team you support, it is unlikely to be any of the other nineteen, and if it turns out to be one of them, they were lucky.

    There are only three domestic trophies worth mentioning for PL teams, and Arsenal definitely has the second best one.

    Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah, Willock, Smith-Rowe, Oleyinka, Azeez, Patino, Hutchinson, Medley, Ballard, Smith, Nelson. Some of the top class players already on Arsenal’s books, made by Arsenal.

    Come on guys. Stop buying into the lies about transfers. Love what we have already.

  16. jjgsol says:

    Thank you Maxwell.

    I fear that more players will be bought and the improvement will not be there.

    On Untold it was pointed out that all of the heavy spending teams did worse this season.

    Maybe Stanley Matthews is still available.

  17. fred1266 says:

    which one we voting for

  18. Aaron says:

    Thank you for stepping up.

    Like what Maxwell had to say and I have been saying it quietly for a while-everywhere. Youth youth and more youth.

    Rocky, the thing about the MLS is coach travel, time zone differences, ok food, and lots of running and a very physical league, no place for #10’s to go and die.

    Hoping we actually get the average players off the books, simple really and let Mikel do what he does and get out of the way.

  19. LBG says:

    Probably inevitable that Medley needed a loan to get more competitive games. Hope we dont have serious regrets with him and Mavrapanos a la Gnabry. Give youth a (proper) chance!!

  20. LBG says:

    “…transfer garbage…..when I used to support that insipid, mediocre team of the (SIXTIES, my addition, seventies, eighties, (nineties, my subtraction)”. Agree wholeheartedly…….less convinced however, that “Sheffield Utd, Burnley, (Wolves, my addition”), (a one off) Leicester” are what I would hope we are aspiring to! Although far more acceptable to aspiring to Totteringham Hotspurs and their momentous achievements!!

  21. Pete the Thirst says:

    The Willian transfer doesn’t excite me. Sure he’ll fill a creative gap for a season until Saka pushes through then we have another overpaid 30+ year old sitting on the bench for 2 seasons.

    At the same time there is talk of AMN & Nelson being sold to create transfer funds. These are the types of player we should be giving chances to.

    Offering big money to Chelsea pensioners is not a sensible transfer policy.

  22. Maxwell says:

    LBG, sixties good point, though I didn’t go to my first Arsenal game till 1968.

    I highlighted those three teams for the consistent way they have flourished on limited budgets. I did not include Wolves because I understand they have spent so far beyond their means that they have already spent next season’s TV income! This is not to suggest we merely seek to emulate them, because with our other resources (history, coach, youth set up, generated income) I expect us to do much better.

    We were all disappointed with the final league position, and the frequent stumbles against lesser teams (like Spurs) that got us there, but we showed in games like Man City and Chelsea what we might achieve with the team we have right now.

    Whatever people’s lust for new players might be, for the foreseeable future, Arsenal cannot compete financially with certain other clubs. Therefore, to triumph, they need to find other strategies, which with the Youth conveyer belt I believe they have. So agreement with Aaron and Pete the Thirst there.

    Finally, if Arsenal came 8th/9th/10th for the next ten seasons, but won the FA Cup every year would you be happy?

    I think I probably would…

  23. RC78 says:

    New post everyone 🙂 Today, the defense 🙂

  24. fred1266 says:

    I will be happy to Maxwell and if we can sneak some Europa League in there to would be nice

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