component of play

A lot of ink has been spilled concerning the Arsenal’s transfer rumors.  And lets be honest, most are a waste of time.  Blogs, newspapers, transfer mongers they all tease us, playing with our emotions and fantasies.  But it’s true, the Arsenal need one more player, just not the “hardman” the British tabloids love so much.  And no, they don’t need a defensive midfielder, unless you’re worried about when Song leaves.  In fact, the Arsenal don’t need to buy any player really; if one player can just step up that’s already on the team.  That being said, whether the player emerges internally or enters during the January transfer -at its core, the Arsenal are missing a component of play.


Put simply, the team needs the box-to-box midfielder, the Iniesta or the Essien.  We need the player that can control the middle of the battle space -between Song and Fab.  It helps to think about Barca’s midfield: Iniesta, Xavi and Yaya.  Now, compare the Arsenal midfield: Denilson/Diaby, Fab and Song.  Song may not be Yaya, but give the kid a few years: he’s shown his potential in his rapid growth this year, he just turned 22 and he was a central defender by trade.  No, the problem rests largely in finding an Iniesta-type player.

Any fan of the Arsenal knows we play with intelligence, not thuggery.  The physicallity of the EPL is not so much of an issue in terms of being pushed off the ball.  Usually Arsenal just lose focus and get frustrated.  A hardman doesn’t solve that, leadership and intelligence does.  To succeed today, not just in the EPL, but in the Champions League, requires attracting talented, intelligent players.  No more of this mid-tier EPL mentality.  It’s time to grow up.

Success thus depends on finding the player to command the middle-space.  During games the lack of a player to command this physical space turns into a mental gap.  For instance, when the team has the lead, it surges forward too much, nobody stands just behind fab just in front of Song and forces the team to finish off the prey.  And when the game is tight, we lack the player who can make Fab feel comfortable in pushing forward because they can hold down the 50-yard line.  I talk about why Diaby can’t do this in another piece (don’t worry it’s not a trash job).

In any case, the result is the same: the team loses focus.  Fab is too far up to bring the focus, Song is too concentrated on (and learning how to) protecting the defense.  And as of yet, Denilson hasn’t shown the maturity to play this role.  While I hold out long-term hope for Denilson’s, he’s only 21 and just not there yet.

And again, no hardman is going to fix the midfield, even if it is the most uncomfortable title in sports.  We have a tough tackling, cyborg looking, man-beast assassin already in the backfield. His name is Vermaelon, aka V2000.  As much as the British press might love a hardman because it plays into an English mythology, the Arsenal need intelligence for the first move to close off space, make the first pass and a preventive tackle.  Song can make the defensive last tackle.

Come January, Arsene can shop for several types of players.  The strict DM that holds back the entire time (remember Lassana Diarra), but this type of player requires a new system.  A return to the 4-4-2 that might disrupt the chemistry and rotation of our current front three.  This was the Melo initiative this past the summer.  And at least gave credence to the rumors about Matuidi, Velo and a few others.

Frankly, if Arsene buys, I’m hopeful for another Arshavin type buy.  The purchase that can walk in and galvanize the squad.  That being said, the real question, is whether we already have that person in our midst.  The Arsenal has some wicked talent in the pipeline.  A strong complete player that can hang back to link up with Fab; an intelligent tackler with a pinpoint accuracy.  There are, of course, two options here: Ramsey and Merida.

Truth is, I’d like to see Ramsey push Diaby out of the midfield and put Fran on the bench with a real chance to play as a substitute for a bit.  I favor Ramsey only because I think he’s more comfortable playing father back, at least right now.  And after the last game I think everyone can see that Diaby and Fab just do not play together well (again, see that Diaby article).  I like Fran, I like him a lot.  But he’s still raw and presents a player very similar to Fab; so this might cause problems later on.  In any case, no one should be brought in that cannot play immediately, otherwise we set back Ramsey and Fran and risk losing both for nothing.

Final thoughts, if all were healthy, the ideal lineup:

Alumnia, Sagna, Billy, V2000, Clichy, Song, Fab, Ramsey, the little Mozart, Arsha, RVP (Bench: nasri, fran, ebue, gibbs, johann, lukasz)


signed,
the student











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