Into the Looking Glass Part II: Arsene eyes a midfielder or two.

So we’re off to Pompey today.  But more funtastic is Part II of inside Arsene’s head.  Today it’s all about the midfield.  There are so many questions going on it’s difficult to get a solid read.  A DM for Song seems to be a necessity.  And injuries to Denilson and Fab raise some fears.  Diaby has started to blossom, but with his injury past, concerns remain.  Finally, Ramsey plays the constant tease, is he ready to step up?  And where is Merida???

Buying a midfielder is really really complicated.  While fans don’t think our midfield is strong enough, Arsene does.  So any purchase he makes will have to reflect what Arsene thinks, not us arm chair managers.  For instance, if he thinks  Diaby can play in a more defensive role while Song is gone, forget ANY purchase here.  In addition, with Ramsey, Nasri (and Rosicky coming back soon), Arsene is not likely to make much of a splash.

But to understand today, you have to look at this past summer.

PAST SUMMER

Arsene made his move and his intentions clear over the summer.  One, buy Melo and stick to a 4-4-2.  But Melo went to Juve and there is no indication Arsene will spend Melo-type money for January purchase of a midfielder (maybe a forward).  He’s not going to switch the tactics from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 in the middle of the season absent some tragedy, like Fab being severely injured or sold.  Arsene did look to buy Matuidi as a semi-replacement for Fab, to either play alongside Melo should Fab leave OR give Fab a rest at times by playing Matuidi as a rotation.  Well, Melo and Matuidi aren’t here, Fab is still here and Ramsey is showing glimmers of his quality more and more.  That being said, our 4-3-3 is starting to show a lack of a bit of depth these days.

CURRENT VISION

So what does the Monsieur want?  Arsene really wants the following midfield to work: Fab, Denilson, Song.  With Denilson and Diaby rotating at times.  And with Ramsey or Diaby and Fab rotating at times.  If this is accurate, Arsene is unlikely to make any significant changes.  Rather, he’ll be inclined to believe that his midfield is robust enough to address any challenges.  Only the loss of Song presents any real issues.  But in the Monsieur’s mind, why spend fool’s money when the Club can make it through two months.

Of course, this assumes Song makes it back from the ACN unhurt (fingers crossed).  Should Song be injured, the Club can’t replace him and is at a bit of a loss.  This brings us to the potential purchases.

POTENTIAL PURCHASE

Arsene might consider the purchase of a midfielder to address two different sets of issues.  One, he might look for another Arshavin play: a veteran that can provide immediate impact.  Two, he might decide to acquire another DM (Song replacement/rotation).  In either case though, Arsene knows a new player   will displace the development of his youth project, i.e. Ramsey and Merida.  Complicating contract talks, rotation and development even more.

So lets start young first.  The easiest purchase is a young DM to replace Song while he is gone.  Then, when Song returns the purchase can be a back up/rotation player with Song.  The problem is that this is a long-term solution; we need a short-term solution.  When Song leaves, we need a player that can step in immediately.  Even if that player is ineligible for CLeague, they need to pull an Arshavin and galvanize the team for the EPL.  Although possible, a young player is not likely to do this, if only because they know they will be secondary to Song once he returns.

Now for the Arshavin play.  Arsene would like a veteran DM.  But with a veteran, Song gets largely pushed to the CB role when he returns.  In some ways this isn’t so bad.  Song can rotate as a DM and we don’t need to buy another CB (should we lose Senderos).  But with Arsene seeking to sign Gallas and Silvestre to contracts, this doesn’t look likely.  So instead, we get a DM that pushes Song off his position that he’s held so well for us all season.  While this would work for this season, for example, letting the veteran pull an Arshavin and play mostly EPL games, it bodes ill for next season.  The only way this works is if Gallas or Silvetre leave and Song is able to play CB more.  And even then, it creates uncertainty for the team’s organization.

The point is, the purchase of a DM raises some stability issues that are problematic.

So where, in the end does this leave us?  GOA’s prediction is that Arsene will buy a versatile midfielder.  A box-to-box sort that can play either Song or Denilson’s role.  The midfielder will be defensively oriented, but not a DM per se.  They will also be young, less established and more easily managed in a rotation.  Arsene likes U-21s because they have talent and are pushing for a position in the national team, so anyone on a national team already is unlikely, e.g. Sissoko and Gago.  But players like Matuidi and Capua are back on the radar.  Also, if he does purchase someone, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Merida leave.

Now off to the pub to watch the Portsmouth game.  Come on you Gunners!

-the student

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