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By Walter Broeckx
If we look at the engine room of the team and as far as I know this still is the midfield area we can see that we have been using different personal and also even some different formation.
Of course I know that it is not always easy to say who is playing where but to do this article I took the players “normal” position and put them in there. Because one can always argue that Ramsey started against Chelsea on the right flank but his more natural position is the midfield area.
So the starting line up in each of the games so far in the PL were:
Sunderland : Diaby – Arteta – Cazorla : 0 goals scored 0 goals conceded – 1 point
Stoke: Diaby – Arteta – Cazorla : 0 goals scored 0 goals conceded – 1 point
Liverpool : Diaby – Arteta – Cazorla : 2 goals scored 0 goals conceded – 3 points
Southampton: Coquelin – Arteta – Cazorla : 6 goals scored 1 goals conceded – 3 points
Manchester City: Diaby – Ramsey – Arteta – Cazorla: 1 goal scored 1 goal conceded – 1 pt
Chelsea : Diaby – Ramsey – Arteta – Cazorla: 1 goal scored 2 goals conceded – 0 points
West Ham : Ramsey – Arteta – Cazorla : 3 goals scored 1 goal conceded – 3 points
In the first 3 games we played with Diaby-Arteta-Cazorla combination. And as you will see this was a completely new midfield. Not one of those players had played longer than 45 minutes with each other before. So maybe it is not a real big surprise that in the first 2 games we didn’t score a goal. Players getting used to each other. It does take a bit of time.
But on the other hand this midfield certainly was capable enough to help out the defenders in order to keep 3 clean sheets.
In the game against Southampton (remember after the international break – Diaby coming back with a knock) we put in Coquelin for Diaby. I don’t know if it was really down to Coquelin but we won in big style one could say. Apart from a goal keeper mistake the midfield also could keep a clean sheet one could say.
For the next game, away to Manchester City, we saw a somewhat different line up. We had the 3 usual midfielders (Diaby-Arteta-Cazorla) but we also started with Ramsey. So you can say that we adapted our game plan a bit and started with 4 natural midfielders. We managed to get a point at the ground of the defending champions. A result that I think is satisfying and so the tactical change was having a good outcome.
So it was not a major surprise to see the same starting line up against Chelsea. The only problem in that game was that Diaby came off early in the game with an injury and suddenly the shape of the team had to be changed around and one could say that with the inclusion of Oxlade-Chamberlain we kind of reverted more to the 4-3-3 formation.
I do think we missed the height of Diaby a bit when we had to defend the free kicks that lead to the Chelsea goals. Maybe having him on the field would have prevented Chelsea from scoring a goal as now we were a bit short in height one could say.
For the last game we played in the PL at West Ham Diaby was still not available and Ramsey took his place from the start.
So far we can see that the combination of Arteta-Cazorla has been a certitude for our midfield. The silent work in the shadow from Arteta combined with the magic from Cazorla was great to see.
It looks that Diaby and Ramsey are fighting it out for the other spot in midfield. With Coquelin looking on from a close distance and waiting his chance when it comes. And he sure didn’t disappoint against Southampton.
I know Oxlade-Chamberlain could also be considered a midfielder at times. But I think as he is still learning the trade he is more employed as a winger when he plays. So I didn’t really counted him as a midfielder even though one could argue that he played there at times in some games. Versatile player one could say.
Of course both Arteta and Cazorla cannot play every game. There will be moments when they need rest of get injured (we are Arsenal after all). So who do we have if such a calamity would happen?
Diaby is very versatile and he could take up the more advanced role. If he is fit.
Ramsey can play every where but is still young and learning the game. Most of the time he is fit.
Coquelin can take the Arteta role if needed. He is good all round midfielder (that also can be used as a defender when needed). He had a bit of bad luck last season with a few muscle injuries when he was called upon. So we just have to hope he stays fit when we need him.
And then we have the ones that are close to a return. Let me start with the one that is not really talked about: Rosicky. I think this is a bit of a shame because once he was completely fit in the second half of last season he was back to a high level.
With his experience he can play on every position in midfield. And who knows maybe he could be a great backup for Arteta? I know his strength was more in an advanced role but just he has the same attributes as Arteta one could say. And I know some still crave for the “hard tackling man” but a good vision can be sometimes better than a hard tackle. Not always as it is needed sometimes but in the long run it is.
Talking about the hard man: Frimpong. After having done both his knees surely his bad luck has to stop now? Will Wenger send him back on loan to get more experience? That is the rumour in the streets but what do the streets know what Wenger is thinking.
For Frimpong it would be maybe a great thing to do. Go out for a few months to another club and start playing again. Rumour has it Wolverhampton would be keen on having him back. The biggest problem with Frimpong and the hard tackling man is the risk that he gets himself sent off at times. That is something he could learn to control more with more game time.
And then we have to stop this midfield article with the return of the latest living dead Arsenal player: Jack Wilshere.
Did I ever mentioned the fact that in his last game in the Emirates cup last season he was fouled in the penalty area when he got a kick on his foot (after that his injury was complete) and the ref refused to give a penalty. Even in a tournament the English refs refused to give us a penalty.
But back to Jack. The biggest talent from the youth academy is closing in on his return. He has played a few reserve games and it was clear that he hasn’t lost his vision and skill but that being out for more than a year is something you don’t just shake off and perform as if you never been away.
I think it is important that he gets as many games with the reserves to get back to complete fitness before throwing him in the deep of the first team.
I will back him when things don’t work out from the first minute. Tony will back him (correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think I am – Tony). Most supporters will back him and give him the time to get back to the player he was. But alas we know by know that not all supporters are supporters. The abuse Ramsey has had to endure is one of the saddest things I have seen about an Arsenal player. And the thought that this would happen to Jack sends shivers through my spine. You don’t think this will happen? I can only hope it will not happen.
I can only hope that Jack will be hitting the ground running and takes off the second part of his career like he did the first time. But when things don’t go his way we should be careful and not do like some did with Ramsey. This jewel in our crown is in my opinion so important that we have to be careful on how to use him at first and then we have to make sure that we all support him in his fight to come back completely. Because he still is not back completely. Still a lot of hard work has to be done.
But let us hope he can come back completely and entertain us with his skill, vision and technical ability. Lets hope he will become the leader of Arsenal in the next 10 years or so. But for now: let us be very careful with him. He must come back completely first. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
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