Midfield overhaul that relegates the British core to the sidelines?

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My how the week has passed in the most fastest of manners.

Hung out with my old man in America yesterday. He treated me up by taking me golf on Bethpage Black, the hardest course you could imagine for someone a year out the game. What made it worse was being paired with two scratch golfers. Hitting their stupid balls in the air every time, making pars and birdies all over the place. Dick heads.

ANYWAY, what’s moved in the world of Arsenal?

Wenger first up:

“Stan Kroenke is completely behind myself and the board investing as much money as we want.

“It has to be in respect of a balanced budget, we have resources but the problem is finding players.

“Everybody has money in England and they’re all after good players.

YAWN. There’s always a reason it’s hard to do transfers. It used to be because there’s no money, now it’s because there’s too much. Anyway… it seems to be going great guns as per usual at this point in the summer.

Theo Walcott is seeking talks about his future. (GO)

Olivier Giroud is seeking talks about his future. (GO)

Granit Xhaka can see himself playing for Arsenal in the future. (GOOD)

N’Golo Kante continues to be linked, which is fascinating for the shape of our midfield next year. (GOOOOOD)

Mkhitaryan, a player we told you early on we were interested in, is now being heavily linked with a move to Arsenal. (GOOOOOOOOOOOOD)

We’re eyeing Empoli attacking midfielder Saponara. 5 goals and 11 assists. 6ft tall. Plays in an interesting system at Empoli… a place vacated by Sarri, who is not getting great things out of Higuain at Napoli.

This blog about the way Napoli play under Sarri is quite interesting. Mainly that part about how they’re using a DM as a deep lying playmaker with two box to box players either side of him. Here’s an extract on the what the midfield does in his 3-4-1-2 system.

The deep midfielder is the main guy who receives the ball from the defense and looks to move it upfield, either with direct, longer passes to the attack, or to the box-to-box midfielders or fullbacks, depending on the situation and who’s available. It’s a relatively simple system on paper, but relies on that deep man to be calm and reliable in possession, always available to recycle possession and kick it up to more dangerous areas of the pitch, or at least to someone who can get the ball in to the danger zone.

The deep man also has to be responsible defensively, looking to cut off runs and passing lanes, albeit maybe not quite playing as a traditional defensive midfielder. Mirko Valdifiori played this role well for Sarri at Empoli, very well in point of fact, but Jorginho’s skillset is brilliantly well suited for it, if he stays with Napoli and if he can recover his form from when he first joined Napoli. After the end of this past season though, how rough things were for him in his last few matches, neither of those things seem like a guarantee.

The two box-to-box mids have to do a lot of work to help keep things ticking over, keep the formation in shape defensively, and support the attack as strongly as possible. Generally speaking, one plays a little more defensively, and the other takes a slightly more attacking mindset, but both need to be well-versed and capable of playing a role at both ends of the pitch. They both will also tend to kick out a little bit wider in attack to help adjust for the formation’s lack of width, but also need to come back inside and get back fast when possession changes, and start reading and reacting to the flow of play in a heartbeat.

Now, I have no idea what we’re doing tactically next season. But you’d kind of hope that a season of flogging away at an approach that is dry, predictable and pretty easy to play against, that maybe we’d consider some new approaches.

Wenger is clearly honing his sights on players that can offer more to the setup technically. I’m not sure how happy he is with Coquelin, because he’s not particularly smart in possession. You have a deep lying playmaker in Elneny… well, kind of. He’s quite adept at box to box play. Xhaka is a massive upgrade, can cover plenty of ground, can spray the ball around efficiently with ambition. If we signed Kante, arguably one of the most impressive players in the league, you have your slightly more defensive minded midfielder in there.

You might also be able to bolt in players like Ramsey and Wilshere there… if they’re fit. By signing Kante and Xhaka, you ensure that if Jack is out all year, there’s no problem. Which really, we have to be thinking about.

Not quite sure how we plan to deal with a declining Santi… he’s such an amazing talent, it’d be hard to find someone who can use both feet as quickly as he can. But, it’s apparent he can’t cover the ground he used to… so maybe we have to think of a new way to play?

Anyway, I think this summer is shaping up to give us at least an interesting month, before we’re all blown away by its blandness and we start next season with Yaya Sanogo and a re-signed Matty F in the team.

Grim rumours that Ronald Koeman is going to ignore the overtures of Everton this summer to wait for a bigger club… that bigger club being Arsenal. I really would be flatlined by that sort of appointment. Sure, he’s done well with Southampton this season, but jeez, he’s been around the block a few times.

I really think Arsenal need to bring some excitement to the world when Wenger leaves. Simon Kuper wrote a few weeks ago that the life cycle of most of the great managers is learn from a master, take his ideas, make them better… blow up the scene. Die soon after when you no longer have great ideas.

Why would we chase down Koeman? What’s he doing that’s new? How is he evolving the game? I want a modern version of Arsene Wenger. Maybe that’s Tomas Tuchel, maybe he’ll be sussed by then. Maybe we pinch someone from Italy and bring a new mindset to the Premier League. Maybe we pinch one of Pep Gs staff?

The real shame of fans and football management is that we are fools. We believe that the only way someone can carry on from Arsene Wenger is if they’re a king in the management world right now… whilst a steady hand is a powerful message, it’s not the always the right option. I’d rather us take a punt on a system and a vision… than a steady hand. Unless the steady hand was Simeone.

Anyway, enough from me.



323 Responses to “Midfield overhaul that relegates the British core to the sidelines?”

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  1. Sam

    Also i dont believe Wenger will pay 20M for a french player so forget about Kante

    He think he has divine right to sign them cheap or free

  2. qna

    Sam: He think he has divine right to sign them cheap or free

    Contrary to what AKBs would have you believe, he didnt buy Henry cheap.

  3. Wallace

    “Arsenal are poised to confirm their first signing of the summer, with Granit Xhaka today due at the club’s London Colney training base for a medical following a breakthrough in negotiations with Borussia Monchengladbach on a £30 million deal.

    Arsenal had initially bid close to £20 million for the Switzerland midfielder but, with Monchengladbach hoping to get more than £30 million, an agreement was eventually reached on a deal understood to be worth an initial £25 million but rising potentially to £30 million. Xhaka had a release clause in his contract for £23 million that would have become active next year.”

    – Jeremy Wilson

  4. Sam

    As far as I am concerned Wilshere only got fit for his mate Roy
    After Euro he’ll go missing again

    Unless he proves us wrong

  5. Red&White4life

    A new signing in may ??
    WTF ?? lol

    Wenger’s tactic for putting the fans in his pocket, but “we won’t get fooled again”!!

  6. STV

    Surprised it hasnt been noticed…well not really considering it is Arsenal fans.

    Reliable I thought you’re a decent poster. Not the sharpest bit of intelligence you’ve shown there !!

  7. Sam

    So next season we’ll Coq n granny in the middle? Sexy!

    Anyway I doubt he’ll take shirt number 34 when 8 is vacant

    Or our Coq will take 8 n a captain Armband


  8. Phd007

    Wasn’t convinced with the Ozil signing

    Wasn’t convinced with the Sanchez signing

    Wasn’t convinced with the Cech signing

    & I won’t be convinced with the Xhaka signing..

    It’s not enough & like previous signings it’s a tentative step forward,but almost 3 steps backwards..

    We are always unbalanced as a side..

    We need to sign a notable striker..5 years overdue..
    Don’t care how it’s done..The money is there..It’s whether the intent is there..

    Doubtful though..

    We also need a CB..

    But as always with Arsene,it will be the bare minimum done..Enough to placate the fans.Enough to convince himself,since he finished second with an outlay of £15 million this season ..He doesn’t need to go overboard for the forthcoming season.Again doing the bare minimum..

    Same old crap..Different year,different season,but same rinse,repeat cycle..

  9. STV

    “And our our Coq will take 8 n a captain Armband. Massive!”


    And Wenger working his magic on sidelines! Immense!!!

  10. STV

    Reliable Sauce might not be any intelligent after all falling for to some rumblings of a dumb bloke who idolaizes Ramsey of all people..

  11. Cesc Appeal

    I really like our rumoured third kit, deep navy coloured with luminous green/yellow bands on the shoulders.

    Prefer it to our away strip, same for this season just gone, thought our away shirt looked like something an old man would wear.

  12. Joe

    JeffMay 20, 2016 11:58:07
    So, let’s say Xhaka is signed (which is not confirmed by any credible source yet), do we still not have the problem of who’s going to actually score the goals?

    A better question would be: who is going to manage him so his career doesn’t stall and stagnate like so so. So many in the last 12 seasons????

  13. gonsterous

    I think kos is the new captain. That’s another guy wasted now.. the captain armband Is so useless in arsenal !! Hell even wally wore it. It’s so predictable who gets the armband !!!