With the selling of Alex Song to F.C. Barcelona in the summer transfer window of 2012, a giant hole was made in the Arsenal defense. Song’s great ability to pick out a ball over the top of mesmerized defenders also left a huge hole in the attack.
With almost no threat of the through ball this season, opponents could afford to pressure the Gunners higher up the pitch without fear of being beaten with a ball over the top. Abou Diaby filled in and played very well but true to his nature he was injured most of the season. Diaby’s injury left the Gunners paper-thin in the holding midfield role.
Arsenal tried to fill the gap by playing Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey in the defensive midfield role, pushing both players out of their natural positions. Also neither is a strong enough tackler from a Premier League defensive midfielder.
I believe Arteta should be positioned next to the holding midfielder so he can you his supreme vision to give a quick and accurate link to the strikers and wingers.
Having Arteta play deeper takes away from his great ability to provide for the more attack-minded players such as Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Oliver Giroud. Ramsey needs more time to mature while learning the game as a more attacking midfielder.
I strongly believe he would be a great spark coming of the bench in the 2013-2014 season, with his great energy and knack of late goal getting. Arsenal must find a strong defensive mid in the mold of Yaya Toure or Patrick Vieira who can also, make long offensive runs deep into the opponents half.
Victor Wanyama, Maxime Gonalons, and Etienne Capoue all come to mind when thinking of the Toure or Vieira type players.
Wanyama had a breakthrough season at Celtic F.C. as the world watched him score a highlight-reel worthy goal against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. The 6’2 defensive midfielder has a great sense of the game in intercepting passes and blocking shots. Wanayama’s positional awareness is amazing for a 21-year-old. He also has the ability to pull off wonderful strikes like he did again Barcelona.
Wanyama also has the athletic ability to surge forward in runs much like Toure and Patrick. If there is a weakness in his game is that Wanyama needs to work on his passing though because he has a tendency to telegraph a pass. His upside though is unbelievable.
Maxime is the least known of this group but is very impressive. The Olympique Lyonnais player stands 6’2 who wins many aerial duels and is an extremely strong tackler of the ball. He has also played in 70 matches for Lyon the last two seasons so he considered a healthy and reliable player.
Maxime is a French national team player and everyone knows about Arsenal’s obsession with French players, right?
He is also considered a very good passer of long balls which will help fill the gap left from Song. Maxime would provide a good solid tackler and a great link to the attack in the middle of the park that was sorely missed this season in the Emirates.
Capoue is another French defensive midfielder who has an amazing work rate. He is also 6’2 but he has an incredible appetite to win the ball like Vieira. He is easily the most the intimidating enforcer in Ligue 1.
Capoue just has to win the ball but that cause him to concede two free kicks a game. Capoue is also a great winner of aerial duels and is major threat on set pieces. Capoue would bring a fire and will to win that Arsenal seemed to lack at times last year. He would be a great enforcer with an intimidating presence in the middle or the park for Arsenal that they so badly need.
Adding any of these players would help greatly with the defense and central midfield as it would also allow Arteta and Ramsey to play in their natural place while adding more offensive fire power.
One of these players along with more additions could help set Arsenal up for a possible title run in the English Premier League.