Saturday, July 12, 2014

New Midfielder; World Cup Preview; General Ramblings

Well hello to you all on this beautiful Saturday. It's pouring here in Bombay, and I'm listening to Cemetry Gates by the Smiths (lovely, lovely song), and while the rains might ruin my evening plans, the entire atmosphere at present is quite beautiful. 

Today is going to be a short post because there isn't much to write about at all. The Sanchez euphoria still hasn't died down (how can it?), but we must definitely be looking at other aspects of the squad by now. I have no clue what's happening as regards the whole right back situation. Most people thought that they'd announce the signing of Debuchy before Sanchez, but they announced the big one first and people have generally started assuming that Debuchy is an Arsenal player. Well, that's not the case till it's official (even though Lee Dixon says that he's an Arsenal man), and we're being linked to random right backs. One is a 20 year old Atletico Madrid youngster, the other is some 29 year old Egyptian fellow with a rather unfortunate name. What this means for Jenkinson, I'm not sure. Best to stay off the topic of a right back till there's an official announcement of some sort. 

To add to it, there is the avid rumour mongering of a new holding midfielder. Perhaps not as pressing as a right back, but an important position to complete our (hopefully) title-challenging squad. So thus far we've been linked to Khedira, Lars Bender and to a much lesser degree Morgan Schneiderlin. I've seen a fair bit of Khedira, watching the odd Real Madrid match and seen him play for the German national squad, while I'm a little embarrassed to say that I've only seen Schneiderlin play against Arsenal and haven't seen Lars Bender at all. But to figure out what we need in that midfield role, we must look at what we have. 

At present we have two players who can play as the holding midfielder, Arteta and Flamini. While we all like Flamini for what he brings in terms of his tackles and tenacity, he faded impact-wise in the second half of the season. Flamini is a good bet for a tackle, and a few broken bones of opposition attackers, but in terms of controlling play, he isn't the best candidate. Which brings us to Arteta. A lot of times Arteta was criticised last season, unfairly for the most part. The criticism itself was never consistent in terms of merit. Sometimes he was criticised for slowing down play, passing backwards rather than forwards, and the rest of the time he was criticised for not being strong, fast enough or going for those bone crunching tackles. Which essentially means that a lot of people don't really understand Arteta's game. 

Since that deadline day panic in 2011, when a host of random players crawled in (Park Chu Young, forever immortal), Arteta has been one of our most consistent and important players. His game isn't based around tackling and strength, but more along the lines of Mertesacker's play, where he's an astute reader of the game. Arteta positions himself to prevent counterattacks, and when our fullbacks push up to support the attack, Arteta tends to stay behind, almost making it a back three. Apart from his reading of the game and positional play, he's also a pass master. Metronomic, he keeps possession of the ball, and allows play to flourish. 

That being said, Arteta possesses neither pace nor strength. Several times last season (particularly those nightmarish multi-goal losses), he was outrun, or outmuscled, leading to a goal being scored against us. To be fair, there were several other factors that resulted in those losses, but the fact still remains that he is devoid of pace, and at 32 years of age is hardly going to play for a long time. So what essentially do we need? I might face some flak for this, but we possibly need a slightly quicker, younger version of Arteta. 

There are a lot of people who keep shouting for that big player, with pace and a lot of strength, where he can fly into a tackle, push players off the ball, destroy bones etc, etc. No we do not 'need' such a player. Our defense has improved a lot in the past few seasons, and that's down to Arteta. Remember when we had Alex Song? The big guy, always ready to go in for a tackle. Remember how woeful our defensive record was due to his positional indiscipline? He did get a lot of assists, but he failed in his primary job of assisting the back four. 

So that brings us to the question of what we need. I reckon a player who possesses Flamini's crunch in tackle, but at the same time Arteta's game knowledge and passing skills. A player who can prevent attacks, but at the same time facilitate play. I know, it all sounds very fairytale like, but in essence that's what the requirement is.  I've heard several people say that we should get a player like Vidal, the complete midfielder who can tackle and attack. We shouldn't, period. We already have a player like Vidal, and his name is Aaron Ramsey. Similarly, a lot of rumours about Khedira. I like Khedira, I really do. But from what I've seen of him (granted, it's not every much), Khedira is at his best when he's making those box to box runs. If we assume that Aaron Ramsey's spot as the box to box player sitting alongside the holding midfielder is fixed, then a player like Khedira might not be his ideal partner. Arsenal require a player who is going to sit back, cover the two central defenders while the rest of the team is attacking. I'm not sure Khedira is that player (especially taking into account transfer fees and his astronomical salary). Since my knowledge of Bender and Schneiderlin is quite limited, I'll refrain from talking about those two (Squawka did a fairly good statistical analysis of the three players which you can find here). Hopefully the boss picks a good player. 

Coming to the World Cup, we've got the fairly pointless, third place match between Brazil and Netherlands on tonight. I don't see the point to be honest. When even World Cup runners up tend to be forgotten, third place is hardly a trophy (insert fourth place trophy jokes). In light of recent horrors, it would be quite cruel to make Brazil play again.Then again, with nothing to play for, the two teams might actually put on a show. Well, that's the hope anyway. 

On a completely non-football related note, I was left in a state of shock today morning when blogger informed me that the Sanchez post had received close to 170 views, taking the total blog views to upwards of 600. It might sound petty, but for me it's a pretty big deal and a thank you is definitely in order. I know I'm being greedy, but I hope some of you reading this may comment/follow the blog. I don't mind posting the link in the comments sections of Arseblog and LeGrove, but I'm pretty sure the owners are going to block me soon on account of spamming. You may laugh, but I'm fairly certain that the moderators at Here is the City have blocked my comments (screw them, the quality of articles is pathetic anyway). 

Till next time....