In general terms, I consider the midfield to be where Arsenal are chiefly causing the team’s most damage to their own current form. The defence look visibly shaken by the lack of cover they receive, and the forward line are not getting the chances they were getting earlier on in the season.
Granted, a ‘team’ is meant to be exactly that – based on teamwork. This is the clear caveat to my point.. It shouldn’t be the case that one area of the pitch is allowed to fail so emphatically. It should be a symbiotic organism built on common understanding and strong communication, where players adapt and overcome problems, threats or defeats. The forward line need to do more, particularly Walcott and Arshavin when they play. Spaces should be covered and runners need to be followed. In a 4-3-3 formation, the inherent weakness of the formation is if the team try to play wide they will lack density in the centre and vice-versa when the ball is narrow, unless they have exceptional sprinters with fantastic cardiovascular power like Dani Alves.
Furthermore, I also accept several anomalies like Johan Djourou – a player that has consistently disappointed, and succeeded in brief periods of warm weather and safe football. Djourou should not be playing for Arsenal. He lacks basic concentration and despite having the perfect physique, technical ability, strength (supposedly the strongest man in the entire squad) and stature; he simply has the wrong attitude and personality to handle the role. I do not blame the midfield for his foolish play, but at the same time a more assured midfield would steady his unreliable feet.
The fact remains that Alex Song is an adventurous, marauding midfielder with an eye for a pass who is wasted sitting to deep too often. The rotational process Arsenal currently employ requires no lapse in concentration and naturally denigrates ownership. Aaron Ramsey is running on steam and must be far beyond the supposed ‘red zone’. Mikel Arteta’s vision, skill and efficiency on the ball would be effective in Ramsey’s position. Furthermore I think the formula should be refreshed and given a renewed impetus for the rest of the season with a small tactical adjustment by playing Francis Coquelin alongside Alex Song.
Since the team seem to be lacking authority, power and energy in its midfield, Coquelin should be considered as a deep-lying ball winner. Arsenal do not have the personnel to add the authority of Xavi, or the power of a Yaya Toure but it could add the energy of a certain talented young Frenchman when he is fit again. In an ideal world, I’d combine Frimpong’s personality and strength, with Coquelin’s technique and energy – but on balance I think the assets of Coquelin will ultimately help to forge him the more successful career of the two.
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