The midfield trio of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla has excellent possession-retention capacity.
Arteta was not always the deeper lying Xabi Alonso type he is now. His current game is game building tempo, passing flank to flank, or playing 6 yard passes with centre backs to keep the ball when under pressure. When Henry was doing great things at Arsenal, David Moyes said he had a world class player of his own – Arteta. Arteta played further forward and was more a playmaker than an Alonso. Arteta would receive possession in the advanced areas of the pitch at Everton and taking the tough tackles in days where thugs like Ben Thatcher and Danny Mills were about. On the whole playmakers were probably tougher then than they are now. Bergkamp would be my prime example (a Rolls Royce champion with a razor sharp elbow and a nasty temper).
Arteta is clearly well schooled in the levels of aggression and hunger you need to succeed in England. What he lacks occasionally is pace to close down opponents or just the sheer size to lean weaker players off the ball, in the way Diaby can. In certain matches you need a measure of natural physicality. The ball retainers are there, the power isn’t. The league demands a player of that kind – though not always every game.
What Arsenal seem to want is a faster bully to sit alongside Arteta and win cheap balls, add more steel, power and leadership. Arsenal are currently monitoring several players of this type. It seems Wenger may have finally accepted that one of his all time favourites, Abou Diaby, will never fulfil his magnificent potential due to having a body that cannot heal or resist injury. Without Diaby, I gear Wilshere’s young body will be made to receive undue pressure and stress at a key time in his development. Kevin Strootman, Diamé of West Ham, and Marouane Fellaini have all been linked. If Arsenal want a game changing midfielder with a first rate touch, a massive frame and a big reputation they have to sign the last of the three. Apparently he has a £25m release clause. Another star who has learned how to beat to teams under Moyes’ tutelage, fans would treat him as a cult hero.
I expect Étienne Capoue to become a key target at some stage between January and the summer. He’s big, aggressive, ambitious, has a good touch and can play in defence or midfield. Watch that space.
Follow me on twitter, @Detective82.
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