The Defensive Midfield Question

Since Flamini has left, there has been to many fans a gaping hole in the position right next to Cesc. Throughout the summer, Arsenal has been linked with player after player, but none have been signed next. Now it is the 9th inning and there are three seemingly left; Swiss international Gokhan Inler, Liverpool mainstay Xabi Alonso, and Villan captain Gareth Barry.

Now, if Arsene decides to stay within the squad, the top contenders for the position would be cameroon international Alexandre Song, Swiss defender Johan Djourou, (If called back from loan to Rennes) converted right back Emmanuel Eboue, Welsh international and former Cardiff City player Aaron Ramsey, and Brazilian international Denilson. There is not much else within the squad outside these players, unless Wenger brings up under-18 French international Francis Coquelin or converts starting centreback Kolo Toure to the DM position.

By not signing anyone, Arsenal is taking a great gamble. After Djourou, who is on loan and will be unavailable, there is a 500 foot cliff. Eboue, albeit a solid defender, hinders the fluid passing Arsenal’s attack relies on. Denilson and Ramsey, against Fulham and FC Twente, showed they are not ready for first team football. That leaves Song. Arsene has been playing Song as a CB, but Song has already shown the ability to play DM when he was chosen to the Best XI at the African Nations Cup for Ghana. The problem with relying just on Song or anyone else in the squad is the lack of depth. CB is lacking in depth after the announcement of Djourou’s loan to Rennes, and will be even thinner if Senderos is sent on loan to AC Milan. Eboue is a solid right back, but does not have the ball skills to start the passing attack like Arsenal would expect the DM to be able to do. Simply, promoting from in the squad is impractical. It ultimately weakens the team too much to be a viable option.

That leaves buying a player. Names like Miguel Veloso, Yaya Toure, and Ruben De La Red have been thrown around to fill the void left by the departures of Flamini, Diarra, and Gilberto. The leading candidates left are the three previously mentioned, Inler, Barry, and Alonso. Villa seems likely to let go of Barry for around 18 million, Liverpool will part with Alonso for around 10 million, and Inler has a buyout clause for 5 million, but Udinese would be looking 10 million. Barry is a 27 year old CM who doesn’t actually play DM, Inler is 24 and is a Viera type bruiser, while lastly, Alonso, is 26 and does play a DM role, but has a very similar style to Cesc coming forward.
At first, I believed Inler was the answer.
+ He has the height
+ He would be an enforcer in the middle
+ He has the passing ability to work in Arsenal’s system
+ He’s 3 years younger than his competitors for the spot
+ He’s cheaper than Barry or Alonso would be

But I soon came to the conclusion that he did not have the experience needed, and his grace period adjusting to the EPL is not what Arsenal needs in the current state of the club. He’s not the answer to the problem.
So I jumped to Barry.
+ Height
+ Technically gifted
+ Leader
+ Premier League experience

And again, he did not fit. First and foremost, he does not play as a DM. That in itself should be a deal breaker. Second, the price is not worth the commodity. 18 million is overinflated for a player of his quality. Barry is not worth the price tag put onto him.
That leaves Alonso.
+ Height
+ Technically gifted
+ Proven winner
+ Premier League experience
+ Sound defensively
+ Cheaper than Barry

And in my mind, he’s perfect. He’s a strong player with the ability to come forward without disrupting Arsenal’s game. What seems to be the greatest knock against Xabi is that he’s too similar to Cesc, and in my mind, that is exactly why Arsenal needs to sign him.

Cesc is not a kid anymore. Cesc has shown the ability to play both defensively and offensively. What Cesc needs most is not a babysitter, but someone he can feed off of. Flamini worked so well last year because the two were worked together beautiful. It was not Flamini’s defensive skills that were the greatest asset, it was his hunger. With Alonso, that same hunger will not be seen from only Alonso, but Cesc also because Cesc has a partner he wants to work with.
Second, Alonso and Cesc together in the middle would be the perfection of Arsenal’s attacking style. Both players can run the counterattack and offense, both can drop back and help on defense. The fluidity of Arsenal coming forward through the middle would be orgasmic. It would be the most beautiful thing on the earth to see such an attacking force coming forward. If Cesc is out of position, Alonso can run the ball forward unlike Flamini or Inler could.

Third, as shown by the performance of the team in its opening matches, a more pressing position that needs to be filled is the role of Cesc’s backup. Alonso is the only person out of the major three that could run the offense like Cesc does. Inler and Barry are not the type of players that could make Arsenal tick.
Fourth, it weakens a title rival. Without Xabi, if Mascherano goes down, Liverpool will fall from the top four, no question. They do not have the ability to replace someone of Xabi’s quality. If Liverpool was to do this move, it would be to finance a raid of Villa for Barry. But honestly, it looks like O’Neill is not stupid enough to part with Barry, and Liverpool will not be able to convince him otherwise.

So, in my opinion, the only real option Arsenal is presented with is paying the 10 million for Xabi Alonso, and winning the title. (After Gallas is sold back to Chelsea)


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12 Responses to The Defensive Midfield Question

  1. cameron says:

    songs from cameroon

  2. Neal says:

    Alonso is far from “sound defensively”. Ask any Liverpool fan. The reason why Spain do so well with them in the centre is because they have Senna behind them. Inler’s the man!

  3. worried says:

    Alonso is possibly the best passer in the premier league, but he is poor defensively and is NOT the bruiser we need. He would be a great addition, but only along with Inler or Frings. At this stage we need all three. The sad thing is that we could afford them (12 + 7 + 4 = 23m) but we won’t because AW loves Eboue and Denilson and will persist with them regardless of how many points we drop.

  4. del boy says:

    hold your horses m8, johan djourou hasnt gone to rennes and its not a forgone conclusion that he will

  5. Fabregas' Dad says:

    As stated, Song’s from Cameroon and you’ve completely forgotten about Diaby, who can fill in in an attacking role (for those of you who think he’s a natural defensive midfielder, you’re forgetting that he can play in a role behind two strikers, although he could probably fill in defensively as well). My favourite would be Alonso as well but at the same time I wouldn’t mind Inler.

    I would be comfortable with Cesc alongisde Alonso or Song, or even Alonso alongside Song if Cesc’s injured.

    I just can’t believe Wenger’s waited three months since Flamini has left and we still have no one who can play there. I can understand that Wenger doesn’t want to block the path of youngsters by buying experienced players but we cannot wait for the likes of Coquelin to develop and we can’t risk not getting into the CL because it would not only hurt us financially, we would be a smaller club in the eyes of players that we may be trying to attract to the club.

    If we buy Alonso, we can win the PL and get further in the CL which would accomodate for the cost of buying him anyway.

    Oh and the Djourou to Rennes loan are just rumours and the rumours themselves have quietened in the last 24 hours.

  6. King of north london says:

    Xabi alonso or Yaya toure…..Inler is crap believe me..we are better of without him.

  7. gunnernet says:

    first of all : Song is coming from Cameroon not Ghana. Secondly you forgot Diaby. And thirdly Wenger said Kolo will not be removed from defence.. Bad article.

  8. Welsh Gazza says:

    Alonso to play with Cesc for Home Games. This pair would be able to pick the lock of teams that play ten men behind the ball at the Emirates. Also Alonso would take some of the responsility from Cesc and alternate to keep Cesc fresh. Cesc was brilliant at the start of last season, very good during the middle but definately below par towards the end because he was knackered!!!!!
    We should sign a bruiser too ……… Inler, Yaya or Cana Any of those would be used against the better teams to sit in front of the back four… or be part of a five man midfield.

  9. Welsh Gazza says:

    Diaby is the best Centre Midfielder we have……….. in the Physio’s Room.

  10. hj says:

    if you think alonso is the answer your deluded, we need bg fucking strong guy or an energetic guy

    we don’t need another playmaker to partner cesc ! we might as well play rosicky there, lol.

    cana or inler would be way better.

  11. Kerr345 says:

    Sorry, wrote Song’s nationality wrong. It’s been fixed.

    Diaby has already shown to be a complete liability in the middle, so no I did not put him in it. He is a terrible tackler, and that automatically should take him out of the equation.

  12. Stu says:

    Firstly you scared the shit outa me when you said JD was gone to Rennes.

    Secondly, my choice has always been Cana. He is both a bruiser and energetic. Alonso would no doubt be a great addition to our horribly weak squad. Inler is the only one not cup-tied and would therefore probably be the best option.

    Its so annoying that Wenger keeps on saying our squad is strong enough when clearly its not. We havn’t got any def-mids. Song should be playing there but stupidly Arsene plays him in defence. He must think he has Rigobert instead of Alex.

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