Much has been made of Arsenal’s midfield with the arrival of Santi Cazorla and return of Jack Wilshere. On Paper, Arsenal ideally have the strongest midfield in the league, but that hasn’t been the case on the pitch.
The preferred combination in the middle of the park consists of the supremely talented trio of Wilshere, Cazorla and Arteta who, on paper, all possess the ability to outplay any team short of Barcelona. That has not been the case and has been, in my opinion, the foremost cause for Arsenal’s poor campaign so far. This is primarily because of the deeper, defensive midfield position.
Since the departure of Mathieu Flamini, Arsenal have never had a player whose sole purpose in the team is to protect the back four, break up play using brute strength and sheer intimidation, and generally bully the opposition players. Alex song was groomed for the role, but as soon as he made his first successful through ball and realized he could attack, he never looked back. For all his assists, Song left Arsenal extremely vulnerable to the counter attack during his forward surges; and punished we were. Severally in fact.
Then came Mikel Arteta. I must say he performed this role very well last season but people seem to forget that he is an attacking midfielder and has been all his life. It is commendable that he did so well last term but eventually this move was always going to backfire for a couple of reasons.
First and fore most, Arteta’s game is all in the mind and not the body. He is a footballer first and an athlete second. This means that his greatest assets are his ability to read the game and his passing abilities, and while these are fantastic attributes to have, they may not work completely for a defensive midfielder; especially in a league as physical and as fast paced as the EPL.
Secondly, Arteta is a very slow player and doesn’t have the pace to chase down players when he loses possession; nor does he have the muscle to hold on to the ball when he has it. This has resonated this season, as Arteta has struggled against teams who press hard and use brute force at a high tempo.
This has had a domino effect because as a result we lose possession very easily. It means that Wilshere and Cazorla along with our wide players have to track back and help out as we are constantly under siege.
Ultimately, this then curbs our attacking play and our strikers end up with little to no service, which means Arsenal are now unable to control games like we are used to do.
Which brings me to Victor Wanyama. This 21 year old Kenyan midfielder plays for Celtic as a midfield destroyer. He is a man mountain in the mould of Michael Essien, with good pace and a Wilshere-esque type of work rate and heart. He was signed from Beerschot for £600,000 in 2011 but Neil Lennon now values him at around £15M: such has been his impact!
This season he has been a revelation in the Celtic midfield; propelling them past Barca to the champions league knock out stages. Wanyama can best be compared to Micheal Essien in terms of physique and style of play. He is adept in the tackle and can bully even the toughest players in the EPL. His versatility means that he can play at the centre of defence, or even at right back. He is also a technical player who can pass his way out of any situation, and can produce sublime long passes.
He is also oddly quite the proficient goal scorer with 6 goals so far this season; one against Barcelona. This is because he has excellent aerial ability and has quite a shot on him. Every time you watch Celtic play, it is difficult not to notice him due to his dominance in the midfield.
As far as Arsenal goes, this is just what the doctor prescribed. He would be the missing link that releases the creative shackles on Santi and Wilshere, allowing them to do what they do best: unlock defences.
Signing Wanyama would be a master stroke for Wenger as he would slot seamlessly into the EPL, and very few players have his kind of physique, if any. He has the determination and work ethic to hassle down and tirelessly dispossess opponents; all the while committing only a few fouls. He would also increase our aerial threat during set pieces.
Best of all, at £15M, he’d be signing a player who would make an instant impact, yet still have room for improvement; Wanyama being 21 years old.
We would have to fend off interest from Fergie and act fast, but it would be well worth it!
Watch him here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2KJWzV8T5Q
Written by: Marcus.