Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey were two of our best players in that unbeaten run at the end of last season. Arsene devised a double pivot system that saw them sit in front of the back four, leading to one of the best defensive records we have had in years. Arteta was the last line of defence in front of the back four, and Ramsey played a box to box role but mostly spent his time alongside Arteta, shielding our defence from attacks.
This system worked wonders defensively, but I must admit our offensive quality suffered.
Thing is, though, Arteta ideally is not a DM despite the fantastic work he’s done there for us. Arteta, at Everton, played as the ‘hole’ player for the better part of a decade and was their star man. His passing, vision and goals made Everton tick. Again, while overall he has performed admirably there, at times he suffered, especially the recently concluded season. This is the main reason Wenger introduced Ramsey alongside him: to give him some much needed support.
As it turned out, this was a match made in heaven, because Arteta’s strong point is reading the game and Rambo’s is tackling, so they seem to compliment each other perfectly.
This is all well and good, but you have to remember one thing, Wilshere was injured. You can play around with the tactics and formations all you want, but the fact remains that a fully fit Jack Wilshere is one of the first names on the team sheet. Not only that, considering what Santi achieved last season, he has made the hole position his. Add that to the fact that Arsene Wenger came out and admitted that our midfield needs a physical DM and has made it a transfer priority this summer, you realize that these two players are in danger of losing out.
Like I said earlier, Santi and Jack are not about to lose their positions in the team or be moved around to accommodate anyone, simply because they are our two best players. What stacks the odds against Arteta and Ramsey even more is the fact that Santi and Jack showed that they can work together to devastating effect. You do not need to look past our 5-1 hiding of West Ham to see what I mean. Considering that Jack is fully fit and so is Santi, we are looking at a situation where Arteta and Ramsey would be fighting for one spot, DM.
Let’s face it; neither is good enough to make the DM position their own. Not if we indeed are building a team to challenge for trophies.
Last season Mikel showed that he can not shoulder the defensive burden alone. Ramsey, on the other hand, does not have the defensive talent to do it alone (despite his energy and his eagerness to tackle; 80% of his tackles ended in him conceding fouls). Neither has the physicality or defensive acumen to dominate the defensive half of our midfield like Vieira did for us, Wanyama did for Celtic, Essien did for Chelsea, Sven does for BVB and so on and so forth.
Wenger has realized this and that is why he’s chasing the likes of Fellaini; and with the bounty we have right now, you wouldn’t bet against us. If reports are to be believed, we triggered Fellaini’s release clause of 23 million pounds and had a 19 million pound bid rejected for Lars Bender. Even if it’s not them we end up signing, we have seen the amount we are willing to shell out for a DM. Do you really think Arsene Wenger is going to spend 20 million on a player who will come and sit on the bench? I don’t think so, and that is why following all logic, it seems that Arteta and Ramsey’s time in the starting 11 is soon coming to an end.
On the bright side, though, they’ve shown what they can do for us and therefore will provide solid cover AND competition for whatever combination is preferred.
Written by: Marcus.
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