Three Creative Midfield Beasts: Can Arsenal Play Them Together?

Many are arguing that we never recovered from the loss to injury of Cazorla midway through the season. Santi in the deeper role was quite a gamble by Wenger. His favourite thing in the world was twisting and turning himself into a shooting position just outside the opposition’s ‘D’ and then decide at the last second whether to take a shot with his right or left foot. Could he really be disciplined enough to play deeper, where he needs to defend and not lose the ball? The answer is yes as long as he has a disciplined ‘traditional’ DM playing next to him. The combo of CoCa – Le Coq and Cazo – was the best in the league and losing both to injuries in quick succession was what really did us this season imo.

The good news is that Santi is back. The bad news is the season is over and it is not the Gunners but the feisty Foxes who are drooling over the premier league cup this summer. C’est la vie and next year we have another chance, no doubt.

What is also great news is that Jack is finally fit again. It was cruel that we had to do without two of the best midfielders in the country for such a long time. Jack can play deep and he can play as our nr.10, but more in the Fabregas way than in the Mesut or Bergkamp way.

With all three fit, we should ask ourselves the question whether we can play them all together in a match. I think we can, but it may take some time to get the team to play as effective as possible. I would like to see us play like this:


A good team needs a strong spine and with Cech, a new Sol-like CB, Elneny/Coquelin, Jack and Ollie/Welbz that is what we will have. We play Elneny against the PTB teams and Coquelin when we need to sit a bit deeper and play more conservatively; and some games, Β like against Bayern, Barcelona, Citeh etc, we will play them both.

Next to them we should play Santi in a deeper ‘Pirlo’ role. Jack is natural commander of the midfield and Ozil is the most mobile creative midfielder on earth; so let’s move Jack central and Mesut in a free role on the wing.

We will in effect play, as we have done most of this season, with two more centrally positioned attackers. Ollie or Welbeck to play central and one more attacker to play on the wing but with a licence to play close to our chosen CF to add goals and assist. Alexis is the right player for this, even though he did not have one of his best seasons. Some will want a better CF than either Ollie or Welbz but, as you will know by now, I don’t think that is necessary. I rather we get another quality mid-winger, but that is for another post.

Playing Jack, Santi and Mesut like this, I reckon we will be very strong in terms of dominating teams and opening them up at will. Will we see it soon, maybe even this Sunday?

What do you think fine fellow BKers?

By TotalArsenal.

25 thoughts on “Three Creative Midfield Beasts: Can Arsenal Play Them Together?

  • Hi, TA, I actually just lost a long comment on the previous thread having needed to do a re-start…Oh well… This post, however, needs a “new post” tag at the bottom on that one… Also, it doesn’t seem to be showing up on NewsNow, but maybe that’s an issue at my end…

    As for what you’re asking…Perhaps vs Villa on the final day with it looking like that video I posted of Arsenal vs Norwich back in the Autumn of 2013… πŸ™‚ The way to beat teams without such good footballers is to use our best ones and that includes the guys you are describing… I’ll have to think about the line-up for City on Sunday, but I’ve got a couple of days and surely AW will signal his intent when he talks to the press…

    In more practical terms (or longer term ones…) both Jack and Santi will have to surmount their physical issues so I see them more as one or the other or both as back-up for the guy you’ve left off your preferred 11, Aaron Ramsey. If either of them can get a prolonged injury-free run of good form, then we can talk about them as starters. If both of them can do it we can talk about them playing together…

    I agree about starting positions…Ozil (or Jack and Santi) can start wherever on the pitch. As long as guys fill space for one another it’s all good (as we say)… That whole business of “you can’t start Ozil (or Jack or Santi or Rambo…) out wide is lazy punditry (or blogging) at it’s worst… Of course you can, unless the result is bad…

    Finally, among all the injury issues this season you hit upon the big issue: When Jack went down Santi needed to stay healthy (and so did Ramsey, who also couldn’t with his recurring muscle problems…). Coquelin (not a starter in games where we want all three points…) was less of an issue and we actually did better with Alexis away from the squad. Theo and Ox’s injuries didn’t help either….Not to mention Rosicky and Arteta’s… Still the two guys you’re citing were the lynchpins we really couldn’t afford to lose…

    In my opinion, of course… πŸ™‚

  • Good point about additional injuries, Seventeenho. They didn’t help either, and for that reason alone, Ozil deserves a medal, as he stayed fit mostly and carried the midfield.

    Rambo is possibly surplus to requirement if the others are fully fit, as he needs so long before he finally hits form and is technically not as good as the others, but yes, we need to include him in the first team plans.

  • I still think you ought to put up a new post tag on the bottom of the last one…Unless, of course, there are comment writers you don’t care to alert… πŸ˜€

    Just kidding (of course) but I have no idea how that one elicited ideas about Santi’s man-scaping, cut and paste stuff from our Leicester friend and a discussion of how we’re gonna feel when Mourinho takes over at Arsenal… Did anybody click on the article about anti-semitism at Arsenal?… A bit more direct than the way the Labour Party does it…

    If everybody is fit (which, of course, is not possible at Arsenal…) Ramsey might be considered surplus to needs…Or happy in another of those free-winger roles, even if he too wants to indulge in the whole play me in the middle (or else) sort of talk… My current thought is that there might not be enough ball for both him and Alexis going forward…

    I would like to see both Jack and Santi at least for a few minutes here in these last couple of matches (to help get me through the summer and maybe so they can get some garbage time with their national teams at the Euros) but I doubt we’ll see them as starters in either. Wenger is supposed to have a presser here soon, so he may hint otherwise…

    Anyhow, cheers for putting up a post and for the vids… Here’s another from the Welsh Elvis, perhaps one Arsene should send to all those transfer targets being courted by the silly money clubs… πŸ˜€

  • So… Liverpool through to the Europa League final… Good atmosphere maybe was a difference maker…Pressure for an early OG, flag stayed down for the 2nd and then a very (very) soft sending off after the ref had allowed far (far) worse… Or it could be that Arsenal stole Villareal’s best center back (Gabriel) last January… πŸ˜€

    England are one match away from 5 teams in next season’s CL…

    Alas, not too much excitement for Tom Jones nor a MF of Santi, Jack and Messy, I guess… 😦

  • Guys,

    Am not sure if Wenger will start them all.

    It is a possibility that he will take out Rambo and put Santi with Le Coq or Elneny, but i do not think the rest of the positions will change.

    However, to have a smelling chance at Citeh, we need all of them to feature at the same time, which is starting the match.


  • Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out of Euro 2016…

    Another knee injury – not sure if it’s the same knee?

    Arsene says he should be back by July…

    That’s him out till Christmas then… πŸ˜‰

  • Allezkev – I just read that too. Very sad to lose a player on the pitch like that. I supposed we had got more comfortable with the use of the data vest, defibrillators pitch side, that we would not be hearing of such a tragedy again?

    Let us hope that this wakes up the rest of the world to the need for full support for players who play near the edge of their bodies capacity to cope?

  • Three creative midfielders in the team, in itself is not necessarily bad. But the three of Ozil, Jack and Santi will not give the team the right balance.

    First of all, not being good goal scorers themselves, would leave the team with too many creators in a team thus short of scores.

    Also, themselves not known as very able defensively, have detracted from the overall defensive strength of the team by just the sheer weight of their numbers (three).

    Santi can play as a deep lying playmaker or a #10.
    Jack also as a deep lying playmaker or a #10.
    Ozil as a #10 or wide left or right.

    Any two of them at a time is premium.

  • On the post …

    TA – Of course, if you say it is wrong that you cannot play all three together … you are right.

    The real question is whether you can get the best out of all three, playing at the same time?
    That is another matter.

    We probably don’t get to see the best out of Santi in that deeper role, given his creative talent. But he is best suited, for Arsenal, in that deep midfield role. However, that might even be in the past tense, judging the way teams ‘high press’, and go in mob-handed to dispossess any player who holds on to the ball. Quick release and move seems to be the way to defeat that?

    However, I have made my view before on the Ozil/Wilshere combo, and apart from the latter’s central positioning that runs counter to Ozil’s free role – which is HT’s point of others filling in spaces that Ozil can create or leave?
    But their is another aspect to Wilshere’s game that does not automatically work well in midfield. Jack is a natural ball runner. Ozil’s ideal partner in the creative department is someone who is quick to run into the space where he plays the ball, who can then run at the last defender … which is really a striker’s role. Jack does score some spectacular goals, but he is not that prolific? But perhaps, if he played alongside the main striker, in the manner of Long(for want of a better example?) he would be … but isn’t that what Alexis should be doing?

    Perhaps you see him as capable of doing it from a deeper area, I don’t. But I am not saying he is not a good player. He just needs someone different to Ozil who he can play one-twos off on the edge of the opposition box.
    Ergo for me then, it is one or ‘tother to see them at their individual best.

    As for starting … Not against City I would have thought. Against Villa perhaps, as either would knock any complacency out of the team, as we still need to win that one.


  • Well done PE, keeping it short has its advantages … you nipped in between my stat time and posting. πŸ˜€
    But we are in agreement on the basic point.

  • PE,

    Wilshere is as good a defender as any of the others and Santi defends okay with a traditional DM covering him. Goals would be a challenge, but there is no reason to believe that in my formation between them, Jack, Mesut and Santi cannot score 25 – 30 goals per PL season; Ollie, Danny and Alexis can score 45 – 50 between them too… And Bob’s your uncle.

    Gerry – no politics. 😠

  • Exciting stuff in the relegation races… Villa hold Newcastle to a point but Sunderland get all three vs Chelsea…

    In OUR relegation fight, Man U get a goal at Norwich (who look all but relegated to the 2nd tier) but West Ham lose and now will have very tough path back–even for Europa league football…

    Now it’s all about the Leicester coronation…

    Match preview coming…

  • On this topic…I (again) would strongly disagree with Gerry. Jack runs onto balls as well as anybody in the team, often able to scan his options before taking his touch. He can do this going side to side–as is more common in the middle of the pitch–as well as going forward to score or assist. Might this leave us unbalanced if a MF gets too far forward?… Sure, but not if others drift back to cover for him…

    Defending, even more than attack, is a team game. Players who mind the shape of the team–I call them heads up players–will help keep the correct balance and spacing going forward or back. Players who don’t rely on their teammates to do that job. They’re exciting because of their single-mindedness which is great going forward but not so good (or too exciting…) when they lose the ball… I put Alexis and Ramsey (but a little less so…) in that second category; Jack, Messy and Santi are all the first variety. Again, watch this vid if you cannot remember what it looks like… Of course, we gave up a goal that day but maybe that’s more down to Gibbs and Szczesny who are both (very likely) gone… In games where we “need” to get goals and give the support their money’s worth, why not?…

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