When we are in possession Xhaka is masterful. He is calm and composed when the ball allows him to buy time and space for himself. Excellent with his choice of passes, he gets them delivered with so much aplomb. However, the narrative changes as soon as the opposition is in possession. To be fair, he is good in covering passing lanes. But he dares not throw in a tackle because it would reach its destination late. And whenever the ball gets past him, his standard routine is to start his engine, rev it, manoeuvre it round before giving chase in gear 1.
When we are out of possession, Coquelin is masterful. He begins to smell blood, becomes oblivious of every thing around him less his target on which he hones his crosshairs. A beast, he attacks with ferocity and precision. He wins the ball and suddenly the narrative changes. The world around him, which had earlier vanished, begins to re-materialize through a haze. Seconds are lost and Ozil’s off the ball run is missed and the fans hiss.
Please give me Xhaka and Coquelin rolled into one. Do you know what that means? Instead of a paring of Xhaka and Ramsey we would have a pairing of XhaCoq and Ramsey literally. Or a XhaCoq and Xhaka. Or a XhaCoq and Coquelin. Magical isn’t it, for 2 to become 3. Can we find such a player? My friend Jnyc says that finding one would be like looking for a pin in a haystack. I agree with him to the extent that there are precious very few of them.
Why am I so keen on the magical? Because I hate it when our opponents slice through our midfield like knife through butter. Note that our first choice pairing of Xhaka and Ramsey both have negative Squawka Defensive Performance Scores! We need a component there that smells of Coquelin every time they storm us. Equally, we need a complimentary component, Xhaka-ish, to lever us back to high attack mode as soon as we win the ball back, all in that one player. Much smarter if we, meanwhile, don’t plan at all with Santi.
A flat back line is grossly exposed when opposition runs directly at it, be it a 3-man, 4-man or 5-man back line. We should not be lulled to sleep by the impressive results so far of our new 3-man defence. 7amkickoff showed clearly that our defensive numbers did not improve with the change in formation. Cech heroics was the difference.
We need this masterful box to box player. Mark that the 1st box is the defender, the 2nd box the attacker, both rolled into one player.
29yr old Radja Nainggolan of Roma is a well rounded ideal box to box man. He can pair effectively with Xhaka or Ramsey or Coquelin. He would improve the team. Naby Keita of Leipzig is N’golo Kante M2 only more creative but less relentless (maybe because he is smoother to the eye). He is so dangerous going forward. His price tag floats around £80M. That amount I fear might be the definition of pin in a haystack for AFC In which case Wenger would be looking to re-create the pairing of a destroyer (Coquelin) and a 5ft 5in technical bundle (not Santi) which served him so well. Jean Michael Seri, a through-ball genius but on the weak side defensively is a Santi replacement if ever there is one. He is worth only £35M and the rumour says we are after him. Like Santi he will bring Coquelin back to life. So Gooners, which one should we recruit? Or have you another of those rare gems to offer?
Our midfield put right is us back as a beast of European football. The time is ticking away ………..
By Pony Eye.