Or Does he Need to Buy?!
Arsenal are compartmentalised and the middle and back are not working. I think that succinctly sums up the problem we have at Arsenal and the main challenge Mikel Arteta – if it is him to take over from Freddie – has to face.
We can argue about the wisdom of appointing an inexperienced manager in the middle of winter and with the team in real trouble, but if it is indeed MA we have to get behind him and support him through all the growing pains he certainly will encounter. Let there be no doubt that the team is in a psychological mess and there will be no time for soul searching as the games will come thick and fast. In my view, MA will have to do three things between now and the end of the season with our more than decent squad: turn the compartments into a team, get 18 points at least to avoid relegation, and work on a system of football that suits Arsenal and will become the red-print for years to come.
The good news is that Arteta was a very good midfielder, in fact he was part of the best midfield-duo ever since Cesc left us for the charms and seductions of the Catalonian Giants: Song-Arteta. We have an Arteta: Granit Xhaka, but we do not have a Song. Or do we? In January, the club will have to find a Song, unless of course Arteta can turn either Torreira, AMN or Willock into a Song.
Xhaka is only 27 and he already played 350 games for club and country (with already 82 caps for his national team alone). Every manager he worked with rates him and plays him all the time. Many fans don’t get it but that’s why managers first have to do a course or two before they can call themselves one.
Like Mikel he is not the fastest, and he is prone to a mistake or two, but he has so many qualities that are rare and vital to a midfield. Xhaka haters will have to get used to the Swiss maestro being used constantly again, but I reckon you will get to love him once more (together with Auba and Laca he was given the most MOTM awards last season after all).
I have no doubt that Granit will love working under Arteta and that he will become pivotal again. But he will need to be paired up with a Song type of midfielder and I reckon that is the one player he will need to buy….
Or could it be that David Luiz could be our Song this season?
A Xhaka-Luiz midfield with Ozil or Torreira in front of them could just give us back the balance in midfield we so desperately need. Come to think about it, Luiz has the physical and passing qualities of Alex Song with the same ability to defend and move forward with the ball. We may even see Song-like balls over the top and into the box from midfield and the likes of Laca or Auba finishing them in a Van Pudsie way…
Whatever Mikel will do, I reckon we will benefit from his central midfield experience and ability to make the whole team play as a team in just a few games time, and this will do miracles. Much more we cannot ask for this season, and that is fine with me.