The One Midfield Beast to Turn Fortunes Round for Arteta

In the last post we covered the potential of the three or four musketeers up-front, and what a wonderful prospects they are.

Assuming that Arteta will play with two central deeper midfielders again, either in a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3, the big question is once again who will play in those pivotal positions?

If all are fit the obvious answer is XhakA-Partey. I wonder how many games they both saw out together, though.

I have absolutely no doubt that if this twosome could play 30+ PL games in tandem, Arsenal will finish in the top four this season.

But this is unlikely. Thomas is too injury prone and has the Ramsey effect on us: it takes a while for him to get going and just when he becomes really, really good Thomas gets injured again. I so hope this will change this season.

Xhaka is unloved by most of the fans it seems, and although the man has a fabulous fitness record, averaging 40+ games per season, the lack of appreciation is likely to continue. Yet he works well with Tierney and Auba/Saka, and his left foot is very important for Arteta’s system. He also gives structure to our play which we really miss when he is out, whether you like it or not.

So Partey has a continuous fitness issue and Granit plays on a knife edge at Arsenal, despite Mikel’s unwavering support for him. Not ideaal.

The former Anderlecht captain Lokonga looks promising, and he may well hold the key to our success this season. I need to see more of him to make any judgement. Still, he will need time to adjust to the bluster of the PL and is unlikely to be instrumental this season.

Elneny is a solid squad player, who works really well when paired with Xhaka. He won’t put the world on fire but is as solid as Xhaka’s first name. No surprises, no nonsense but always committed and important to have in our squad.

So this seems to leave us with Ainsley. The man who wanted a loan but reconciled with Arteta and should now get a golden opportunity to shine. Granit is suspended, Partey will need time to get back into it, and the others are equal competition for him.

We all know about AMNs potential and we all would love him to succeed, and surely these next four months or so are THE opportunity to finally break through at Arsenal?? Will he be our constant Midfield Beast so desperately needed this season?

Ainsley this is your moment, this is your stage and we are all behind you.

I must say that I have doubts on whether the midfield will work out in the next few games or indeed this season. This is where Mikel, a former midfield maestro, will have to make the big difference now. It will make or break him.

Nobody is perfect but the perfect combo of midfielders now needs to be found.

By TotalArsenal.

32 thoughts on “The One Midfield Beast to Turn Fortunes Round for Arteta

  • Ta, nice thoughts. I would love AMN and Sambi to be the partner for Partey when he is fit in the middle.AMN can be the no nonsense Elneny type of player to anchor the midfield giving Partey the license to go forward. I honestly think AMN will work for most PL teams except for top 6. With further work he can improve. He need to be given a run of games.

  • Team news: Gabriel, Partey, White, Elneny
    Arsenal Media 09 Sep 2021
    Ben White and Gabriel

    Here’s our latest team news ahead of Saturday’s match against Norwich City.

    Watch Mikel’s press conference LIVE now

    Mohamed Elneny
    Left hamstring. Mo has suffered a hamstring strain and is aiming to be back in full training in two to three weeks.

    Gabriel Magalhaes
    Right knee. Gabriel is now back in full training and available for selection.

    Eddie Nketiah
    Right ankle. Eddie is now back in full training and available for selection.

    Thomas Partey
    Right ankle. Thomas is now back in full training and available for selection.

    Ben White
    Covid-19. Ben is now back in full training and available for selection.

    Granit Xhaka
    Suspended. Further to receiving a red card against Manchester City, Granit is serving the first of a three-match suspension.

    A number of players will be returning from international duty from Thursday morning. Their health and fitness will be assessed by the medical team in preparation for Saturday’s match.

    As part of Premier League protocol, all members of our first team squad and support staff continue to be regularly tested for COVID-19.


    Partey’s back! | Arsenal v Norwich | Inside Training

    Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source.

  • Crystal Palace v Totttenham * A (1-3)
    Arsenal v Norwich H
    Leicester v Manchester City * A (1-3)
    Watford v Wolves D
    Leeds v Liverpool A
    Napoli v Juventus * H (2-1)

  • So, Elneny and Xhaka not available and Partey available but probably not fully match fit. It’s going to be interesting to see who Arteta picks and I hope that whoever comes in plays well enough and gives the manager some real section headaches/options going forward.

    Interesting that Karl Hein and Daniel Ballard got rave reviews for their performances (for Estonia and Wales) last night. I saw Ballard play in Milwall’s loss to Fulham the other week. He was their MOTM and the result would have been much if not for him. Very committed and no-nonsense.

  • Good thoughts. We need someone like Ainsley to step up and really surprise us. I always say he has silky skills and looks quality, but since his playing time is so choppy, he always disappoints me in his passing game.

    I also imagine that maybe he could be good as a dm because he showed good defensive skills in general at fb, but that’s just a guess. Remember when Coquelin couldn’t find a place in the team, and used his physical ability to turn himself into a dm destroyer, and has made a career out of it. I hope AMN can do something to become valuable and help the team.

    It’s a great point by TA about how Partey can’t get a good enough run of games to have a major influence on our play. I was not that impressed with him and Xhaka together, and that might be part of the reason.

    It could be that I’m just tiring of Xhaka and I think we need a change. I’ll say this though… with the attacking talent we have in this team, we should be able to carry one less mobile midfielder like Xhaka and still be ok even if not optimal. The coach needs to get the attack firing.

    That’s what needs doing the most since last year, and zero goals so far and terrible chance creation does put him on the hot seat in my book.

  • Sorry GN5, here goes;

    C Palace v Totttenham * H (2-1)
    Arsenal v Norwich……….H
    Leicester v Man City *….H (2-1)
    Watford v Wolves ……….D
    Leeds v Liverpool………. A
    Napoli v Juventus *……. A (1-2)

  • Midfield
    Good arguments, TA. September will be AMN’s chance to show what he can bring to the team. I love the man, especially for his stone cold penalties in high-stress situations, but I’m not yet convinced if he should be our #3-#4 midfielder. Hel’ll have a few games with Xhaka suspended/treated, Elneny injured (plus possibly leaving) and Partey not yet fully fit to stake his claim. If he can, I’ll be delighted. If not, he will occasionally used either in midfield or at right back throughout the season and be sold in the summer (for his sake).
    I expect Elneny also leaving this year; maybe this week, or during the winter break, or latest in the summer. It is fundamental not to buy an additional midfielder in January – Arteta can experiment with Odegaard and ESR playing in CM too – but should leave the task of signing a high profile central midfielder to his successor (maybe himself, if he can turn things around), but I don’t see heavy spending in the winter. And next season we’ll have Xhaka, Partey, Lokonga, and even if Elneny, AMN and Guendouzi will not belong to Arsenal then, we’ll have Azeez, Patino and one new signing (Gravenberch, Gravenberch!)

    Arsenal players at the qualifications
    As OX10 ponited out, after Odegaards insane performance on Tuesday Hein and Ballard also had great games last night. Chronologically speaking Tierney played the whole game as Scotland won in Vienna and took 2nd place in the group behind 100% Denmark. Kolasinac also played half a match against Kazahstan (1:1) 2 days ago. Matteo Guendouzi didn’t feature for France. Tomiyasu shone against China in a friendly and Tavares were also victorious for Portugal U21.
    Last night Hein was appointed MotM with his 6 saves against Wales, and Northern Ireland’s point snitching from Switzerland was also among the surprises of the round. Daniel Ballard played RCB and were rated only 0.1 behind MotM McCann. Both Leno and Rúnarsson were unused substitute goalkeepers in the clash between Iceland and Germany, but it helped the case for the latter as his competitor Halldorsson made a huge error leading to a German goal. Finally Konstantinos Mavropanos marshaled the defense and led Greece to victory against Sweden. Dinos was the most ‘prolific’ defender on the pitch statistics-wise, but had no chance for a MotM award as Anastasios Bakasetas played the game of his life. Lokonga was not included in the Belgian matchday squad against Belarus. Saka was on the bench for England, but didn’t feature in their surprise draw against Poland.

  • Nice summary of the performance of our lads during the games of the last round in WC qualifying. Your observations about Ballard, Hein, Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu are spot on. On derived confidence alone, Hein should be pushing both Leno and Ramsdale for a place in the cup games.

    Good news that Tomi has gotten his work permit and is eligible for the game on Saturday. He looks like a player who can replace any one of our 4 defenders, given his ability with both feet.

  • Comment above was in reaction to PB.

    TA, I also feel our most secure and yet offensive midfield (tripod) combination will be Partey, Xhaka and Odegaard. With both Elneny and Xhaka out of this one, Partey, Lokonga and Odegaard will be able to make for a secure but less offensive midfield trio. Without Xhaka, Lokonga would try to remain in position and curb any offensive bone in him; it takes experience to be able to play the Xhaka role, and Lokonga is still learning his trade.

    The wildcard is AMN. He is quick and recovers well; he is good on the ball, if a bit too casual for comfort, he can also win back possession but can be guilty of the odd misplaced pass, here and there. If he can maintain focus and take his job seriously, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be the one starting ahead of Lokonga.

  • Pb,

    One thing I have to admit, and TA will remember I suggested here that we try ESR to help in central midfield because of a wealth of talent up front and now Ødegaard at 10. He has looked energetic when he goes deeper. I still think it’s a possibility, and could work out very well in the medium term, as you mention.

    But, it turned out horrible against Man City if I remember correctly. But to be honest, I would never have tried it against Peps team. Especially for a first try. Really silly decision among a few by the manager. Emile with Xhaka alone on that day particularly deserved the final score we ended up with, regardless of the red card. Kev called it as soon as we got the lineup.. Not that we would have won on the day,, but they overran us like a tsunami. Here’s to new beginnings.

  • TA look at Arteta pleading with players to vaccinate themselves as it would effect the complete team. It’s so pathetic we are in 21 st century and shouldn’t a club be run on scientific temper. How is this not a non negotiable for the clubs culture? Listening to Arteta looks like the vaccinated players will have relaxed protocols. No wonder so many of our team players have been affected by covid and yet this unscientific insanity goes on to the detrimental of the club.
    On the bright side, Arsenal women won against Slavia Praha to progress in CL with a Miedema hattrick. Great going Arsenal Women, kudos to them.

  • Nice comments guys.

    Eris, I think Partey will play on the left in Xhaka’s position and either Lokonga or Ainsley in the ‘Partey’ position.

    Madhu, science and persuasion go a long way but it is an individual choice. Nobody can force the needle in, fortunately. It is what it is.

  • Ta, today the last test match between England and India is cancelled as India couldn’t put a team due to Covid. It’s not persuasion, its common sense and it’s hard to understand when economically poor people are struggling for vaccines. Anyways if it’s an individual choice the club will have to bear the cost. Strange world we live in.

  • The batte between individual freedom and living responsibly for the greater good has been going on for centuries, Madhu. I understand your frustration but here in the west individual freedom is highly valued, and yes sometimes it leads to frustration.

  • TA, iam a fierce proponent of individual freedom. I learnt a lot about individual freedom and what it means when I lived many years in west. But to make it priority over what is right by science which is evidence based is downright foolish. If we do foolish things we will have to pay the price and don’t deserve any sympathy as well.

  • Madhu my friend,

    I’m vaccinated for the U.S. requisitioned China bat virus . I believe classic vaccines have worked well over the years.

    So I was not sceptical at all. Even if not totally sure, I decided to go with the percentages, which say that I’d be at least a little better off with the vax.

    I’m sorry to say that this vaccine, the totally new mRNA technology…is not turning out to be as good on the whole as we thought.
    The best part is that you very likely may still get the virus, but are not as likely to get very sick.,….Still a good point in it’s favor for the individual.

    For the planet as a whole, I’m not sure mass vaccination is turning out the way we expected.

    Here’s a stat for you…. Roughly 75% of adults in the U.S. are vaccinated. ( I never expected a higher% than that) …….
    People testing positive for the virus in the U.S. is 300% higher than at the same time last year WHEN NOBODY WAS VACCINATED. There was plenty of covid testing going on by this time last year.

    Now that these numbers are inconvenient for governments and health officials, they are turning to scapegoating people who are unvaccinated, with the help of the corporate media and celebrities.

    It’s pretty clear that vaccinated people are now spreading the variants like wildfire to vaxxed and unvaxxed people.

    People are calling for unvaccinated people to be denied emergency health services for any other conditions, along with other nasty suggestions to make their lives difficult.

    What’s going on in Australia , a country I always looked upon as ideal, is getting Orwellian. My favorite sport is Aussie football, by the way.

    I’m still going to get the booster which is going to be sooner and more frequent than most expected, but I’m not as clear on the success of the program as a whole as I had hoped.

    That stat I mentioned would maker any open minded person a little bit dubious of what we’re being told.

    Do you think Western governments and media would ever admit that the program as anything less than a complete success, after recommending the vax to every human on the planet?

    They will continue to double down and blame any failure on the new evil enemy, people who want to choose their own healthcare decisions.

  • Jync, being here in India with humungous population and poor healthcare let me make couple of points why I strongly feel about vaccination.
    1. I have seen the economic devastation and human carnage that we suffered earlier this year due to Covid. This was before vaccination started in india. We had dead bodies floating in rivers as people couldn’t bear the cost of hospitalisation and funeral. The economic cost of this pandemic has devasted the poorer section of the society. We are yet tk recover from it. Some of my colleagues who got covid are suffering long term effects of the same.
    2. When the vaccine started being available the rich nation hoarded the bulk of the vaccine and we had to struggle to get vaccination. We had to stand in long queues and wait for days to get our jabs.
    While it’s not a preventive vaccination yet, but the virus is less virulent for vaccinated person and mortality is down as well. That’s why when we see the apathy of rich towards vaccination it makes me a bit annoyed. But thats the way it is.

  • All agreed Madhu.

    I’d just ask you to keep in mind these are very personal decisions people are making for themselves and loved ones. Their children for example. Considering that, please try not to be too judgemental.

    I can’t think of this as any kind of class or income issue
    (rich vs poor) becausee the least vaccinated group in the U.S. is African Americans. The outspoken anti vax people are middle class and are being demonized by govt and media.

    Pharmaceutical companies I follow in the market are furiously working to get approval for vaccinating children, even though there’s so much evidence that it’s not necessary. They are already recommending vaccinating pregnant women with zero data on possible effects.

    Why do you think that’s the case? Money is the answer. Always follow the money.
    Booster shots we’ll be getting forever. Me included.

  • Jync, iam not being judgemental. Yes booster shots would be needed and it may another flu shot that the western world takes every year. When I was in Canada I was surprised that almost everyone took flu shot. It may well become like flu shot taken every year. We in india don’t take flu shots. But vaccination for kids till they reach a certain age has eradicated deadly diseases.
    It is individual choice I agree and pharmaceutical companies are making a killing. No doubt about it and probably fund many political parties.

  • We have a gentleman in our congregation who is a double PhD. He is a Doctor of Surgical medicine and practices out of one of our Northland Hospitals, and he is a Doctor of Theology. A few years back he spoke in our church. He held up a bible which his grandfather had left him, it was over 100 years old. He then held up a bible which he had newly purchased and said, “Other than some minor changes to modernize the language the texts of the two bibles are unchanged.” He then offered the thought that a science text book of 100 years ago would be significantly different to one of today, especially a medical one.
    He made two points. The point of interest for this discussion being that “science” is an evolving discipline. It has generally been driven by well minded and good hearted people over the centuries who have sought to understand the creation better and to serve mankind with discoveries, inventions and improvements upon those inventions. Sadly, history teaches us that “science” can be manipulated and controlled by interest groups with an agenda which isn’t beneficial to mankind in general. The Roman Church of the middle ages suppressed and demonized Galileo’s heliocentric model. Darwinism was used by several democracies to “rationalize” slavery, apartheid and the Nazi inspired holocaust.
    Madhu’s testimony of the rivers of India is heartbreakingly relevant. J’s insight from the midst of a rampantly capitalist culture is alarmingly valid. The wisest Man who ever lived, as quoted in that ancient, unchanging Book taught that, “You cannot serve God and Mammon”. History will show us that the issue of this virus and the response to it included the efforts of well minded and good hearted people mixed in with some very self serving ones. The wheat and the weeds growing together.

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