Analysis of Arteta & the need for a proper defensive-midfielder

Posted: November 30, 2012 in Arsenal



Mikel Arteta is a creative midfielder by trade, yet he’s curbed his attacking instinct to play in a much deeper role than he usually would. Arteta possesses all the attributes to make up a very technically gifted attacking-midfielder; his vision is, in my opinion, second to none in the current squad. One thing that drives me up the wall is the fact he’s being played in a role which, obviously, doesn’t suit him or the team.

Some may argue that he’s our most consistent player, to which I’d be inclined to agree with to an extent: his consistency is misconstrued by many because of his accurate passing rate and vision. When he isn’t isolated, he keeps the team ticking like a clock… when he is isolated, then you truly understand why he isn’t a defensive-midfielder. Arteta’s way of defending is very disciplined: he swarms around his opponent until he sees a little opening for him to stick his foot in; this, sometimes, doesn’t work because of Arteta’s lack of defensive awareness. A proper defensive-midfielder is built around a defensive philosophy and therefore understands the concept of defending. You can’t expect Arteta, after spending most of his career in a more advanced role, to be breaking down attacks and shielding the defence because he doesn’t have that defensive mentality and isn’t physically built for those tasks.

A defensive-midfielder has to be someone who can protect the defence, slot in to cover defenders on marauding runs and win the ball nine times out of ten. Defensive-midfielders have to be built like tanks and intimidate opposing players who try to turn them and start attacks; I feel as if we don’t have this sort of player at Arsenal.

Alex Song was a player who I feet should’ve been replaced immediately after being sold because he was an integral part of our midfield. Song was perceived as a player who never did his job and would always burst forward to set-up attacks although, if you look at his performances before last season, he was a solid defensive-midfielder who never put his defensive duties to the side. My theory on Alex Song’s ‘playmaker’ role last season is: after losing Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in the summer, Arsenal were left with barely any creative midfielders apart from Rosicky and Ramsey (who had immense pressure on his shoulders because of this), Song started playing with more attacking intent because he felt he could change the game with his vision – if this was such a big problem, Wenger would’ve told Song to sit back and do his job; he didn’t and Song went on to muster 13 assists. Alex Song offered physicality, an intimidating frame and the ability to break down attacks.

There’s only one player in our current squad who can mould into an old-school bruiser in the midfield – Emmanuel Frimpong. Despite his lack of technicality (which you don’t need as a defensive-midfielder), he’s one of those players who loves tackling and breaking down attacks; he’s like a pitbull. Add to the fuel that he’s a life-long gooner and you’ve got someone who will run through a brick-wall for you and fly into tackles just to prevent opposition attacks. Francis Coquelin, though, is very limited and doesn’t have much defensive nous about him to play in that defensive-midfield role; apart from when he plays at right-back, I can’t understand what people see in him and I don’t think he has much of a future here at Arsenal.

M’Vila? Here’s the controversial part. Yann M’Vila, who I presume most of you reading this have heard of, was heavily linked with Arsenal throughout the Summer transfer window with Arsene Wenger supposedly pulling out of the transfer because of M’Vila’s troublemaker attitude. Whilst I understand us pulling out of the transfer, I still wouldn’t have minded him at Arsenal because, under Arsene Wenger’s tutelage, I believe he would’ve come out to be a cracking player and grown out of his attitude problems. When playing for a club with the prestige of Arsenal, you feel as if you need to be classy and represent the club in a good manner – I still feel as if M’Vila would understand this. After being banned from all of France’s international games until the 2014 world cup and dropping down the pecking order at Rennes, M’Vila would be available at a very low price in January – possibly in the region of around £8-10M. A player doesn’t lose class and ability over the period of 4-5 months unless they’ve suffered a nasty injury, and I believe we should go in for M’Vila just because he suits the bill and ticks every attribute needed for a world-class defensive-midfielder.

If we’re to persist with this 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 with a holding midfielder, it’s time to sign an actual holding midfielder and not a make-shift one. We’d benefit much more from having Arteta be a midfielder ahead of the holder because it gives us squad depth and allows the team to perform naturally and not force out performances from make-shift players every week.

Just to reiterate my points from this whole piece:

  1.  I love Arteta but I feel he doesn’t suit the defensive-midfield role .
  2. Frimpong is our only ‘proper’ defensive-midfielder.
  3. M’Vila would still be a class signing.


  1. gunners78 says:

    Reblogged this on Arsenal BPL and commented:
    Love Arteta and yes he is a creative midfielder not a defensive one.

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