Monday 11 January 2010

Midfielders who can defend - are we short?

1997/8 - Vieira, Petit and Parlour
2001/2 - Vieira, Parlour, Van Bronckhorst, Edu, Grimandi
2003/4 - Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Edu, Parlour

These are the midfielders who could defend that we had in the squad when we won our league titles under Arsene. You will notice that there is a bit of a contrast with our current squad in terms of defensive midfield options.

We have Alex Song who has been outstanding for a year now, but without him we really struggle to fill the holding role. Diaby is the only other midfielder in the squad who I believe is capable of the role, but bizarrely we saw Denilson fielded there against Everton, maybe Arsene just doesn't want to lose Diaby's forward drive by playing him too deep. I don't think he has much of a choice given Denilson's lack of defensive ability.

It's something we've discussed a lot here in the past but we are just too clean a side at the moment. You need someone to be slightly cynical, to take down that man with a little clip of the ankles just as he is breaking through the midfield area, to take the yellow cards for the team on occasion. Many of the greatest sides have these kinds of players, the Mascheranos of this world are not popular with neutrals of the game but they are damn effective. I just wonder if we've become too soft and too nice a team. Am I rambling or do I have a point?


Anonymous said...

I think its want to rather than can do.

Evertons 2nd goal was because no one was as far back as the center circle.

Song often takes up this position when the 2 CB go forward. Its as if it was the final minute of a cup final.

I hope we learn from this soon.

Ted said...

Of course you're right! We've been saying it since Flamini left !

Anonymous said...

Spot on mate. Even the very best sides like Barcelona have the likes of Toure and Basquet who are tall, strong and can mix it when needed and have now won six trophy in the last one year.Dont forget that the inimitable Xavi used to play as a DM before been converted into a more attacking midfielder. With ONLY Song to play that role, I dont think we'll win anything.You either get a diminutive, technically sound, tireless and tenacious CDM like Flamini or you go get a Gilberto-like pplayer who can play in both CB and DM positions.Do this and we trash some, fail here and finish fourth(if you're lucky)!AW, go and buy us the players we need NOW!

Obsinho said...

You are right, but Wenger knew this in the summer and didn't act so is unlikely to now.

I'd like to see Eastmond again, or maybe JET though he is much more attacking.

It is a risk we face - imagine if Song picks up an injury?

GunnerPete said...

Is this the most obvious question ever???? Every Arsenal fan I know has been moaning and praying for a dual signing of another Song with Cesc in between them, and another Vermaelen to play alongside the current bproblem is that Arsene NEVER sees it..ever! He sees Denilson...who is talented but a crab who cannot speed up to defend. He sees Diaby potentially one of the great attackers in the game, as a defender. He sees Almuni as a really good goalie. He sees Gallas as world class when he is NOT. So all the talk of another forwrad is stupid..we have so many goal scorers even with our top two out most of this season we are still top scorers in history? The answer is so obvious it is sickning....Arsene has not and will never have the guts to ask for advice on how to defend...the only great defence he has ever had was when he arrived and he inherited the fab they left one by one our defence became argument! In a nut shell AW will not buy who we want or need to wina trophy as he still thinks we will be near or top when all our injuries clear up...and that is criminal.

1979gooner said...

Yep, if Song got injured it would not bear thinking about.

Maybe Eboue in the holding role?

But seriously, it seems there are a few kids who can handle the physical aspect of being a midfielder, Eastmond, JET, Coquelin, Frimpong, Lansbury - just a shame a couple of them aren't a year or two older and more experienced.

Denilson is just so one-paced, he constantly dives into tackles because he knows he wouldn't be able to track back and stay with the player.

1979gooner said...

Wenger seems a little in denial over our lack of squad balance.

I don't think you can explain away things by saying we just weren't on our game, there were reasons for this and the big one was that we lost the midfield battle in the first half particularly.

Denilson seems to get backing no matter how poor he is, I can't help but get a bit frustrated at this.

Anonymous said...

Denilson fouls as much as any midfielder of the earlier eras but Vierra, so not sure stats support you. As for last game, are you usually as unforgiving of less than stellar performance first game back from an injury? Sheesh!!

In their glory years Arsenal never were the stingy defensive powerhouse you suggest, never as stingy as Chelsea and ManU of the past 4-5 years. Arsenal won on goal differential, yet never achieved GD of 30 by mi-season.

1979gooner said...

latest anonymous,

ignoring the last poor denilson performance, the lad has never been able to defend, whenever i've seen him he is walked past far too easily and defends very poorly one on one,

don't give me that bull about not giving denilson a chance, i've watched him many times and i'm writing based on this, not on one performance,

the lad is a good passer, a bright midfielder but not a holding player, he's a very good player for the squad to play in the cesc type role


stats are largely meaningless for certain things, they don't notice the small details which are often key, they don't notice not being tight enough to one's man, not even being close enough to make a tackle, being there just to put someone off etc

arsenal were not a defensive powerhouse?

in 2003/4 we conceded 26 goals all season, yes 26 goals

last time we came close to the title we conceded 31 goals 07/8

the previous league titles under wenger we conceded less than a goal/game (36 and 33 goals)

even last season we conceded less than a goal/game

this season we have already conceded 23 goals, well over a goal per game

i accept that generally arsenal have not been quite as tight as some of the more defensive sides that have won the prem like mourinho's, obviously attacking football will score you more goals and you are liable to leak a few more at the other end,

what is pretty obvious though this season is that we are leaking way too many goals, 'stupid' goals as TV says against Everton

a big part of this for me has been the lack of protection given to the defence by our midfield, this is emphasised when song is absent

Manu said...

denilson isnt a defensive midfielder, in fact i think he doesnt have to play so as he does it. the only defenders midfielder arsenal has are song and diaby. the second one must play behind cesc and other organizer.

good blog, cheers from nunca podre tener un dinosaurio

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