One major problematic position at Arsenal has been the defensive midifield position. In the past, Arsenal have been accused of lacking a true defensive midfield lynchpin that could help protect the back four. Last season, Arsenal had 3 players play the role; Arteta, Diaby and Ramsey but owing to the Frenchman’s fitness concerns, Arteta and Ramsey had to share the responsibilities.
In the summer window, Wenger moved to address the situation by signing former Gunner Mathieu Flamini on a free transfer. The acquisition of a defensive midfielder became imperative owing to the thigh injury sustained by Arteta prior to the beginning of the new season, hence the signing of Flamini. The Frenchman had held the forte well in Arteta’s absence but the former Toffee man has now returned to full fitness, giving Wenger a selection headache ahead of the weekend clash against Swansea and the Champions League clash against Napoli. Who should mann the defensive midfield position between Flamini and Arteta?
Arteta isn’t a natural defensive midfielder, he is a deep lying playmaker but was converted to the defensive midfield position owing to Arsenal’s lack of a fit defensive midfielder. Unlike Flamini who is a natural defensive midfielder. He has the ruthlessness and concentration to thrive in the position. What then becomes Arteta’s fate? I believe Arteta is more suited to the attacking midfield role. Arteta’s versatility is good for Arsenal but when Flamini is fit and raring to go, he should be allowed to sit as the defensive midfielder while Arteta or Ramsey play as the auxiliary defensive midfielder since Arsenal play with a double pivot.
With Flamini on board, Arteta’s battle for a first team place is with the in-form Welshman.
Aaron Ramsey. Both Ramsey and Arteta are attack minded midfielders but Arteta’s attacking foray has been curtailed owing to Arsenal’s lack of a natural defensive midfielder, ditto for Ramsey too. Everyone seems surprised at Ramsey’s rich goal scoring form but they have failed to notice the presence of the strong Frenchman. With Flamini guiding and anchoring the defensive side of the midfield, Ramsey can afford to gallop forward, join the attack, get into good goalscoring positions and add his own fair share of goals. I believe Arteta can do the same. The Spaniard was a more attacking force at Everton than he has been at Arsenal. The reason been that he had a more defensive minded midfielder behind him. Now that Arsenal have Flamini, he can resume his attacking duties at Arsenal. He will be a potent attacking force at Arsenal because he has intelligent passes and also a good shot.
The only reservation I have is if he is good enough to displace Ramsey in the starting 11? The Welshman has been in outstanding form both defensively and offensively. Well, the competition Arsenal fans have always been craving for has arrived and they will have to face it squarely. He will need to prove he is better than Ramsey as the second defensive midfielder.
The good thing is that Arsenal now have depth in both the attacking midfield and also defensive midfield areas. The trio of Flamini, Arteta and Ramsey are good enough to start, hence, Wenger might have to resort to rotation. With the depth we have now, we are well poised to last the whole haul this season.