Pretty much all the Arsenal-related transfer speculation so far has been about strikers, with players such as Gonzalo Higuaín, Stevan Jovetic, Christian Benteke, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang among the names mentioned. The goal tally has not been enough this season, and a lack of options has cost the Gunners several points this season. So far the only striker that looks likely to be coming to the Emirates this summer is 20-year-old Frenchman Yaya Sanogo, who currently plays for Ligue 2 side Auxerre.
But is the striking department the only area in which Wenger should be focusing on? 9 out of 10 would say no. A lack of midfield cover for the defence has been problematic throughout the season, and even though Mikel Arteta has been doing well, he is 31 years of age, and it could never hurt to bring in another midfield enforcer. One of the options seems to be Lyon’s Maxime Gonalons. He is French, plays for an inferior team compared to Arsenal, and his team is rumoured to be interested in Gervinho, meaning he could be a realistic target for Arsenal. Assuming that at one point he does agree to transfer over to North London, where would he fit into the team?
Arsenal currently play a 4-2-3-1 type of formation, slightly modified with the 2 deep midfielders playing one in front of the other, making it more like a 41131. Arteta usually plays that defensive role, with Ramsey having filled in the other towards the end of the season. The problem with buying a player like Gonalons is that one of the two previously mentioned players will have to lose their spot in the starting 11. Of course, over the course of a season, fatigue, injuries and suspensions would mean rotation will happen, and being in a situation in which multiple players are competing to play in the same position is very healthy indeed.
So who would lose their place? Lets look first at what each of them brings to the team, starting with the lego-haired Spaniard himself: Mikel Arteta. One of the most consistent players of 2012/2013 for Arsenal, Arteta’s passing, leadership and calmness on the ball make him an important asset for the team, as his presence on the field enhances the way the whole team plays. However he is getting older, aged 31, and he will not be able to keep playing 40+ games a season for much longer.
He is decent defensively, and seems to have adapted well to a rather unfamiliar role in his second season playing for the Gunners. He is very competent going forward, and has contributed a few goals (albeit mostly from the penalty spot). Very reliable in the midfield, he has become part of Arsenal’s core since moving from Everton in the summer of 2011.
Aaron Ramsey, however, is a very different type of player, bringing a different demeanour to the pitch in the last few months. Having gone through a tough period recently, the Welshman has done brilliantly to recover, and his late-season form has been very good. He is one of those engine players, running up and down the length of the field all game long. Very quick to close down players, he attained a very good average tackles per minute ratio, with one tackle every 28 minutes, and almost a 90% tackle success rate, which beats Arteta. Relative to Arteta, his weakness is passing, often failing to keep it simple and losing possession, with a loss of possession every 72 minutes as opposed to Arteta’s 153 minutes. However his energy cannot be understated, he would run through a wall for the team. Furthermore, he is willing to play wherever the manager wants him to, having slotted in the wings and even at right back. Another advantage is his age, at only 22 years old.
So considering the current balance of things, it looks like Arteta would be shifted further forward and Ramsey finding himself on the bench. This scenario would be ideal, as competition is very healthy. Of course a change of formation, would also be a viable option for Wenger. To conclude, I believe that yes, Arsenal should definitely make an approach for a defensive midfielder. However I am very interested in your own opinion, so feel free to leave a comment below.