At Arsenal, it is the midfield that takes first priority. Everything runs through the midfield. Slick passes, one-twos, possession sessions all included. Through time, Wenger has experimented with several different players in midfield. On most occasions, these players have gone on to become great players in the game. Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas and of the current lot, the resurgent Francis Coquelin comes to mind.
Arsenal have made a promising start to the 16/17 season and their midfield, as always, has done exceptionally well. Whoever has been deployed there by Wenger has done a fair job and contributed to the team’s overall good performances. In all the games so far, Wenger has tried out various midfield combinations.
The opening game of the season against Liverpool saw Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny start, but the team lost 4-3 on the day. In the next game, a 0-0 draw against Leicester, Granit Xhaka and Coquelin started. Then Santi Cazorla returned from injury and played in the 3-1 win over Watford. Santi has been an ever-present personnel since then and pulled all his strings to perfection. He is a magician at feet and can tantalize opposition markers with his slick dribbling skills and close control. His passing is second to none and he has gone on to become a vital cog in the Arsenal engine room.
This season, Arsenal are quite blessed in midfield. They have Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey to choose from. On their day, every player mentioned in this list can be menacing and effective. But Wenger can only pick two of these to start in his XI on a given matchday. So which midfield duo is best suited to fit into Arsene Wenger’s winning formula?
1) Francis Coquelin/Granit Xhaka and Santi Cazorla
This is probably Arsenal’s best midfield duo option at the moment. Coquelin is an astute reader of the game and gives immense protection to his back four. Xhaka too, is a player of similar irk to Coquelin. Cazorla, on the other hand, is more expressive in his movement and gets forward frequently on being invited. Coquelin or Xhaka sit behind, anticipate and intercept the ball on most occasions. This will set Santi Cazorla free and the Spaniard with his vision seldom misplaces a pass. This sequence definitely helps a team like Arsenal who likes to have more of the ball and doing so gives them the freedom to express themselves, in an attacking sense. Xhaka has also shown that he has a penchant for the spectacular goal and that is an added bonus.
2) Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey
When Wenger is looking out for some variety in his midfield, he can opt to start Elneny and Ramsey in midfield. Both players have surplus amounts of energy and can get around the pitch like workhorses effortlessly. They are also blessed with the prowess to get forward and support their attackers. This could come in handy in the long run. Ramsey in the past has shown that he can regularly get into the box and when he does, he seldom fails to hit the back of the net. Off late, though his attacking play has taken a hit and he should be looking to get back to his best and force his way into Arsene Wenger’s starting XI.
Having laid out these combinations, it has to be said that all the midfielders are talented enough to slot in next to any player and they will produce the goods. Arsenal should be looking to compete big on all 3 or 4 fronts and having all these talented midfielders at their disposal will certainly help Arsene Wenger.