Arsene: “We need a defensive midfielder”

After the sale of Flamini and Gilberto this summer, Wenger is still searching for a replacement to play the defensive midfield role which these two have in the past.

We have options at the club already, most notably Diaby, who has played the role during pre-season. I have blogged before about Diaby and I think he has talent, but he doesn’t seem to be able to fulfil his potential.

There are other players in the squad, such as Song, who can play in central midfield, but Diaby is the only real option which makes sense.

The problem for me is that last year the squad did not have the strength and depth which is appropriate for title challengers. We have now let two first teamers go, and no-one has replaced them.

Wenger wants to bring in another midfielder, who is more experienced, and this makes the most sense, after Members’ Day he said:

“If we have everybody on board and nobody injured then [OK] but maybe we could do to take one more experienced player.”

This is true – we could manage this season with our current squad if no-one gets injured and use Diaby in central midfield. He is a good player and we have a strong first team. But there is not enough cover for Diaby, and it would be too easy for that to go wrong.

If we really are challenging next year the best option is, as Wenger says, to bring in an experienced player, and then Diaby would be used as back up. That would be the perfect outcome – but if we can’t find the right guy then we may go ahead with a weakened squad.

So keep looking Arsene, I just hope you find the right guy before time runs out!

Who will partner Fabregas next season – Gilberto, Diaby, Ramsey?

The departure of Flamini to AC Milan eariler this summer was undoubtedly a blow for Arsenal FC. Last season he went from being a squad player, to one of the most influential figures in midfield and forged an excellent partnership with Fabregas.

Now he has left the void has to be filled. Gooners were probably hoping Arsenal would sign a new defensive midfielder to partner Cesc, but that’s not likely now, Wenger seems to be focusing more on the wings, which were a problem area for us last season.

In the centre of we have the option of Gilberto or Diaby, and also Song, Denilson or even Ramsey. The best defensive candidates are Gilberto and Diaby.

Gilberto – already having played the role for a few years prior to Flamini’s emergence has the experience and quality. The problem is he looked poor last season when he did get a few chances to impress, and his passing is always up to scratch. He plays a diffferent game to that of Flamini, tending to hold back, whereas Flamini is always in the oppositions faces.

Gilberto would be a sensible choice to start with as a defensive midfielder, but I don’t think he is good enough anymore to warrant a staring place.

Abou Diaby is my choice. He is a strong and fast player, with a lot of height. We used him on the wing last season, and he got a few goals. The main problem with him is that he is inconsistent – and can be lazy.

Diaby has great qualities for the role though, he is defensive, but very good going forward – his pace, passing and ball control mean that he would be a great partner for Cesc, and he is a long term option.

If he can up his work rate and consistency then he could have a chance, I would love to see Wenger try him out next season.

There are other contenders – Denilson, I think isn’t ready for that sort of role. Ramsey – more suited to the wings, and Song – Wenger thinks that he will better used in defence.

So we start the season with a first team spot up for grabs, we just need to see who takes it.

What do you think – is there anyone I’ve missed – or do you think we should be signing a new central midfielder?

UPDATE 11 JULY 2008: Is Gilberto going? Rumours are he is going to Panathaniakos…

Song, A fantastic CB for next season?

Will Alex Song be a regular next season?

That is a question on many fans lips as Wenger praised the player. The amount of bad press this guy got when he joined was incredible.

Wenger said:

“I believe he is a remarkable player and I was one of the very, very few who believed in Alexandre Song,”

“I can show you articles in newspapers which said that [he] was the worst buy I have made but you will see in one or two years that he will be a great player for Arsenal.”

All this season and last, a fat bald guy in the row in front of me has slagged this guy off at every opportunity (along with half the team). I can’t see why though. He played very well in the run he got at the end of the season, and was impressive at the ANC. Wenger followed on:

“When I put a player somewhere, I know why I do. If I play Song at centre back it is because I believe he will be a great centre back for Arsenal Football Club.

“In Song’s case, he can play in central midfield. But can he play 60 games there? I am not convinced.”

So basically Le Boss is suggesting that Song can’t hack the intensity of midfield, which is true, he is good going forward, but he looks a little sluggish, more suited to a role in central defence. He won’t be replacing Flamini.

Wenger will keep him at centre back next season, and personally I am a big fan of the guy. Maybe just because he gets so much stick, but you have to admit he has talent. He won’t be first choice, but excellent back-up.

Forget Dunne, all we want is Song!