Another quick one today folks (and after I said I didn’t have much time with all the wedding prep! I’m still looking for guest writers if you are interested. Please also check out this excellent guest post by Follow Brian!
What is happening with Nuri Sahin? He’s in, he’s out, he’s shaking it all about.
According to the various reports in the papers and rumours on twitter you could be forgiven for believing that Nuri has been hovering over Coventry for a week in a helicopter telling the pilot to head to London whilst Mourinho radios in franticly that the pilot should stay on course for Liverpool.
I really hope that he gets his way and joins Arsenal even if it is only on loan. When it came to buying midfielders I never once considered Sahin for Arsenal but that’s not because I didn’t think he was good enough, far from it, I just never conceived a situation where Madrid would let him go.
When the summer started I never really saw Song leaving and thus felt a “deep” midfielder was not required. We already had Song, Arteta, Wilshere, Coquelin and Frimpong for those positions and I felt the names we were being linked with to “challenge” Song were no better. M’Vila (or “M’villa” as twitter would have me believe) for example is a player that I felt and still feel is no improvement on Song. Those who have watched him regularly that I know of tend to agree and consider him as I consider him and that is as a player with great “potential”. He has had a few impressive international performances but international football is so different from club football. I’ve never believed him to be the “answer” to the teams “problems” and in fact have always felt that he was considered the answer to the wrong question but that’s for another time. If you want to read a piece on M’Vila by someone who has seen him play for a number of years then I suggest you read this by @BackoTheDoc.
The player I really wanted if we went for a “deep” midfielder was Javi Martinez.
Now you may be wondering why I keep say “deep” midfielder and not “DM”. It’s because I generally detest the term and want to dispel what I believe to be a myth about Arsenal. Arsenal do not need a “DM” nor have they played with one in the Wenger years. The closest we’ve come was Petit. Even Gilberto to my mind was not a “defensive midfielder”.
I consider a defensive midfielder to be a player who essentially is a “front sweeper” for the defence. They are there to tackle, screen and cover the fullbacks when they attack either by dropping into that space or dropping into defence allowing the centrebacks to spread out. You may disagree with my interpretation of what a defensive midfielder is but for me the clue is in the name.
What Arsenal play with is a “holding midfielder”. Now that may seem like the same thing to many people but to me they are quite different. To me a holding midfielder can do what a DM can do but they have greater technical ability, superb close ball control and passing ability (even if it is just sideways). Gilberto, Flamini, Denilson, Song and Arteta are all holding midfielders to my mind. Players you may consider to be defensive midfielders such as Alonso are holding midfielders.
Song performed best when we played with a deep-lying playmaker such as Jack Wilshere. Those types of players take up the same position as HMs but they are more likely to dictate attack and play dangerous through-balls. Last year Arteta took up the HM role and Song decided he was going to be the deep playmaker and he did well assists wise but it cause a few defensive lapses. It could be argued that it’s not his job to defend any more but deep playmakers are usually fairly accomplished tacklers, Wilshere for example, and contribute to defence.
So why will Sahin be a better option than Song? Firstly, versatility. Sahin is capable of playing as a deep-lying playmaker and as a holding midfielder. Secondly, discipline. Sahin is a very disciplined player. Like all players schooled in German football he is built for discipline and has shown it on many occasions when asked to play various positions such as left-back.
I think Arsenal would benefit from having two deep-lying playmakers-cum-holding midfielders like Arteta and Sahin playing together and hopefully longer-term Sahin and Jack. We would be defensively sound as we’d have two players capable of breaking up playing and initiating a counter-attack as well as two player who have the ability to start and finish attacks, thread through-balls and pick out a 40 yard pass.
Nuri could we be our long term successor to Arteta and we all know which player out of Song and Arteta we’d rather keep.
Sahin played that deep-playmaker-cum-holding-midfielder role to great effect at Dortmund and proved himself to be a strong tackler. For Arsenal he would add a mixture of steel and superb technical ability that will make Song a long forgotten memory.
If you’re worried that Sahin wouldn’t be able to play a deep role and we’d miss having a specialist “DM” because he can’t tackle or isn’t “hard” enough then maybe you should see the resemblance between Sahin and a certain indestructible man who I’d say was pretty tough .
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