Welcome to part 3 of our pre-season squad assessment, where today we will be casting our eye over the current midfield group. Enough of the filler, here’s the main event!
Aaron Ramsey – 26 yrs – Centre Mid
After a string of niggles kept him from finding his rhythm during the first half of the season, he forged a great partnership with new boy, Granit Xhaka as the season moved into its final stages. Scored another FA Cup winning goal on the final day of the campaign and looks set to play another key part of our league fortunes this year. Needs an injury free run to recapture that 12/13 form.
Granit Xhaka – 24 yrs – Centre Mid
The 1st of our big signings, along with Mustafi, from last season. He took some time to find his feet and adapt to the pace and physicality of the English game, finding himself on the end of two pretty harsh red cards. Did score two thumping shots from distance which led all and sundry to scream ”SHOOOOOT” every time he picked it up within 30 yards. Has a fantastic range of passing and allows Mesut Ozil to focus on final third play instead of dropping off so deep so often. Beast!
Santi Cazorla – 32 yrs – Centre Mid
The little Spanish wizard spent just about all of the season in the treatment room managing a serious calf/Achilles issue. In the immediate aftermath of his injury we really missed his influence on the game and ability to hold the ball. Had his contract extended while recovering and will be a great inclusion back into the team once he is fit again. Maestro!
Francis Coquelin – 26 yrs – Centre Mid
The combative defensive midfielder has found himself an important part of the team with his tenacious attitude and willingness to do the dirty work. After his partner in crime, Santi, went down with injury, he took some time to establish a new playing relationship with Ramsey/Xhaka but kept working throughout the season to provide a valuable option when called upon. What he lacks in technical ability, he makes up for in work ethic. Coq!
Mo Elneny – 25 yrs – Centre Mid
A rotation option throughout the season, he showed he has the mentality to compete at the level when required. With numerous established players around him he struggled to nail down a full-time role, but he is a great option to give other blokes a chop out and also should see time in the domestic cups early door. Loves having a go from range. Plays simple, smart football.
Mesut Ozil – 28 yrs – Attacking Mid/Left Wing
The jewel in the current Arsenal lineup and GDU fave, Ozil is a pure footballer. Able to change a game with one touch he has made more chances and assists than any other player in the league since debuting he can carve opposition defences week after week. Spent some time on the right-wing at the end of last season after the change to the back 3, he has most influence from the #10 position. To those that give him shit for his laconic style we say; You don’t use your Ferrari to plough a field… Wizard!
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 24 yrs (next week) – Right Wing
Had his most successful season for the club in term of goals and assists last season and finally got some solid game time under his belt after an injury interrupted career to that point. Showed some genuine quality especially towards the latter stages of the season, he adapted to being shuffled into unfamiliar positions really well with his great work ethic and skill on the ball. A direct dribbler, he comes into the season with under 12 months left on his contract. Wants more minutes through the middle but faces a tough job to displace those ahead of him and may find himself played wide right yet again.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide – 19 yrs – Attacking Mid
First season on the senior list and used in half a dozen games in domestic cup comps, Radelaide will be one to keep an eye on again this season as he continues his development. Has come under a bit of a query this pre-season after rumours of a fall out and possibly leaving the club came out. Was left out of most of the pre-season commitments. Faces competition from Ainsley Maitland-Niles and newly promoted Reiss Nelson.
Jack Wilshere – 25 yrs – Attacking Mid/Centre Mid
Made the bold call to go out on loan to the Cherries last season in order to restart his league career. Took some time to work his way into Eddie Howe’s lineup and was constantly managed throughout the campaign, he may not have impacted the stats sheet for Goals or assists, but he did provide a good pivot for Bournemouth to launch towards their most successful season ever. Still some uncertainty over his Arsenal future, it looks like Wenger may be open to allowing Jack to continue his career elsewhere. Would need to find that 2012 form to cement an ongoing role within this team.
None, but keep an eye on Wilshere, Chamberlain and Radelaide.
None, but we are probably in the market for Thomas Lemar, should we shed some of the weight Arsene has so frequently talked of.
When fit and firing this can be a midfield group that can take it up to any of the best midfields in the league. The main query is and has been for some time now, trying to keep them all fit as we have seen the wheels fall off too many times on the back of long-term injuries to even one key member of the group. Santi and Jack will be luxury players if they can get back to the level required. Perhaps a signing is on the way late in the window?
Got any thoughts on our midfield? Send us a tweet or comment on this post to kick off a discussion!
We’ll be back tomorrow with a look at our Forwards!