Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla. That midfield trio, on paper, is one of the most technically gifted, creative and exciting midfield trios there is in World football. At times, it’s certainly painted that idealistic picture, but it doesn’t possess the balance, nor the physicality, to be regarded definitively as one of the best around.
Étienne Capoue could be that player – a physically imposing midfielder – who could restore tactical and physical balance to our midfield. First and foremost, we need a dynamic ball-winner. We need a player who can sit in, alongside the likes of Mikel or Jack and add a physicality which the midfield lacks. Mikel Arteta’s done admirably well as the holding midfielder, but the lack of strength and pace is sometimes blatantly obvious. Abou Diaby started the season in that box-to-box role, but once again, injuries have blighted his much-anticipated return to Arsenal’s first-team.
This season in France’s Ligue 1, Capoue has won 291 ‘duels’ – the highest number in France’s premier division. That’s exactly what we need. Arsenal’s midfield – one which has serious potential and talent – deserves a ball-winner; a midfielder to do ‘the donkey work’, as the popular saying goes. This midfield needs a solid platform Capoue, in his 17 starts for the Toulouse side which he vice-captains, has made a total of 39 tackles and interceptions, respectively. He’s also won 58 aerial duels, in comparison to Mikel Arteta’s justified 18 aerial duels won.
Not only does Étienne Capoue possess the physical and defensive qualities to enhance our already good midfield, but he also has the technical ability to slot comfortably into an Arsenal midfield. He’d be a metaphorical duck to water. Capoue – who’s made three appearances for Les Bleus – averages an impressive 68 passes a game; a figure eclipsed only by Olympique Lyonnais’ Maxime Gonalons. Briefly: he has the technical qualities to fit into Arsenal.Using past experiences, the lack of a dynamically dominant midfielder is surprising, given Arsène’s past success having on in the team: The world-renowned ‘invincibles’ team had the imperious Patrick Vieira to bring not only defensive stability, but a driving force from midfield, with his ventures forward often culminating in a positive outcome. That’s what this current side lacks. The closest we’ve come to that type of midfielder is Abou Diaby. Sadly, debilitating injuries have hampered his development. From what I’ve seen of him, Capoue is certainly capable of performing such a role – if sporadically.
Abou Diaby is precisely what we need. It’s that fact which further compounds the frustration of our midfield situation. We have what we need – only for it to be taken away by a horrible string of hampering injuries. That said, it’s important to learn from our mistakes. Despite the return of Abou Diaby, it’s imperative that Arsène still goes out in an important January transfer window and explore the possibility of signing someone like Étienne Capoue. Diaby could be struck down by injury in an instant. That’s something Arsène knows all too well…
To conclude, the current Arsenal midfield lacks something. It lacks the balance that title-winning midfield’s in the past have had. Quite simply, and frustratingly, it lacks an Vassiriki Abou Diaby – but Étienne Capoue would suffice…
Do you agree with me? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below – or you could tweet me: @LlewAFC