Fresh from watching Chelsea beating Man City in their own backyard not by parking the bus but by using an impressive tactical game i was pondering over thinking the instant impact Matic has made to the spine of Chelsea midfield. Everybody was surprised when Mourinho went in and bought a holding midfielder when the footballing circles were abuzz with bets on him going for a Striker.
Mourinho is tactically astute and knows the importance of a midfield lynchpin. Central midfield is the engine room of any team and a good lung capacity and Legs are a must have for anybody playing there. The position is extremely demanding where you have to put in up and down shifts throughout the game. Fernandinho is another player who has been the unsung hero of the City side and his absence was clearly felt against Chelsea.
The headline might sound alarming and may appear like a knee jerk reaction but Mikel Arteta’s contract expires on Jan 8, 2015. He will be 32 by the end of this season. Central defenders can carry on a tad longer at top level but Central midfield is very demanding position and Arteta seems to have lost his Zip this season. Don’t get me wrong he still is a good player, a good reader of the game with decent distribution and passing range. He is a player i admire but off late whenever the tempo of a particular game goes up he has struggled to cope. With our team built around attack our holding midfielder has to do a lot of work.
Wenger more often than not has taken footballing decisions practically rather than emotionally. His over thirty policy is something which is out in the open. Arteta is a nice guy, team and and a leader on the pitch but his legs seem to be out of sync with his brain this season. He has done well for himself and for the team in his time here but we need a solid/combative/mobile option in the middle of the park to partner the likes of Ramsey/Wilshere. With Flamini having acquitted himself well we need a top quality holding mid in the middle of the park as a starting option in the middle of the park. Flamini still has the energy, fitness levels and stamina to last 90 minutes and he can be an able deputy.
Make no mistake Arteta still has a couple of years of football left but not at the level required for a club fighting for top honors. Football squads are all about balance and our squad is more skewed towards attacking mids at the moment. Now please do not get me wrong my assessment is not based on a couple of poor performances rather on a gradual but a consistent pattern where he has struggled to play in a high tempo situation.
Lastly the way Oxlade Chamberlain has acquitted himself in the Central midfield is nothing short of impressive. He put in a near perfect performance against Tony Pulis’ well drilled team. Not only was he solid defensively winning balls with aplomb he showed impressive burst of pace to score two impressive goals. Wenger in his pregame interview mentioned that Chamaberlain’s future lies in the central midfield. I know its too early to judge him but he definitely deserves some playing time based on the spark he has shown in the middle of the park.
If you do the maths it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the fact that Arteta will be a bit part player next season. The point is- is he willing to accept that bit-part role? Will he stay with us if we do not offer him a substantial extension to his current deal? Any which way you see it i do not see him hanging around if he is not promised substantial playing time or a significant extension both of which look unlikely at this point in time.