Arsenal FC: Which Defensive Midfielder Should Start for the Gunners?

Bell Malley@milesmalleyAnalyst IIIOctober 10, 2011

Arsenal FC: Which Defensive Midfielder Should Start for the Gunners?

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    Arsenal are in deep trouble right now. They have mustered only seven points from seven matches, and don't seem to be getting any better.

    All positions are thin right now, except for one:

    At defensive midfielder, manager Arsene Wenger has plenty of options to choose from.

    Given that everyone is healthy, that list includes Emmanuel Frimpong, Alex Song, Francis Coquelin and Jack Wilshere.

    All these players are intriguing options for the Gunners.

    I will break down each player and give an option to fix everything in conclusion.


Francis Coquelin

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    Name: Francis Coquelin

    Age: 20

    Nationality: French

    Arsenal Debut: 23 September 2008

    Coquelin, who joined Arsenal in 2008, has made two starts in this Premier League campaign. He has greatly impressed viewers in both.

    His second-ever start took place in the North London Derby, and afterward, Gunners fans voted him the Arsenal Man of the Match.

    Coquelin has great vision for a holding midfielder, and reminds many of his countryman and former Gunner, Patrick Vieira.

    Although he is not as strong as some other options, he is still young, he is quick, he is very versatile and can be used in many roles for Arsene Wenger.

Alex Song

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    Name: Alex Song

    Age: 24

    Nationality: Cameroonian

    Arsenal Debut: 19 September 2005

    Song has been a great influence on the Gunners since arriving in North London. With a plethora of injuries to the Gunners' back line, the Cameroonian international has been forced into spot-duty at center back.

    Song has succeeded in that role as well, being his usual fearless self and picking up for the other three players' slack.

    However, Song is at his best playing in a holding midfielder role.

    As mentioned earlier, he is fearless, although sometimes that aspect results negatively when Alex makes useless tackles.

    Song is a big body in the middle, and when he started to play more during the past two seasons he has been the physical player that Arsenal had lacked since the days of Tony Adams and Patrick Viera.

    Song, however, is not a very useful attacking player, and may hold back Arsenal in those regards.

Jack Wilshere

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    Name: Jack Wilshere

    Age: 19

    Nationality: English

    Arsenal Debut: 13 September 2008

    Wilshere is a great player, given that he ever comes back to the squad (Wilshere will be out until at least January).

    He had a breakthrough season last year, and was clearly Arsenal's best player. He may not be big, but he still makes some critical tackles and launched some very good Gunners' counter attacks.

    Wilshere is very capable of playing in an attacking role, and with such a big group looking to play as the holding midfielder, he may be better suited for that role.

    He may only be 19, but last season got Jack invaluable experience in the first team, which gives him a distinct advantage over some other competitors. 

Emmanuel Frimpong

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    Name: Emmanuel Frimpong

    Age: 19

    Nationality: Ghanaian 

    Arsenal Debut: 13 August 2011

    In the few appearances Frimpong has made as a Gunner, he has shown some tremendous strengths and weaknesses.

    He is a great defensive presence for Arsenal, making solid tackles and never being afraid to get physical. 

    However, he has made some completely bone-headed plays, getting sent off in the match against Liverpool and coming close many other times.

    Frimpong is still quite young, and it is quite clear that he is not a very polished footballer yet. Arsene, though, is wonderful at grooming talent, and Frimpong has what it takes to become a world-class player some day.


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    This would be a very tough decision—except Arsenal is going nowhere this season, and we all know it.

    The smartest thing to do is play one of the two newbies—probably Coquelin—and loan the other one.

    That would both get the necessary first-team action, and Coquelin, who probably has more promise, will be able to play with a team he should be accustomed to be playing with.

    Until everyone comes back healthy (knowing Arsenal, that will be quite a ways from now), Song will keep his role as a central defender. When Thomas Vermaelen or Laurent Koscielny gets back, he can rotate in and out with Coquelin in the holding role.

    Wilshere is more of a box-to-box player than the others, and when he (finally) gets back from his injury, he can step in and play more like the role Aaron Ramsey has been playing recently.

    This will fit everyone's needs.

    It works for Arsenal because they can keep doing what they do best—develop youngsters.

    Coquelin, who one day should become a star, is the top choice for defensive midfielder.

    Instead of riding the bench at the Emirates, Frimpong can get some first team action elsewhere; if he impresses more than Coquelin, than the Gunners can start playing him next season.

    Song, who is already proven, can still get action at either center back or defensive midfielder, and since he is already proven, could win his job back in 2012/13.

    Wilshere will not have to be in a rotation on his return from injury. He can simply play a different position—one that may suit him better down the road.

    This may be the easiest and most efficient way to keep everyone playing and improve for next season.