The competition in the Arsenal has clearly had a positive effect on the results of the team, the motivation that it has provided many of the players and the cover the inevitable onslaught of injuries.
Arsenal’s wealth of midfield talent has produced some solid debates. Who exactly are the two best midfielders? And that isn’t even the question we need to be answering. The real question is, who exactly is the best pairing?
After all, as Wenger himself pointed out, it’s completely about the pair, not the individual. This applies at the base of the midfield as well as the center of the defense.
The strange thing about the question is that we don’t even know all the potential answers yet. It’s a race with several horses yet to be seen. The obvious front runner is Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin. Also known as Coqzorla. With the pushing and prodding offensive drive of Santi Cazorla and the athletic, fearless defending of Francis Coquelin, the pairing is put on a pedestal. Coquelin is a controlling masterclass, but barring some more improvements in the offensive department, this partnership will not be one that is heavily leaned upon in much more than preserving a lead.
Coquelin and Elneny seems to be what Wenger considers the most defensively sound partnership he has available to him, as he used it in the opening match against Liverpool and at Old Trafford. Evidence from those two matches would suggest his theory is misguided, however, as both Liverpool and United seemed to play through the Arsenal midfield with alarming ease. Their effect going forward, meanwhile, has been almost non-existent. Coquelin and Ramsey seems a naturally uncomplimentary pairing and performances would suggest it doesn’t work. Both have great athleticism and although their qualities with the ball are different, neither have the technical consistency or passing quality from the base that Cazorla or Xhaka do.
The two pairings that we have not seen that I am rather intrigued by, and you should be too, is Xhakalin and Xhaksey (Ramka? Ramska? Rammathorn?). I have spoken for quite some time about the potential of Xhaka and Coquelin, but i would so love to see Xhaka and Ramsey partnership.
I think that we may see exactly what we’ve been wanting to see from our midfield for quite some time.
The very concept of putting the two together, at least on paper, is borderline immaculate. You’ve got the defensive abilities of Granit Xhaka, who’s intelligence will continue to develop. His offensive abilities will too, with a guarantee of more long balls and more long shots.
And the enigmatic Ramsey (hopefully) won’t always be such an enigma. Ramsey had arguably his strongest game since returning from injury on Wednesday, incidentally in his first CM start. He got stuck into tackles, was secure with his passing and offered some drive on the ball. His passing wasn’t particularly progressive, however, and this was exasperated next to Coquelin who struggles even more so in this regard.
The key may simply be keeping him healthy. Just look at Gibbs. Or Walcott. Health and, just like that, usefulness.
Useful Ramsey is scary. Goals. Assists. Defense. Workrate. Everything.
It has everything a midfield pairing needs to be – again, on paper at least. It’s perfectly rounded. It’s perfectly balanced.