Time to adopt a dual central midfield shield?

The Arsenal league winners in 1997-98 had it, the winners in 2001/02 also had it and so did the Invincibles in 2003/04 so why don’t the current Arsenal side adopt a double central midfield shield?


The answer is probably due to the performance of last season’s team which went so close to winning the title. Mathieu Flamini was the one man shield that allowed Arsenal to play, working tirelessly to tactically position himself and tackle. This allowed Fabregas to dictate play while the wide men in Rosicky and Hleb were able to keep the ball and create chances. However with Fabregas now out with injury maybe there is a chance to play with two central midfielders shielding the defence as there isn’t another Flamini type player in the ranks.

The Arsenal teams which won the league titles under Wenger had two central midfielders though they were not necessarily defensive midfielders. In 1997/98 it was Vieira and Petit, 2001/02, Vieira and Edu and in 2003/04, Vieira and Gilberto/Edu. In fact this is implemented by Liverpool (though more defensive) and Man Utd in the Premiership and has been prevalent throughout Europe for quite a while.

To be effective however the central midfielders must possess a good passing range while the movement in front must be strong. The recent games have shown a interchangeability from the Arsenal front and wide men, coming in centrally, dropping deeper and going out wide. However in the centre there has been less ingenuity and urgency from Diaby and Denilson. The individual skill and dynamism of such players as Cristiano Ronaldo and before that the Galacticos (Zidane, Figo, Raul, Ronaldo) have meant teams have built systems to accommodate these players’ strengths and weaknesses and such a set up could allow Arsenal to do that.

In today’s game there is bigger need for players to be able to do more (an article on this close to the Roma game) but with Arsenal’s relative lack of options and less variety in central midfielder maybe it is a time to implement the formation.

The discipline performed can give protection to the defence and the full backs while allowing the attacking players to play with more freedom. Before one starts to get the wrong impression, the central midfielders will not stand idly in the centre; they will be the basis of attack, looking to negate some of the shortcomings of the midfield cover and the absence of Cesc Fabregas.

The 4-4-2 looks to be the long term formation for Arsenal with Cesc Fabregas to come back. In partnering Song in his last games before injury, there was a balance in central midfield as Cesc Fabregas dropped back to dictate play but with Arsenal unable to keep the ball as effectively this season it hasn’t allowed him to make a bigger impact.

A new signing may make this article obsolete if it is in fact someone to eventually partner Fabregas but as the current central midfield are still improving there may be a pressing case to play with a dual central midfield shield.

What do you think? Would this system solidify the team and help develop the youngsters? Is the current system the best? Leave a comment.


7 thoughts on “Time to adopt a dual central midfield shield?

  1. Let’s not get too drastic. The youngsters are getting better but this system is just a proposal as they may not be strong enough yet. It may be the right way forward. Either way I just want to hear your views.

    Also we haven’t got that much money as like most clubs. Be patient, someone will be signed and we will be back to winning ways, hopefully.

  2. We should adopt the formation that liverpool play while cesc is out.

    Sagna Gallas Djourou Clichy
    ……Song Diaby
    V.Persie Nasri Vela

    Nasri has played well when hes been played through the middle. There is one fault in this formation. Van persie has been on fire and to drop him into a winger position may prohibit his scoring ablilty.

  3. It’s not clear what ‘winning ways’ refers to, but the objective now has to be a top four spot which can only mean bringing in experience. As experience spells higher cost we will likely have to sell to bring in. There are a few players I would consider selling for the right price, but very few that I know can be brought in to immediately help us back into the top four.

    We’re in a tight spot, the team looks lethargic much of the time, and it may be that ‘drastic'(three players in, a couple gone), is quite necessary. I really believe many fans understate the importance of a top four finish, I, for one, wouldn’t take it for granted.

  4. The problem in our system (as much as i hate to say it) is Fabregas. We have not had a player like him in our successful seasons, we have relied more on creative wide midfielders.

    I think we need a wideman and an older DM that we could use until Coquelin is ready.

  5. We had Edu it’s just we were more balanced with Vieira or Gilberto and we were deadly on the counter. Fabregas and Flamini achieved the right balance but we need Fab higher up as teams park their defence in front of the box. That means whoever partners him has more to do and therefore very important.

  6. why AW doesn`t look at the romanian player RADOI.
    Is a very skilled player , good passing and is captain of Steaua Bucharest for 5 years , the most emblematic romanian player for 3-4 years. Inter Milano r intersted in him……so, deserve a look ….

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