The Arsenal November curse (if this really exists) seems to have struck again, with no win in 3 games. Although this year it hasn’t been as bad as past seasons, I prefer to think of it that we have played three top sides and not lost. One worrying thing which has been highlighted though is Arsenal poor performances, lacking any fluidity going forward from the back. Can this be linked back to the injury to Santi Cazorla?
His last game was in the 6-0 win against Ludogerorets, since this game I cant remember a match that Arsenal have been that convincing. We have had a poor 0-0 draw against Middlesborough, Giroud saving the day against Sunderland and Man Utd late on, a laboured 3-2 win against Ludogerorets and draws against Spurs and PSG where we were outplayed. Cazorla’s absence may not be the only issue, Ozil’s poor form and Sanchez fitness issues could also be a factor.
Wenger has also hinted that Cazorla is this years Wilshere/Rosicky/Diaby or Vermealen as he doesn’t know of an exact return date from injury. Couple this with Cazorla turning 32 next month Arsenal need to start looking elsewhere for his long term replacement. See below my thoughts on potential options:
Jack Wilshere: (Current Side: AFC Bournemouth – Loan – Age: 24)
I personally think we have missed Wilshere this season, ironically he hasn’t had an injury yet at Bournemouth and is putting in great performances week in week out. He would be starting alongside Coquelin for me in the absence of Santi. Would it be a risk to put all our eggs in the Wilshere basket going forward? If he can stay fit (BIG IF) he’s the guy to make us tick in the absence of Santi.
Leon Goretzka: (Current Side: Schalke 04 – Age: 21)
Another German midfielder off the conveyor belt. He fits the build as to what Arsenal require from a midfielder. Primarily a defensive midfielder, but a goal scoring one. At 6’2 in height he has the power Arsenal lack in midfield, age is on his side, he has captained Germany at younger age groups and he also has the ability to get forward and grab important goals. His passing and movement are a bit in question compared to the likes of Cazorla but this is something that can be worked on. His natural ability to control a midfield would be a huge bonus for Arsenal.
Koke: (Current Side: Athletico Madrid – Age: 24)
A well known player in European football, Koke has a very similar game to Santi Cazorla. Being comfortable in a deeper midfield role but also very technically sound. His knowledge of plays and vision is similar to that of Xavi Alonso. Such a signing would be a statement, the only question is if he would want to leave Athletico Madrid, if so it would be close to £50mil.
Manuel Lanzini: (Current Side: West Ham – Age: 23)
A bit of a surprise inclusion into the list of potential replacements to Cazorla but in my mind an able replacement. He has experience of the league and living in London and we have seen how much of a talent he is, at 23 he will only get better. Like Cazorla he is able to play in both the attacking positions or a deeper role. We saw in the Arsenal game away at Upton Park last season how he bossed the midfield, not with strength and power but with a clever football brain. The only downside is that West ham made his loan signing permanent at the start of this season, so there would be no sale unless its a outlandish price.
My choice would be to assess Jack Wilshere’s fitness at the end of the season and possibly giving him the chance to take over first.