Buying another holding midfielder is something that Arsene Wenger seems to be putting off in the same way the average person does going to the doctors for a recurring pain or phoning a family member where recent contact has been minimal.
However, given the Gunners’ present injury list, especially in midfield, it seems that the Arsenal manager will at least have to dip his toe into the water in January to see what the market has to offer.
If he doesn’t, Arsenal are likely to fall short in one of the most open Premier League title races in memory. They are currently 15/8 second favourites to finish on top of the pile.
Southampton’s Victor Wanyama has regularly been highlighted as the club’s number one target, but Wenger’s “I rate the player but we are not on the case” comment seems to have poured cold water on the possibility of such a swoop.
It is not just the tackling and positioning of Coquelin that needs replacing, with Arsenal seeking a player that combines these characteristics with the ability of starting attacks from deep.
With regular midfield duo Coquelin and Santi Cazorla out, Arsenal are lacking a player with these attributes and this will affect the whole dynamic of the team.
Aaron Ramsey will be a bigger scoring threat from a central midfield role, rather than out on the right where he has spent much of the campaign, but he does his best work in the half of the opposition.
Mathieu Flamini seems to be his midfield partner for the foreseeable future, but he is not a calming or controlling presence in the base midfield role. He is instead more likely to go and hunt the ball down.
This not only increases the problem of too much space developing between defence and midfield, but also limits Arsenal’s distribution into the likes of Mesut Ozil.
Wanyama’s statistics bear many similarities to Coquelin this season, with near identical tackles won percentages and ball recovery numbers, with the Saints man boasting superior digits for clearances and headers won.
Where Wanyama falls slightly short is his pass completion rate of just 82 per cent.
If the Gunners are looking for a player can combine good defensive statistics with a better passing return, their January transfer target could exist in Stoke.
Glenn Whelan may not be the sexiest potential signing, but few can argue against his underrated effectiveness at the base of the Potters midfield.
The Irishman is an aggressive screener in front of Mark Hughes’ back four, an efficient passer, a hard worker and someone willing to do the dirty work that more flair players aren’t. He is the sort of determined warrior that certainly wouldn’t go amiss at the Emirates.
His seasonal numbers are eye-catching too.
Only seven midfielders have played more successful passes this season in the Premier League and the 31-year-old has done so at a success rate of virtually 87 per cent.
Meanwhile, he is up there with Wanyama and Coquelin in all of the defensive disciplines.
Given his age, Whelan may be more of a stop-gap signing, but he has the attributes to make a difference until the defensive midfielder that Wenger is obviously waiting for becomes available for transfer.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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