There’s one thing that you need if you’re going to play for Arsenal at the moment, and that’s the ability to spread the ball.
This season has seen Arsenal have an overall passing accuracy of 85 per cent, with several midfielders for the Arsenal side completing over 90 per cent of their passes, such as Mikel Arteta (94) and Mathieu Flamini (93).
Arsenal’s team combinations this season have seen the Gunners score arguably the best team goal of the Premier League era, when Jack Wilshere combined with Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla in a move that was just pass and move football at its absolute finest, against Norwich City.
For the last 10 years Arsenal have played good football. They’ve played pass and move, sleek, not quite tiki-taka, but still, attractive football. But this season the outstanding part of their game has been their defensive play. A lot of that has been thanks to Mathieu Flamini’s inclusion.
The Frenchman’s ability to shield the back-line and organise the midfield into a unit that actually defends well has been excellent this season and in games like the home win to Norwich or defeat to Borussia Dortmund, or the away win at Crystal Palace, Arsenal looked less organised on the pitch without the combative Frenchman.
Mikel Arteta has been deputising in that role, and he has played very well in the former-Milan player's place, but Arsenal look most solid, and least likely to concede a goal, when they have both players playing in front of their back four (having said that, Arteta managed to marshal the Gunners to a win against Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion), with either player actually able to step forward and join the attack.
As such, with the Frenchman’s propensity to pick up minor injuries that do take him out of play for one or two games, it’s been suggested that Arsenal should attempt to pick up (in January) a player in the mould of Youssouf Mulumbu.
Looking at the statistics it’s clear that Mulumbu would not look out of his depth in the Arsenal midfield were he to step out at the Emirates in the red of Arsenal. First of all he has an 85% average passing accuracy, the same as the average for the whole of the Arsenal team, so he wouldn’t bring the team down.
The next thing to look at is his ability to win duels. Mathieu Flamini, as I said, has been a breath of fresh air at the central defensive midfielder role (CDM), as he wins most of his battles and organises the midfield into a balanced unit.
However, in the ten Premier League games at the time of writing, Flamini had won 52 per cent of his duels; Youssouf Mulumbu had won 58 per cent. He’s also managed to play all ten games this season in their entirety, that’s 900 minutes so far – to be fair Flamini turned up late to the season and so couldn’t play all 10, but since Flamini’s been at Arsenal, he’s missed one altogether, and played a total of 451 minutes this season.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing that Mulumbu is a better player, but at 26-years of age, he’s three years younger than Flamini, and so would be a player that could continue to play when Flamini loses his legs, and hunger for the ‘dark role’.
I personally would like to see Thomas Vermaelen given a run out at defensive midfielder, as I’ve stated in a previous article, advocating Arsenal’s pursuit of Swansea captain, Ashley Williams.
Youssuf Mulumbu has the qualities to play for the Gunners, so if Arsene’s actually looking at him, I for one would be happy to see him at the Emirates.
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