This is my first write-up/post. I’ve previously been only commenting on posts. Please apologize if there are any glaring flaws.
With a few games in to the pre-season, we’ve got a fair idea what our strengths are going to be next season. But more apparent and more worrying would be the team’s weaknesses – which in the last few games have been our Central midfield. I’ve seen many of us laying emphasis on the passing central midfield position and linking us to Luka Modric and the likes. But Frankie Lampard was so effective last season in that role .
My main worry is the defensive pivot of the central midfield partnership. John Obi Mikel was wonderful for us last season. But with a slight change of play where the 3 attacking midfield combination and Torres pressing further upfield the same Obi Mikel might turn out to be our Achilles heel.
The reason why in the first case John was so successful in many of the big matches and crucial to our team last season, lay in our style of play. We used to sit back with even Dorgba/Torres falling back and absorb the pressure with maybe only Mata staying further up field. Our Defense-Central Midfield and attack used to stay close together until we initiate one quick counter attack. This suited Obi Mikel just fine. He’s such a class player at breaking up play and passing it over a small area of the field. He had so much support near him all the time and he thrives in that kind of environment.
But you’ll never see a Mikel running around the field covering a large area snapping at attacking midfielder’s heels . Unfortunately that is exactly what we need now with the kind of personnel on-board. With Mata, Hazard, Marin and maybe Torres further up, we need a person who covers a large area defensively – like the Makalele of the old, or what Cheik Tiote does so very capably at Newcastle.
So what are the choices we have if we decide to bench Obi Mikel. Oriel Romeu is a good player but again his playing style might cause problems. Romeu stays further back than a normal Defensive midfielder almost inline with the defensive four. This is good and keeps our defense compact and neat. But what it does is, it puts a lot of pressure on the Second Central midfielder who’ll have to cover a good amount of ground as well as be solely responsible for linking up the play with the attacking four.
Another option …Essien? Not great last season..He seems to have lost his spark .
So what I’m saying is with our current Midfield options we might have a very unbalanced side for next season. We can roll over the smaller teams but the bigger teams can easily turn us out. At least that what the t 3 pre-season games are pointing to, even if there is not a great deal of importance assigned to them.
Now the question is do we buy. ? Any purchase we make has to be based on the returns associated with it. Is our Central Midfield (defensive) need so great that we might lose some very important matches (or miss out on a few trophies) if we don’t buy for that position? My answer is a definitive YES. But then I would want to know your views and comments.