Arsenal midfielders current and legendary. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
With Arsenal's swtich to a 4-3-3 system last season, the competition for midfield places became a little tighter at the club. The first match of last season, at Everton, featured a midfield trio of Alex Song, Denilson, and Cesc Fàbregas. These three players filled typical roles in the resurgence of the 4-3-3, that of defensive mid/destroyer (Song), holder/passer (Denilson), and creative force (Fàbregas). Together with Andrei Arshavin, Robin van Persie, and Nicklas Bendtner across the front, Arsenal won 6-1 at Goodison Park.
For the next match, the Champions League qualifier, the front six remained as they were. The following weekend, versus Portsmouth, Abou Diaby stepped in for Song in the defensive midfield role, but ended up scoring against a woeful Pompey side.
But injuries and the number of matches meant more changes would be necessary.
Arsenal have a number of midfield players capable of filling these roles (as well as playing on the wings or up front, in a number of cases): Song, Diaby, Denilson, Aaron Ramsey, Fàbregas, Tomas Rosicky, Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Eboué (potentially; he tends to feature on the right wing or at right back), Arshavin, and Craig Eastmond. At one point or another last season, all of these players played somewhere in the middle three.
Song, Eastmond, and Diaby are the most natural choices for defensive midfield duties, although Denilson's ability to read the play and make interceptions mean that he can function in that role if necessary. Denilson, Ramsey, and Diaby featured in the holding/passing role, and Fàbregas, Ramsey, Diaby, Wilshere, Nasri, and Rosicky all are capable of being the creative attacking force. With such a wealth of options, Arsenal should be assured of having a solid rotation again this season, especially when Ramsey returns to fitness (fingers crossed that he is the player he looked to be before Ryan Shawcross broke his leg).
Assuming no new midfielders join the club before the close of the transfer window, what is everyone's preferred midfield trio? Are different groups better for different circumstances and competitions? What does everyone think?