Rumours abound of an Arsenal move for Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin, with Saints boss Ronald Koeman admitting it would be hard for the club to resist a big offer, but as the France international is thought to be targeted for a holding-midfield role at the club, it’s difficult to see where he fits in at present.
Fellow Frenchman Francis Coquelin holds the enviable record of 14 wins in 17 Arsenal appearances since taking over regular anchorman duties just after Xmas, with the 23-year-old in situ for all of the Gunners’ seven Premier League victories in a row prior to their match at Burnley.
It may seem like something of a kneejerk reaction, but as one or two Gooner blogs have stated in recent days, it is because Coquelin will sit as a shield in front of the defence, and refrain from galloping forward out of position, that Arsenal have managed to hold their shape in recent months.
This was never more apparent than during their shock 2-0 win away to Manchester City in mid-January, when Arsene Wenger’s side managed to stay narrow and cut off supply to the Premier League champions’ creative maestro’s David Silva and Sergio Aguero, after scoring in the middle of each half.
The system is clearly working, with a 4-1 win at home to Liverpool and a 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford to show for it in recent weeks, so the question becomes whether adding Schneiderlin to the mix would improve Arsenal’s fortunes?
Probably not, certainly not as a first-teamer anyway, as the 25-year-old is unlikely to be effective in a role in front of the back four, similar to what Michael Carrick does at Manchester United and where Coquelin is currently playing.
At Southampton, Schneiderlin has Victor Wanyama to hold midfield while he goes looking for goals; ten scored and three assisted in 86 starts since Southampton returned to the Premier League in 2012 suggests as much.
Scoring goals from midfield isn’t really Arsenal’s issue, with Aaron Ramsey bagging his 25th in all competitions since the start of last term against the Clarets, and with the likes of Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshire scrapping for places around him, the Emirates’ centre-of-the-park seems full.
Schneiderlin is a fine player that could end up becoming a very expensive and underused sub at Arsenal, or played out of position, when the money might be better spent on areas of greater need, such as full-back.