5 Years of Shaping: Comparing this Year’s Arsenal to 2010, Part Two

Mandatory Credit: Paul Hudson via Flickr Creative Commons
Mandatory Credit: Paul Hudson via Flickr Creative Commons /

For part two of the comparison between the 2010 team that took down Barcelona and was oriented towards pass master Cesc Fabregas, and the balanced and exciting 2015 team, it is time to compare the difference between each Arsenal midfield.

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In 2010, Arsenal boasted a brilliantly balanced central midfield pairing when all were healthy, starting with Captain and musician on the pitch, Cesc Fabregas. Cesc was brilliant in his final year for the Gunners, racking up 9 goals but being the centerpiece of the team game in and game out. His distribution and composure was top dollar all season, up until he backheeled the ball outside of the box against Barcelona in the second leg of the Champions league, which led to Iniesta finding Messi to take the 1-0 lead and eventually the game.

While he floundered in the biggest match, he was dominant in essentially all the others. Although most knew it was going to happen some day, he broke the hearts of many supporters when he departed for Catalonia.

Alex Song, now a mainstay in the West Ham team, a bit of a drastic drop of, had his breakout year in 2010, finding his role as the defensive-minded CM in Arsenal’s midfield trio. As solid as Song was during the season, his best season came the following year; yet both years were riddled with little mistakes that cost Arsenal games as he just couldn’t help going too far forward on the pitch.

The real star of the CM’s of 2010 was none other than Jack Wilshere, who had his breakout and best year to date during said campaign, highlighted by the 2-1 win against Barca when he dominated Xavi and Iniesta. He was simply class all around, working as a box-to-box threat and providing great balance between Song and Fabregas. I could go on and on about how wonderful he was all year, but instead you should watch at least the first 3 minutes of this.

Rounding out the midfield in the wide areas were Nasri and Arshavin, two mercurial players who never really improved after this season. Nasri was in fine form and possessed great technical ability, but never showed up in the big games in the second half of the season. As for Arshavin, the little Russian was just a bit too lazy for the Prem and although he got the winning goal against Barca, this year was the start of his eventual decline.

Oh, there was also Denilson, not much to say there. Diaby was injured and Ramsey was in his first season and didn’t see much of the field as he was getting accustomed to life at Arsenal.

Five years on: Song has been replaced by a tougher, more disciplined, hard-working and equally as technical Coq.

Fabregas has been replaced by a combination of Ozil and Cazorla, whose magic and wizardry are just as astonishing, if not more due to more success in the final third rather than beautiful passing in the middle of the park.

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Jack’s former self has arguably been replaced by teammate Aaron Ramsey, who doesn’t possess the passing and technical ability Wilshere had in 2010, but doesn’t need to due to Coq, Ozil and Cazorla. Instead he offers what Jack never could, great finishing ability and even more running, work rate, and discipline. This is not to say Ramsey isn’t a great distributor, which he is.

Then there’s the Ox, an absolute beast. Direct and rapid, he blazes by people out wide or in the middle of the park, while possessing eloquent ball control and technique. Just ask Lyon. A hybrid midfielder who offers aspects of the game no one did in 2010, and is years younger than Nasri and Arshavin were in 2010.

Finally there is that man, Jacky Wilshere again. Is he still that same player he was in 2010? I think so, but I also think that player has been buried under a myriad of injuries and bad luck and is waiting to burst back out again. This should be the year he returns to similar form, and with all the help he has around him, much much less pressure will be on him.

Overall, this midfield is deeper and more balanced with the talent and specific attributes spread out across different players while the 2010 midfield really just relied on Cesc, Jack, and Nasri for the creativity, and only Song for the defensive work.

Part three will examine the most stark difference, the back line.

Next: Comparing This Arsenal to 2010, Part One

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