Assuming that the Aubameyang deal goes through, Arsène Wenger would have spent north of £50 million on strikers in two consecutive transfer windows. It is therefore apparent that he’s making one last push for a major trophy before retirement, if not this year then the next, but we must address our defensive issues to match our newly world-class attacking options. Granit Xhaka has shown his defensive incapability this season when playing the holding role in our central midfield, and we have been forced into playing with wing-backs to compensate for the lack of a high quality defensive midfielder. Without one, we won’t be able to effectively unleash our new attacking options with Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Özil and Lacazette, and Napoli’s Jorginho is the perfect option, in my opinion. And he was not too long ago linked with us.
Jorginho would bring a much-needed intelligence to Arsenal’s midfield. Though we have an abundance of attacking creativity, Jorginho’s intelligence would be perfect to both ignite quick-fire attacks with our attacking pace, and break up the play defensively. Jorginho doesn’t possess the pace of Kante, or the stature of Matic, but he does the job of breaking up the play in the midfield and distributing the ball equally as effectively as both of them. His ability to intercept the ball is second to none, lengths ahead of anyone in our current midfield, and this demonstrates his supreme ability to read the game defensively. Wilshere and Ramsey are both excellent box-to-box midfielders, but we require either of them to be partnered by a defensively capable, ball playing midfielder. Jorginho fits the bill for me.
While Xhaka has shown an excellent long-range passing ability, Jorginho’s passing success in Serie A sits at an impressive 89.7%, in comparison to Xhaka’s 84.9% in the Premier League. But, more telling than the pass rate success, is Jorginho’s ability to slice midfield and defensive banks with his passing. He passes forwards, unlike Xhaka’s or Elneny’s tendencies to look for a comfortable sideways pass. After he plays these passes as well, Jorginho is happy to sit back and allow the team to attack, remembering his defensive duties. Arsenal have lacked a disciplined and effective defensive midfielder for a number of seasons now, so his discipline, defensive intelligence, and passing skills would suit us perfectly.
With this in mind, Jorginho would allow us to switch back to a four at the back, in order to unleash our attacking potential. Wenger has made it obvious that he doesn’t particularly rate Kolasinac as a wing-back, but he showed his competence as a left back early in the season. On paper, a back four of Kolasinac, Koscielny, Mustafi and Bellerin should be a good enough defence to challenge for a Champions league spot at least, particularly when Jorginho would limit the amount of exposure that they currently face as a back four without a quality defensive midfielder. If the Aubameyang deal is concluded, Jorginho would allow us to play our best four attackers on the pitch at the same time, something that Wenger hasn’t been able to do for a while. A 4-2-2-2 formation of that back four, Jorginho partnered with any one of Xhaka, Wilshere, or Ramsey, Özil and Mkhitaryan behind Aubameyang and Lacazette would be an extremely frightening attacking set up, supported by a very decent defence. Jorginho would sit in front of the defence and allow those four attackers to roam with minimal defensive responsibility, and we would definitely score a lot more goals than we’d concede.
With that formation perhaps lacking width, Jorginho equally allows us to shift back to the 4-2-3-1 of recent seasons. An anchor of Jorginho and Ramsey or Wilshere, who will finally be afforded the luxury of surging from box-to-box and linking up with Özil to create an abundance of chances for the striker, would be very effective. Mkhikatryan would be extremely dangerous in this formation as a wide attacker, while Aubameyang’s pace could be utilised out wide. But without him, the possibility of putting faith in youth for the rest of the season could be successful. Maitland-Niles or Nelson could both play wide in the attacking bank of three behind Lacazette, both capable of driving at a defender or putting in crosses.
If Wenger wanted to persist with the current 3-4-2-1, Jorginho would provide much needed defensive cover in this formation through his interceptions, while being able to quickly fire passes into Ozil or Mkhitaryan to start counter attacks. We have shown this season our ability to effectively counter attack, and Jorginho definitely has the ability to find our attacking midfielders or surging wing-backs on the counter attack with his passing capability. In this formation, he would again provide support for a back three. Monreal isn’t good enough in the air defensively to play on the left of that back three, so Holding or Chambers would likely be played. We have seen glimpses of both of their potentials, but playing behind a midfielder in Xhaka who often lacks composure leads to a plethora of 1-on-1 defending, which neither young centre back want to have to regularly face as they learn how to be a success for Arsenal in the Premier League. Jorginho would be great for both of the young centre-back’s development, as he brings a much-needed composure to our midfield, while also limiting the amount last ditch defending Holding and Chambers have recently had to do when they have played.
Ultimately, Jorginho would go a long way in solving our defensive issues, whilst also allowing Wenger to deploy our most potent attackers and return to playing the high-quality football that has been lacking recently. Arsenal are famed for the quality of our attacking football, but it is no secret how vulnerable we have been defensively when trying to execute that football. Jorginho brings a defensive steel through his tackling and interception ability, but more importantly he possesses the necessary ball-playing ability required at Arsenal. When he regains the ball, his first thought is always to play the ball forward, and this would inject pace into our sometimes excessive build-up play. His two goals and three assists so far this season show his attacking capability as a defensive midfielder, and serve as a bonus to his extremely intelligent defensive play. And if Wenger still wasn’t sold, he’d cost less than we sold Oxlade-Chamberlain for.