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Finton’s Frolic: “10 and 10” should be the ambition of any incoming Number 10 at Arsenal

By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor)

What up, pimps?

Welcome one and all to the eleventh edition of the Finton’s Frolic casa del right opinions zone. Any thought portrayed here is not just an opinion or belief, but instead an indisputable fact. Today I will be discussing what traits a possible incoming attacking midfielder must possess, and furthermore what they must deliver upon arriving at the club (spoiler alert: it’s more than Mesut Ozil is currently contributing).

The requirements and expectations around a player deployed ‘in the hole’ have evolved massively in recent years. Most progressive sides ask their most creative midfielder, typically in a flat midfield three, to do a great deal more than create chances, and also expect them to score goals and help out defensively, whether that mean actively pressing or sitting in alongside the fellow midfielders.

The newly common ‘mezzala’ position is defined as a creative player deployed in said flat midfield three, that drifts out wide and deploys himself in the half spaces, creating attacking overloads with the wide players. It is common for a Mezzala to create chances in these half sapces, but also to drift into more central positions in between the lines. A perfect example of a modern day mezzala is that of Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. I like to describe De Bruyne and moreover players like him as the most talented players in the world. Individuals deployed in the modern position are expected to have some adequacy in essentially every area on the pitch. In my opinion, these are the true greatest players in the world in terms of overall talent, not forwards.

“10 and 10” is what should be expected from any incoming attacking midfield addition at the very least. Double digits of goals and assists is what I believe the club should be looking for in the department. An obvious choice who I, and many others believe, could fill the role is that of Phillipe Coutinho. Rob Worthington wrote a fantastic, detailed piece on the player where he too stated he believes any new player to come in to “fill the hole” should be capable of both creating and finishing chances. A loan for the Brazilian may be what is best for the player himself and more importantly, Arsenal. I believe he could put out a respectable number of both goals and assists, based on his attributes and looking at his output at Liverpool in the past.

Philippe Coutinho 19/20 (a goal threat and a creator)

Of course, said individual can specialize in one or the other, but they should at least be capable of putting a respectable number up in regards to the one which they’re not as savvy in. For example, the club’s current number 10 Mesut Ozil firmly specializes in assists but is in all honesty, well below average in the goal scoring department. Having a player that leans too far to one side of the spectrum like this actually hinders the team. Ozil gets into positions on a relatively frequent basis where he should just be having a pop, but unlike American police officers, he refuses to shoot.

A guy like De Bruyne specialises in assists, but still scores goals. The Belgian has a league high, 16 assists, but also has an impressive 8 goals as well this Premier league campaign. It seems inevitable that he will reach double digits in goals now that the season is set to resume. That of Bayer Leverkusen’s, Kai Havertz is another who is both a goal threat and a creator. The 19-year-old German has 11 goals and 5 assists this season. He too looks as if he will reach double digits in both departments.

The new generation of players who fill the soon to be non-existent traditional number 10 role are evolving and that is in large part because no area of the pitch is allowed to possess luxury players anymore. Whereas in the past, players who created chances through the middle would cover the smallest distances on the pitch of outfield players obviously, they now very frequently cover the highest amount of ground out of any other player. Attacking midfielders used to be able to get away with being a passenger of sorts throughout games given the fact that their creative novice could shine through at any given moment and prove decisive, but now they’re expected to be the driver.

Whoever comes in must play like a modern mezzala and they simply cannot be a traditional number 10. The game has moved past players like Ozil and players like De Bruyne and Havertz are the new wave. Every position on the pitch must contribute to both build up play in possession and either pressing or defensive structure out pf possession. Players like Ozil will most likely stop coming through the pipeline for the foreseeable future.

Mikel Arteta is a progressive coach and a modern thinking guy. I’m sure that he agrees with the notion that no position should do any less work than the others, therefore a “10 and 10” number 10 is what the club should look to acquire whenever possible.

Thank you ladies and gents for reading and that is all for this week. I’ve decided to keep it a bit brief this week because not much has to be said because like everything said here, this point is completely inarguable. Also, I put the chief editor through enough last week with my monstrous 1,300 word piece so the idea of reading one of these blogs is even more tortuous to him than it is any of you psychopaths wasting your time on this literary nonsense. By the way, yes, it is infuriating that this piece that threw around the number 10 so frequently was not in fact the 10th instalment of the Finton’s frolic but I will get over it. As ever, I will see you all next week and until then, I bid thee a sincere toodloo…!

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