Video: Why Arsenal are chasing a ‘No. 8’ this summer


All the focus this summer so far has been on attacking recruits. However, the club are seriously searching for a midfield option.

The talk is they’re seeking an ‘elite’ signing in this area, so in today’s Gunnervlog, James takes a look at this situation and explains why the club are seeking this kind of player.

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45 Comments on "Video: Why Arsenal are chasing a ‘No. 8’ this summer"

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That’s what i thought too. We’ll be screwed if ramsey gets injured


As he only combines well with Xhaka it would be a bigger blow if the swiss gets injured.

Mein Bergkampf

Seems to me that after a whole season tinkering, we still don’t know who works best with who. All we do know is that we can’t do anything without Santi. Maybe finding a player of his mould would be sensible.

Bould\'s Eyeliner

There you go, speaking rationally again. How dare we continue to speculate on such a clear motive.

Faisal Narrage



I believe verratti is available. He possesses the same skill set as santi and in my opinion is a step up. Verratti is good at bringing the ball from deep and linking up play, something Arsenal desperately need. He is also good defensively. Would be santi 4.0


I think Ramsey’s injury record is also a factor in all this. We saw how much of an asset he was at the end of the season but he only started 13 games in all competitions. If we could rely on him to start 35+ games then another 8 wouldn’t be a priority, but look around, the top teams have a CM partnership that start together week in, week out, and we clearly can’t rely on Ramsey’s (Or the Ox’s) fitness.

The theory of pushing Ramsey forward definitely makes sense, especially if we are struggling to find another striker as it would allow Sanchez to move back to number 9. When he was on the right hand side Ramsey operated more like the kind of inside forward that Ozil and Sanchez are playing as now, and his abaility to press opponents without the ball and to get in the box/behind defences would be really handy with Alexis as a 9, when you consider how Alexis frequently likes to drop off and come deep for the ball. With Sanchez doing that we need another forward who gets in behind and trys to find space in the box, this is why Walcott did so well in the first half of the season with Alexis up top.

The issue we really have, before we really start to wonder how our squad will be constructed, is that we don’t know whether our best player (Sanchez) will be with us at the start of the season. Its hard to think of what is needed, and where on the pitch its needed, until we know whether he is staying or going.


is it me or have our medical department improved considerably . apart from santi who is obviously getting old our usual suspects like ramsey and ox have managed to stay fit for most of the last season excluding couple of niggling injuries that kept them out for some games . none of the other first teamer also were out injured for long.

and pushing ramsey also appeals to me . he is a guy who can score goals from midfield and in 3-4-2-1 formation if he is playing behind the striker his usual runs behind the defence will be devastating. and maybe ox can compete for centre midfield role alongside xhaka if we’re buying this guy . and i like serri , he is one if the best up and coming in his position . glad that the club is looking at all the right options in the market

Bould\'s Eyeliner

Don’t fall for confirmation bias. Medical staff have only a percentage of impact on injuries and are mostly crucial for injury recoveries, but that too is dependent on a players’ individual robustness.

Faisal Narrage

The Sports Scientists primary objective is to increase player availability; that is about injury prevention (or reduction).

They are part of the medical team.


You forgot Coquelin.
Unless we can get a player with the quality of Isco, Rabiot, Veratti, Cesc then I’m not sure we’re despatate.
Under no circumstances should we be looking at selling Alexis, pay him what he wants and then show some ambition.
The thought of Alexis playing off Mbappe gets my quite excited.


Not sure why people keep mentioning isco in this category of player, he’s most definitely not a central midfield player. Purely behind the striker/ drifting out wide.

The Director

Can we please get Leon Goretzka? Very talented player and great alrounder. He would also like to link up with our new tank of a left back and the german contingency at Arsenal.

Eric Blair

I have a German friend who reckons Goretzka will be a regular in the national team soon, could be a good option.

Having a German core at the club wouldn’t be a bad idea, but what happened to the French? I find it unbelievable that there is a hugely talented group of young 18-25 year old French players who look as if they could be every bit as good as any previous generation and Wenger has signed not a single one of them. Weird, since I always thought this was one of his strengths being able to spot and pick up young talented French players.


NABY KEITA. ALL THE WAY. I believe he is the heir to Modric. THe problem is that We have Ramsey and now The OX vying for this spot. Remember the times whereby current players were perfered and therefor missed out on players? (Denilson). Admittingly, the comparison is not entirely valid because Ramsey is Good and Ox can potenially be better. However, Naby is the perfect Partner for Granit and Superstar in waiting. Sell Ramsey, get the cash, I dont know what to do with Ox. But with Keita on the wings, and having Elnany and Maitland niles as back up. Granit and the Coq as back up, I think there is a good basis for yeats to come.

Spanish Gooner

I would love Naby Keita too, but selling Ramsey would be madness right now




Forgot about Coq or what???

He is an option in that two man midfield and if he can find his form when he came back from charlton he can be an asset. He was quality back then. Although, it seems he only plays well with Santi alongside him…

Lucas Sam

Please wenger, get naby keita from rb liepzig


What happened to the Coq?


Mate, Ox should never come deep to receive the ball. He simply is not a Cazorla or Xhaka. I have seen Ox lose possession multiple times when he played deep (that too when he shouldn’t be losing it). Can’t forget the embarrassing 5th goal we conceded against Bayern last season and also watch yesterday’s friendly versus France where he lost the ball and M’bappe gets a clear cut scoring chance. He can neither do turnovers like Cazorla nor hold the ball like Xhaka.

Ox should not come deep in the middle of the pitch to receive a pass from CB unless we are talking about going all out attack (like Milan away) or we are playing a second rate team.
Ox is fine at LWB/RWB/LM/RM/CAM.

Bould\'s Eyeliner

Ox is a straight up forward given how he’s been asked to play. Eventually to be a true CAM in the modern era, he will have to learn to drop deep and influence the game in all areas.


I personally see the Ox being more similiar to Ramsay than to Xhaka. Especially since he has the same ability to burst forward and has started to add end product last year.

You barely mentioned Coquelin? Do you think he will be phased out if there is no need for a pure 6 anymore?

Otherwise pretty insightful, enjoyed hearing your thoughts!



uncle D

Cesc won’t be a bad option at all! Plus he has Arsenal DNA if not! Barca won’t have let him go. On a serious note if the abuse and disrespectful attitude still going on about Wenger! Bring back our captain fantastic! Am sure he has learnt his lessons.It seems most people are more loyal to just winning and have thrown values and the culture of this club out the window!

uncle D

If it’s not possible to get Marco Veretti! Bring back the prodigal son.

Bould\'s Eyeliner

Good luck getting Roman to part with him to us–it took something like three trophies for Cech to get a say in where we wanted to go.

Fabregas knew what signing for Chelsea meant when we refused to bring in the prodigal son. He said it himself, “Ozil took my place”. Don’t need a player who drags out a transfer saga, fucks off to Barca, then fucks off from there to Chelsea. If you want to talk about ‘loyalty’ then he’s the one who needs an actual lesson.

That being said, he’s a fantastic player, and for the sake of winning, I’d be happy to have him on the team. Just won’t love him again like I used to. That’s my loyalty to the club anyway.

Mk killer

Cesc is the answer

Spanish Gooner

I honestly do not understand the “Ox is a CM” view that is prevalent. He played well there against an AC Milan side who were sitting back to protect a lead a few years ago, but all of his recent stellar performances have come as a RWB or a left winger. He doesn’t have the close control and reliable dribbling of Santi, and he doesn’t have vision and passing skills as developed as Granite’s. What he does do well is power into space and put dangerous balls into the box, which is exactly what you want from a rlwing back in our current system, so it baffles me that he wants to play centrally now. I think he has been poorly advised.


Name a single game he has been outstanding as a left winger (ok, I can name one: I think he spent some/all of the game away at West Ham on the left, and he was really good). He pretty much always plays better on the right, as he prefers to beat his man down the line rather than cut inside. As for central, in the games he played there for us in the spring, when the rest of the team was sucking, he played quite well (as an indication of this: the always insightful Adrian Clarke on the official website had the Ox as his star man from central midfield in like three games in a row). I agree he’s still raw, but he has the range of passing to play in the center, and it’s a rare and valuable asset to have someone who can dribble forward from central midfield. And his close control is easily as good as Ramsey’s for example (comparing him to Santi is unfair as Santi’s got better control than 99% of professional footballers). His decision making needs to dramatically improve, but that’s never going to happen if he’s not allowed to develop in central midfield, making inevitable mistakes along the way.

I think he’s currently still better at RWB, by the way, and I don’t understand the assumption, from James and others, that Hector will obviously start ahead of him there. Hector is a high quality young player, but James and Andrew’s love affair with him is more than a little bit over the top. He came on strong at the very end of the season after the Ox got injured, but this was easily his worst campaign for us, and in the middle of the year he was particularly dreadful. That can happen to any player obviously, and I still rate him highly, I just don’t get why he should walk into that starting right-hand spot ahead of the Ox, who was terrific there.

a different George

I would agree with you, except that Wenger (the guy who has seen him in training every day for years) keeps saying that Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long-term future is in the centre.

Faisal Narrage

Wenger says everyone’s future is central If we took it seriously, we would have a 0-10-1 formation (the one being Theo).

Sometimes he says it just to keep the player happy.

Bould\'s Eyeliner

You forget that Wenger makes all his groomed CM’s play on the wing for at least a season–let’s them work on that exact problem of close control. The Ox now might feel more ready, given that pattern, but yeah another season on the wings might do him good.


Break the bank and get Thomas Lemar is the real deal. What a deft left foot of his. He is THE number 8 and the right successor to Santi. He can play anywhere in the middle , central, left , right. What a gem of a player. On another note Cesc is free. and that cunt Costa too. If the club is serious about winning the title those two should be considered cause they have the know how. Arsene did try to get Suarez and even Vardy so …


Yes, get Cesc & costa.


I would rather not win than win with Costa. Surely Arsenal have too much class to sign him.

Wright on the money

Listening to this if this is true to me it shows that Ozil and Sanchez will both be going if they are really looking at another number 8.

I hope we do stay with the formation that we used towards the end of the season it worked really well.


If your selling Wilshere and not sold on Elneny than you have to find an alternative. This is Santi’s last year as well


We need a central midfielder. This has been the Achiles heel for last season.

Banking on Santi to be fit last season was a avoidable error.

It took a while for Granit to sync with either of Coquelin or Ramsey. In the end the belated formation switch helped it along.

But injury to any of these 3 players and we are again spare in midfield.

Reliance on Elneny is foolish at best. He is a willing runner but a mediocre player.

Jack is injury prone and should get shipped out if we can even find a willing buyer.

Kolasinac and Chambers may be able to fill the role but would be make shift at best and with risk to endeavor further up the pitch.

Finally Ox. Poor performance for England yesterday. I don’t think he is settled and I am not terribly convince centre of the park is his position given decision making.

As for some recent ‘candidates proposed :

I’m not sure Lemar is what we need. he is predominantly left sided (maybe he could fill partial void left by Alexis) but the central midfield area is not his ambit.

I think we will benefit from a bit more power and/or holding skills.

Naturally we missed the sort of technical skills Santi brought to the middle in being able to retain the ball or up the vertical through feet (like Viera and Diaby but without height) where Granit at very least provided Santi’s passing range and vision.

Bakayoko would be a great candidate but he has Chelsea in hot pursuit.

There were spurious rumours for the longest time on Arda Turan. He is 30yrs so it won’t be a long term signing. OTOH his experience and ball control (predominantly on the wing for Barca) may come handy for us in control of midfield if need be plus he has also utility out wide.

The price on him ranged from free transfer in the rumour mills to as high as 26m. If it were about 10m range, it would be IMO worth considering for versatility but also experience proviso Wenger feels he has the ability to role deeper like Santi.

Of course we are supposedly chasing the dream at the moment with most money in one basket (Mbappe).

Still, one wonders if it would be wiser to spend some of the purported money chasing Mbappe at the moment on an effective fourth Cmidfielder to come in and perhaps downgrade our ambitions as far as Mbappe is concern.

As mentioned, money is still going to be finite given competition. You spend it on an expensive item and you neglect other areas that need attention…perhaps foolishly as far as team balance is concern.

We need balance.

Faisal Narrage

Your thoughts on Elneny is brand new information for us. I’ve never heard you speak about him before.


The other player worth considering who has failed to live up to full potential at Inter is Kongdogbia.

Tall and ‘rangey’, plenty of good technical skills but needs a bit of direction lest he waste his talents.


Slightly more akin to Ramsey and no nonsense Saul Niguez at Athletico.


What happened to the push to get James Rodriguez? There was talk about us putting in a bid for him a couple of days back, but then nothing… he would be an incredible addition to the team, and miles better as an attacking option than ramsey


Ramsey is becoming increasingly important. Good point on him moving forward, it works with both formations.


Maybe Wenger sees Ox as a pressure reliever like Wilshere, Rosicky and Caz were. Able to get out of tight spots in a packed midfield. He gets turned over a bit too much, so I’d expect him to rotate with Bellerin until it gets ironed out. Perhaps a gentle form of punishment lol