Tag Archives: dani ceballos

Progressive midfielder Arsenal’s number 1 target this summer

Dani Ceballos might not be the answer, but he has shown how important it is that Arsenal sign a progressive passer in midfield in the summer.

Arsenal have struggled this season transitioning the ball from defence into attack. It results in too many sideways passes in both defence and midfield. A lot of possession but not much progression up the pitch.

We have lacked a central midfielder whose 1st thought is to move the ball forward, and the net result of this is less chances created.

Against Newcastle, we saw how playing a forward thinking central midfielder can transform us.

Dani Ceballos come in for Lucas Torreira.

It slightly weakened us defensively in the middle of the park, but we ended up winning 4-0 – our biggest Premier League win of the season.

During that victory, no player played more forward passes than Ceballos – 69. He went off after 82 minutes.

Ceballos also played more forward passes against Newcastle than any player in other game under Arteta – and more than any Arsenal player this year.

With Ceballos leading the way, it meant we were getting the ball forward to our forwards more. And in more advanced positions; something that we have missed for much of the season.

With Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, we are fairly well set for defensivly minded midfielders in the squad. This summer, instead of looking a defensive midfielders, we should look at someone who plays a little more progressive.

We need a midfielder who can do better at linking the defence to the rather someone who can break up play.

Someone who can take the ball off the defence, then follow his own passes through the midfield and into attack.

Take the ball off the defence, pass it forward. Receive it again at the half way line, pass it forward. Receive it once more on the edge of the box. Transitioning from defence to attack in  5 or 6 passes.

Think Cesc Fabregas, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere or even Mikel Arteta himself.

Back in the late 00s / early 10s, that kind of central midfielder defined Arsenal. We perhaps had too many of them, and not enough midfielders who would do the donkey work, the break up play.

We had the likes of Matthieu Flamini and Francis Coquelin, but these were never really good enough.

Arsenal now have an abundance of “work horses” but other than Ceballos, we do not have anyone in midfield who can transition the ball from defence into attack.

Transitioning the ball from defence into attack is not just done with passing. It could also be done through a powerful runner, like Patrick Vieira or Yaya Toure.

Against West Ham, Dani Ceballos was not only impressive going forward, but also showed a defensive awareness to his game that we had not seen before.

As he returns to full fitness, maybe he is actually the progressive, forward thinking transitional midfielder we need. Perhaps we should be looking towards making his deal permanent.

With Torreira, Xhaka and Guendouzi in the squad, we have enough grit. This summer we need to add a bit more subtlety, whether that is Ceballos or someone else.

Football is so much about balance, and when Ceballos does not play, the ball does not get forward quick enough.

Hopefully with Arteta and Edu running the show, they recognise that the player we are missing is themselves.

Keenos

Why has Dani Ceballos fallen out of favour at Arsenal?

It usually takes a foreign player a few weeks, even a few months to acclimatise to Premier League football.

Players coming from Spain have often struggled with the higher paced, more physical side of English football.

Dani Ceballos has not needed time to settle. He has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. His man of the match performance against the Burnley Bully Boys was one of the best home debuts I have seen from an Arsenal player.

Ceballos was everywhere. His performance was all action. He attacked with intent, and also defended soundly. He covered every blade of grass.


That is what I blogged following Dani Ceballos full debut performance against Burnley back in August. It seems like that performance will be the highlight of the Spaniards Arsenal career.

Having got 2 assists against Burnley, his Arsenal record has been underwhelming.

8 starts in all competitions, 1 goal, and no more assists beyond those 2 against Burnley.

Ceballos came off the bench against Bournemouth in the cup. It was his first game since Mikel Arteta had joined.

At the beginning of November he picked up a torn muscle that ruled him out until the end of December. Despite being fit and ready to start, Arteta went with other options – including last night picking Joe Willock ahead of Ceballos.

So just why has Ceballos fallen out of favour?

He was signed under Unai Emery, who clearly rated the player. But even under the former manager he was not getting a lot of game time.

It always takes a while for foreign players to settle, and we as fans got a bit excited over his debut. He certainly went backwards after that Burnley performance, and the injury had hampered him.

By the time he returned from injury, Emery was gone and Arteta was in.

Arteta is building something at Arsenal. Not just for the short term but into next season and beyond.

It is unlikely that Ceballos’s deal with turn into a permanent one, so it is logical that Arteta is thinking “why spend time and effort integrating Ceballos into Arsenal’s first team only for him to leave in 4 months”.

The better option would be to give game time to Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka, allowing them to continue their development – play the players who will be here next season.

Playing or not playing Ceballos will not be the difference between us making the top 4 or not.

Against Bournemouth, Saka scored 1, assisted 1, whilst Willock was heavily involved in both guys. The pairs performance justified their inclusion ahead of Ceballos. Martinelli – also picked ahead of Ceballos – got the other assist.

If both young Englishman continue to get game time towards the end of this season, they will continue to develop. That will mean next season they are able to make an even bigger contribution than they are this.

In Martinelli, Saka, Nelson and Willock; Arteta has his “back up front 4” in place for next season. It is better to continue developing those 4 players, then give game time to someone who will not be here in 4 months.

Ceballos, it just has not worked out.

Keenos

Taller Cazorla is a Baller

It usually takes a foreign player a few weeks, even a few months to acclimatise to Premier League football.

Players coming from Spain have often struggled with the higher paced, more physical side of English football.

Dani Ceballos has not needed time to settle. He has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. His man of the match performance against the Burnley Bully Boys was one of the best home debuts I have seen from an Arsenal player.

Ceballos was everywhere. His performance was all action. He attacked with intent, and also defended soundly. He covered every blade of grass.

The way he controlled the game in the middle of the park reminded everyone of Santi Cazorla.

Taking the ball in tight spaces, a drop of the shoulder and he was away.

No need to take a touch, his passing was on point;, it was quick, it kept the ball moving.

Shorts passes and long passes, he opened up space where there seemed to be none. Switching the ball from one side of the pitch to another to set up breaks. He was simply fantastic.

https://twitter.com/willow1886/status/1162974317816221696?s=21

Ceballos now gives Unai Emery two fantastic options depending on how the manager wants to set up, who the opposition is.

In though away games against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, play Ceballos in the number 10 over Mesut Ozil. In behind him play Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira.

That 3 man set up gives the side defensive stability in the middle, high energy for the press, and still

Has plenty of creativity in it.

At home against the likes of Burnley, Ceballos goes deeper alongside either Xhaka or Torreira, with Ozil playing ahead.

That set up is then more attack minded, with Ceballos able to create and support Ozil in attack, but can sit alongside a more defensively minded midfielder in defence.

Ozil was at his best when he had Santi Cazorla behind him, supporting him.

Cazorla was able to get the ball to Ozil in space quicker than any one else in the team. He was also able to take some of the creative burden off the German. He also created space for his teammate.

Cabellos will be able to do similar. He will be the perfect deeper foil for Ozil. Do not be surprised if the German returns to his best form this season.

Arsenal have missed Cazorla since he picked up that injury against Norwich a few years back. Jack Wilshere – his natural replacement – became too hampered by injury. In Cabellos we finally have another Cazorla.

Just a pity there is no option to buy next summer.

Keenos