Quick links


Källström injury boost gives Wenger numerous midfield options

Sweden Flag

The Swede has not featured for Arsenal since signing in January after sustaining a back injury but could be set for a belated debut this weekend.

The acquisition of Kim Källström on deadline day brought as many derisive snorts from Arsenal fans as it did sighs of desperation.

The Gunners had been linked, almost extensively, with German sensation Julian Draxler but, when push came to shove, the typically frugal Arsene Wenger had only the injury-hit Spartak Moscow midfielder to show for his work in the January window.

After the dust had settled on one of the strangest moves it subsequently emerged he had suffered a microfracture of the vertebrae in his back playing football on a beach prior to his arrival.

There were initial fears he may never play for the club but Wenger was quick to refute the claims and now reports suggest he may even be in with a chance of making his long-awaited debut for the Gunners this weekend when they take on Everton for a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.

So, with Källström close to first-team action and all of Wenger's other central midfield options - except Aaron Ramsey - available to him, there is a multitude of different combinations at his disposal.

Arsenal fans will dread the idea of the Mikel Arteta-Mathieu Flamini axis in a game where they must take the play to their visitors, but Wenger will be equally cautious about failing to safeguard a defence which has shown increasing signs of creakiness of late.

Källström is expected to take his place on the bench but he could work well with both Arteta and Flamini but given Jack Wilshere's desire to get forward and the fact both he and the Swede are left-footed, it should ensure at least one of the Gunners' most defensive-minded midfielders gets the nod from the start.

Here are the options available to him and how Källström could supplement them from the bench...

Arteta and Flamini

The partnership most Gunners supporters fear. While there is an added measure of security for a defence which has proven tighter and harder to breach this season, there is also an evident lack of urgency or will to get up in support of the attacking unit.

A combined total of zero in terms of goal assists per match is testament to the fact both these players are content to sit, regain possession and then recycle it by handing the reins over to the creative triumvirate in behind Olivier Giroud.

There is a marginal improvement when it comes to attempted assists, with Arteta registering 0.67 per match and Flamini at 0.32 but it still pales in comparison with Wilshere's tally of 1.39.

With that said, the duo have made less unsuccessful touches (0.48 for Arteta and 0.47 for Flamini), while the Spaniard also makes more on average per game (79.14 against Wilshere's 67.87).

Arteta and Wilshere

Perhaps the best match in the sense that the latter's drive from his deep midfield station is complemented by the discipline and awareness of Arteta.

Wilshere's passing accuracy may not be as astute as his midfield peers but it should be noted that a lot of his work is done further up the pitch, where space is at a premium. Nonetheless, his 86% passing accuracy offers a security of the ball in advanced areas and Arteta's 92% means there is an attention to retaining the ball and releasing Wilshere to burst forward into space.

It is something the previous combination is not renowned for doing and offers Arsenal an added dimension in the final third in the continued absence of Ramsey.

Flamini and Wilshere

The Frenchman's tenacity is matched closely by the England international, so it appears odd that Arteta wins on both counts when it comes to tackling.

Arteta has actually made the most tackles per game (3.38) and completed more (2.33) than either of his teammates in this role. In terms of accuracy, it is Wilshere who comes out on top having completed 88% of his tackles while Arteta is narrowly behind Flamini with 69% against 70%.

With Arteta making more passes per game than the Frenchman, despite his minor superiority in accuracy here, it seems to be a combination which does not provide enough liberation for Wilshere, nor enough protection for defenders.

Källström would most probably work best alongside Arteta too, with a higher work rate going forwards than backwards and his desire to shoot from range is a facet which will appeal to fans who feel the Gunners need to work the keeper more to match their dominance of the ball.

Flamini should not be entirely castigated given his intelligent use of the ball from deep positions but with Arteta sure to want to make a point against his former employers, Wilshere eager to stake a claim of his own with Ramsey closing in on a return and the Swede determined to show his signing was worth it after all, there is plenty for Wenger to ponder over in the coming days for a make-or-break match in his side's season.

NameTeamPosGoal Assist / appsTotal Att Assist / appsTotal Pass / appsAccurate Pass / appsTotal Tackle / appsWon Tackle / appsTouches / appsUnsuccessful Touch / appsAppsMins
Jack Wilshere Arsenal MF 0.17 1.39 52.04 44.78 1.39 1.22 67.87 1.70 23 1,692
Mikel Arteta Arsenal MF 0 0.67 66.00 60.81 3.38 2.33 79.14 0.48 21 1,534
Mathieu Flamini Arsenal MF 0 0.32 43.11 39.89 1.58 1.11 53.63 0.47 19 1,157

image: © flo_p

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch