Former Arsenal striker Paul Mariner believes Mikel Arteta should start in Arsene Wenger’s first-choice lineup this season ahead of Jack Wilshere.
Having tipped both Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil to play central roles in the midfield, Mariner believes that the starting XI needs someone else who can fill the holding role and, though the ex-England international admits that Arteta is far from the ideal candidate, he maintains that the new club captain and even Mathieu Flamini are better options than Wilshere there.
‘You pick your poison. Do you put Flamini in there? You certainly don’t put Wilshere in there – he’s not somebody who can do both sides of the ball for me,’ he told ESPN.
‘Who are you going to take out to put him in? What has he actually done for you?
‘Is he better than Arteta in the holding role in midfield? No, I’d sooner put Flamini in there.
Mariner also went on to express his disappointment at the fact that Wenger has so far failed to bring in a true defensive midfielder this summer, stressing that it could cost the team this season.
‘Hopefully Wenger’s looked at the World Cup, with the likes of Holland and Argentina – when they’re playing against good sides they drop in, and Wenger hasn’t bought somebody who can fill that role.
‘I wish he would do because you definitely need that protector in front of the back-four. We keep banging the drum about the same type of players he needs.
‘He goes out and signs [Alexis] Sanchez, who’s going to improve the side, but you’ve then got to knock somebody out to compensate defensively.’
Despite Mariner’s comments, Wilshere had been tipped earlier this summer to become Arsenal’s midfield anchor, though Wenger has since suggested that he would prefer not to use him in that role.
The 22-year-old is still likely to see plenty of minutes this season, with a full calendar of fixtures ahead, but with the likes of Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and the soon-to-return Theo Walcott all vying for places in lineup, a spot in the first-choice side is far from guaranteed.