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Could Arteta, Flamini or Diaby become Arsenal's very own Mascherano?

Mathieu Flamini clears

Should Arsene Wenger consider playing a midfielder at centre-back instead of dipping into the free agent market.

Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy has been ruled out for up to six weeks with the ankle injury he suffered against Manchester City last weekend. With that in mind many have been critical of Arsene Wenger's decision not to sign another defender this summer - especially after he let Thomas Vermaelen leave.

The likes of Kostas Manolas, Winston Reid and Sokratis Papasthathopoulos were linked but nothing ever came off. Now they are being linked with West Brom and Norwich flops Diego Lugano and Joseph Yobo respectively - talk about scraping the barrel.

But in a time of need sometimes teams, and their players, need to adapt - just ask Barcelona's Javier Mascherano.

When Barca found themselves devoid of central defensive options they turned to the 5 foot 8-and-a-half inches tall defensive midfielder for salvation.

He excelled in the role and has since become a vital cog in the Barcelona system - even if defensive midfield remains his best position.

Could Arsenal do the same with, for example, Mathieu Flamini?

Height would again seem an issue, at 5 foot 10 inches, Flamini is only slightly taller than Mascherano. The Argentine often gets away with his aerial deficiencies because of where he plays, La Liga - most of the attacks come on the ground.

Indeed Flamini only just sneaks into the top ten headers of the ball at Arsenal.

  TeamPosAerial Won / appsHead Clearance / appsAppsMins
Olivier Giroud Arsenal FW 4.06 0.86 36 3,081
Bacary Sagna Arsenal DF 3.49 3.03 35 3,060
Per Mertesacker Arsenal DF 2.77 4.86 35 3,150
Thomas Vermaelen Arsenal DF 2.36 4.43 14 782
Laurent Koscielny Arsenal DF 1.66 3.78 32 2,741
Kieran Gibbs Arsenal DF 1.57 2.32 28 2,055
Mikel Arteta Arsenal MF 1.35 1.06 31 2,407
Lukas Podolski Arsenal FW 0.90 0.60 20 1,172
Yaya Sanogo Arsenal FW 0.88 0 8 71
Mathieu Flamini Arsenal MF 0.85 1.00 27 1,604

Perhaps then it could be a role for Mikel Arteta. Flamini has previously adapted to playing at the back - often filling in on the right-side, but it is clear that the Spaniard is stronger in the air and the pair are both as proficient in the tackle.

Another option is Abou Diaby. He is slowly returning to first team action and he is certainly built to play centre back. With his continual injury problems perhaps re-training him to be a central defender could be a master-stroke from Wenger and Steve Bould. Playing in defence may even help prolong the career of a player clearly not cut-out for the hustle and bustle of Premier League midfielding.

It is certainly something Arsenal should consider. With their style of play, having a ball-playing centre-back would come as a huge advantage and the best of that breed often revert from midfield.

Perhaps one of this trio could become Arsenal's Mascherano in their time of need.

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