Analysis: Can Arturo Vidal Play The Holding Role For Arsenal?


The Gunners have once again been linked with Arturo Vidal overnight, with some reports suggesting a deal is as good as done. 

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The brilliant Sport Witness have broken down the latest Vidal to Arsenal links, and they suggest he is Arsenal’s if they want him. That’s a very different viewpoint to most Juventus fans who will have you believe there is no chance in the world that their club will sell the Chilean. Reports across Europe will have you believe that Vidal is available at just over £20million – and that’s surely something Arsenal cannot ignore.

If Vidal does join Arsenal, where will he play? He doesn’t play as a defensive midfielder for Juventus – so where would he play for us?

Vidal has played everywhere for Juventus this season, central midfield, attacking midfield, right wing and even featured on the left wing for one game. He’s versatile, but it’s his tireless style that makes him so appealing to me.

Since Alexis Sanchez arrived Arsenal fans have been pleasantly surprised by his work rate, Vidal, in similar South American style – has a equally ongoing work ethic.

The question many people are asking is, can Vidal play that holding role? Just because he hasn’t played there for Juventus much, it doesn’t mean he’s not capable. I’ve chosen to compare his defensive stats to Francis Coquelin, as he is our current holding player and he performed very well there. The stats I have chosen to compare are ones that I feel are vital for a defensive midfielder. Choose to ignore and replace as you will.

[Arturo Vidal / Francis Coquelin] – Stats are based on league only 2014/15 season.

Passing Accuracy: 84.6% / 85.9%
Avg. Interceptions: 1.6 / 3.7
Avg. Tackles: 3.1 / 3.2
Avg. Dispossessed: 1.2 / 1.1
Avg. Dribbled Past: 1.7 / 1.5
Fouls: 1.5 / 1.4
Avg. WhoScored Rating: 7.34 / 7.46

Obviously these stats are warped because if Vidal did play in a deeper role his defensive statistics would probably increase. He’s got all the attributes to succeed there, he keeps the ball well, can tackle very well and can run and harass opponents all day. The only stat where Vidal falls much shorter than Coquelin is in interceptions – that’s obviously something that would increase if he played in a more reserved role. Otherwise, the stats are very similar and show that the two actually have similar attributes.

If we did play him in a deeper role then it would limit his very good attacking influences. We’d also lose perhaps some of his effectiveness to close down and opponents as the holding role restricts the player from venturing forward too much.

After all, Morgan Schneiderlin, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Ilkay Gundogan have all been heavily linked to the Gunners recently and they all played as box to box midfielders last season. Arsene Wenger once said the days of a pure defensive midfielder are over.

Could Vidal share defensive responsibility with someone like Aaron Ramsey in a 4-2-3-1? I think he could. Both players would have to be disciplined and they would have to work together extremely well, but if Coquelin were to get injured, I see no reason why Ramsey and Vidal couldn’t work as a double pivot.

Vidal is 28 and has plenty of top level experience. He’s a world class player who would certainly help boost our title chances again, he’d also give us a big boost in the Champions League – an area we really need to improve in.

Read more: Is Morgan Schneiderlin really an upgrade on Coquelin?

So, long story short. Can Vidal play in the holding role? Yes, and probably very well – but even if he can’t – you can never have too many world class players. We’ve been ruthless with David Ospina by signing Petr Cech, there’s no reason we can’t do the same to make way for Vidal. Mikel Arteta is a nice guy and still has some ability, but if we can sign a better player then he should be sold. Mathieu Flamini really needs to go. You don’t win titles by being nice.

If Vidal’s on the market, Arsenal must get this deal done.

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