It’s all about the midfield and a re-think on where Rice and Caicedo fit!

I don’t think anyone has any problem with our attacking output from midfield or attack in most games. We all love the chemistry of the team. There lies a strength in the collective where six players (Martinelli, Saka, Jesus, Odegaard, Xhaka, Trossard) are sharing the attacking load equally. That’s what makes us so dynamic. But it is in the tougher games you see where we are lacking.


The problem

When we aren’t dominating possession in the final third we haven’t got a midfielder capable of producing a goal or assist with sheer individual quality at a consistent enough basis. Against the 10 best teams our starting midfield have produced 7 goals and 7 assists in 20 games. Man City’s starting midfield have produced 12 goals & 20 assists in the same games. When only 7 goals are created from central players it’s obvious where our goal creation stems from and where it does not, and that means it’s also obvious to the opposition.

I have talked before about where I think Xhaka is most effective and the same logic applies to Odegaard. They both come alive against disorganised low blocks where they can combine in and around the box. In stretched out games Granit will never be athletic or technical enough to be defensive in one moment and devastating in front of goal in the next, and Martin doesn’t have the assist vein as of yet to pick out a final pass from deep like De Bruyne. I would like to see more passes like the one to Martinelli against Brighton in December, we haven’t seen that pass since. The pair against the bottom half is perfect, not so much against the top half.

The fix


I’m all in on the Rice and Caicedo train as they would give us a whole new level of midfield aura. If we can’t find our own Gundogan or De Bruyne (lets be honest about what’s out there) we might have to create a midfield that helps us get into the situations where our attackers do create and score, to maximize our chances in the big games. A central block of ”Ricedo” could potentially keep us in the attacking third more often even in the tough games where the intensity is cranked up. Either you get the players that produce or you get the players that makes others produce.

How do we feel when we play the toughest of games? Is it a creativity problem or is it a physicality issue? It really depends on how you see football. Either you believe that technical players dominate games or you believe that you have to earn the right to play. There are many times I feel we have to win the battle before we use our technical quality, and for me there is where we need to start. Partey has fooled me for a long time that we only need to find an attacking virtuoso at L8 and were off. But watching him lose a bit of aura during the run-in has got me thinking about how we need to set up to really be a dominant team in every scenario.

I am starting to change my thinking about where to play the West Ham and Brighton targets. I feel the Rice at 6 and Caicedo at 8 thing. The sheer physicality we would have in the middle of the park would be unheard of. Declan can do both roles but maybe he has a higher ceiling as a defensive midfielder than a box to box, and we really need to find the world class gems to elevate us to the very top. Caicedo for me is so all round we could use him in every possible way. He is younger too and theoretically moldable to a higher degree.

Internal Development


We have stuff to do with the squad but I’m looking at our captain to add more assists to his game. Because only producing half of the 14 assists from our starting three in midfield isn’t good enough from him or his partners when De Bruyne alone has 16. Odegaard should be our prime supplier as the technical leader in the team. Adding goals to his game has been great but we all know what game-state we need to see a trademark Odegaard goal.

I want to see Trossard play more as a 8 to give us more attacking output from central areas. But all the talk has been about the L8 role, but maybe the R8 role is better suited for him. He needs to be close to goal and Odegaard’s position is higher than the left role. Fabio Vieira isn’t trusted by the manager and there’s room for someone to take that role in the team.

Potential midfield structure

DM: Rice, Partey, Jorginho

L8: Caicedo, Rice

R8: Odegaard, Trossard

We will be in the 3rd pot in the Champions League next season. That means we will have alot of tough games every month. So to have this many midfielders that can start any game will only be good for the team.

(P.S) I won’t take into account the Xhaka news other than not counting him in next season’s midfield set-up

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2 Responses to It’s all about the midfield and a re-think on where Rice and Caicedo fit!

  1. Faz May 21, 2023 at 10:15 am #

    We would be very lucky to get one of Rice or Caicedo yet you talk like we’ve already signed both!

  2. Dennis the Menace May 24, 2023 at 12:49 pm #

    This is going to sound a bit mad but is there too much talk about signing Rice and Caicedo? The more the publicity grows, the more likely a team with bigger resources sniffs around and goes in with an opportunistic offer that blows us out of the water. There’s four teams in the Premier League that can do that: Man Utd, Man City, Newcastle and Chelsea. We saw it happen with Mudryk. Our best buys seem relatively unheralded and/or a bit of a gamble.

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