By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger says the age of the specialist defensive midfielder is over.
The 'Makelele role' - named after the former France international, Claude - has become a staple of tactical talk and describes players who tend to eschew attacking play in favour of protecting their defence.
When Wenger sold Alex Song in the summer he was tipped by some to replace the Cameroon star with a traditional 'holding' player, but instead Mikel Arteta has excelled since dropping into a deeper role.
"There are no defensive midfield players at the moment," explained Wenger.
"We try to find the defensive balance collectively. We have fewer players who are purely defenders but some are physically strong in defending like Diaby, some are tactically strong like Arteta.
"At the moment we have the balance because everybody participates, but we have fewer specialists, purely defenders. We are more versatile going forward because everyone has the potential to go forward."
Wenger knows that his team's balance will have to be just right if Arsenal are to prevail against Chelsea on Saturday.
"If you have a defensive balance, yes, that is what is at stake against Chelsea," he said. "Will you be strong enough defensively, in midfield as well, to deal with them? That's where one of the tests will be."
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