In the last post we covered the potential of the three or four musketeers up-front, and what a wonderful prospects they are.
Assuming that Arteta will play with two central deeper midfielders again, either in a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3, the big question is once again who will play in those pivotal positions?
If all are fit the obvious answer is XhakA-Partey. I wonder how many games they both saw out together, though.
I have absolutely no doubt that if this twosome could play 30+ PL games in tandem, Arsenal will finish in the top four this season.
But this is unlikely. Thomas is too injury prone and has the Ramsey effect on us: it takes a while for him to get going and just when he becomes really, really good Thomas gets injured again. I so hope this will change this season.
Xhaka is unloved by most of the fans it seems, and although the man has a fabulous fitness record, averaging 40+ games per season, the lack of appreciation is likely to continue. Yet he works well with Tierney and Auba/Saka, and his left foot is very important for Arteta’s system. He also gives structure to our play which we really miss when he is out, whether you like it or not.
So Partey has a continuous fitness issue and Granit plays on a knife edge at Arsenal, despite Mikel’s unwavering support for him. Not ideaal.
The former Anderlecht captain Lokonga looks promising, and he may well hold the key to our success this season. I need to see more of him to make any judgement. Still, he will need time to adjust to the bluster of the PL and is unlikely to be instrumental this season.
Elneny is a solid squad player, who works really well when paired with Xhaka. He won’t put the world on fire but is as solid as Xhaka’s first name. No surprises, no nonsense but always committed and important to have in our squad.
So this seems to leave us with Ainsley. The man who wanted a loan but reconciled with Arteta and should now get a golden opportunity to shine. Granit is suspended, Partey will need time to get back into it, and the others are equal competition for him.
We all know about AMNs potential and we all would love him to succeed, and surely these next four months or so are THE opportunity to finally break through at Arsenal?? Will he be our constant Midfield Beast so desperately needed this season?
Ainsley this is your moment, this is your stage and we are all behind you.
I must say that I have doubts on whether the midfield will work out in the next few games or indeed this season. This is where Mikel, a former midfield maestro, will have to make the big difference now. It will make or break him.
Nobody is perfect but the perfect combo of midfielders now needs to be found.