The transfer window shuts and Arsenal FC can be proud of their business, securing the highly anticipated signing of Thomas Partey from the defensive masterclass that is Atletico Madrid.
Arsenal can boast signings with the likes of young Gabriel (22), who has found himself a permanent resident in Arsenal’s backline.
He is confident enough to play in either a back three or four for Arsenal, proving his strength in defensive challenges, as well as his comfort with the ball in possession.
The struggle, however, has been to find a suitable partner alongside new man, which has proved to be a troubling thought for the young manager. David Luiz seems to have been the favourite after losing the option of Rob Holding due to injury following the 1-0 loss away to Manchester City.
Many fans would have anticipated a Gabriel-Saliba centre back pairing, after an impressive one-year loan spell at the Frenchman’s previous club, Saint-Etienne. He managed an impressive 79.17% true tackle success rate, trailing only Frederico Fazio (Roma) and Yerry Mina (Everton) in Europe’s top 5 leagues – stats based on a minimum of 900 minutes.
While Luiz offers accurate long balls behind opposition defence for the likes of Aubameyang and Saka to run onto, defensive stability is where Arsenal have found themselves lacking in recent times.
Removing the veteran Brazilian creates new problems, as Arsenal struggle to create from midfield.
Contrasting the likes of Xhaka, Partey and Ceballos, who are all hard-working and highly possessive central midfielders; Arsenal lack that creative magician in the middle which they previously had in abundance, namely: Santi Cazorla, Mesut Özil and Jack Wilshere.
Which places emphasis on perhaps the only disappointing aspect of Arsenal’s transfer business, which was failing to sign a creative midfielder. The well-known name of Houssem Aouar haunts fans after deciding to commit his loyalties to his current club, Olympic Lyon.
Although many colossal clubs, like Manchester City and Juventus were interested, Arsenal seemed the set destination for the Lyon man.
It is back to the drawing board for the club as they assess their financial position and the availability of a suitable addition. Dominik Szoboszlai and Lorenzo Pellegrini could be viable options.
Now Arsenal are left to make do with their current players and after Mikel Arteta’s shock decision to leave Mesut Özil out of both the Premier League and Europa League squad lists. Without creativity in the midfield, Arsenal will struggle to feed their deadly attacking players on uber-high wages.
Arteta and his men will have to look to the academy for depth and creative inspiration if they want to stay in the fight for a possible European place finish until January. With more competition than before, this task is proving to be more and more untouchable.