After not signing any outfield players in the summer, Arsenal’s chances of putting forward a prolonged title challenge clearly relies on the North London club keeping their best players fit and available.
Unfortunately, in a typical Gunners fashion, Arsene Wenger’s squad has been blighted by injuries this term again and the team has had to rely on fringe players as a result.
The Emirates Stadium faithful have implored the club to sign a world-class striker over recent transfer windows, with none forthcoming, while another area of concern has been in central midfield.
The Gunners have always had sublimely gifted players at their disposal, but at times have been accused of lacking heart in the boiler room when the going gets tough. Despite this, Wenger opted against reinforcing his midfield options in the summer, instead preferring to trust the players that he already has.
The French coach has settled on a combination of the energy and positional discipline of Francis Coquelin partnered with the guile and exuberant passing of Santi Cazorla. However, with the fixture list starting to ramp up and games taking their toll, both first-choice central midfielders have picked up serious injuries to keep them on the sidelines for months rather than weeks.
This means that the likes of ageing Mathieu Flamini will be relied on, despite having not played much football this season up until he was thrown into the breach.
Looking at it with hindsight, Wenger may well regret not bolstering his contingent in the off-season, with the failure to land one midfielder in particular sticking in the memory.
Arturo Vidal was being heavily linked with a move to the north London side before and during the Copa America, only for the Chile international to be snapped up by Bayern Munich.
An integral member of the Juventus side that powered its way to the Champions League final last season, the South American has the diverse range of abilities to play in a number of positions. He has the work-rate and tenacity to play as an enforcer, with the energy to get forward and play as a box-to-box midfielder also.
Juventus used him mostly as a ‘No.10’, supporting the team’s strike force with his intelligent runs off the ball and an eye for goal.
Looking at Arsenal’s current situation, Vidal would add great quality to the team either in a defensive or attacking midfield role.
Although it is a fine line to balance a group without having good players on the sidelines, all top clubs build a strong squad, not just a strong team as Wenger has done. Although the addition of Vidal would have potentially limited Coquelin or Mesut Ozil’s time on the pitch this season when everyone is fit, his presence, now with a few players missing, would have been a massive tonic.