Almost as if definitively cursed like a clichéd horror-house with every passing season, Arsene Wenger and his determined Gunners outfit must now carry out their upcoming fixtures with a whole host of injured stars unavailable for selection.
The likes of Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck will all be ruled out for the Gunners’ upcoming clash with Dinamo Zagreb this week – but perhaps the worse news of all concerning the Emirates faithful at the minute – arrives in the form of Francis Coquelin’s lengthy injury lay-off after going down under a challenge at the Hawthorns last time out.
The club’s overall failure to sign a single outfielder this summer has therefore understandably come up for discussion once more. Had the North Londoners eventually proved a tad less tight with their resources across the previous transfer window, the Gunners’ overall squad depth would certainly look a great deal stronger now – and so would their title chances.
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However, as Arsenal have now been linked with Borussia Monchengladbach’s emerging midfield talent – Granit Xhaka – in recent weeks, does the Swiss international actually represent the ideal option for Wenger looking forward, or should the Gunners ultimately chose another path of action once the January transfer window finally arrives?
Well, even before Francis Coquelin frustratingly fell injured against West Brom at the weekend, it was pretty obvious that Arsenal needed another defensive midfielder to cover the up and coming Frenchman’s bustling workload. Coquelin had only properly established himself at the Emirates last season of course – and as Arsenal seemingly always play host to a succession of testing injuries throughout each campaign – most people could see that Wenger needed to extend his squad over the summer.
Without a decent enough level of strength in depth on board, the Gunners simply look distinctly weak and vulnerable. Although Wenger’s first choice starting XI could test any other side in the Premier League quite easily, the long-term boss at the Emirates just doesn’t have enough quality throughout his ranks to launch a meaningful attempt at landing the league title this season.
Both Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini just aren’t up there in terms of overall technical ability and general effectiveness out on the pitch – but seeing as Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey can’t be relied upon to complete a full season relatively free from injury – Arsene Wenger’s midfield options are severely limited at the moment, and it’s still just November!
The club’s reported interest in a player like Granit Xhaka therefore makes a great deal of sense for those fans currently concerning themselves with yet another injury crisis at the Emirates. The 23-year-old defensive midfielder has developed a great deal since first emerging within the German Bundesliga, arriving as someone who can seemingly play with the ball at his feet, whilst also covering a great deal of the dirty work for his team when required.
The former Basel man is likely to cost a fair amount considering his age and further potential to become even better, but if Arsenal can see this particular transfer race over the line relatively quickly this January, the Gunners could well find themselves with somewhat of a steal on their hands later on down the line.
Xhaka looks to be a physically powerful asset in the middle of the park. He often displays a great range of passing when finding his respective teammates across the field, his close control skills and slick passing movement have proven successful time and time again, and the midfielder also possesses a decent shot on him with all things considered – even if scoring goals isn’t exactly a natural aspect to the player’s overall game.
As Liverpool have also been linked with the Switzerland international in the run up to the January transfer window – and let’s face it, the Reds could really do with someone of Granit Xhaka’s overall quality just as much as Arsenal this season – Wenger would arguably be mad to let this one slip through his grasp.
With perhaps one or two more inspired deals being carried out at the Emirates this winter in light of their recent interest in the current Bundesliga star, the Gunners could certainly view themselves as potential title winners once again.
Without the addition of a few more extra personnel this January however, Arsenal will likely slump back down to mere top-four hopefuls – leaving the growing expectations of their fans to wait for yet another season when all is said and done…