Arsenal wrapped up the 3pm kick offs in the Premier League today with a closely fought 0-0 draw, with both Cazorla and Xhaka unavailable to feature.
The game saw plenty of opportunities open up for both sides, but neither team could take their chances. It was a Petr Cech masterclass that kept Arsenal from dropping all three points, but fellow keeper Victor Valdes also had a game to remember for Middlesbrough.
There were a lot of things missing from Arsenal’s game today, especially drive, creativity and inspiration, all of which had an effect on Arsenal’s style of play. However there were also two notably key figures missing from the midfield, who certainly had their absence shown.
Arsenal were not as physically dominant, nor creative from midfield and this is largely due to the fact that Le Prof had to completely switch his midfield pairing. Both Xhaka and Cazorla were unable to partake against Middlesbrough and so without these two key players in the centre of Arsenal’s structure, the Gunners were unable to show the same consistency as seen in previous weeks.
Cazorla was missing through an injury concern picked up after Arsenal’s midweek Champions League clash. The little Spaniard missed a whole chunk of last season through injury and it really showed for Arsenal when he was missing from the side. The exact same factor occurred today, with an obvious lack of creativity in central midfield.
As for Granit Xhaka, the Swiss international is of course banned for three English competitive matches after he received a straight red card in last week’s round of Premier League fixtures. Xhaka was missed equally by Arsenal, with the Gunners probably needing a range of passing ability to break Middlesbrough down rather than the short passing across the ground. Xhaka is capable of a high range of accurate passing abilities and so he could’ve helped the Gunners in midfield, had he been available. I found it strange that Wenger didn’t play him in the Champions League clash on Wednesday, especially as the midfield anchor was unable to play at the weekend.
So who did Arsenal miss more today? Could either of Xhaka or Cazorla have helped the Gunners accumulate all three points today?