ONE MAJOR SUMMER DECISION EDU AND ARTETA COULD RUE by IV
Despite the team’s midfield struggles last season Mikel Arteta and Edu decided to keep faith with the midfield pairing of Partey and Xhaka but they might already be regretting their decision. Just as they appear to finally be gaining some momentum, the most reliable player in the squad fitness-wise, who is also one of the first choice pairing at the base of the midfield is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and to make matters worse there are no options that appear better than the Swiss. This is where Edu’s comments could haunt him.
“Now let’s put it into context. For example, in the midfield, you have Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey. So, for me and for Mikel it doesn’t make sense to sign another player to be on top of them if they are the ones that are going to be playing.” These were Edu’s words on SkySports when quizzed about the quality of Arsenal’s summer signings who in Shreeves’ words were more like reserve signings.
Going into the summer transfer window with the aim of not signing midfield options that stand a chance to displace the current ones isn’t really the way a team that wants to return to Europe’s elite competition should think or act. And now with Granit Xhaka injured, the manager is left with only one of his favourite midfield pair in Thomas Partey who on the other side has looked the exact opposite of the Partey Arsenal signed from Atletico Madrid. The Ghana international has spent more time with the physio in the past one year than he did in his final two seasons with his former club. How then do you expect one who has struggled to stay fit enough for long enough to take up the responsibility of two?
Of course there are other available options in Elneny who is just too much of an unprogressive passer of the ball, Maitland Niles who just a few months ago was only good enough to be a utility defender under Arteta, and Lokonga who despite having the brains, will need some time to adapt to the physical demands of the Premier League. To put all in one sentence – neither can any one of the aforementioned players offer what Xhaka offers the team nor is any one of them better than the injured Swiss.
The decision not to sign better players at the base of the midfield was a joint decision by both the technical director and the manager, but the consequences of that decision will be borne solely by Arteta. How he reacts to the injury of his reliable midfield general remains to be seen but one thing I know for sure is that he has to look inward for a solution to the problem that could shape Arsenal’s season between now and January. Get to work Arteta, you made your midfield choices already.
There’s no more room for excuses.