There is no excuse that Arsenal have left off buying a DM until the last minute – again

History seems to be repeating itself from Arsenal’s last transfer window.

Yet again, Arsenal are scrambling to get another defensive midfielder signing over the line, even though we have been desperate to bring in a backup to Thomas Partey for at least two years. The only difference to our summer dealings is that it is a different subject targeted this time around.

That is, from Douglas Luiz to Moises Caicedo. With Mikel Arteta keeping his faith in Mohammed Elneny and their back up Sambi has yet again backfired, with Elneny getting injured (again!) and Lokonga not quite becoming the able deputy that we were hoping for.

Elneny is beyond doubt a faithful servant of the club. However, he is not one who can deputize Thomas Partey with aplomb even when fit. Certainly not someone who has the ability to bring us to the level of winning the title. With him, there is a drop off in quality compared to Partey.

With Sambi, we see a more drastic compromise in quality. Once again, it is going to be another last minute sprint to the finish line in this window by the Gunners. The root of the problem lies with the lack of conviction on the part of Mikel to overhaul the personnel in midfield.

He should have allowed Elneny to move on at the end of his contract and replaced him, or at the very least sent Sambi on loan.

The last transfer window’s experience with our last minute bids for Douglas Luiz was a lesson to be learnt, and this current situation is the consequence of that.

There is practically no excuse for allowing the same issue to recur, especially if we end up losing out once again….

Ben T


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Tags Luiz Moises Caicedo


  1. Better do a quick dive into the Brazilian league and find a combative DM and drop 25milli straight on the directors lap. 11pm tomorrow, bang goes the window shutting down on our face again and bang goes the title and top 3 once Partey succumbs. And please nobody should mention Tiellemans here. Oil and water..

    1. How little you know of the complexities of transfer dealings. Too much time spent playing Football Manager and Monopoly . We have not got a tap which spews out millions of pounds at will and we can’t force teams to part with players .
      Arsenal have a transfer approach that is extremely sensible and well organised

      1. I don’t even play football manager or any game whatsoever. But I am confident a DM somewhere in Brazilian league has been scouted before by one of our legions of scouts, and I am equally confident that most cash-strapped Brazilian clubs will part with any of their decent DM in the blink of an eye if you offer then 25million dollars. Let’s not act as if random and last minute transfer deals has never happen before on deadline day.

  2. How do you know they left it late? Just curious. They clearly wsnted to do their business early, ss they did with Trodsard and Kiwior.

    1. I would not qualify Trossard as doing business early. He reeked of a desperate reactive purchase after they wasted a lot of time on their nr 1 target.

      1. The Trossard signing was a great example of a club doing their job properly.

        A well oiled club would have at least 3 main targets lined up for each position. We almost got our number one target, until Chelsea went nuts, so we quickly finalised a deal for our second target, and at a great price.

        Desperate signings were like what was happening under Wenger where we’d sign players at the very last minute, that we didn’t even need.

        Ozil being a great example

  3. I do think we have options to try in midfield from within.
    Zinc, White, New boy from Poland just to name but a few. I would try instead of Lokonga.

  4. imo we should not be playong defenders in midfield, that is a big ask with pressure for team pushing for the title. also, zinc would not be able to cover the partry role, he is suspect defensively at lb let alone dm

    1. Agree. You can experiment with giving players new roles in the middle of the season when you are forced to. But when you are legitimately challenging for a title and have effectively only 1 DM, you should look to bring in a player who owns that role. BNot a player who has never or hardly played as a DM this season.

  5. Have to agree with this article.

    When one remembers that AW was being lambasted from Diaby onwards for the self same thing, one wonders why MA has not received the same level of criticism.

    1. Hi Ken, I agree but with the caveat that I have the impression that Edu is the one in charge of recruitment. I think Wenger had more influence that MA.

    2. But is it the same?
      AW failed to bring in a single DM for years, while we were easy to score against.
      We are generally very good defensively now, and our defensive midfield has worked extremely well.
      So what we are talking about now is back-up to our defensive midfield.

      1. Anders, it’s MA who’s not signing a DM at the moment, not AW.
        My comparison was to highlight the difference in criticism regarding the situation.

        1. My point is the 2 situations aren’t the same at all.
          Arteta has generally fixed our defense and central midfield, and we are very hard to score against. He should receive praise for that.
          The problem is, whether we right now need a DM as a back-up, if that is where we mostly need back-up and also if the right player is available at the right time.
          Lots of speculation here and “what if”…

          Whereas AW didn’t sign a DM for years, despite we were easy to score against.

          I know it is important for you to defend AW whenever possible, but I honestly think there is no comparison here,

            1. I have no need to defend AW, his record speaks for itself.

              He has been gone for four years now, so the question is, has MA addressed the cover needed if / when Partey is injured, especially as, according to you, this has been a problem for many seasons?

              Nothing to do with Wenger or our excellent defence, so why not concentrate on the article itself?

              I am certain that MA and Edu are trying to solve the problem, which it obviously is, as they have, reportedly, made a £80,000,000 bid to cover that position.

              If we don’t sign a DM, would you say that MA has failed to address this situation?
              If he does sign a DM, then I would say he HAS addressed the situation.

              1. We have numerous players, who are playing so well, we would really be struggling if they get a long term injury.
                Partey, Odegaard, Saka, Ramsdale, Nketiah, Martinelli, Zinchenko, Gabriel and Saliba.
                The notion we can just buy cover for them this January, is something I never believed in.
                We are in the process of building a team for the future, and nobody expected us to be challenging for the title this year.
                So it can never be negligence, if we don’t already have cover of title winning quality in all positions.

                1. I beg to defer but this sound like a mediocre mentality to me. All the time, most arsenal feels we’re not tittle contenders and now that it looks like it, they same set of fans are the ones saying it won’t be a problem if we don’t have a squad of a tittle winning team. Really?
                  For how long has MA and everybody with footballing sense realized that we don’t have a solid back up for Partey? Elneny is not really bad as some may put it but since Elneny was injured, what has MA done about it till now? He has worked so hard to rebuild the team but if he doesn’t get it right this time, I don’t know when next the opportunity will present itself.

                  1. What a load of rubbish to accuse anyone of a mediocre mentality.
                    The problem is, there is very little chance, we can find anyone, who can walk straight into the team and perform like Partey and Xhaka do together.
                    That is just the basic fact.

    3. All managers get grief for transfers, but specifically on the DM issue with Wenger, it was warranted.

      Gilberto left in 2008, so Wenger went an entire decade refusing to buy a DM to replace him!

      MA did the exact opposite, hence the lack of criticism for him. We desperately needed a DM – MA identified that early into his reign, and got one the best DM’s in the game, and at a great price.

        1. Tough to answer. Flamini was, but Wenger never used them specifically in that way, and none good enough anyway, bar a prime Flamini.

          Song went forward a lot and average, Coquelin never good enough, only Flamini for me, but remember he also left in 2008 which backs up my point of a decade of not dealing with the DM issue.

          Flamini came back 5 years later, but not the same player by then, and only as backup.

          1. I agree with several of your points.
            the Flamini who came back was past his best
            Coquelin was ok,I remember his partnership with Santi, as for Song he was meant to be a DM,you can’t blame AW for him going forward a lot and leaving our defenders exposed.

            1. Well you can blame Wenger for Song going forward, because he’s the manager. Either AW wanted him to sit, but he refused – then why did AW keep picking Song if was consistently defying his orders.

              Or, what I think was actually the issue, is that when AW changed formation and tactics, he moved away from the traditional DM, in favor of more box-to-box players.

              Which was surprising when you think of how successful and important the DM position was with the likes of Petit, and Gilberto.

  6. I just posted this in anothe thread:

    The biggest underlying issue seems to be the fitness of people who rarely play except as backup – Elneny’s on his second injury of a one-year contract as a backup to Partey. I don’t see him getting another extension.

    That forces the club into the market at a bad time and in a bad position to negotiate.

    1. Arsenal’s been unlucky in this position for years now, but having the backups fail is a new wrinkle.

      Also, I’m not convinced that Partey can be covered by an out-and-out DM type, he brings much more than that – and the team’s style of play is (debatably) not one with a DM role in it.

  7. For me, I could not agree more. We seem to be very reactive and waste a lot of time on targets that turn out to be unrealistic. (Vlahovic last winter, Mudryk this winter).

    Missing Partey for the amounts of games we missed him cost us last season. I fully expected Arsenal to correct that mistake this summer but they did not. Then we seem to once again wait until the very last minute this January before we realize a player is out of our reach (either the player doesn’t want to come, the club sticks to its valuation or the club doesn’t want to sell). For my taste, we seem too slow in the transfer market.

    We have signed some good players but we seem to have lingered or gambled on a number of players who turned out to be pipe dreams (Vlahovic, Douglas, Mudryck and seemingly Caicedo) and then were left empty-handed.

  8. If things fall apart then Arteta has no option but to drop Xhaka to CDM Zinchenko and Odegaard to flank him, Tierney or Tomiyasu will play left back and this will only be possible if Partey will not be fit for Everton game.Though some inside news say Partey will resume first team training on Wednesday.

    1. Your solution is a short-term solution (but not a bad one).

      In the long term, we have seen Xhaka’s shortcomings as a DM and it would put a lot of pressure on injury-prone players like Tierney, Zinckenko, and Tomiyasu if they had to play twice a week for a while.

    2. I think that’s what we want to avoid. It’s been suggested on here that White might be our best option to replace partey if it comes to that, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a bit risky because he hasn’t played there much, but it’s probably our best bet. Xhaka provides excellent defensive support to partey, but I’d rather avoid asking him to play DM again if possible.

    3. Xhaka at DM? Ha ha. Cant know you for trying but we’ve been here before! Let’s just say it didn’t end as we all would’ve wished.

  9. Arsenal should have been after a DM from January 1’st, it’s not like we didn’t know we needed one, and it is pretty short sighted/negligent to have waited until the last moment again. It could come back to haunt us. So much has been done right this season…but how could not troubleshooting our negative possibilities leave us maybe giving the PL away. Maybe we will still win it, but major organisations and companies always trouble shoot future problems. Did it myself one upon a lifetime. So silly to leave January balancing on a wire. Un-businesslike

    1. Arsenal relies on the technical director’s advice when it comes to transfers. He’s the one expected to do the work and hand in a report. So whatever nonsense is going on is down to Edu’s incompetence. He’s the board’s eyes and ears. By now he should know if BHA are willing to sell and at what price if not move on to other targets.

  10. This is classic Arsenal bidding for a player that isn’t for sale or whose club want double his actual value. Honestly, why do we fall for this everytime and not see that this is pure mind games with the supporters. We’ve bought trossard and kiwior without fuss so let’s just forget this BS ‘to and fro’ bidding and not get too hung up on zero last minute signings we thought would happen ..

  11. I quit agree with everyone
    In my opinion Arsenal need to go all out before the winter slam close and get a DM backup,Partey injury has showed us an example of how we could drop off the title lane.
    A quick remind of last season late drama has that to say.

  12. Elneny has been an able Deputy. When he stepped up towards the tail end of last season Arsenal did not lose a single match after having endured several loses. How did you miss that? Then you seem to blame Arsenal and Elneny for the injury he got, what guarantees do you have the next DM say Calciedo will not get injured during his first training session with the Arsenal and be ruled out for the whole season? If waiting until it is too late for Arsenal means staying at the top of the log till end of season, so be it. We blame and blame and blame yet can not accept how wrong we have been about Arsenal and Arteta.

  13. That’s down to our “TECHNICAL” director and him alone. He’s paid to analyze the team, anticipate such situations, and come up with a plan before sh1t hits the fan! Isn’t it what the rest of us are expected of in our specialist roles? You could point to past deals as his success but I’d disagree and say it was down to the players’ strong desire to join us(Chelsea with a better deal, chased GJ till the morning he was putting ink to paper, Ramsdale didn’t allow our own fan’s negativity stop him from joining, Zinchenko had one team on his mind). Edu seems out of step with the murky world of transfer dealings: always underestimating the seller as he did with Bruno G(lyon), D. Luiz(villa), Mudryk (Whatever), and now Caicedo(BHA). Bloom won’t listen to anything less than 80 mil, he (Edu) knows it but still persists with his low offers that are being laughed out of the boardroom. Just move on to other targets! It saves everyone’s time and we wont be in a fix come 02/01/2023 Mr. Gaspar!

  14. Tony Bloom of Brighton, is a world class poker player. Edu has not got a chance of out maneuvering Tony Bloom. So we are piddling over football pennies. Ether buy or get an alternative. . Don’t F around. We have known we need a defensive mid for months. Don’t seriously risk our ability to win the Premier League by exactly repeating last January Window, when we were begging Douglas Luis to sign. It would be crass negligence.

    1. Spot on Sean, this unfortunately reeks of a typical PR
      stunt by the club to show intent when the player
      was never truly for sale. Caicedo does tick so many
      of the necessary boxes as a player for Arsenal but
      I’d honestly be happy if Edu told Tony B to EAD and
      signed any of the following talented midfielders.

      I. Sangare
      M. Kone
      A Haidara
      A Onana
      I. Bamba
      K Thuram

  15. The thing is your expecting a top class replacement who’s prepared to sit on the bench when Thomas is fit, if your top class your going to want to play and when Thomas is fit he’s one of the best in the world so if he’s fit you know your not going to play. Any player of that level is going to think about that and if those players play for a successful smaller club where they are the heartbeat of the team. that club is going to rightly want a premium after all a £70 mil player is far more valuable to a small club. Also remember we are talking about multi million business deals involving all sorts of agents lawyers accountants etc from all over the world.
    As for the Mudryk thing, he wanted the move and so did we but whatever we bud Chelsea where going to go higher, Arsenal did the correct thing even though I think the lad is a fantastic football player. When we didn’t get Vlahovic last winter we got both Jesus and Zincy for a similar amount, was that good business ?
    Like me you were correct to criticise and question but now is not the time for that? This is the time to genuinely trust the process, a weakened team lost a tight game at city, a game that could have went either way. We are top of the league at the half way stage, we have European football to look forward too, we are playing some of the best football we have in years our whole club and fan base is United, did you hear those away fans at city ? Outstanding!!.
    If it all goes pear shaped criticise analyse and question but for now let’s be happy that it really is “Good to be Gooner” trust the process, victory through harmony,
    Peace love happiness and success fellow gooners x

    1. Your first para is wrong “cause Caicedo has no problem deputizing Partey. It’s him who’s actually pushing for the move. Did you see his Twitter post? On Mudryk, we could’ve outmaneuvered Chelsea by offering realistic add-ons that would’ve sealed the deal earlier on. Remember Chelsea only swooped in with better add-ons at the last minute but were initially resigned to Mudryk joining us.
      On price, we’ve already talked about the price tag for a 21 yr old and concluded that spread over say 8 years, it seems more realistic than going for replacement in two seasons’ time.
      We might be top of the table with European football but we are also two injuries away from implosion so excuse me if I don’t trust Edu’s transfer process ’cause my concerns are well founded IMHO.

      1. I think you are right or let’s say this, I don’t mind our targets, but I do mind the amount of time we take to negotiate and leave ourselves open to situations where Chelsea feels encouraged to come in. We waste long chunks of transfer windows on targets that turn out to be out of our reach.

        Once we start going for big-name players, Vlahovic, Mudryck, and other players that might be of interest to top clubs we will have to be more efficient in the market.

        1. 100% agreed. That’s why I don’t trust Edu when it comes to transfers ’cause he never learns.

    2. dont agree with happy to sit on the bench, any player coing into a top team should know that they have to fight for the right to play, and they may unseat partey as first choice.
      no one should ever expect to play when fit if you have a fully fit squad..look at city with the likes of grealish, foden etc.

    3. Edu and Arteta goal this season is CL classification EPL title is not. Trust the process, again. with 50 points now we are for sure CL material. It’s about keeping their jobs in the long run.

  16. Tend to agree with the writer of the article.Most sensible fans considered the acquisition of direct cover for Partey, a priority in the knowledge that neither Elneny nor unfortunately Lokonga were of the quality required.In the case of Sambi he is not a DM and never will be and yet he has been thrown into the Lion’s den on a number of occasions and on virtually every occasion his lack of defensive awareness has been apparent.The acquisition of Veiria is another dubious decision particularly at a time when Odegaard reigns supreme in his preferred position and with ESR already in the wings.That said, name me one Manager who has never made errors of judgement in terms of acquisitions apart of course from the armchair variety.The likes of Onana, Ibrahima Bamba and Sangare seem to me more sensible targets than Caicedo, who is heavily overpriced and seems to me very rash in his tackling in areas where calmness is needed to avoid free kicks .I am not one who is influenced by stats but I believe the Brighton man is second in terms of fouls committed in the EPL This would worry me but I assume Arteta and Edu feel this “weakness” is outweighed by his strengths. In any event, not surprisingly, Brighton do not seem keen to sell him during this window and consequently we may have to soldier on with what we have.To me, Ben White would be the best option to take over from Partey should be be injured and I would certainly use him in this role in the Europa Cup matches.

  17. There possibly is an excuse that Arsenal have “left off buying” this particular DM, and that is that: He’s.Not.Actually.Good.Enough.
    Regarding the DM situation, Elneny’s most recent injury looks to have caught everyone out at a very late stage of the transfer window and left us in a position where we might have buy an inferior player just out of desperation.
    Hope I’m completely wrong

    1. I don’t see Elneney having the skills to replace Partey should he be out for 6 weeks. We should have gone for another DM that could also be a long-term replacement for Partey.

  18. Deja Vu hopefully not! I’m not at the stage where I have given up on us signing anyone yet. I think we will make a final offer and should that fail, we will finally walk away.

    The thing about Caicedo is that he is Premier League battle hardened which is what appeals to Arteta and Edu and so suggestions like Bamba are not what they appear to be looking for to come straight into the middle of a title race.

    If not Premier League experience, an experienced player if some form is what we need. Any of Amrabat, Sangare would fit the bill nicely.

    Every signing is a risk, just need to find the right option that minimalizes that.

  19. I tend to think our budget in the summer was a little less and now the board is factoring in the money to be gained from possibly winning the title but mostly champions league money. They bid below 30 million for Luiz and now they have already spent almost 50 million and are bidding another 70 so that tells me the surprise title surge has enabled this splurge in light of having to later balance the books. Also there is no telling how much they thought Lukonga would develop as a third option after Thomas and Mo but that has thus far not worked out.

  20. Also considering how incompetent Edu is made to seem by some I would call getting Zinch,Ode and Jesus, White and Rams at the prices they got them and increasing their value while making an impressive title charge is not too shabby so lets see how everything pans out in the end.

  21. Also forgot to add its interesting to note no mention of Richard Garlick who is actually the person in charge of negotiations who then has to answer to the Kroenkes so not all on Edu whose role is to identify the targets.

  22. Not known about this…bwahhahahaha

    Eneny does not offer anything but possession, he is leagues below Partey.
    He is injured and most likely out for a while.

    Partey had a rough start to his AFC career, has been injury prone, and part of those injuries cost us 4th place last year.

    Everyone could see this problem from Galaxies away, but yet here we are again.

    Get a back up for Partey, get ESR and Nelson fully healed up, and AFC might have enough gas in the tank to not crater the last 5-7 games of the season!

  23. By not buying a really good back-up DM this season, I believe that the Dynamic Duo are playing “brink-man-ship” with Arsenal’s ability to finish in the top four this season, let alone win the League!

    Get your finger out and cough up the Caicedo money, or suffer the consequences!!!

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