Elneny’s Injury Makes Central Midfield Signing a Priority
In the past couple of seasons, Arsenal has been desperately unlucky with its central midfield contingent. In the latter years of Arsene Wenger’s reign, the defensive lynchpin of the team, Alexandre Song, left for pastures anew, allowing academy graduate, Francis Coquelin, an extended run in the side alongside the aging genius, Santi Cazorla. With the arrival of Unai Emery, Arsenal already had the likes of the Swiss Player of the Year, Granit Xhaka, and Mohamed Elneny, but the new gaffer added the tenacious defensive dynamo, Lucas Torreira, and the cultured midfielder, Matteo Guendouzi, to our ranks, and the team was quite stacked in that position.
With Mikel Arteta taking over from the ruins left by Mr. Good Ebening, Torreira quickly fell out of favor and was shipped around on loan to Italian clubs, while some disciplinary issues with Guendouzi saw the French prospect shipped away to Hertha Berlin in Germany, before finding a home for himself at Olymique Marseille. Arteta plugged a giant sized hole in the midfield with the acquisition of Thomas Partey but the midfield has suffered a litany of injuries in his fledgling Arsenal career, which has kept Arsenal fans on the edge in regard to his fitness issues.
When Partey suffered an injury last Spring, Arsenal had to rely on Mohamed Elneny to hold the fort, following Albert Sambi Lokonga’s underwhelming display in the home defeat to Brighton. Elneny featured consistently and did his bit to provide cover, even though his football wasn’t similar to what Partey offered. Early in the season, Elneny missed out for almost three months with an injury, and luckily, Partey featured consistently this campaign, and also featured for Ghana in the FIFA World Cup without any major injuries.
Mikel Arteta was also concerned going into the new season without a credible backup for Partey with Elneny injured, so the Gunners made a late push for Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz which fell through before the window was closed. This January transfer window, Arsenal has been heavily linked with moves for Declan Rice, Martin Zubimendi and Weston McKennie, and these defensive midfielders that can be adequate covers for Partey when the inevitable happens.
While I remain hopeful that we can have our midfield general for the entirety of the campaign, the fact that the Gunners are still in the FA Cup and Europa League essentially means that Partey’s minutes have to be managed, and Elneny’s injury, as well as the sheer lack of trust in Lokonga following his inconsistent performances, signing a new central midfielder in the remaining days of the January transfer window is a priority.
Jakub Kiwior is adept playing as a defensive midfielder, so he would be a stop-gap option if the Gunners fail to secure a central midfielder this window. However, with the decisiveness shown in the acquisitions of Leandro Trossard and Kiwior this window, I’m pretty confident that Edu and his team can come through with what we need.
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