No Good Tackles in the Defensive Midfield and Too Sluggish to Create Chances Upfront
Granit Xhaka has gone from out the door to signing a new contract in a matter of weeks, like a Boris Johnson u-turn.
Arsenal are unlikely to invest further in central midfield now that the Swiss midfielder has agreed to stay, having already paid £17.5 million to Anderlecht for Albert Sambi Lokonga.
Lokonga’s pre-season and training performances are likely to be one of the reasons Arsenal has persisted with Xhaka, despite no other team in Europe having the financial means to meet Arsenal’s asking price.
Anderlecht manager Vincent Kompany and Thierry Henry, who is part of Roberto Martinez’s national team setup, backed the Belgian midfielder.
However, his recent performances have surprised him, and he is closer to being a regular first-team member than Edu and his teammates may have realized.
Arsenal may have decided to keep Xhaka rather than invest £30 million+ on a Yves Bissouma due of Lokonga’s performances.
Why make that expenditure if the club believes Lokonga will be the main guy in a year?
So, if we have Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Lokonga, and Mo Elneny next season, are we happy?
The equilibrium in Xhaka and Partey in the centre of the park has always appealed to me.
Partey is the force, the one who pushes the ball forward, whilst Xhaka is more immobile and disciplined.
Xhaka is the one who can get the ball from front to back quickly, whilst Partey is more likely to travel forward through the midfield with the ball at his feet. It is a versatile midfield.
Elneny and Lokonga provide support for those two.
Elneny is one of my favorite characters.
He is a straightforward player who does not overextend himself. Simply said, he’s a good person. Will never win you a game, but will seldom lose it due to a mistake. Player has a solid 7 out of 10 rating. How many people do you need in the squad?
Lokonga, on the other hand, is the unknown.
He has the potential to have a similar impact as Patrick Vieira did all those years ago, bursting onto the scene and vying for a starting spot as the season progresses.
Elneny is likely to replace Xhaka, with Lokonga serving as Thomas Partey’s understudy.
The number four in the middle may appear light, but keep in mind that we will not be playing European football next season.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Joe Willock might be the fifth option, but I anticipate both to depart before the transfer window closes.
Then there’s Miguel Azeez, who is 18 years old.
Azeez has returned from his summer holiday in better shape. The boy is maturing into a man.
While he was unable to travel to Scotland with the senior side owing to injuries, he made an impression against Watford with a well-taken goal.
He was left out of the Mind Series team over the weekend, instead playing with the U23s at Ebbsfleet, where he scored another goal.
Young players must continue to play in order to grow.