Arsenal

Arsenal have unusual Partey replacement despite Arteta transfer criticism

Arsenal faced yet another summer of change that saw over £100million spent to try and improve both the quality and depth at Mikel Arteta’s disposal. It became clear last season that missing a centre-forward option as well as cover across the pitch was part of the problem as the Gunners lost fourth place to rivals Tottenham late in the campaign.

 

While five players were added, plenty more had left, which has perhaps left the side where they started in terms of depth across the pitch. One problem area last season was in midfield, with few options beyond a pairing of Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey.

While the former largely remains fit, it’s the latter that struggles to do so as he faces yet another spell on the sidelines for Arsenal. The job Partey does as a six is hard to replicate within the squad, with Mohamed Elneny the only one possessing the off ball attributes to cover his role.

The Egyptian international proved as much at the end of last season, however he has suffered a long-term injury, meaning that attention on transfer deadline day turned to a new midfielder. A pursuit for Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz failed and Arteta received plenty of criticism for not making a move for a midfielder earlier in the market.

 

At this point, there is little reason to question what could have been and now the Spaniard has to work with what he has to try and get the best out of the squad. Sambi Lokonga has been selected in recent games to play as the deeper midfielder, but his struggles were clear during the loss against Manchester United at the weekend.

So, should Arteta be looking elsewhere in his squad for an option to play that role, there could be a surprise name on the table. That is the potential to play Ben White in midfield.

 

The England international has started every game at right-back this season, though the return of Takehiro Tomiyasu from injury means he could be free to play elsewhere. White had played as a No.6 for both Leeds and Brighton, showing he is more than capable of doing so.

 

His defensive capabilities and reading of the game means he could cover opposition threat, but his technical side of the game in terms of passing and carrying the ball could be key too. While FC Zurich on Thursday may be an ideal time to rest the 24-year-old after an intense few weeks, it could also be a time to test the young star.

 

 

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