How can Arsenal best deal with Granit Xhaka's three-month injury?
Arsenal were dealt a fresh blow to their up-and-down start to the season when news broke of a fresh injury to Granit Xhaka, which will likely keep the midfielder out of action for the next three months.
After a summer transfer period which certainly hinted at a possible departure from the club for the Switzerland international, Xhaka ended up staying at Arsenal and signed a new contract to confirm his commitment to Mikel Arteta’s side.
However, despite being reinstated as a first-team starter this season, Xhaka now faces an extended period of time on the injury bench. So how can Arsenal best accommodate for the loss of their influential midfielder?
Perhaps the most logical move for Arteta at this point is to put his faith in new signing Albert Sambi Lokonga as the ideal replacement to Xhaka for the time being.
Signed in the summer for £15.75 million, Arsenal clearly rate the central midfielder and in many ways he’s the natural successor to Xhaka in the team.
Alongside the more combative, box-to-box skills of Thomas Partey, Lokonga is a tidy deep-lying playmaker that can pick the passes and get the ball into the final third as quickly as possible.
Make better use of Maitland-Niles
Another option for Arteta to fill this midfield hole is to alter his tactics slightly to a more traditional 4-3-3 formation and bring Ainsley Maitland-Niles back into the fold in the centre of the pitch.
The young English talent has already made four appearances in central midfield as part of a midfield trio this season and while he may find more space on the wings, he’s also a perfectly good box-to-box midfielder or advanced playmaker.
Although he may not prefer to sit deep and provide cover as well as Partey or Lokonga might in Arteta’s side.