Sundays victory over Chelsea, whilst excellent, did highlight the current deficiencies in the squad.
The XI that played was the strongest we could put out. Bar perhaps new boy Saed Kolasinac playing at left wing back and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moving across to right.
The victory on penalties has papered over some cracks. Cracks in the squad where we are weak.
With Aaron Ramsey out, it left us with Mohamed Elneny starting and, with Francis Coquelin also out, not a single central midfielder on the bench.
If Arsenal are to compete this season, we need 5 central midfielders. In the “squad” we currently have 6:
You can pretty much exclude the bottom two. Santi Cazorla is out till 2018 and Jack Wilshere is unreliable and on his way out. That leaves us with 4. One short.
What we need to buy in the middle of the park is not a player who can be back up – we have that in Elneny and Coquelin – but a player who can compete for a first team place alongside Ramsey or Xhaka.
Another option Arsenal should seriously consider is Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches. Even if it is a loan deal.
With Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil out due to lack of fitness, creativity was also a massive concern.
Playing Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck behind a striker will not drive fear into opponents this season.
Iwobi is a talent, but he should never be Arsenal’s main creative force on the pitch. He is too inconsistent and go’s missing a lot. However he is a good understudy for Mesut Ozil.
Meanwhile, Danny Welbeck is simply not a creative force he is a willing runner and will work hard, but he does not possess the creativity of Alexis Sanchez.
It is not news to anyone that Arsenal need to sign Thomas Lemar. Some might question how we can keep Lemar, Sanchez and Ozil happy, but with Arsenal set to play up to 60 games this season, there is enough to go around.
If Arsenal do get Lemar, and I am still sure they will, it will give them the option of resting players, especially after long trips on international duty, and give us real quality on the bench to change the game.
On a more positive note, we were able to compete with Chelsea’s strongest XI (bar Hazard) without Sanchez, Ozil, Ramsey, Koscielny and Mustafi.
Sunday was a good victory, but it just further highlighted that we are 2 players short of a real title challenge.