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Why an Injury-Free Run is the Best Signing Arsenal Needs

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From the demoralizing effects of losing out on a long-term prospect, Mykhailo Mydryk to Chelsea, to going eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table after a much-needed 2 - 0 win against Tottenham; it’s been a whirlwind weekend for Arsenal fans.

After 18 games, The Gunners currently sit comfortably with 47 points - crucially, eight more than champions, Manchester City, and nine more than a resurgent Manchester United, a team they face this Sunday.

Despite this lead, questions are still being asked of the Gunners. Former Manchester United captain and Sky Sports pundit, Gary Neville declared after the game that City will still be champions.

“They won't win the league. Manchester City will win the league,” Neville added but was quick to note he made an error six years ago too.

“But I said Leicester wouldn't win the league,” the former Manchester United captain admitted.

As an Arsenal fan and a football pundit, I admit that I do not fault many pundits, who like Gary, continue to have doubts about an Arsenal title run.

Winning any league isn’t for the faint hearted. It takes a lot – guts; defensive solidity; goal scorers and sometimes, your rivals falling by the way side – amongst others to go the whole yards.

Add to the fact that this time last season, Arsenal were 16 points worse off and if you go back another season, had a whooping 23 points less than they currently, do; it is easy to want to dismiss their title credentials.

I did same for Leicester seven years ago especially after Arsenal beat them that fateful February afternoon.

And this is why many, including Arsenal fans, are clamouring for reinforcements this January for the Arsenal team.

Many are quick to point out, and rightfully so, that the Gunners fell off during the latter stages of last season when Champions League was within touching distance because they did not bring in reinforcements this time last year.

Arsenal have tried to get both Jaoa Felix and Mykhailo Mydryk and sadly, have lost both to their London rivals, Chelsea.

The reactions were immediate.

You needed to have been on social media to see the frustrations from the Gunnersverse and it was only Sunday’s win against Spurs that eased off the pain, a bit.

But I will argue that Arsenal’s main reinforcements this season may not be from the transfer market but instead the injury front.

Gabriel Jesus will be out till at least the end of February. So far, they seemed to have coped very well. The goals have been shared amongst the team with Martin Odegaard; Bukayo Saka; Gabriel Martinelli and even defenders, William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes weighing in with important strikes.

In Fabio Viera, Marqinhos and the returning Smith Rowe, Arsenal, I believe, have enough to complement the first team attacking players.

Unlike last season, Arsenal have more quantity to deputise: Zlincheko can slot into the midfield while Tierney/Tomiyasu cover up at left back; Ben whyte can as well play in centre back while Tomiyasu again, plays the right back role.

But the middle of the park of the Gunners is where the problem is. Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka have been an absolutely majestic in Arsenal’s midfield.

Crucially, the one game they have lost this season was the one game at Old Trafford that Partey missed through injury.

While El Neny might serve as a good deputy defensively, his passes are always sideways or backwards. He doesn’t offer the same penetrative forward passes that Xhaka or Partey gives the team. This is probably why Arteta wanted Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz in the summer.

In recent years, the eventual Premier League winners have had very little injury worries all season. Leicester were largely injury free in 2016 while Liverpool’s recent victory also came without major injuries. Their collapse the following year is clear evidence of the effects of injuries.

With Mydryk and Felix out of the market, it’s hard to see that one special player in the market ready to switch clubs this January. The question is do Arsenal just need a special player or just get more bodies into the team?

Arsenal fans should pray for a more injury free run from now till the end of the season. That, and not new signings, may be the key to their title charge.


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