Arsenal’s Champions League Chances take a Hit

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The transfer window closed almost two weeks ago, and it seems like Arsenal has left themselves short again. Arsenal’s Champions League chances and a top four finish seem up in the air at the moment, with flashes of brilliance coupled with a recent letdown.

Hindsight is 20:20

Take a quick trip back to January 2022. Arsenal let go of misfiring striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang while sending Ainsley Maitland Niles and Pablo Mari on loan to Roma and Torino. Meanwhile they let Callum Chambers leave to Aston Villa on a free transfer. Don’t get me wrong, there is no crime in letting players surplus to requirement move on, but it is criminal if you fail to replace them adequately, severely impacting Arsenal’s Champions League aspirations.

The punishment for that crime came almost immediately as Arsenal came desperately close to making the top four but failing at the crucial stages. The reason for their failings was simple; the team was too short of quality to compete. It came down to depth. At first, it seemed like the Gunners were going to escape with it. But injuries to key players like Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney buried their top four chances and Arsenal’s Champions League dreams.

The 2022 Summer Transfer Window

At the beginning of the transfer window, Arsenal went to work quickly addressing key areas that needed to be addressed. Eddie Nketiah was given a new contract for the number nine position, and Gabriel Jesus was bought from Manchester City. In addition, they immediately sorted out the left-back situation with the signing of Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City.

The Midfield Area also needed addressing, but this is where Arsenal have faltered. Yes, they signed young prospect Fabio Vieira from Porto, but Fabio is more of a technician, not a destroyer or a defensive-minded player. A like for like back up for Martin Odegaard.

At the start of the window, a defensive midfield player should have been a priority. Thomas Partey was the leading man, and Mo Elneny and Sambi Lokonga could do a job in that position. But depending and putting faith in Thomas Partey is proof of the negligence of Arteta, Edu and the Arsenal Board. Thomas Partey is integral to how Mikel Arteta wants his team to play, but he is never available.

Since joining the club, Partey has featured in less than 50% of matches the club has played; he is never available. For such an essential part of the team, he is absent a lot of the time. Elneny can do a job there, but the impact of Partey’s absence can still be heavily felt. While Elneny is a great safety blanket for the back four, he cannot play a pass from deep under pressure.

Likewise, Sambi Lokonga is seriously lacking in confidence, despite his qualities and potential.
The fact that Arsenal didn’t consider the defensive midfield position a priority at the start of the window is a sad tale of arrogance, negligence and inexperience. Yes, they did try to get Douglas Luiz at the last minute, but why leave it late? Why wait until Partey gets injured that the position becomes a concern? The man can not go 15 games in a row. He doesn’t have that in him. So why wait till it’s late?

This Season Leaves Many Question Marks

Arsenal has started the season so well, winning their first five games before a stumble against Manchester United. With upcoming fixtures with Tottenham and Liverpool are around the corner, the pressure will mount. Mikel Arteta and his charges need to get results in those fixtures for fans to see that this process is progressing. And you can not get results in those fixtures without the proper personnel.

A midfield pairing of Granit Xhaka and Sambi Lokonga against any of the so-called Big Six teams is simply not good enough. Now Arsenal has to hope that the team does not capitulate before Partey returns. Even if he returns, how long is he going to be available? How long is he going to be back?

You have to give yourself the best chance of succeeding. Unfortunately, Edu and the arsenal board have not done that; the arsenal midfield lacks quality and personnel. So it is not unfair for fans and critics alike not to think the results will be grim.

What do you think of Arsenal’s Champions League chances? Let us know in the comments below!

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Philemon is a writer for overtime Heroics. An under graduate student, who has worked in music and sports. He is a huge Real Madrid fan and loves the club to a fault.

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