Arsenal’s season so far part one: The midfield balance holding the Gunners back

Arsenal's Dani Ceballos is subbed on for Lucas Torreira during the Premier League match at Old Traff

Arsenal's Dani Ceballos is subbed on for Lucas Torreira during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture: Nick Potts/PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

With the international break upon us, now is a good time to reflect on Arsenal’s season so far, what’s gone well and the issues that still need to ironed out. In part one, Harry Symeou looks at the midfield problems Unai Emery has been having.

Emery's Arsenal currently sit third in the Premier League and in the eyes of most supporters, that's the highest position the Gunners could hope to finish come May 17th.

The gulf in quality between those battling for third and fourth and title-chasers Manchester City and Liverpool is so significant that anything higher is almost unthinkable.

In terms of summer transfer business, it started slowly but by the time the window had closed, the Gunners had sealed the high-profile signings of Nicolas Pepe - for a club record fee - Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid, Kieran Tierney from Celtic and David Luiz from London rivals Chelsea.

Eight games into the league season and the Gunners have already been to Anfield, Old Trafford and entertained Tottenham, yet still find themselves within touching distance of the reigning champions.

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However, despite the seemingly encouraging position, the supporters remain divided in regards to whether the progress made under Emery since his arrival has been sufficient, and questions remain over many areas.

One of those is midfield balance.

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The midfield area has been problematic to say the least. Emery has tried a variety of systems since the start of the campaign in a desperate bid to find that coveted balance.

Call it pragmatic, but there are those who feel the inconsistency in his selections is proving counter-productive.

Some gargantuan performances from Matteo Guendouzi have proved a shining light, but the decision to consistently select Granit Xhaka and name him club captain has left many supporters disillusioned and in some cases, angry.

Lucas Torreira has so far failed to nail down a permanent position in the side and whilst his performances haven't always been impeccable of late, you could argue he's been a victim of an ever-changing system and been forced to press further up the field in a role that's completely out of his comfort zone - raising questions over whether the Uruguayan's talents are being wasted.

Naming a defensively competent midfield without sacrificing in creativity has proven a difficult task for Emery and has fuelled the criticism he's beginning to receive from some small sections of the fan base.

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