For a while Arsenal never had a complete squad. As good as the team looked, it was bereft of a body in a vital position that could turn the team from a challenger to a champion.
At some point, it was the goalkeeping position when neither of Almunia or Fabianski could keep the goal safe. Then it was a lethal striker that was the missing piece. In the absence of Robin Van Persie owing to injuries, the Gunners could only turn to Adebayor and Bendtner who were both a step above and below the average grade respectively.
When the Gunners lost creative hubs in Cesc and Nasri and were able to get another in Ozil, a lethal striker was missing as they could only count on a tireless but not too lethal forward in Oliver Giroud and Danny Welbeck.
Now the team has a lethal striker who has consistently bagged 20+ premier league goals in each of his two full seasons but one thing is still missing, the Gunners lack a creative hub, a natural traditional No. 10, a playmaker. Since incumbent No. 10, Mesut Ozil has been frozen out of the squad for phoney reasons, different managers (Emery, Ljunberg and Arteta) have tried different players in that role with them failing to deliver the needed creative spark let alone fire; Willock, Ceballos and Torreira have all been tried there but failed to deliver the goods. What then is the way out, who would solve this conundrum for Arsenal?
To solve this creative conundrum, Arsenal can either travel two routes, look inwards to the in-house solution or look outside towards the transfer window for recruits. Part of the in-house solution is to re-integrate Ozil back into the team and allow him work for the megabucks he earns.
If on song, the German is still one of the best playmakers around. If there is a manager that could bring the best out of him, it is a forward looking and attack minded manager like Mike Arteta. With a lethal finisher like Aubamenyang ahead of him, his labour of chances would not be in vain.
Should Arsenal decide that Ozil’s time as a Gunner is done, they could look in the direction of youngsters, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. While Smith Rowe might be rated by the Arteta, he is still relatively unknown to the fans.
Bukayo is a rather known name and with the versatility that he showed for Arsenal in the just concluded season, playing in the LB, LW and RW, he might be able to slot into the attacking midfield position. He is fast, skillful and with eye for the pass. If there is a player that can adapt, it is Saka. Last season he contributed 9 goals (3 goals and 6 assists ) in 32 appearances in all competitions. He deserves a look at.
For Emile Smith Rowe, he is naturally an attacking midfielder, a promising one though his stint at Huddersfield was not stellar. In 19 matches, he managed 2 goals and 2 assists. He deserves a chance too.
Should Arteta feel the solution to the dearth of creativity at Arsenal lies in the transfer market, he might be looking at three candidates; Willian, Coutinho and Aouar.
Willian is already almost a done deal, a bossman arrival from Chelsea. Though with the Blues, he operated on the wings but he is more at home operating though the middle. With Pepe on the right, Aubamenyang, Martinelli and Saka on the left, the acquisition of Willian might be to fill in the attacking midfield position. His stats last season was not bad as he posted 15 goals contributions (9 goals and 6 assists)
Another mooted option is Coutinho. The former Red star has been linked with a move back to the Premier League having become unwanted at Barcelona and unwelcome at Bayern Munich. While Barca would be eager to get him off their wage bill, do Arsenal have the financial muscle to push the deal through? He would definitely be bringing a huge wealth of experience and the desire to revive his career could be a motivation that would serve Arsenal in good stead.. His stats so far this season with Bayern is 15 goals contribution ( 9 goals and 6 assists).
Anothet target is Lyon star, Aouar. The Lyon playmaker is definitely one that has courted attention no thanks to his exciting performances this season.
If Lyon’s antecedents in the market is anything to go by, it would be tough for Arsenal to land him. Jean Aulas is a difficult customer to negotiate player sales with, though he is open to a sale but only at the right which is usually high price. With Arsenal having many positions to address, chances are slim that they would have the financial luxury to make the Aouar deal a reality. In 35 appearances across all competitions so far this season, he has 11 goals contribution; 7 goals and 4 assists.
Whatever Arteta decides to do, whether look close or far, one thing is important, the dearth of creativity at Arsenal must be addressed.