Arsenal midfield conundrum is the last piece of the puzzle

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Nacho Monreal of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on May 7, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal celebrates scoring his sides first goal with Nacho Monreal of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on May 7, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /

Arsenal has been making additions to the first team as well as to the coaching staff. However, it is the midfield conundrum that is holding the team back.

Bringing in Jens Lehman as a first team coach as well as declaring Per Mertesacker as the next long-term head of the Arsenal Academy has brought some serious experience and solidity to the club’s foundation. Likewise, the acquisitions of Sead Kolasanic and, most notably, Alexandre Lacazette has given fans something to really cheer about.

Related Story: 3 Reasons Thomas Lemar Transfer Has To Happen

Kolasanic made a name for himself as one of the best full-backs in all Europe by making the Bundesliga team of the season for 2016-17. The Bosnian defender’s grit and dynamism are definitely welcomed in North London.

Lacazette is the jewel of this transfer window. Arsenal went out and smashed their record transfer fee by signing the electric Frenchman from his boyhood club Lyon. While there are some question marks over Lacazette’s transition, there is no way that fans can view his arrival as anything but a positive development and a sign of the club’s ambition.

Much will be made over the futures of many of the Gunners’ star players. Young guns Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been constantly linked with Barcelona and Liverpool, respectively.

While Bellerin only recently put pen to paper on a new contract this past January, the Ox is in the final year of his contract.

Alexis Sanchez is by far the player with the most speculation over his future. The loss of the Chilean would be a huge blow for the club, but the manager seems to be adamant on keeping his star man for the duration of his contract.

With the hard stance against players leaving the club, big business getting done swiftly, the return of Mad Jens along with the appointment of the BFG, Arsenal are beginning to look like that efficient club that fans have been crying out for.

All of that is fine and well, but one glaring problem still stands out in my opinion: the midfield.

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After his big money transfer from Borussia Mönchengladbach its safe to say that Granit Xhaka had a roller coaster debut season in London. After some very unconvincing performances, critics were quick to label the new boy as a complete flop. However, as the season progressed, most notably after the squad switched to a three at the back system, fans began to see the best of Xhaka.

With the added defensive solidity that the formation provided, Xhaka was able to operate in a more natural position. In FIFA terms the Swiss ace is more of an architect or maestro rather than a powerhouse or an engine. In player terms, Xhaka aligns more closely with Santi Cazorla than with Patrick Vieira.

A similar case can be made for Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman’s strengths and weaknesses have been debated amongst Arsenal fans for years. Yet the three centre-back system gave Ramsey the freedom to roam and surge forward. The benefits of which were on full display in the FA Cup final against Chelsea.

While the Xhaka-Ramsey partnership showed positive signs of growth, there is no guarantee that Arsene Wenger will persist with the 3-4-3 formation that brought out the best in them. The fervent pursuit of Thomas Lemar as well as links to Riyad Mahrez, suggests that Wenger may be leaning towards a return to the 4-2-3-1 formation.

If one of these wide attackers were to sign for the Gunners and Alexis Sanchez remains with the club, it is very unlikely that the French manager will elect to line up with one of his best attackers on the bench.

A Xhaka-Ramsey partnership would not be solid enough to function properly with only two center backs behind them. Arsenal may have to go out and find a dynamic ball winner who can play next to Ramsey or Xhaka.

An internal solution does not seem likely. Francis Coquelin and Mohammed Elnenny are both valuable squad members who will be needed for cup competitions and in the case of injuries.

However, neither player is of a high enough quality to start week in and week out. The Ox clearly has desires to play in a central midfield role. Although Oxlade-Chamberlain did have a pretty good campaign last season, he is still not ready to slot into that position on a team challenging for the Premier League title. Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere can not be relied upon due to their checkered injury records.

Arsenal may need to head into the transfer market to sign a combative midfielder who can add steel to the spine of the team’s midfield.

Now may be the perfect time to make a move for Sporting Lisbon’s midfield enforcer William Carvalho. The dominating midfielder was a huge part of Portugal’s march to the European Championships last year and he has the right mix of style and strength that Arsenal needs. Sporting has certainly lowered their asking price on Carvalho and although Arsenal has monitored him for some time without pulling the trigger, the desperation of losing Champions League football may have changed things.

After ten years of scouting the North London club finally brought in Lacazette this summer, perhaps the same can be true of Carvalho.

Next: 3 Players Impacted By Thomas Lemar

Every year Arsenal starts the season with an “embarrassment of riches” in midfield, however, the club always seems to be in a midfield crisis. Whatever the solution may be, Arsene Wenger needs to solve the persistent midfield conundrum that has plagued the Gunners essentially since the departure of Patrick Vieira.