How Jurrien Timber's return could transform Arsenal

• Arsenal signed Jurrien Timber from Ajax in the summer

• Versatile defender tore his ACL in August

• Timber set to return before the season's end

Arsenal FC v Nottingham Forest - Premier League
Arsenal FC v Nottingham Forest - Premier League / Julian Finney/GettyImages

As Jurrien Timber seems to be nearing a return from injury, here is a look at how big an impact he could have on how Arsenal play and our aspirations for the remainder of the season.

You would be forgiven for not realising, or perhaps underestimating, how impactful Timber's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury has been on Arsenal's season.

Most fans hailed and warmly welcomed the signing of Timber when he joined for a reported £38m from Dutch giants Ajax last July.

He brought with him a wave of excitement and promised to offer a new dynamic to the Gunners' defence and perfectly fit the mould for how Mikel Arteta wanted to set up the team this season.

The young Dutch defender showed some very encouraging signs in pre-season and the Community Shield victory over Manchester City.

Jurrien Timber
Arsenal FC v Nottingham Forest - Premier League / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Unfortunately, as most of you will already know, his first competitive appearance, in our opening game at home to Nottingham Forest, was brought to a premature end after a knee injury that he sustained in the first half eventually forced him off.

It would later transpire that he suffered an ACL injury, and was expected by many to miss most, if not all, of his debut season - as is so often the case with such injuries, but the 22-year-old looks set to break that mould.

How Jurrien Timber's return could transform Arsenal

But he has recently been involved with Arsenal's warm-weather training camp in Dubai, and reports suggest that he could see some involvement with the first team as early as next month, which begs the question of how big of an impact he could have on the team when he returns.

Jurrien Timber, Mikel Arteta, Josep Guardiola
Timber can play across the backline / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

1. Versatile monster

One of the reported reasons behind Arsenal choosing to sign Timber was/is his impressive versatility - with him being accomplished at right-back, left-back and centre-back.

In fact, we saw him play across all of these positions in pre-season alone, with it clear that he was going to be an essential part of the squad, given his ability to fill in at virtually any defensive position.

At times when we have seen Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko missing through injury, Timber would have been an excellent option to mitigate their absences, and from the glimpses we have seen of him, he very well may have established himself as a starter.

2. An upgrade on current options

Jurrien Timber, Julian Alvarez
Manchester City v Arsenal - The FA Community Shield / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

During the Community Shield and the first half against Nottingham Forest, we saw Timber being utilised at left-back, and he was more than a breath of fresh air in the side.

Offensively, his linkup with Gabriel Martinelli down the wing, while also connecting the defence to the midfield was a sight to behold and gave a new dynamic to the team, with us having looked increasingly threatening in attack during these games.

As well as his offensive prowess, Timber also showed real defensive solidity, something that the side has missed when Zinchenko plays, who, while good in attack, lacks the quality needed in defence and has been mistake-prone this season.

3. New signing feeling

It is clear that, despite seeing him play just 55 minutes in the Premier League this season, we have severely missed Timber in the team.

His impending return will offer both quality and, importantly, an increased number of options for Arteta to choose between, which will be a massive boost for our chances of silverware this season.

Given the very limited number of minutes that he played before suffering his injury, Timber's return will quite literally feel like a new signing and I, for one, cannot wait.

With that being said, it is essential that we do not rush him at all, which could risk a provocation of the injury - especially given the fact that he is already thought to be recovering well ahead of schedule.