As is often the case when the Carabao Cup rolls around, the Premier League teams like to shake the pack.
Mikel Arteta did just that for Wednesday’s visit from Brighton – and he learned quite quickly how little depth Arsenal must trust.
Ten changes were made from the start, with centre-back William Saliba being the sole survivor of the weekend’s win over Chelsea.
Goalkeeper Karl Hein made his debut, Marquinhos and Reiss Nelson were as wingers and Eddie Nketiah led the line instead of Gabriel Jesus.
Mikel Arteta admitted his squad is thin after being knocked out of the Carabao Cup
It did not work. Arsenal lost – convincingly. The 3-1 defeat has stripped away another chance at silverware and has prompted Arteta to accept that outside his starting squad, who are currently at the top of the Premier League, a lack of depth is the cloud that hangs over their season.
“That’s the squad we have,” he replied when asked if the result showed that we should invest in the transfer market.
“We have to use in the best possible way and today we came up short, especially because in both boxes we didn’t do what we had to do to win a football match. We paid that price.
“It’s the same team as when we won. I have said from day one that we have a short roster because we left some players at the end. It’s what we have.
Eddie Nketiah will have to be ready to be called up if Gabriel Jesus is injured
“We also know that we have certain injuries and the squad is very, very small. We have tried to arrange that in the best possible situation.
“It’s the same when we win a football match, so no excuses.”
Arteta isn’t the only one with concerns either.
Gary Neville is fully convinced that Arsenal will not be able to maintain their form at the start of the season.
“All Arsenal have proven in recent years is that they crumble at the end of the season, until I see they don’t, I will still have that doubt. Why shouldn’t I?’ Neville insisted on the Overlap.
Manchester City win the Premier League this season by 10-15 points.
Gary Neville not convinced they can keep their title challenge for Manchester City
“I’ve seen it before when you have a team that’s so exceptional, we had that a few times with Manchester United when I was playing where you just know a team just doesn’t have what it takes to play all the time. to go. way to challenge the top team.’
As things stand now, it’s up to Arsenal to keep their starters fit and invest in January if they stay in with a legitimate chance of dethroning Manchester City.
The defeat to Brighton was just the last reminder that the 10 players who were stabbed in the wing all missed their mark to impress.
With all that in mind, Sports post split up the Gunners’ team and look at the key areas they need to tackle if they’re going to keep up the challenge.
Aaron Ramsdale- Matt Turner – Karl Hein
Not that there was much of a chance Hein would seriously lay claim to the shirt, but sending three against Brighton wasn’t ideal.
Ramsdale is pushing Jordan Pickford to eventually become England’s No. 1 and so he is a real piece of quality for Arsenal to build a team with.
But backup keeper is always a tricky position to get top cover for.
Any great goalkeeper will have options to become a number 1 somewhere and ever since Sergio Romero slumped on the Manchester United bench, a number 2 doesn’t have as strong an argument as a number 1.
Better quality coverage for Ramsdale would be great, but it is far from the priority this season.
Aaron Ramsdale is the clear number 1, but a backup goalkeeper is not the priority for Arsenal
Kieran Tierney – Cedric Soares – Oleksandr Zinchenko – Takehiro Tomiyasu – Ben White – Gabriel – William Saliba – Rob Holding – Lino Sousa
Tierney and Zinchenko battling it out at left back is the kind of headache Arteta would love to have in his entire team.
Both are novice players of caliber and it means that the competition on that side is always fierce.
The concern is central defence, and while Saliba played against Brighton, Rob Holding’s performance will have done little to calm Arteta’s nerves should something happen to Gabriel Magalhaes.
William Saliba was monstrous in defense so any injury for him would be a big deal
Ben White’s versatility means he can be moved inside – he’s played a chunk at right-back – and Takehiro Tomiyasu can get a job done inside too.
As the board has sanctioned £50million to White, it remains to be seen if they would duck back for a new top-shelf centre-back.
Cedric Soares as right back should also sound the alarm. It is the weakest part of their backline. Well worth exploring a new full-back in January.
Thomas Partey- Mohamed Elneny- Sambi Lokonga – Martin Odegaard- Granite Xhaka – Fabio Vieira- Emile Smith Rowe – Bukayo Saka – Matt Smith – Amario Cozier Duberry – Ethan Nwaneri – Catalin Cirjan – Bradley Ibrahim
There are some fundamentals of the team in this department; a few Arteta non-negotiables.
There is no one in the squad who can provide the kind of screen and defensive cover that Thomas Partey can on this side and while Mohamed Elneny is a fine rotation piece it would be problematic to use him in a title race.
The midfield problem is more lack of shield coverage than creativity.
Thomas Partey would be a big miss if he missed games in the second half of the season
Arteta worked over the summer to spread creative responsibility and the arrival of Fabio Vieira is a boost should anything happen to Martin Odegaard.
Emile Smith Rowe has become somewhat of a forgotten man this season who has impressed in some big moments in 2021-22.
The fact that his level of quality remains in reserve is a testament to what Arsenal are building.
Better use of the money than any other creative playmaker – but quality coverage for Partey should be a priority.
Gabriel Martinelli- Gabriel Jesus – Eddie Nketiah- Marquinhos – Travel Nelson- Khayon Edwards
Now we are in a sticky place.
Neither Gabriel Martinelli nor Gabriel Jesus played against Brighton. And it turned out.
Eddie Nketiah did score, but as a front three it just didn’t work and that is the main concern.
City seems to have a diamond in Julian Alvarez, and he now plays second fiddle to Erling Haaland.
Gabriel Jesus may not be in form but is so important to this Arsenal side
Others, such as Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden or Bernardo Silva, have had spells on the bench and they are creating groundbreaking effects for Man City.
Arsenal just can’t look on their couch and find a lot of game-changers – they’re not there.
Jesus is playing well without adding the goals he needs, Martinelli was electric but beyond that there are problems and attacking reinforcements should be front and center of Arsenal’s January window.