Could Arsenal compete for the Premier League Trophy without strengthening their defensive midfield and with only six recognized defenders (certainly eight are a minimum)? That was a big question after the summer transfer window closed. When the current champions, Manchester City, visited the Emirates Saturday for a very entertaining 2-2 draw, the answer seemed clear; Arsenal are too weak at defensive midfield and their ranks are too thin on the back line to compete for the title.Arsenal fans could not help but notice that while their team dominated the game early, they also looked exposed in the back.
And sure enough, almost predictably, on a deadly counter attack Man City’s Sergio Aguero ran in behind Arsenal’s only natural defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini to put the visitors ahead. Man City’s defensive midfielders would go on to outplay Arsenal’s defensive midfield throughout the match with Fernandinho and James Milner continually harassing, out muscling and otherwise breaking up the Gunner attacks. (To understand the depth of Arsenal’s midfield woes, City’s first choice midfield duo of Yaya Toure, being rested, and Fernando, injured, weren’t even playing.) No one doubts Arsenal will be strong going forward this season and they did manage to take a 2-1 lead late before conceding the equalizer on a free kick. But the real story may be when Arsenal’s right back, Mathieu Debuchy went down with a high ankle sprain, leaving Arsenal with a sparse five defenders a questionable defensive midfield to cover them–and three-and-half months till the January transfer window opens again.