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Arsenal are beginning to turn their fortunes around after their recent 3-1 win over Tottenham in the north London derby at the Emirates on Sunday.
Mikel Arteta’s side have now won four on the bounce and will be looking to continue their rich vein of form when they travel to Brighton on Saturday.
But they will have to do so without Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka who is set to be out for three months with a knee injury, which he suffered at the weekend.
Although Xhaka thankfully does not require surgery, Arteta could be without the former club captain until beyond Christmas.
As a result, a number of players will be vying for a spot in the first-team.
Here, Daily Star Sport looks at Arteta’s centre-midfield options to fill the void left by Xhaka.
The Ghana international is the most obvious choice to fill the gap left by Xhaka.
Partey has started in three of Arsenal’s Premier League fixtures so far – including in Sunday’s win over Tottenham – and the Ghana international is expected to continue his run in the starting line-up.
Although Partey has not yet reached the heights he achieved at Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone, he is arguably the best defensive midfielder at the Emirates.
Albert Sambi Lokonga
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The Belgian youngster has featured in all five league games for Arsenal this season – more than anybody else in this list – and he could now be pushing for a first-team place.
Lokonga started in Arsenal’s first three league matches, but has since dropped to the bench for the recent games against Burnley and Spurs.
The 21-year-old now has a real chance to show he is worthy of a place in the first-team on a regular basis and could partner Partey in defensive midfield in the absence of Xhaka.
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Maitland-Niles reportedly almost left the club in the summer in favour of a loan move to Everton – which included an option to buy – but the Gunners blocked the move.
The midfielder then held crunch talks with Arteta where he was told he was part of the team’s plans this season.
Although Maitland-Niles has appeared in four of Arsenal’s league fixtures this season, he has started in just one of them.
But with Xhaka injured, the 24-year-old could be pushed up the pecking order and is likely to compete with Lokonga for the other defensive midfield spot.
Elneny is another player who was close to leaving the Emirates this summer, with Galatasaray rumoured to be interested in the midfielder.
But like with Maitland-Niles, Arteta reportedly felt Elneny had a future in north London.
The Egyptian has made just one league appearance so far, in the 5-0 defeat against champions Manchester City, and although he is an option for Arteta, it’s unlikely he’ll stand much of a chance.
He played 90 minutes in the 6-0 EFL Cup win at West Brom in August, but Elneny’s days at Arsenal look like they are numbered.
- Arsenal FC
- Premier League
- Mikel Arteta
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