Neville hits nail on the head as Arsenal transfer shortfall questioned

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Gary Neville has questioned why Arsenal left it so late in an attempt to recruit a midfielder in the summer transfer window. Midfield now appears to be the area of weakness for the Gunners heading into a busy fixture schedule.

Arsenal made five signings in the summer window but none after the arrival of Oleksandr Zinchenko on July 23. They wanted to sign both a winger and a central midfielder but were unable to do so before the window shut.

Manager Mikel Arteta confirmed his intentions to recruit further in the market in the final few weeks it was open. Injuries to Mohamed Elneny and Thomas Partey only strengthened the need for a midfielder.

Arsenal had three bids for Aston Villa star Douglas Luiz turned down on deadline day. Villa stood firm and a deal was not possible.

Neville has questioned why the Gunners left it so late to pursue Luiz. And he says midfield was the area in Sunday’s loss at Manchester United which let Arteta’s side down.

Neville said on the Overlap: “We asked Mikel Arteta on the first game of the season, we said to him ‘are you going to do any more business?’. He said he did, in midfield.

“Why did they wait until transfer deadline day to bid for Luiz? Why did they wait that three, four weeks?

“I thought midfield yesterday [against Manchester United] was the one area where United looked like they had more, at times, passing through the lines. I know that Arsenal did really well in midfield, but when there was a moment to open up the game – I know Odegaard can do that – I felt they did lack a midfield player.”

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Albert Sambi Lokonga has been trusted to start the last two league matches for Arsenal. He may also be needed to play in the Europa League against FZ Zurich on Thursday due to a lack of alternatives in Arteta’s squad.

Last week, Arteta explained why the club were unable to bring in any late targets. He said: “We only have to bring in top talent, top quality people through that door and be very disciplined.

“In those moments you can make a huge mistake that can cost the club and the team a lot – not just in the near future but a little bit ahead, and we want to avoid that as much as possible. We pushed to strengthen the team and bring the best possible people and players into this football club, and we have managed that to a certain level.

“Then we have our limitations; time was a big limitation in what happened in the last 72 hours with our midfield. We tried to act but we couldn’t find the right player.”

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