Arsenal must beat Manchester United & Chelsea to midfield star

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Even the most ardent and committed Arsenal fanatic would struggle to claim that they foresaw such a strong start to the 2013/14 season. 

Despite that humiliating opening day defeat at the hands of Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium, long-serving Gunners boss Arsene Wenger - who has been fiercely criticised in recent seasons with the club seemingly refusing to waver from their frustratingly frugal transfer policy - is currently basking in the glow of pure vindication as Arsenal sit proudly atop of the Premier League.

However, despite their excellent run of form, there are still glaring inefficiencies - a number of which that were exposed during the disappointing 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon - that unquestionably merit attention when the transfer window re-opens in the new year.

While the most pressing of these issues comes with the lack of credible striking alternatives to French striker Olivier Giroud, there is also a problem in the heart of midfield that needs to be remedied.

While the Gunners are evidently not sure of creativity with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky all competing for places in the final third, slightly further back numbers seem worryingly thin.

While the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta are both able to occupy slightly deeper roles, neither are defensively-minded and only Mathieu Flamini - who has been sidelined through injury just recently - is capable of providing the grit and fire necessary to enable his technically-gifted teammates to go about their artistry unhindered.

One particular midfielder who has been heavily linked with Arsenal in this regard is German international Sami Khedira.

The Real Madrid star would appear to have become somewhat disillusioned with life at the Santiago Bernabeu, giving an interview several weeks ago in which he stressed his annoyance with sections of the Spanish press for making him a 'scapegoat' due to his allegiance to former Real boss Jose Mourinho.

Arsenal are not the only side to have been linked with a potential move for Khedira, however. If certain reports that have surfaced over recent weeks are to be believed, then Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester United are also interested in his signature.

It is crucial for Arsenal's title aspirations that they are the side to win the race for Khedira. The former Stuttgart star - reportedly valued at around the £35 million mark - is a truly tenacious talent whose ability to contribute at both ends of the field is absolutely invaluable at any level.

Capable of providing adequate protection for his back four and winning possession, the 26-year-old is also renowned for his marauding runs upfield and ability to hit the target from long-range.

A player of such fully-rounded quality would obviously be a tremendous asset to all three of those aforementioned teams as they jostle for supremacy during the most delightfully unpredictable of top-flight seasons.

For Manchester United, he would be a quite significant upgrade on any player currently available to David Moyes, with the club in need of both midfield grit and a greater creative presence.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are also in need of a midfielder capable of providing a greater threat to the respective starting berths of the ageing Frank Lampard and energetic Brazilian Ramires. 

The battle for Khedira promises to be particularly intense.

However, if Arsenal have serious designs on finally ending their hurtful trophy drought - stretching back to 2005 - and catapulting themselves back among Europe's elite, then it is a battle that they simply have to win.

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