Arsenal were reportedly extremely close to signing Portuguese International William Carvalho towards the end of the summer transfer window, but that deal fell through and the Gunners still look short of the proven world-class holding midfielder they need to be genuine title contenders.
Carvalho. a young defensive midfielder for Sporting Lisbon who can also ply his trade at center-back, looked ready-made to fill that void, but Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has passed on that deal, for now at least.
Chances are Arsenal may need to rekindle their interest in the 22-year-old in the January transfer window.
But until then, Arsenal will have to make do with what they have on their current roster of players and there's huge question marks over whether they're good enough to perform consistently at the highest level.
Wenger refuses to buy a new DM
The contentious issue of the mythical defensive midfielder (DM) has plagued Arsenal since the departure of Gilberto Silva. Arguably one of the most underrated, least appreciated members of those great Arsenal squads between 2003-2006. He was gritty, tough and cynical when necessary. More above he was an excellent athlete, with an engine the cast of Top Gear would purr over.
When Jacqui Oatley pressed Wenger on the issue of defensive midfielder and center-back depth not being addressed in January, you can see the exact moment where his face reads like Gob Bluth from Arrested Development admitting: "I've made a huge mistake".
Flamini & Arteta remain short-term stop gaps
Regardless of how hard he tried to contain his feelings, he surely knows that the issue of having any one of Mathieu Flamini or Mikel Arteta playing that position is not the long term answer.
It shouldn't be any answer, unless the questions are who is the third or fourth choice option? And who are the next slowest players after Per Mertesacker?
Flamini don't forget was signed as a free-agent after he trained with the club to "solely maintain fitness" in view of signing for a British side.
Flamini and Arteta have been culpable for a number of goals Arsenal have conceded, the most recent being Mo Diame bulldozing his way through for Hull's equaliser last weekend. Yes it was a foul, but would things maybe have been different if hypothetically the 6ft 1" Hull midfielder was being contested by 6ft 2" Isaac Hayden and not the 5ft 10" Mathieu Flamini?
Promising Hayden deserves a chance
Hayden has been on the cusp of the first team for a little over a year now, he's progressed through the ranks at international level to the under-20 side and at 19 years of age -- the same age as Callum Chambers and Hector Bellerin -- he is undoubtedly ready to be drafted in when needed.
Hayden like the aforementioned Carvalho, is a bright talent, who can play both center-back and DM. It begs to wonder, why hasn't Wenger tried him there yet? Can he be any worse than Arteta and Flamini have performed this season?
And with a genuine tall athletic, presence in front of the center-backs, will there be more trust from the players around him, -- Wilshere and Ramsey -- that he'll be competent at his job?
Because that is the key.Trust. Do Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey or whoever is playing in midfield trust Flamini or Arteta to do their job? Most fans will tell you no. And if you asked most of the top- to-world class players Arsenal have in their dressing room, their answers may well echo those of the fans, which begs the question once more, why does Wenger trust them?
The answer is in all likelihood born out of necessity, he has to trust them because there is no one else, he has to trust them because they're the most experienced.
It is not Flamini or Arteta's fault, it the man who consistently puts faith in them, only to be let down repeatedly.
Young English core taking shape
In his few appearances, Hayden has played for Arsenal he has looked calm and shown the same kind of composure that Callum Chambers displayed in his early outings in an Arsenal shirt. That said, Hayden didn't come with a £16m price-tag.
Chambers who Wenger also hinted at playing the position. However rotating Phil Jones in those same three positions -- center-back, right-back and defensive-midfield -- arguably did more harm to his progression than good.
Perhaps the addition of Hayden to the system might free up some space and put less pressure on the attacking players who looked incredibly hesitant at times for fear of another Hull city breakaway.
Arsene Wenger has always been an advocate of playing his younger players stated in his manuscript of management; "If you are good enough, you are old enough". Just ask Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott.
Surely Isaac Hayden deserves a chance?