Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest on Sunday was an unmistakable negative amid a week marred by false positives.
The Gunners were knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round for only the second time in 27 years, thanks to a plodding, low-tempo showing.
Much of the blame went on Eddie Nketiah, who squandered two wonderful second-half chances, squandering much of the goodwill he had earned during his spectacular goal-scoring run in the Carabao Cup this season.
The performance was so lackluster that many have suggested that Arsenal’s pursuit of Dusan Vlahovic be stepped up in the coming days. The Gunners, on the other hand, may be forced to divert their immediate attention elsewhere.
We’ve known since the beginning of the season that Mikel Arteta’s squad will have trouble in midfield this month.
Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny had already committed to the African Cup of Nations in March of last year, and Arsenal’s midfield would be light in January due to a lack of options beyond them.
Arteta used dramatic negotiations with Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the penultimate day of the summer transfer season to persuade the England international to stay in North London despite his public declaration of desire to leave.
The plan had been to utilize Maitland-Niles alongside Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga to cover for Partey and Elneny’s absence.
However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last month, it’s that planning in the present footballing environment is a fool’s game, and when Roma offered to take Hale Ender on loan so early in the summer, the Gunners were forced to make a decision.