As Arsene Wenger looks back on Arsenal’s first two games of the season, he will be pleased at number of things, notably his side’s resilience as they scored late goals in both matches to claim three points against Crystal Palace and one at Everton.
However, the Gunners should not have been relying on Aaron Ramsey’s late heroics to beat a manager-less Eagles side, and were outplayed by the Toffees for much of their encounter.
Most people identified two main problems in the Gunners side last season, and those two problems remain to this day.
The lack of a top-class striker is somewhat compensated for by the hard-working Olivier Giroud and an attacking midfield battalion full of goals, but the absence of protection in front of the back four is a fault that Wenger has to address.
Both of Arsenal’s current defensive midfield options have played in the Premier League already, Mikel Arteta was largely a peripheral figure against Palace, while Mathieu Flamini did little to stop Everton’s attacking pay at Goodison Park.
With his accurate passing and solid defensive approach, Arteta is a decent option against smaller sides when Arsenal are expected to dominate the game, but neither he or Flamini are good enough to stop top-class midfields in their tracks.
The Gunners were reportedly close to signing Luiz Gustavo last season when the Brazilian left Bayern Munich, but ended up losing out to Wolfsburg.
Fortunately for Wenger, they apparently have a second bite of the cherry this summer, with reports linking the Brazilian with a move to the Emirates.
Gustavo averaged 3.4 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per game in the Bundesliga last season while maintaining a pass completion rate of 86.5 per cent.
The 27-year-old is not an expansive midfielder, but certainly someone who could give Arsenal some bite and make them a less flimsy proposition to their Premier League rivals.
In 12 games against the rest of the league’s top seven last season, Arsenal won just three times, with Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool the only sides they defeated.
They also lost five of six away matches against the top seven, conceding a ridiculous 21 goals in the process.
Those results were not down to Giroud’s mediocrity upfront, but a lack of steel in their midfield, and Gustavo could be an instant remedy to that issue.
Arsenal’s next match is away at newly-promoted Leicester City, where Wenger will hope his team produces a more dominant display in making good on their 4/5 odds to pick up three points.