Injury crises are hardly a new phenomenon at Arsenal, who seem to lose a clutch of key players at some point every season, but the current defensive shortage at the Emirates is at least partly self-inflicted.
Mathieu Debuchy and Laurent Koscielny are both injured, while Calum Chambers is suspended for the Gunners’ clash with Hull, a game they are 11/25 to win, but Arsene Wenger clearly needed to sign at least one more defender in the summer.
The French manager has admitted as much this week, saying that letting Thomas Vermaelen go without bringing in a replacement was a mistake, even if the Belgian is currently injured at Barcelona.
Arsenal will surely move to address this problem in January, never the best policy as generally prices go up and the amount of players available goes down in the winter window.
One man who could be on the market for the relatively modest fee of £8m is Celtic centre-back Virgil van Dijk, and the Gunners have been linked with a move for the Netherlands international.
The towering 23-year-old shone during Celtic’s Champions League run last season, standing out against the impressive attacks of Barcelona and AC Milan in the group stage.
Standing 6ft 4in tall, Van Dijk was a slightly surprising omission from Louis van Gaal’s Dutch squad for the World Cup, but was recently called up by Guus Hiddink.
Van Dijk is a powerful, direct defender, prone to the occasional rash burst forward that might make he a slightly dangerous pick for Arsenal unless Wenger can instil more tactical nous into him quickly.
He also lacks experience in a major European league, with the Scottish Premiership a shadow of its former self at the moment and the Eredivisie more renowned for producing fine attackers than resolute defenders.
Van Dijk would clearly be a major risk for Arsenal and a club like Southampton, who the 23-year-old was linked with in the summer, would be a more natural Premier League destination for him at this stage.
However, the all-action defender will likely prove a fan favourite wherever he goes, and undoubtedly has potential. With Arsenal leaving themselves short, Van Dijk might be the best they can hope for in January.