Arsenal’s decision not to reinforce their midfield during the summer backfiring was inevitable, but few suspected it would take just days after the transfer window’s closure for their flaws to be exposed.
A smidge over two weeks had passed since the claxon sounded on trading season when the Gunners were pummelled by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, with makeshift holding-midfielder Mikel Arteta’s substandard performance copping a hefty amount of flack.
The north Londoners’ biggest shortfall last season was their lack of a physical presence in the engine room and, with an £82m war chest at his disposal, Arsene Wenger’s refusal to invest in this department is incredible.
But the opportunity to bolster the middle band has not eluded the Frenchman entirely, as rumours abound that free agent Lassana Diarra is an Arsenal target.
After a contractual dispute with previous club Lokomotiv Moscow saw him released, the 29-year-old almost signed for QPR on deadline day before the prospective deal collapsed.
Seemingly unable to slice Colman’s finest as his career enters the twilight zone, Diarra ranks nowhere near as attractive an option as rumoured former targets William Carvalho or Lars Bender, but drastic situations call for corresponding action and the former Gunner could still prove a shrewd recruit.
Compatriot and fellow anchorman Mathieu Flamini savoured a semi-successful spell during the first few months of last season after re-signing with Arsenal and, as another ex-Gunner, Diarra’s acquisition could provide the same reinvigoration to tide them over until January.
The club won seven and drawn one of the first eight matches of his second stint at the Emirates.
Like Flamini, Lass – the man who shares a moniker with millions of Yorkshiremen’s wives – is a firm tackler, while he also boasts the passing prowess of incumbent Arteta, or so his completion rate of 86 per cent last season will attest.
His trump card in this particular comparison, however, is the increased mobility he offers, enabling the Gunners to press with greater intensity in midfield.