It’s no use writing extensively about Arsenal’s concerning lack of defensive depth. Sunday’s loss to Manchester City was all anybody needed to see, as Kevin DeBruyne and the Cityzens ran rampant and thoroughly pantsed Arsenal’s defense over the course of the opening 30 minutes en route to a very lopsided 3-0 victory. It was a gruesome affair for Arsenal, who were bested by City for the sixth straight time.
As if the loss couldn’t get an worse, news from Arsenal confirmed the absence of left back Sead Kolasinac, who had to exit Sunday’s match prematurely after suffering a first half ankle injury.
Following the long-term shoulder injury to Kieran Tierney sustained against West Ham, Kolasinac became Arsenal’s only healthy first team left back, and remained so for all of one match. As Arsenal fans know, the Football Gods can be exceedingly cruel, especially during December - it was this time last year that Arsenal lost defenders Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin to season-ending knee injuries.
It’s sometimes disingenuous to label things as a full-blown crisis, but Arsenal are, for all intents and purposes, facing a full-blown crisis in the defense. Arsenal are now without a true left back on the first team and down to their emergency right back backup, which means the Gunners have one of three options:
- Play one of the center backs at left back.
- Promote one of the U23 players.
- Play three in the back.
While none of the three options are ideal, it is all Arsenal can work with in the interim. With the impending announcement of Mikel Arteta as Arsenal’s manager, one of his first tests as manager will be to see how he navigates this issue. The winter transfer window will be opening very soon, and despite assertions in the past that Arsenal will not be doing any winter purchasing, it is looking increasingly more evident that their hand might be forced in the matter.
The good news, if there is any to take away from this, is that Kolasinac should return to training in January. Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that Arsenal will be entering a spate of late December fixtures desperately in search of points. With a hobbled defense, a listless midfield, and a mercurial attack, the Gunners will need to dig deep and find a way to overcome their three month slump if they want to salvage anything from this season before it is even halfway over.