Arsenalís amazing start to the season -- they won ten on the trot across competitions and went twelve without defeat ó has ground to a halt after two visits by credible Champions League challengers ó 2013 runners-up Borussia Dortmund and 2012 winners Chelsea.
For all the Gunnersí riches in attacking midfield, they do not possess the depth needed to compete across four competitions and unlike Liverpool, who also have a limited squad, have no refuge in knowing that climbing up Premier League table is their sole aim. Coinciding with a stretch of games in which Arsenal face title contenders both in cups and the league, they have lost their defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini to a groin injury, possibly until the end of November.
Arsenalís best results have come in matches where Flamini has been used as one half of the double pivot Wenger prefers to shield his back four with. The only one from the team who can count on over a decadeís worth of Champions League experience, Flaminiís absence unnerves a team that lacks an effective organiser. Ramsey and Arteta are holding fort in the Frenchmanís absence but neither is disciplined or ruthless enough to take on a role that involves bellowing at teammates, intimidating the opposition and organising a defence to withstand sustained pressure.
Flaminiís positional sense and ability of playing without the ball are missed by Arsenal right now. In the matches against Dortmund and Chelsea, his presence may have saved Wenger from ruefully pointing at his teamís naivety. After all, Arsenal have not lost a single match Flamini has played this season.
Ozilís buy was greated with great cheer by Arsenal fans, but there were also a few voices that warned against the lack of resources in forward and defensive positions. Their second choice back four put in a debatable shift against Chelsea while their backup to Oliver Giroud remains Niklaus Bendtner, who they have tried their best to sell for a couple of seasons now.
Arsenalís squad is stretched. Flaminiís injury at a crucial juncture has surely crippled them. If Giroud were to join him, the side could well