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Arsenal’s 8 midfield options and how they stack up after Vieira’s declaration

Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira believes it would be unfair to compare more recent Gunners midfielders to him, but which of Arsenal’s current crop have the goods to grow into real stars?

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Arsenal’s Premier League title wins were built on the back of a solid midfield, with Patrick Vieira a mainstay for their three triumphs under long-serving manager Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners have struggled to find a midfielder as dominant as the Frenchman since he left for Juventus in 2005, with current manager Mikel Arteta one of a long list of players to spend time in the middle of the park over the last decade and a half.

However, ahead of his return to north London as a manager, Crystal Palace boss Vieira has argued the quality of his team-mates means a like-for-like comparison with his many successors would be unfair.



Patrick Vieira has urged Arsenal fans not to compare the club’s current stars to him
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“When I was playing I had Emmanuel Petit and Gilberto next to me, and Edu in the midfield. That was a really good partnership,” Vieira said.

“So it’s difficult to be critical of players who maybe didn’t have the same help around them.”

While none of the current Arsenal midfield options have hit Vieira’s heights, there’s still plenty of promise, and we’ve looked at how likely the current crop are to reach the next level.

Granit Xhaka



Granit Xhaka looked close to leaving Arsenal in the summer before committing to a long-term deal
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Arsenal FC via Getty Images)




The significant fee paid by Arsenal to Borussia Monchengladbach for Xhaka’s services came with the hope that he could answer some of the club’s long-standing midfield questions.

The Switzerland international has shown real quality at times, but his lack of consistency has left fans frustrated, as have the multitude of red cards he has picked up in the Premier League.









Xhaka has committed his long-term future to the club after a summer switch to Serie A failed to materialise, and Arteta described him as a “big loss” after a knee injury which could keep him out until the turn of the year.

At 29 years of age, the former Basel man could also have a big role to play in helping younger players develop, just as Petit helped Vieira when he was a similar age.

Thomas Partey



Thomas Partey has impressed in his recent run of games for Arsenal
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Injuries have limited Partey’s impact since his big-money move from Atletico Madrid, but the Ghanaian arrived with high expectations.

Arteta was impressed with the 28-year-old in the recent win against Burnley, describing him as “the one that needs to read what is happening and make the rest better”.

Partey can be an asset going forward in addition to the anchor role he has played at times, and his nine goals in 28 international appearances demonstrate his quality.

However, if he can be as important to Arsenal as he was towards the end of his time with Atletico Madrid, the Gunners will have a great asset.

Martin Odegaard







While he has often played in a more advanced role for Arsenal, Odegaard has also featured in a midfield three in England and earlier in his career in Spain.

The Norwegian has had plenty of eyes on him ever since making a highly-publicised move to Real Madrid as a teenager, and the £30m Arsenal paid for him will ensure that doesn’t change.

His qualities might not be the same as those which Vieira brought to north London, but his ceiling remains high.

Indeed, considering how long he has been playing football, it’s easy to forget Odegaard is still just 22 and can still do a lot of improving.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles



Ainsley Maitland-Niles is facing a decisive season in his Arsenal career




Like Xhaka, Maitland-Niles looked like he might be on the way out before being brought back into Arteta’s set-up.

The academy graduate had his moments during last season’s loan spell at West Bromwich Albion, even if he was unable to save the Baggies from relegation.

The 24-year-old has mostly been restricted to substitute appearances this term, though a start against Norwich City showed Arsenal will still call on him at times.

It’s a potentially big season in Maitland-Niles’ development, though, and we should know from his playing time in the coming months whether he has a future at the level Arsenal want to reach.

Albert Sambi Lokonga



Arsenal swooped to sign Albert Sambi Lokonga and have high hopes for his future




Sambi Lokonga, 21, wasn’t necessarily expected to leap straight into the starting line-up.

However, since joining from Anderlecht, the youngster has proved capable on the ball and off it, adjusting well to his new surroundings and new challenges.

The £15m man is already a full international, and comes from an impressive Anderlecht production line which also brought through Leicester City star Youri Tielemans.

If the early promise is anything to go by, Sambi Lokonga could form a part of a strong all-round Arsenal midfield for years to come.

Mohamed Elneny



Mohamed Elneny is seemingly into the final stages of his time with Arsenal
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Perhaps the least likely of Arsenal’s current crop to kick on, Elneny could yet leave before the end of the season.

The Egyptian enjoyed a mini-resurgence last season after returning from loan, but has yet to start in the league this term.

He was linked with an exit over the summer, with Galatasaray among the sides mentioned in connection with a swoop for the 29-year-old.

Matteo Guendouzi



Matteo Guendouzi could yet work his way back into Mikel Arteta’s plans
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The wildcard of the group, Guendouzi hasn’t played for Arsenal’s first team since June 2020.

That’s not to say we should dismiss him, though, despite the Frenchman being currently out on loan for a second straight season.

While Guendouzi was not without his issues at Arsenal, he has been thriving at Marseille, with Arteta speaking about the “really good spell” enjoyed by the former Lorient man.

At 22 years of age, Guendouzi can still improve and develop into the top midfielder Arsenal hoped to pick up in 2018. Whether he does so in London is another question.

Lucas Torreira



Lucas Torreira had a promising start at Arsenal but looks certain to depart
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Another midfielder in the midst of a second straight loan, Torreira’s season has been a little more underwhelming.

The Uruguayan completed a loan move to Fiorentina towards the end of the transfer window, and has been in and out of the Viola’s starting line-up.

Despite the promise shown in Torreira’s first Arsenal season, he has failed to kick on in the way some hoped he would upon his arrival.


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