Danny Murphy warns Mikel Arteta the Arsenal boss faces ‘trouble’ in their pursuit of a top-four finish as the north Londoners lack depth in key positions, he said on talkSPORT.
The Gunners lost ground in the race for Champions League qualification after letting a lead slip against Manchester City. They are now a point above West Ham United, after the Irons beat Crystal Palace. While Tottenham trail by two-points but having played two games less.
Referee Stuart Atwell showing Gabriel Magalhaes two yellow cards against City could also have worsened Arteta’s upset. But the Spaniard will be grateful for the timing of his side’s EFL Cup semi-finals with Liverpool and FA Cup fourth-round trip to Nottingham Forest.
Gabriel can serve his one-match ban in any major domestic competition, so will not miss a Premier League fixture. The Brazilian’s top-flight availability will delight Arteta, as Arsenal play Tottenham next on January 16 following their upcoming cup exploits.
Murphy issues ‘trouble’ warning to Arsenal and Arteta
Gabriel plays in one of the positions Murphy feels Arsenal could face ‘trouble’ with if Arteta loses a favoured player. The former Liverpool and Tottenham midfielder also believes the Gunners could have problems in central midfield while without Ghana star Thomas Partey.
“Ultimately, I think they’ll fall short,” Murphy said. “Even though they’re not in Europe, I don’t think they’ll finish in the top-four.
“They’ve got some great young players and they’ve got a decent structure.
“But strength in depth isn’t there. If you take Thomas Partey out of midfield, they struggle. Take one of the centre-backs out, they’re in trouble.”
Arteta has lost Partey possibly until February 6 while Arsenal’s £45m star represents Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations. His exit also comes at a bad time for the Gunners.
Partey delivered one of his best displays for Arsenal during their defeat to Manchester City on Saturday. He bossed the engine room and proved too much for the Citizens to handle in the first-half. Even after Gabriel’s sending off, he continued to break up play tremendously.
Arteta has no like-for-like alternative to Partey in the Emirates Stadium ranks, however. He will now hope Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga can step up over the next month.
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