Arsenal's need for reinforcements before the transfer window closes is hardly a secret but, while a new big-name striker has been top of Arsene Wenger's wanted list so far this summer, it's his midfield which is now in desperate need of attention.
With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain picking up a knee injury during the opening day defeat to Aston Villa, he became the latest Gunners midfielder to be ruled out of action.
As reported by the BBC, Oxlade-chamberlain stretched his posterior cruciate ligament and could be out for three months.
The player himself, @Alex_OxChambo, tweeted:
Gutted i'm injured so early in the season. But I'm going to be working hard to hopefully be back playing in 3 months.Thanks 4 all ur support— Alex Ox-Chamberlain (@Alex_OxChambo) August 20, 2013
The former Southampton player joins Mikel Arteta, who has a thigh problem and won't be back until late September at the earliest, and Abou Diaby, who is a long-term absentee as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, on the casualty list. Youngster Ryo Miyaichi is also out with a rib injury.
With three of his key men injured, manager Arsene Wenger had limited options for Wednesday's crucial Champions League playoff game with Turkish side Fenerbahce.
The Frenchman was able to name a strong five-man midfield in support of lone-striker Olivier Giroud, with Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott all in the starting XI.
But Wenger's options from the bench were severely limited. Emmanuel Frimpong, who has been loaned to Wolves and Fulham in recent seasons and looks unlikely to have a future at the Emirates, and inexperienced youngster Serge Gnabry were both substitutes, alongside out-of-favour winger-cum-striker Lukas Podolski.
If Arsenal are to challenge for their first piece of silverware in over eight years then Wenger needs to assemble a midfield with enough quality and strength-in-depth to deal with injuries and suspensions over the long, gruelling season ahead.
At present he has little beyond his first-choice XI, which incidentally includes the injury-prone Wilshere and Rosicky—both of whom have missed a lot of football in recent years.
Despite adding just one player to his squad so far—20 year-old striker Yaya Sanogo on a free transfer—Wenger is confident that he will make signings before the transfer window closes on September 2nd.
Speaking after his side's 3-0 win over Fenerbahce, Wenger told The Daily Express:
The transfer market starts for me now and a lot of activity will happen between now and September 2.
First everybody goes on holiday and nobody wants to do anything. Then there are manager changes. They need to know the squad before they make a decision. Many things but it is always like that.
From August 21 until September 2 you have 12 days—a lot will happen.
Although he has left it late, the former Monaco boss does appear to be arresting his side's issues in midfield.
The Frenchman left Arsenal for Italy in 2008 and has been training with the club for two weeks in a bid to regain fitness and impress his former manager.
Another target for Wenger is Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye, for whom he had a £10.2 million bid rejected on Monday according to The Daily Telegraph. An ambitious move for Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria has also been mentioned in the press this week.
The more realistic additions of Flamini and Cabaye won't vastly improve their starting XI as fans were hoping for, but both players would be extremely useful during a campaign which will likely run to over 50 games with Champions League and cup ties to consider.
That's not to say Arsenal don't need a marquee signing or two to make up for missing out on Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez—they do.
But a strong midfield, in terms of numbers and quality, will only be beneficial to Arsenal as Wenger continues to utilise his favoured 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation to try and end the Gunners' long trophy drought.