How do Arsenal fill void left by Granit Xhaka? The urgent issue Gunners must address in international break

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

While the international break can sometimes be met with frustration by fans, it does allow Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta with time to think.

The Spaniard has enjoyed an upturn in results and performances over the past month, with the pressure on him easing considerably.

Arteta has corrected a lot of Arsenal’s problems, most notably their leakiness in defence, but a new issue is on the horizon now.

The injury to Granit Xhaka, which will keep him out for the next three months, is a real blow to the Gunners.

The midfielder is a leader, both on and off the pitch, and his absence from the midfield was felt during Saturday’s draw against Brighton.

Arteta now has time to devise a plan for life without Xhaka and the break in the fixtures has come at a welcome time.

The Spaniard confessed last week that Arsenal face a “rollercoaster” run of fixtures over the next month and he will want to have his ducks in a row before that begins.

How Arteta solves the issue of no Xhaka is the million dollar question, but Albert Sambi Lokonga is the frontrunner to claim the spot.

He performed solidly against Brighton, improving as the game went on, and you get the sense that with an extended run in the team he could flourish.

Lokonga is away with Belgium over the current international break and Arteta will no doubt keep a close eye on how he performs.

Alternatively, we may see a switch to a 4-3-3 formation occur - with Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard and Thomas Partey forming an attacking midfield.

It would be a bold approach, and perhaps not one ideal for every opponent, but it would help Arteta get as many attacking players on the pitch as possible.

Whichever way he goes, Arteta will just hope he has a plan in place for when the Premier League returns next week.

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Mikel Arteta tells Arsenal to brace themselves for ‘rollercoaster’ run of matches

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