Granit Xhaka still divides opening but his absence was felt as Arsenal draw in Brighton rain

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta is now going to have two weeks with plenty of thinking time and one of the things he can ponder is how Arsenal move forward without Granit Xhaka for the next three months.

This first match without the Switzerland international, who is injured for three months due to a knee issue, was not the greatest start as the Gunners were held to a 0-0 draw by Brighton.

It was played out in biblically wet conditions, which no doubt contributed towards the style of the game, but you couldn’t overlook the feeling Arsenal were lacking some control in midfield.

Xhaka, as we know, is a divisive figure among fans but you cannot ignore what he brings to this side.

We saw it last week against Tottenham, and when he has pace and dynamism around him, his game can flourish.

Arsenal could have done with his stability here at the Amex and, while it is of course early days, there is plenty for Arteta to think about over the upcoming international break as he tries to work out how his side should setup without the Swiss.

The plan for this clash was simply to bring Albert Sambi Lokonga straight in and he was tasked with doing exactly what Xhaka does. When Arsenal had the ball, he dropped into the left-back role so Kieran Tierney could bomb on, and without possession he played centrally.

Lokonga did fine, he was neat and tidy, but wasn’t quite a Xhaka replicate and there was an element of control missing form Arsenal’s game.

We, of course, need to give Arsenal and Lokonga time. The sample size is currently small and there are plenty more matches to come.

Anyone, however, who thought Arsenal wouldn’t miss Xhaka is sorely mistaken - as this draw with Brighton showed.

White impresses on return to old club

This was always going to be an intense afternoon for Ben White as he returned to the club who sold him for £50million this summer. You didn’t really know what reaction he would get and it took about 30 minutes for the boos from the home fans to start.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

That, however, did not appear to faze White who put in a strong performance. This wasn’t really the game, mainly due to the weather, for him to play his expansive passes out from the back - but he adapted with a gritty performance, one that was about blocks and headers as opposed to 50-yard pings.

It is a side of the 23-year-old’s game that some question and this was a good performance to silence some doubters. Arsenal needed to grind this out and White lead from the front.

Tomiyasu has first tough afternoon since move

There is no denying Takehiro Tomiyasu has been excellent since his £16m move from Bologna, but this was his first off-day.

The Japan international had a torrid time on the south coast, particularly in the first-half, as he battled away.

Brighton, and particularly Marc Cucurella, got plenty of joy down Tomiyasu’s side and - as the rain lashed down - this felt very much like a ‘welcome to the Premier League’ moment for the right-back.

He has had a great start and perhaps a setback like this could be ideal as he continues to grow at Arsenal.

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