There were a few things that arose from our defeat at Anfield. Things that became clear with certain incidents within the game.
But perhaps the clearest was the need for some creativity within our midfield.
Mikel Arteta had called it correctly for our last two games against Jurgen Klopp’s side. So his decision to keep it compact, tuck in our wing-backs when not in possession and look to spring a counter would not have raised any eyebrows.
Leaving Dani Ceballos out of the side though – that did leave a few people scratching their heads.
If we are inviting a team to come at us and attack, we will surely need a player who can switch defence to attack with a single ball. Granit Xhaka has a great range of passing, but battling to stem channels left him otherwise indisposed. With Aubameyang begging to be set free, the onus was instead on David Luiz to launch a ball forward – something he did on a couple of occasions that nearly bore fruit for us.
You can understand why Arteta called for Mohammed Elneny. The Egyptian is solid, disciplined and will chase, harry and win the ball for you.
But a passer he certainly is not.
So when an attack did break down in the face of our defence, we had no one to set Aubameyang free.
Not until Ceballos came on – and in his cameo he not only set up Lacazette for that gilt-edged chance – he also wriggled free Auba twice, nearly to great effect. The Spaniard is a quick thinker but his strength is his vision – he knows where to put the ball for our forwards to reap maximum damage.
Can we put our eggs in one basket though? With Ceballos still a loanee, without permanently signing him, we would be back to square one in terms of creativity. We can lean on our wing-backs of course, but when they, like Xhaka, are knee-deep in tracking runners and searching for the ball, they will not be the avenue we need.
Even if we did sign Ceballos and he stayed injury free, we still need someone who can do what he does – add to our defensive work but also set Auba, Willian, Pepe free with a quick slide-rule pass or one over the top.
Is Thomas Partey that man? Those that watch him regularly sy that he is much more than his defensive merits, but is he the number 8 we need?
Without a player of this ilk, it cuts down on the plans of Arteta, who will opt for a counter-attacking setup for tough games.
With plenty of players to choose from to help raise some funds, a signing in January would do wonders to boost our midfield.