Martin Keown says it was always a ‘gamble’ for Arsenal to let Jack Wilshere leave on loan, and it is one they may now be living to regret as Granit Xhaka struggles to get to grips with life in the Premier League.
The Gunners spent big on the Switzerland international over the summer, with a reported fee of around £30 million required to lure him away from Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach.
Xhaka is only 24 years of age, with time still very much on his side, but the demands of English football have offered an early shock.
Temperament has always been an issue, and he has already collected four yellows and one red card during his time at the Emirates.
He has not looked entirely convincing when called upon by Arsene Wenger and former Gunners defender Keown believes England international Wilshere, who has been allowed to link up with Bournemouth on a season-long agreement, would have been a better option – given his Premier League experience and ability to operate in either playmaking or holding roles.
“To look at their team, to look at the compartments, you’d say their defence looks solid, you’d say the top three look pretty decent, the midfield is a concern, it’s a worry,” Keown told the BBC.
“It’s ironic that Jack Wilshere is sitting in the stand [against Bournemouth]. Maybe he would have been the answer this season but of course he’s on loan to Bournemouth.
“It was a gamble (letting Wilshere go on loan). I know why Jack went, he has to play football and get back playing. I just feel now if you’re not going to play [Granit] Xhaka there’s a massive hole in that Arsenal midfield when [Santi] Cazorla’s not there.
“The problem is Arsenal seem to have a group of number 10s. [Mesut] Ozil plays there, that’s him nailed on, and then after that [Aaron] Ramsey would want to play there, Jack would want to play there.
“I think Jack has played deeper for England and he could definitely do that for Arsenal. I see no reason why he’s not better than the guy who’s been brought in to replace him in Xhaka.”
Wilshere was forced to watch on from the sidelines on Sunday as his parent club saw off his loan employers 3-1 at Emirates Stadium, with Xhaka occupying a defensive midfield post alongside Mohamed Elneny.