Premier League • England

Fears grow Arsenal have fumbled two transfers that could hand the title to Man City, Liverpool or Aston Villa

Arsenal chief Edu and manager Mikel Arteta

A pair of Arsenal transfers have been called into question, and recent comments made by Mikel Arteta suggest he knows potentially title-costing mistakes have been made.

The Gunners are once again entrenched in a title challenge as they aim to lift their first Premier League trophy since 2004.

Arsenal fell away towards the back end of last season, handing Manchester City their third successive title in the process.

Mikel Arteta and Gunners chief Edu splashed the cash in the summer in the hopes of going one better this term.

Jurrien Timber, Declan Rice and Kai Havertz arrived for roughly £208.5m combined. David Raya also signed on loan with an option to buy that Fabrizio Romano has since claimed has been taken up.

Arsenal currently sit second and just a single point behind leaders Liverpool. However, after 16 matches players last term Arsenal were seven points better off.

Now, when speaking to Sky Sports, former Liverpool and England star, Jamie Redknapp, suggested Arsenal have gone backwards in one department of their team by way of a pair of ill-advised transfers.

Havertz a downgrade on Xhaka?

Redknapp suggested Havertz has failed to adequately replace Granit Xhaka who excelled in more of a box-to-box role on the left side of midfield last season.

Xhaka was sold to Bayer Leverkusen for £21.4m and Xabi Alonso’s side are remarkably unbeaten across all competitions this season.

Redknapp claimed Arsenal have lacked offensive fluidity since Havertz has replaced Xhaka in the midfield role. What’s more, the pundit claimed striker Gabriel Jesus is suffering as a result of the moves.

“I think if you were to assess Arsenal this season the facts are there – they are seven points down on where they were last year and seven goals less,” said Redknapp (as quoted by the Daily Mail).

“The performances haven’t been quite as fluid. There was so much to enjoy. The back four hasn’t changed but in midfield with Havertz, is he an upgrade on Xhaka? Right now I would say no.

“I think (they miss Xhaka). He had that quality, he gave you that bit of positional sense.

“He’d get it onto his left foot, he’d create balls into Jesus and he just gave you that bit of guile which is something they’re not possessing.”

Havertz scored vital goals in the victories over Brentford and Luton Town in recent weeks. However, his overall body of work since joining from Chelsea has been sub-par.

“Havertz has had a good little run this last few weeks,” continued Redknapp. “But they’ve not quite got that balance they had last year where they would dominate teams for 90 minutes.”

Arteta misses Xhaka

Quotes from Arsenal boss Arteta were also carried in the piece in which the Spaniard publicly admitted he misses Xhaka.

“He (Xhaka) was a huge player for us,” said Arteta. “We miss Granit, yes. I miss him as well because I love him as a person.”

With Man City slightly below their customary high standards so far this season, a closely contested title fight is expected.

With Liverpool and potentially Aston Villa also in the mix, the destination of the title could be determined by fine margins.

Whether Havertz can elevate his game and prove Arsenal were right to shift Xhaka could be key as the season unfolds.

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