Mikel Arteta thought he had solved his holding midfield problem at Arsenal with the summer capture of Thomas Partey - a player he and the club had coveted for some time.
And as Partey dictated the tempo at Old Trafford to help his new side secure a 1-0 win at Manchester United in early November, Arteta could relax, safe in the knowledge an area of the pitch Arsenal have had a multitude of problems with finally possessed the required quality.
Injury problems have since seen Partey's impact severely restricted, much to Arteta's frustration as he was forced back to the drawing board. But, having tried several concoctions, Arteta feels that his system in one of Arsenal's best displays of the season against Leeds on Sunday could be the way forward, with Dani Ceballos and the much-maligned Granit Xhaka an integral base.
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"One of the most difficult things to neutralise from the opponents was how their two defensive midfielders play. You watch closely in the first half, one of the biggest things for us was that we didn't manage to control Xhaka and Ceballos." High praise indeed, from a man who knows his way around an intricate system - Marcelo Bielsa.
These two "sixes" - a positional phrase new Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has brought to the footballing vocabulary in this country - brought something Arsenal have been missing in their midfield all too often this season: control.
Xhaka, for all his detractors, has for long spells been a consistent performer for Arsenal. The issue has been finding him a partner. Ceballos impressed as Arsenal stylishly finished off last season with an FA Cup triumph, but this time around, with Partey coming in and Mohamed Elneny surprisingly finding form again, Ceballos fell down the pecking order.
Ceballos and Xhaka have played together on several occasions before Sunday's win over Leeds, but in the past, with the Gunners struggling for goals, there was more onus on the pair to contribute in attack.
Now, however, Arteta seems to have got the mix right further forward. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are the main protagonists in Arteta's youthful revolution, with born-again Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, fresh from his first-ever Premier League hat-trick at the weekend, set to remain as the focal point of the forward line.
In the Europa League, while the results suggest Arsenal sailed through, there were long periods in several of their matches where Arsenal were on the back foot, even at home, where better opposition would have put them to the sword, and really piled the pressure on Arteta.
With Portuguese giants Benfica up next in the last-32 first leg on Thursday, in Rome due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the Gunners cannot afford to let their opponents have as much of the ball as Molde had at the Emirates, and Xhaka and Ceballos will be pivotal to that gameplan.
With a gelling strikeforce, Ceballos and Xhaka can now be more reserved - a role both are clearly more comfortable in. And with these that base of midfield so important to help support a backline that has been porous on occasion this season, Partey's absence may not be quite so damaging.
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