As often is the case when the Carabao Cup rolls round, Premier League sides like to shuffle the pack.
Mikel Arteta did that for Wednesday’s visit from Brighton - and he learned pretty quickly how little depth Arsenal have to rely upon.
Ten changes were made from the start, with centre back William Saliba the only survivor from the weekend win over Chelsea.
Goalkeeper Karl Hein was in for his debut, Marquinhos and Reiss Nelson were in as wingers and Eddie Nketiah was leading the line in place of Gabriel Jesus.
It didn’t work. Arsenal lost - convincingly. The 3-1 defeat has taken away another shot at silverware and has pushed Arteta into accepting that outside of his starting XI, which is top of the Premier League right now, a lack of depth is the cloud that hangs over their season.
With all that in mind, I believe there are certain key areas they need to address if they are to sustain the challenge.
Kieran Tierney - Cedric Soares - Oleksandr Zinchenko - Takehiro Tomiyasu - Ben White - Gabriel - William Saliba - Rob Holding - Lino Sousa
Tierney and Zinchenko battling it out at left back is the type of headache Arteta would love to have right throughout his team.
Both are starting caliber players and it means competition is always fierce down that side.
The worry is central defence and while Saliba played against Brighton, Rob Holding’s display will have done little to ease the nerves of Arteta should anything happen to Gabriel Magalhaes.
The versatility of Ben White means he could be moved inside - he’s played a chunk at right back - and Takehiro Tomiyasu can also do a job inside.
Given the board sanctioned £50million on White, it remains to be seen if they’d dip back in for another top-shelf centre back.
Cedric Soares at right back should also alarm. It’s the weakest area of their back-line. Well worth exploring a new full-back come January.
Aaron Ramsdale - Matt Turner - Karl Hein
Not that there was much chance of Hein seriously staking a claim for the shirt but shipping three against Brighton was hardly ideal.
Ramsdale is pushing Jordan Pickford to eventually become England’s No 1 and so he is a real piece of quality for Arsenal to build a team with.
But back-up goalkeeper is always a tricky position to get top-tier cover for.
Any great goalkeeper is going to have options to be a No 1 somewhere and not since Sergio Romero was slumped on Manchester United’s bench has a No 2 had such a strong argument as a No 1.
Better quality cover for Ramsdale would be great but it’s far from the priority this season.
Thomas Partey - Mohamed Elneny - Sambi Lokonga - Martin Odegaard - Granit Xhaka - Fabio Vieira - Emile Smith Rowe - Bukayo Saka - Matt Smith - Amario Cozier-Duberry - Ethan Nwaneri - Catalin Cirjan - Bradley Ibrahim
There are some bedrocks of the team in this department; a couple of Arteta non-negotiables.
There is no-one in the squad that can provide the kind of screen and defensive cover that Thomas Partey can to this side and while Mohamed Elneny is a fine rotation piece, having to use him in a title race would prove problematic.
Midfield’s issue is more so a lack of shield cover than creativity.
Arsenal could have a reasonable shot at winning the Premier League if they can secure the signature of highly rated Mykhaylo Mudryk.
Shakhtar Donetsk could reportedly be set to demand as much as €100million for Arsenal transfer target Mykhaylo Mudryk.
The Ukraine international has enjoyed an outstanding breakthrough season, with his dazzling displays in the Champions League quickly establishing himself as one of the top young players in world football, with a host of top sides interested in him.
Writing in the Daily Briefing, his exclusive column on CaughtOffside’s Substack, Fabrizio Romano has previously made it clear that Arsenal are one of the clubs in the race to sign Mudryk.
Romano has also made it clear that the 21-year-old is happy with interest from the Emirates Stadium, suggesting he’d cost around €65m, but it seems his value has continued to shoot up.
According to The Athletic, Arsenal could now face paying as much as €100m for Mudryk.
Do you see Arsenal landing their man this January transfer window?
Arsenal transfer target Mykhaylo Mudryk says Shakhtar Donetsk have “wounded” his “dream” of playing in a top European league.
Mudryk admits the huge price tag comes as a blow to his ambitions.
“When I found out about my price, I wasn’t just surprised – I was shocked,” Mudryk told Sport Arena
“I have a long-term contract with Shakhtar [set to expire in December 2026], I give all my strength and energy so that Shakhtar achieves maximum results… but every football player has a dream to play in a top club and in a top championship – I am no exception.
“But I am 100 per cent sure that they are unlikely to buy a player from the championship of Ukraine for 100 million… I will not hide that I was very upset. The amount of 100 million puts a barrier for my transition to the top championship, which I so dreamed of. I can’t say that my dream was killed, but wounded – that’s for sure.”
The Ukraine international has caught the eye in the Champions League this season with three goals and two assists in six matches, adding to his five goals in ten Ukrainian Premier League fixtures.