When Arsenal supporters reflect on last season, it is always going to be a case of what might have been. Had William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu not suffered injuries against Sporting CP that ruled them out for the remainder of the campaign, would the Gunners' Premier League title charge been successful?
We will never get the answer to that question but Mikel Arteta certainly felt defensive reinforcements were required in the summer transfer window hence the signing of Jurrien Timber. The Dutchman made 47 appearances across all competitions for Ajax last season and was deployed as the right-sided centre-back in every single one of them.
Cover for Saliba whenever the Frenchman is in need of a rest was the immediate assumption. Alternatively, he is adept on both flanks and interestingly, in Arteta's system the full-backs are asked to tuck inside when Arsenal are in possession thus effectively operating as a third central defender and early signs suggested Timber was settling in smoothly.
In fact, following some impressive outings in pre-season and catching the eye in the Community Shield penalty shootout victory against Manchester City last month, some supporters were already declaring the £34.2million acquisition as a contender for best signing of the summer.
However, disaster struck in the Premier League opener against Nottingham Forest. Having been forced off early in the second half, scans later showed he had sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury and whilst his recovery is going well, it would be a surprise if he features again this season.
«Huge blow. Especially for him after just joining the club,» Arteta said in a press conference after Timber underwent surgery. «To have the injury he has is a huge blow. It isRead on football.london