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Arsenal shouldn’t expect many new signings, if any, during the January transfer window. Manager Mikel Arteta believes it will be hard to get deals over the line despite the club’s best efforts.
Arteta offered a bleak assessment about the prospect of signings after watching the Gunners draw 1-1 away to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday. The Spaniard told TalkSport (h/t Jake Polden of the Daily Mirror): “At the moment there is nothing coming up. The club is working on a few things but you know how difficult this window is and I’m not expecting many things.”
Rather than count on the hope of new signings, Arteta is content to look to the players he has to help boost Arsenal’s season: “I’m expecting big things from the players I have at the moment, the players that are recovering from injuries. That’s the biggest expectations from my side, they’re there.”
There’s no doubt injuries at key positions have stretched the Gunners. Hector Bellerin remains out at right-back, with his absence forcing midfielder Ainsley Maitland-Niles to continue playing out of position.
Arsenal are also without left-back Kieran Tierney, with the former Celtic man recovering after dislocating his shoulder in December. Tierney and Bellerin’s absences have put a strain on an already-suspect defence dealing with the loss of versatile Calum Chambers, who faces a lengthy spell out following surgery to repair a ruptured ACL.
There are also issues in midfield after Lucas Torreira needed to be replaced at half-time against the Eagles. Arteta confirmed Uruguayan enforcer Torreira suffered a “muscle injury,” per Max Jones of the club’s official website.
Losing Torreira is a blow because there isn’t another natural ball winner for the Arsenal engine room. The former Sampdoria man has been revitalised since Arteta took charge and restored him to his natural holding role:
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Torreira remains key because his ability to sit deep and screen the defence allows the full-backs to get forward and help the rest of the midfield lead Arteta’s high press.
Arteta may not be able to turn to a similar type of midfielder, but he can supplement the numbers by getting Dani Ceballos back up to speed. The Real Madrid loanee has been dealing with a hamstring problem since November but is back in training.
Arteta has challenged Ceballos to give him a selection dilemma. If Ceballos plays, it’s likely to be further forward, according to the Arsenal chief, per Metro: “I like him more when he’s closer to the box rather than always coming deep to receive the ball. He’s a very creative player, a player who in the final third can cause problems.”
Turning to Ceballos or academy graduate Joe Willock would underline Arteta’s commitment to looking for internal solutions to improve his team. The same policy may be needed up front after leading goalscorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was red-carded against Palace.
Aubameyang opened the scoring but was dismissed after VAR judged his tackle on Max Meyer worthy of a red. The striker apologised afterwards but faces a suspension:
Coping without Aubameyang won’t be easy despite the presence of Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman has been a proven goalscorer for most of his career but has found the net just five times in the league this season.
Arsenal’s only obvious cover for Lacazette comes from 18-year-old Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah, 20.
Up front is just one area where the Gunners could use a new signing. Arteta may be confident about what he has, but Arsenal look thin for a squad still hoping to finish fourth and also having the UEFA Europa League and FA Cup to play for.
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