The only certainty at Arsenal in this January transfer window is that nothing is certain.
As recently as a month ago, the targets for Mikel Arteta and Edu seemed clear: a creative midfielder and a right-sided centre back were a must for a team struggling to stem the flow of chances (if not goals) whilst simultaneously struggling to create their own.
Fast-forward to 11 January and those plans, should they even have existed, now seem in tatters – and that’s no bad thing. The emergence of Emile Smith Rowe as a creative number 10 has meant the overwhelming priority for an oven-ready creator is not nearly as pressing as it was.
And, having clocked up four straight-wins and some clean sheets to boot, the Gunners look more solid at the back than they have for an age, with Rob Holding and Pablo Mari emerging as reliable and consistent performers in the absence of Gabriel.
So what, therefore, does the club do now? Does it rip up those plans and go for something different? Does it put off its planned purchases until the summer? In his pre-Crystal Palace press conference today, the manager touched on a few matters being considered
Here’s what he had to say:
on Lucas Torreira…
Well I have had some conversations with Lucas, he started the loan period really well but now he is lacking game time. It can happen, the team is doing exceptionally well, they are first in La Liga and when a team is winning it is difficult to get into the starting line up. It is a long season, I know Lucas’ character, he is going to try top keep going and keep pushing too let’s see what will happen.
on links with Emi Buendia and Diego Costa…
We get linked with players that we haven’t even discussed so I’m not going to go name by name.
on Matt Macey leaving and whether we will sign another goalkeeper…
We are assessing the situation with the three positions on the goalkeeping area and we will find a different solution, probably in this window.
on whether Alex Runarsson will go out on loan…
There is nothing there yet.
on whether it’s been discussed that he could go on loan…
We are assessing what is going to happen with the three positions, the discussion we had in the summer within the club are a little bit different to what actually happened because of the transfer window and the situation that developed with Emi. We didn’t have much time to do what we really wanted to do and we decided to assess the situation in this window which is what we are trying to do and we will make a decision on how we want to move forward in those three positions.
It’s funny how quickly things can change in football, something that still surprises us after years spent watching the game.
So while some underlying shortcomings remain – we will need a solution to a general dearth of creativity in midfield even with Smith Rowe – it seems that nothing is set in stone just yet. For all the speculation and links with the likes of Emi Buendia and Julian Brandt, it may be that the club focuses solely on shifting bodies out in this window and leaves the bigger purchases for another day.