Arsenal enjoyed a fruitful January window that, even if left to deal with the inadequacies of previous regimes, was managed to the best of their abilities. Players left in their droves and the majority of their realistic targets were met.
Albeit set to be backup for the rest of the season, a solid debut from Mat Ryan in the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa validates the decision to bring in an experienced stop-gap for six months before moving on to other long-term options in the summer. Even if those targets aren’t obtainable, the Australian could be kept on for another season if the circumstances permit.
Acquiring a creative midfielder was also high, if not top, of the list in January. Martin Odegaard has offered only glimpses of his ability in that role but already looks like a fine piece of business given the minor outlay it took to take him from Real Madrid on loan. He too may become a viable permanent signing in the summer.
Left-back was where Arsenal came up short, unable to sign a replacement for Sead Kolasinac and being forced to field a natural right-back in the left-back slot. With Kieran Tierney‘s persistent injury woes, that department became the black spot on an otherwise excellent window.
Arsenal summer transfer plans for Kieran Tierney cover at left-back revealed by David Ornstein
Ryan Bertrand and Patrick van Aanholt were touted as options for that position last month, two who David Ornstein of The Athletic revealed were never under serious consideration.
Instead, attentions will turn to the summer for a ‘young player of high quality’ who can come in as Tierney’s understudy and learn off the Scotsman in the long-term.
The lack of depth in that area of the pitch, at least for natural left-footed players, is a concern that has yet to fully bite back, although the clear inadequacies that come from not having Tierney in the side are nonetheless apparent.
Due to the outlook of the squad, a player who fits the homegrown quota will be desirable, someone who the club rightly feel will be easier to obtain at the end of the season as opposed to the window just passed.
As a backup, the net could be cast to the Championship where Aston Villa have proved reliable options exist. Their capture of Matty Cash from Nottingham Forest has paid dividends.
It’s all part of a squad rebuild that is distancing itself from the previous regimes. Even if it was only for one season, the Stephan Lichtsteiner’s of this world won’t be on a presumably long list.
This isn’t a wise move, it’s mandatory.
The same situation is taking place in goal where Freddie Woodman and David Raya have long-been linked with a move to north London. Ryan may stay on, but the club still have their preferences in place. While the rebuild has yet to begin, the groundwork is being made.
The right groundwork.