Arsenal were in desperate need of reinforcements before a ball was kicked at Anfield; 24 minutes in and the situation was dire. Granit Xhaka got sent off and it was all hands to the pumps.
Mikel Arteta’s side put in a heroic display with ten men, limiting their superior opponents to just the solitary shot on target as they dug in for the remaining 66 minutes. But it looks like the same players will have to do it all again on Sunday.
Dealing with a skeleton squad, the sending off and then three-match ban for Xhaka leaves Sambi Lokonga as the only senior midfielder for the Tottenham game and the reverse leg – and possibly two more matches after that depending on the length of his ban.
How quickly can Arthur get here?
Arsenal hopeful of completing vital Arthur midfield transfer quickly as Juventus prepare to sanction loan deal in January window
Chasing the Brazilian midfielder this month, Arsenal have been working on a loan move with Juventus that will see the Gunners cover his whole salary and bring him to north London until the end of the season. The deal will not include an option or obligation to buy.
As per Charles Watts and Marcelo Hazan, that deal is now being intensified as it enters a crucial period.
There is ‘hope’ on both sides that the deal can be done quickly, with the perfect scenario being where the 25-year-old can be available for selection on Sunday’s crucial Premier League clash.
That is, however, unlikely. Arthur would have to be registered before midday on Friday, and as willing as Juventus are to sanction the move, the only thing preventing the deal at this stage is I Bianconeri sourcing their own replacement. While that isn’t though to be an issue, it is slowing the move down.
Despite concerns over Arthur’s off-field antics, his willingness to push through this deal and play some football is a source of encouragement. Having featured for Barcelona and Juventus it may have been his preference to stay in Europe, but he’s keen on Premier League football and has directly spoken with Allegri on Friday morning to try and push the deal through.
Crucial hours and days are ahead. Xhaka has exacerbated the issue ten-fold and there is only so many times you can roll the dice with a midfield trio of Saka, Sambi and Martinelli before you come unstuck.
(the answer is only once)