The stakes are high for Arsenal as Arteta decides to stick or twist

A In a month full of certainty, one thing is certain Arsenal. When January comes to an end, they will be top of the Premier League, a game above their rivals and with the possibility of a significant points cushion. They are currently the best team in the division by some distance and, when everything is working this smoothly, the pace can feel completely independent.

their way Win at Spurs, which included a first half that all showed the ability to produce throughout the year, reinforced the view that Mikel Arteta is under little pressure to change for the second half of the campaign. Arsenal’s consistency of performance is remarkable; Results are following and the depth of their squad is such that the medium-term absence of their star centre-forward, Gabriel Jesus, is barely felt.

The latter point has been much lamented since May, when Arsenal lost their grip on the Champions League places. Surrendering to Spurs and Newcastle. Having been hit by injuries, three inexperienced academy products were making up their numbers on the bench at St James’ Park, and they couldn’t cope. Arteta’s resources, particularly in defense and up front, look well set now but eyes will still turn to the remaining fortnight of the transfer window. What does it take to turn a growing possibility into a certainty?

The easiest answer is a clean bill of health. If Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and possibly the increasingly influential Oleksandr Zinchenko remain fit for the next four months, it’s hard to imagine Arsenal not bringing him home. But none of those have fallen and, with the prospect of seven Europa League ties since the start of March, Arteta knows it would be best to get some help.

Quality competition in wide areas eases some concerns and the same goes for central midfield. Emile Smith Rowe’s return from injury, and the hope that his long-term complaints are resolved four months out, will certainly help the former but Arsenal remain in the market for reinforcements. They have disappointed in this transfer window but it’s easy to swallow the pill when you’re so far ahead of the competition.

Emile Smith Rowe (left) is fit again after four years out with a groin injury alongside William Saliba after coming off the bench against Tottenham on Sunday. Photo: David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

An alternative will be sought for Mykhailo Mudric, who Arsenal were confident of landing from stubborn Shakhtar Donetsk. Chelsea destroyed them The players and sales club could not resist with the terms. Arsenal showed earlier this month that they were willing to walk away from the deal: they were in the late stages for Joao Felix but bowed out after it became clear he would incur a loan fee of more than £9m from Atletico Madrid. Chelsea showed no such inhibitionsAlthough it may do them limited immediate good now that the forward has been lumbered with a three-game suspension.

Arsenal’s reticence, however best described in the modern transfer market, speaks to the lessons learned institutionally since Arteta’s arrival. They do not intend to burn again as they were inside Paying £72m for Nicolas Pepe. Planning and patience, especially sticking with Arteta when others might have buckled, paid off spectacularly.

They had spent months working out a deal for Modric, which was always going to be expensive The fee Manchester United paid for a player of similar age and position in Antony, and had priced out Shakhtar’s displeasure, so they were surprised to see Chelsea brought in. Eventually, Chelsea received enough assurances that Mudric would abandon his publicly stated preference to join Arsenal and move to west London if they were the only show. This was another example of the jingling nuisance that City Todd Bohly and company have made themselves in the market: they shook things to their liking, at least in the short term, but Arsenal are one of those who would rather not be dragged into the maelstrom. . After all it is currently their modus operandi, not Chelsea’s new regime, that will bring results.

It is therefore unlikely that they will react to losing Mudryk by splurging blindly on the next available counterpart. However, Arteta is now left with a dilemma. Mudric was an attractive option because of his age and exciting potential, but how hard should he work to pursue other prospects that don’t jump out as easily? Perhaps former Barcelona target Rafinha would fit the bill. Arsenal would be kicking themselves if the drop down from Saka or Martinelli was too severe; They may regret making the wrong deals at a time when there is little standing between them and close season work.

At least Arsenal can ask themselves such questions. “Winning the transfer window” has been an obsession with some sections of fans in the recent past but this time it takes second billing. They win important competitions. Beating Manchester United, who will unexpectedly become title rivals if they pick up three points at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, would significantly strengthen an already impressive position. Maybe Arsenal, for all their nagging concerns about what may or may not be in the reserves, will be able to stay the same distance as they are.

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