EPL

'We need more midfield options' - Arsenal boss Arteta concerned about depth

By Sports Desk January 07, 2022

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has suggested that the Gunners will look to sign at least one midfielder in the January transfer window after being left short of options.

With Ainsley Maitland-Niles having completed a loan move to Jose Mourinho's Roma and Mohamed Elneny away on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Egypt, Arteta's squad is running thin on central midfielders heading into the second half of the season.

The former Rangers and Everton midfielder was asked at a news conference ahead of Sunday's FA Cup third-round trip to Nottingham Forest about letting Maitland-Niles leave, with the Spaniard insisting that the player was entitled to move to Italy, but also raising concerns about his lack of options in the middle of the park.

"Ainsley came to me and explained the reasons why he thought the best thing for him in his career right now was to move away," Arteta told reporters. 

"He felt the opportunity to go to Rome and work with Jose was a good one. Being fair with the amount of minutes that he’s played he was entitled to that opportunity. We wish him the best.

"We are very, very short at the moment. But on a player this cannot be the only argument to keep a player. He was very straight with me and I understood the situation.

"We are going to move and we are going to look for options because we are very short there."

The Gunners boss missed Saturday's controversial 2-1 home defeat to Manchester City after testing positive for COVID-19, and insisted that while he is feeling better, he was left frustrated by the loss to the Premier League leaders.

"I feel good. I had a few rough days but I feel in top form. I was so happy to leave my house after seven or eight days," he said.

"I was extremely upset at how we lost the [City] game at the end but at the same time extremely proud for the performance. The support from our fans and the atmosphere it was incredible.

"If I have to rate the decisions that were made in that game [by referee Stuart Attwell] I have to be extremely disappointed because it was completely inconsistent and affected the result in a big way."

Arsenal, like many other clubs, are set to be without several first-team players this weekend due to a mixture of COVID-19 and injuries, with Arteta saying: "I don't want to give anything away as you can imagine.

"We are really short with numbers. We want to play and that's how we are approaching every game."

The 39-year-old was also asked about Arsenal's No More Red campaign, which is part of an initiative to combat youth knife crime in London. Arsenal will wear a special white kit for the game at Forest.

"Obviously we've been really involved as a club over the years with knife crime and we have the capacity to give exposure to that issue in London," he added. "Everyone at the club has been extremely supportive."

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