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."

Related items

  • Mourinho reiterates commitment to Roma amid Everton links Mourinho reiterates commitment to Roma amid Everton links

    Jose Mourinho has reiterated his commitment to Roma saying he could not be happier at the Italian club.

    The former Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham manager has been linked with the vacant Everton job following Rafael Benitez's dismissal on Sunday.

    Mourinho was appointed Roma head coach on a three-year contract in May, with Giallorossi currently seventh in Serie A.

    Roma qualified for the Coppa Italia quarter-finals on Thursday with a 3-1 win over Lecce, with Mourinho pressed on his future after the game.

    “In terms of emotion, passion, empathy, of being happy working with Roma, I say I am 11 out of 10," Mourinho told Sport Mediaset.

    "I am truly, very, very happy to be at a club where I feel the people trust me. I couldn’t be happier than this.

    “In football terms, playing to finish between fourth and eighth place is obviously not what I want, but this is a moment of a different project for me and we will be better off next season.

    “I won’t deny in the first half I did feel frustrated, as our performance was horrible. Having said that, I am happy right now and would not change this Roma project for any other.

    “I gave my word for these three years and I will not leave before the three years are up. This is my project too."

    Roma have been drawn against Italian champions Inter in the Coppa Italia last-eight.

    "There’s a long way to go, we have a few more games and for me there’s no doubt Inter are the strongest team and overall squad of the league and the Coppa Italia," Mourinho said.

    "We therefore got the worst possible draw, but we will go there and try to cause a surprise. We’ll see if it’s possible."

  • 'World-class' Liverpool striker Jota is 'on fire' - Klopp 'World-class' Liverpool striker Jota is 'on fire' - Klopp

    Diogo Jota was "on fire" against Arsenal and Jurgen Klopp took it as evidence he has become a "world-class" attacker at Liverpool. 

    Liverpool spent £41million to sign Jota from Wolves in September 2020 and he has provided stiff competition for Roberto Firmino. 

    The Portugal international took his tally for the Reds to 27 in 57 appearances with a double in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg against the Gunners on Thursday, clinching a 2-0 aggregate win that set up a meeting with Chelsea at Wembley in February. 

    Despite only playing two games for Liverpool at Emirates Stadium he is already the club's top scorer at the ground with four goals, while he has five in his past four appearances against Arsenal in all competitions. 

    Jota stepped up to play a decisive role with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, but it came as no surprise for Klopp. 

    "The mood in the dressing room is that we are over the moon. It was a difficult game, difficult time in general … but what the boys did tonight against this really strong Arsenal side was absolutely exceptional," Klopp told Sky Sports. 

    "First half, Arsenal were pretty lively, then we calmed it down, played good football and created not plenty but quality efforts were not so easy. The second half was pretty similar. 

    "We scored two wonderful goals, I have to say. Wow, Diogo Jota on fire. But the passes were – on the first goal it was super play and the second one, I don't think a lot of people in the stadium saw Diogo in that position but Trent saw it, which was helpful. Then he finished it off. Absolutely outstanding. 

    "We were completely convinced when he arrived at the club that he would help us massively. Nowadays you can watch 100 games if you want [before signing a player], so we were really comfortable. 

    "Since he is here, he has made another step. It's helpful. He has just turned into a really world-class striker." 

    Arsenal hit the bar through Alexandre Lacazette in the opening period and the France international missed a great chance to work Caoimhin Kelleher early in the second half. 

    The Gunners' were left with a bitter taste when Thomas Partey picked up two bookings in three minutes after returning from AFCON duty earlier in the day.

    Arsenal have had a player sent off in three of their past four games – none of which have ended in victory – and have received a total of 14 red cards in all competitions since Mikel Arteta took over in December 2019. No other Premier League side has received more than eight.

    "We are really disappointed but we played against a top side. We had big moments in both halves and we have to score," said Arteta. 

    "We had chances and were pushing for the game but we have to convert if we were to beat a team like Liverpool. 

    "I have no regrets [about sending Partey on]. I cannot use him now, so it is what it is. He made the effort to come ... we had to make a decision and we decided to use him and unfortunately that happened.

    "We have played the last three games with 10 men and at this level it is extremely difficult to win like that. I am proud of the boys and how committed they were without any training sessions." 

  • JFF boss Ricketts frustrated by decision not to allow fans for World Cup qualifiers JFF boss Ricketts frustrated by decision not to allow fans for World Cup qualifiers

    Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts has expressed disappointment with the government’s decision not to allow fans to attend the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Mexico, and possibly Costa Rica.

    The Reggae Boyz will return to action against El Tri on the 27th of January, in a crucial World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium.  The team has played the majority of home matches so far with empty stands, impacted by the government’s Covid-19 management protocols.

    The exception came against the United States in the last round, where up to 5,000 vaccinated fans were allowed to attend the fixture.  The JFF was hoping to have the same number of fans, if not more, but the recent increase of coronavirus cases, however, meant they had other ideas.

    “Covid will be here if not forever, for a very long time so you just have to put things in place and figure out how best you are going to navigate this pandemic,” Ricketts said.

    “We must live with Covid, so we must adhere to the protocols and be as careful as we can, but we must also understand that life goes on.”

    The Reggae Boyz have been the only team in the octagonal round that has been affected so severely by coronavirus restrictions, with many other teams sticking to the practice of limiting the numbers of fans allowed at the venues.

    Jamaica, however, has the lowest vaccination rate of all the countries participating in the qualifiers.

     

      

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.