Arsenal manager Unai Emery has conceded he may look into attaining a new defensive option in the January transfer window, with the centre of his defence suffering from a lack of depth and fitness.
With Rob Holding effectively out for the season with his ACL injury, Shkodran Mustafi pertaining hamstring issues and Sokratis Papastathopoulos suspended, the recently recovered Laurent Koscielny is the only fit natural centre back Emery has at his disposal for this weekend’s clash against Southampton.
The Frenchman, who has only just returned from rupturing his achilles tendon, is expected to make his return to first team action against Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday, before presumably starting alongside Stephan Lichtsteiner and Nacho Monreal on Sunday.
And, with this in mind, Emery, as quoted by Football365, admitted: “I think if we can take one player to help us at centre-back, I think it’s a good option. The transfer [window] is not easy…Koscielny is coming back and for the team it’s very important he is coming back.
“Then we are going to wait and see how Mavropanos is improving with his injuries, because he is also a centre-back who can help us. Another option we can play with two, with three, Nacho Monreal and Lichtsteiner can play in this position. I prefer to use, if we can, a specialist centre-back.”
The Gunners have been linked with Chelsea’s out of favour Gary Cahill in recent days, as well as Manchester United’s similarly outcast Eric Bailly. They have also been linked with a haul of strikers following Danny Welbeck’s injury, and Eddie Nketiah’s struggles with filling that hole.
The Arsenal tactician was asked about Nketiah, who will likely be up top against Qarabag, and his development, admitting: “It is a process. In this process we are giving them, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe, chances to work with us.
“Our demand is very big. We are going to help them and then they need also to take this responsibility with confidence and a big performance. We need them, but we need big performances.”