Although Arsenal can call on Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Bukayo Saka and Cedric Soares to deputise for Kieran Tierney at left back, Mikel Arteta has acknowledged there isn’t a 100% natural replacement for the Scottish international when he’s not available.
Maitland-Niles struggled against Crystal Palace last week, and while Saka has played well there, his growing influence on the right-hand side of the front three makes him a reluctant choice.
It was something Arteta answered in his press conference today when asked about the position, saying, “With the departure of Kola, we are a little bit short with left-footed full-backs at the moment.
“We know we can use Ainsley there, we can use Bukayo there and we can use Cedric – who has played in that position – so we have some options.
“A natural option for Kieran? Obviously, we don’t. But we can adapt.”
He also hinted that it’s an area the club are potentially looking at during this window, saying, “That means that the option is open and we will look to see what is available.”
However, the difficulties of the January window in general – exacerbated this year by the Covid-19 situation – make recruitment even more difficult, although Arsenal have trimmed the squad successfully with some departures.
“We are all very cautious and conscious about what we want to do and how we want to do it, how the market is going to evolve so we need to be careful,” said Arteta.
“We want to process every decision really carefully and then when we are clear about an opportunity, then we will try to do it.
“We could not carry on with 31 players in the squad. This is unmanageable. When you have to leave some of the foreign players out it makes it even more difficult.
“For a few weeks maybe it’s ok but to do it for months and maintain the health and ambition and the chemistry around the place it’s really complicated.
“One of the main objectives was to make some decisions of how we’re going to offset that.”
Arteta refused to comment on stories that the club are seeking to loan Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard, and it remains to be seen what, if any, incoming business might take place before the deadline on February 1st.