Mikel Arteta admits losing Jurrien Timber a month after the Holland international signed from Ajax is a “huge disappointment” and says it’s a reminder that all his players have to be ready to step up.
Signed to provide competition on the right side of the defence, the £38.5 million summer signing made such a big impression in pre-season playing at left-back that he was trusted with the position for the opening game of the season.
Unfortunately, he lasted only 50 minutes before damaging his ACL and is now expected to be sidelined for anywhere between six to nine months.
“To have the injury that he’s had, it’s a huge disappointment for him obviously, for the team,” said Arteta in his weekly press conference.
“It’s a big blow because we recruited with clear intentions and what he was bringing to the team was evident, and he’s not gonna be able to do the season for us.
“We have to adapt these things happen, unfortunately, and we have to move on.”
On how the player has reacted to the news, Arteta continued: “He’s been very good to be honest, he’s a special character. He knows, I think, he starts to realise, the extent of the injury and the amount of time he’s going to be out, but he’s in a good place.
“They [the players] are all willing to help him obviously and we are very close to him, but it’s going to be a long journey.”
With the transfer window open for another couple of weeks, Arsenal could, in theory, look for a replacement. It’s not an easy decision, especially given the squad is already quite bloated.
“We didn’t plan for this injury so we have to assess now what the options are and the best way to get the best out of the players,” he said.
“I cannot control anything that is not here. We are always open and we have to always be open to react if something happens, not only with an injury but with the market as well and that’s what we are doing.
“I’m more thinking about the resources that we have within the team to keep doing what we want to do.
“It’s true that he [Timber] was giving us very different things in terms of what we could do on both sides [of defence]. But again, it’s things that happened and we have to be prepared for that.”
Pressed on whether Timber’s injury specifically offers an opportunity to Kieran Tierney, a player linked with a move away from the club, Arteta said: “It’s an opportunity for everybody. We’re going to need everybody and everybody is going to be important.
“The numbers that we have in the squad, especially in those positions, are more limited now. Everybody has to be ready.”
So far this summer, the Gunners have a net spend in the region of £160 million. Nobody can say the manager has not been backed financially by the owners as he looks to create a squad capable of winning the title. Whether they continue to spend, certainly won’t be Arteta’s decision alone.
“It’s never my own decision, it’s a decision that we make as a club with a lot of people involved in that because there are a lot of elements to that.
“But again my focus is on getting the best out of the squad that we have right now.
“We are in the middle of the competition, we are open obviously in the transfer window both ways because we still have things to do both ways, maybe. But that’s my aim.”