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Football Reporting


Arsenal’s transfer plans won’t change despite back-to-back wins, declares Arteta

Despite the impressive form of several youngsters, the Gunners boss is maintaining his focus in the transfer market

Mikel Arteta’s January business will not change due to Arsenal’s past two results, although Bukayo Saka continues to provide the creative spark the Gunners need.

Arsenal were winless in seven and 15th in the table at Christmas but have since beaten Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion.

The latter 1-0 victory at Brighton came courtesy of an Alexandre Lacazette strike 29 seconds after coming off the bench on Tuesday.

Arteta’s men are now nine points clear of the bottom three, surely quelling any mischievous relegation talk, but they are not looking to take their foot off the gas.

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Asked if back-to-back wins for only the second time this season in the league would affect the urgency to make moves in the coming transfer window, Arteta replied: “No, the last few results won’t change our approach to the window.”

The Arsenal manager was asked specifically about the prospect of signing out-of-favour Real Madrid playmaker Isco but added: “Obviously we cannot talk about individual players.”

With Mesut Ozil left out of Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads, Isco could potentially bring a new dimension in the centre of the pitch.

In his seven and a half years in Madrid, only Karim Benzema (60), Cristiano Ronaldo (47) and Toni Kroos (46) have provided more La Liga assists for Los Blancos than Isco (42), who has created 306 chances in 217 matches (1.4 per game).

However, on the wing, Arsenal already have a creative force in the form of 19-year-old England international Saka.

A superb assist for Lacazette was his 15th in all club competitions since the start of last season, more than any other Arsenal player.

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Saka played the most key passes (three) of any visiting player at the Amex Stadium, having scored his second league goal of the season in the Chelsea match.

Arteta is keen to keep the player grounded, though, telling reporters: “I would like everybody to be cautious and let him be and let him develop.

“I think he’s having the right progression, I think he’s got the right people around him, in his house, in his entourage.

“Then he’s got the right team-mates as well to support him all the time, give him confidence, keep his feet on the floor but also give him support and confidence.

“Hopefully we can be the right coaches around him and the right club to see what he can be in the future.

“Today he had a difficult game in the first half because we weren’t using certain moments to generate advantages for him and the other attacking players in the right way.

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“The game becomes really difficult with your back to goal against a back five in a low block.

“In the second half, we started to play different balls and attack in a different way. They found more freedom, more space and more capacity to unlock the situations and the block.

“We created four or five big chances and he was involved in most of them.”

Saka was substituted nine minutes from time having failed to shake off a knock, with Arteta asked if the apparent injury was serious.

“Hopefully not,” the manager said. “He was limping – I think he took a strong challenge – but hopefully he will be fine.”

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