Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal may not use January transfer window to sign anyone amid tense title race

Mikel Arteta admits January may be quiet for Arsenal and denies contacting PGMOL over Bukayo Saka; Jurgen Klopp hopes for quick returns for Wataro Endo and Mo Salah; follow Arsenal vs Liverpool via our minute-by-minute match blog on the Sky Sports app and website from 3pm on Sunday

Mikel Arteta admitted it was a “possibility” Arsenal may not add to their squad in the January transfer window, ahead of facing title rivals Liverpool in the FA Cup on Sunday.

The Gunners manager previously stated he “needs players” to aid the club’s title charge, with a number of injuries in key positions and Oleksandr Zinchenko their only out-and-out left-back.

Arteta confirmed big-money summer signing Jurrien Timber remains sidelined for the foreseeable future, while Thomas Partey’s thigh injury is serious enough to rule him out of the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts next week.

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Despite that, when asked by Sky Sports whether there was a chance the club could end January without any further incomings, Arteta said: “That’s a possibility.”

He added: “Unfortunately, Jurrien has a very long-term injury. He’s doing really well but is still far from training with the team.

“It’s what we have, with Tomi having to leave. We’re open for the transfer market, but the emphasis is of making the most of the players we have.

“We’ll work with the club to understand if there are any possibilities, and whether we have any good options. But first of all, we will focus on the players we already have.”

Arteta denies reports of PGMOL conflict over Saka treatment

Image: Bukayo Saka scored against Fulham on New Year's Eve, but has been reportedly nursing an Achilles problem for some time

There had been reports in the media this week Arteta and Arsenal had made contact with the PGMOL, the Premier League refereeing body, to complain about the treatment of Buyako Saka this season.

The England winger is the Premier League’s third-most fouled player and seven different opponents have been cautioned for bad tackles on him this season – the most recent Tom Cairney on New Year’s Eve.

But Arteta, who has publicly sparred with the PGMOL at times this season, denied any specific discussion with the group around Saka, who has reportedly been carrying an Achilles injury for a number of weeks.

“We have daily and weekly communication, and certain topics, but nothing specific about [Saka],” Arteta said.

“I think the referees know the tactics of opponents. They know some players are more targeted, and because of the way they play they might invite more tackles, but referees are well aware of that.

“It’s been going on for two years that we’ve had wingers who provoke a lot of fouls, and it gets a lot of attention. It’s only normal.”

‘We will all sleep better for reducing knife crime’

Arsenal will wear their ‘No More Red’ all-white kit in a home game for the first time for Sunday’s visit of Liverpool, backing an initiative set up by the club to combat knife crime and youth violence in North London.

“It’s a great initiative from the club, giving support and creating a safer environment with the power and capacity we have to help people transform certain areas of London,” Arteta said.

“It’s helped a lot of people already, and brought a lot of attention. If we can keep the streets safer around our city, especially for people who have kids, we will sleep better.”

Klopp hopeful of minimal Salah, Endo absences

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has jokingly said he would be ‘lying’ if he were to wish Mo Salah and Wataru Endo good luck ahead of their international duty in the Africa Cup of Nations and Asia Cup

Jurgen Klopp admitted he would be happy for Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo’s international absences to be kept to a minimum as his Liverpool side begin their fight on three fronts in January.

Salah is away with Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations, while Japan captain Endo is at the Asian Cup and both players are expected to go deep into the respective competitions.

That could mean a return in the second week of February, but Klopp said he sent them on their way this week without wishing them too much success.

“I said if I wish you good luck it would be a lie,” Klopp said ahead of the FA Cup tie at Arsenal.

“From a personal point of view, I would be happy if they go out in the group stage but that’s probably not possible. They can go on and win it.

“So it was ‘good luck and come back healthy’. We have to deal with it and we will deal with it. I am pretty positive that we will find a way.”

It is impossible to have a like-for-like replacement for Salah as he is one of a kind, but Klopp does not really have a suitable player in the right-winger mould to take his place.

Szoboszlai to miss Emirates trip

Midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai was touted as a potential option for Liverpool, but he has been ruled out for at least two matches with a hamstring injury sustained in the New Year’s Day win over Newcastle.

“I can confirm it’s not a potential injury – it is an injury. Muscle, hamstring. But now we have to see,” added Klopp.

“Dom is very positive, doesn’t have a lot of pain, but we have to wait a little bit. So, no chance obviously for Sunday, not for Wednesday [the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at home to Fulham].

“And then we will see. After that, hopefully he might be back but we don’t know.”

Elliott in line to fill Salah attacking void?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool

Nevertheless, Klopp was confident Liverpool could fill the hole left by Salah, even if he could not hope to replicate the Egypt international’s goal involvement.

“I think we played against West Ham [in last month’s Carabao Cup quarter-final] without Mo on that side and Harvey Elliott played there,” Klopp said.

“We have different offensive options who can all play that wing in a different way.

“Nobody else can play like Mo, it is not possible – we just have to use the boys with their skills.

“Do we want to play without Mo? No. In the past we didn’t have to do it often but we always found a way.

“But we play Arsenal and you can lose to Arsenal with Mo Salah so it’s possible to lose to them without him.”

Sourse: skysports.com

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