Football clubs can rarely do better winter business than they can in the summer window. Inflated fees, desperation, and change in targets do not make for an impressive combination when it has to do with good recruitment.
That is the reason why last summer the Gunners were extremely keen to right their wrong in the transfer market.
One of the major roles the club had to address was in between the sticks. The departure of Emi Martinez left Bernd Leno as the only key senior safe hand at the Emirates Stadium and a backup was required.
The backup Arteta eventually signed was Icelandic shot-stopper Runar Alex Runarsson, for a transfer fee of about £1m from Ligue 1 side Dijon.
An analysis of Runar Alex Runarsson’s time in France revealed the 25-year-old safe hand hadn’t been an exceptional one as one of the league’s most promising goalkeepers.
While at Dijon, the Icelander started 34 matches and kept five clean sheets, and in the remaining 29 games, he conceded a total of 59 goals. He later lost his first-team place at the Ligue 1 strugglers to Alfred Gomis and it didn’t look like the smartest transfer decision on paper.
With mistakes in the Europa League against Rapid Vienna and Dundalk, and another in the Carabao Cup against Manchester City, it looked like the management of the North London club had lost faith in the summer signing.
This loss in faith was confirmed when head coach Mikel Arteta disclosed early in the new year that his team will be looking for a new shot-stopper in the January window and using accumulator bets can earn you a chance to win with multiple predictions.
However, when Arsenal announced a deal to sign Matt Ryan on loan from Premier League side Brighton for the rest of the campaign, it was as close as we’ll get in this era.
Interestingly, Ryan himself had been a fan of Arsenal as a young boy, discussing with the Arsenal media department his tale of late-night sleepovers and wake-ups at 4 am as a kid to see his role models and football heroes playing in the UEFA Champions League.
His tale had pretty much won over many Arsenal fans around the world who went on to shower encomiums on the North London club for what looked to be a smart transfer business in the January window.
Ryan is a shot-stopper of international standard who has over time proved himself on many occasions in both the Spanish La Liga and the Premier League.
After Leno’s error against Wolves saw the goalie suspended for the trip on Sunday to Villa Park, the on-loan Australian goalkeeper stepped up instantly to prove himself once again.
Ryan was called into action on many occasions against Aston Villa, facing about eight shots during the Premier League encounter. If not for a deflection-off defender Rob Holding for Ollie Watkins’ match-winning goal, it’s very likely the Australian would have save that also.
When one considers the fact that the 28-year-old goalie was nursing an injury that meant he had not properly trained with his new colleagues, and that he had not featured at all since being dropped at Brighton by Graham Potter on December 13th, the display on his first Arsenal match is extremely impressive.
In Ryan, head coach Mikel Arteta and Recruitment Chief Edu have not only found a player who is a major upgrade on what they had, but they may also have found a goalkeeper capable of saving them huge transfer funds in the summer.