Arsène Wenger has gained a player with the re-signing of the former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini on a three-year contract but he lost another when it emerged that Lukas Podolski would be out for between eight and 10 weeks with a severe hamstring tear.
The Arsenal manager continues to work with the chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, towards making big-name cash signings and the effort will continue until Monday night's transfer deadline, as the moves for some of their targets are dependant on clubs completing incoming business.
Real Madrid, for example, could listen to offers for Ángel di María and Mesut Ozil, who Arsenal like, once they have finalised the world-record signing of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur. It is not expected to happen until Monday, with Arsenal suspecting that Tottenham intend to hold on to Bale until the last moment in order to make it more difficult for them to pick up any surplus Real players. Di María and Ozil have said that they want to stay at Real. The Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye appears to be Arsenal's most realistic outfield target.
In the meantime, Wenger has completed the signing of Flamini on a Bosman free transfer, following his release from Milan at the end of last season. The 29-year-old, who made 153 appearances for Arsenal between 2004 and 2008, has been training at the club for the past three weeks and he goes into the squad for the derby against Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
It is the fourth time in five seasons that Wenger has called upon an ex-player, having previously given short-term contracts to Sol Campbell, Jens Lehmann and Thierry Henry for them return to the club. The move for Flamini has been driven by the need for cover in midfield, where Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby are injured and, also, the knowledge that he can play in either of the full-back positions.
It is a sensible purchase but not one that will sate the desire of fans for a top-level addition to make a difference to the starting XI. Wenger's only other signing so far has been that of the young French striker Yaya Sanogo, also on a free transfer.
Arsenal have been stretched by the setback for Podolski. He was carried off in Tuesday's Champions League play-off win over Fenerbahce and Wenger said afterwards that he would be out for three weeks. Scans, though, have revealed much more serious damage. The better news is that Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, who suffered ankle and groin problems against Fenerbahce, have been passed fit for the derby.
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image: © Ronnie Macdonald