Missing out on the Ukrainian is looking like a blessing in the disguise for the Gunners, given their ‘Plan B’ is paying off spectacularly…
There was a lot of disappointment around the Arsenal fanbase when the Gunners missed out on Mykhailo Mudryk during the January transfer window.
And that was understandable, given how forcefully the Premier League leaders had pursued the winger and how obvious it was that he wanted to make the move to north London.
So, it was tough to take for Arsenal supporters when they had to watch Chelsea sneak in right at the end of the window and sign the Ukraine international in a £88 million ($106m) deal from under their club’s noses.
But that disappointment has long since disappeared due to the way things have worked out in the weeks that have followed Mudryk’s move to the capital.
While he continues to find his feet at Stamford Bridge, the man Arsenal signed in his place has made himself an instant hero at Emirates Stadium.
Step forward, Leandro Trossard…
There can’t have been any smarter pieces of transfer business done during the January window than Arsenal’s move for Trossard.
The Gunners could easily have just licked their wounds after failing to land Mudryk, but instead they swiftly turned their attention to their Plan B and that has proved to be a masterstroke.
Trossard was snapped up from Brighton for just £26m ($31m) and he’s already looking like one of the bargains of the season.
The way he has slotted into this Arsenal team and improved Arteta’s squad has been seamless and on Sunday he showcased all of his talents as he inspired the Premier League leaders to a 3-0 success at Fulham.
Trossard set up all three goals during a scintillating first half performance at Craven Cottage, becoming the first player in Premier League history to complete a hat-trick of assists in a first half away from home.
Fulham simply couldn’t handle the Belgian international. His movement, his ability to use both feet and his eye for a pass left the hosts chasing shadows at times.
“It’s football intelligence,” Arteta said after the game, when asked about the way Trossard has settled.
“He’s really clever to understand straight away what we want, what’s required. He’s executed it really well.”
Trossard now has five assists and one goal in nine league appearances for Arsenal.
He was signed to come in and make an immediate impact as the club chased its first league title in 19 years and he’s done exactly that.
The way he drifts into space and uses both feet equally as well is reminiscent of Santi Cazorla during his time in north London.
He started out as the false nine at Craven Cottage but often worked his way out to the left, with Gabriel Martinelli moving into the central striking position.
It was a partnership that worked perfectly for the second goal, with Trossard crossing for the Brazilian to head home his 12th of the season.
He was at it again soon after, this time drifting out wide and picking out Martin Odegaard to score.
“When we talk about composure and finding the right pass and looking to the right player in the box, it’s very blurry and some players can make rash decisions, but he’s the opposite,” Arteta said afterwards, while discussing Trossard’s performance. “He was really impressive.
“Not only that, he had an injury a few days ago and that could have taken a week or 10 days. He was really willing to come back early and that changes things in the team. We needed him and his contribution was superb.”
Trossard’s form since his arrival will certainly give Arteta some difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks.
With Gabriel Jesus now back and with Martinelli and Bukayo Saka leading the scoring charts for Arsenal this season, fitting everyone in will be tough.
And that’s before Eddie Nketiah, who is currently out with an ankle problem, comes back into the reckoning.
“It’s a great problem to have,” Arteta smiled, when asked how he will be able to accommodate everyone.
Arsenal’s win at Fulham on Sunday saw them restore their five-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table with just 11 games of the season remaining.
If they do go and win the title from here then they will look back at the business they did during the January window as one of the key moments of the campaign.
There was understandable disappointment when Mudryk slipped through their fingers, but in Trossard they landed themselves a £26m bargain at a fraction of the price.