Thomas Partey and Jurrien Timber returns could see Arsenal line up very differently after January.

It’s been a deafeningly quiet transfer window for Arsenal so far. The Gunners are a team who could certainly do with a few additions to bolster their squad right now, but with just four days remaining till the market closes on Thursday it does not look as though they’re close to a deal. That’s certainly not for a lack of trying though.

“At the moment, it is very difficult,” Mikel Arteta said of his side’s prospects in the market last month.

“We are really short. We have positions that we have been very exposed for the last six weeks and hopefully we are going to get players back. In what condition and when?

“That’s a question mark and as well because we have some long-term injuries still for certain players that give us a lot of versatility and that’s an issue. We have certain targets, ideas if things happen. As well, we don’t know how the squad is going to look in two weeks’ time and you have to be always prepared for that.

“But it is a very, very tricky market that shifts very quickly and it is quite unpredictable as well – and you have to be prepared. We will be prepared and we will try to make the right calls. If there is something that we can [do to] improve the squad and that needs appear, and we cannot fulfil it with players here, we are always going to be open to do that because we want to be stronger.”

The closest deal to occurring as things stand is an exit for Cedric Soares. The Portuguese international is attracting interest from Galatasaray and Besiktas over a potential permanent transfer this month. In terms of incomings it looks likely to be quite sparse however. This will be a blow to fans who had been hoping to see a striker come in this month. Names like Ivan Toney and Alexander Isak have been mentioned, but it’s hard to see either happening before the February 1 deadline.

That’s not to say the Arsenal team won’t look different though. Thomas Partey’s return from injury could play a huge part in that. The Ghanaian is capable of helping Arteta’s side in both midfield and at full back. This could help take some of the pressure off Ben White who has been more or less Arsenal’s only fit right back for the past couple of months with Jurrien Timber and Takehiro Tomiyasu missing.

Timber is also a player who Arsenal hope could make an impact before the end of the season. His return would further ease the burden on the Gunners’ full backs, while also providing quality in the centre of defence or even in midfield if needs be.

Fabio Vieira should also be back in contention relatively soon after a lengthy lay off with a groin problem that required surgery. The Portuguese midfielder had looked promising at the start of the season, and Arteta is still a fan despite a difficult first year and a half in north London.

If Arsenal are able to keep players fit from that point then they will be a step closer to what Arteta feels they lacked most in the run in last season.

“When you come to April and May you need 24 players there, available, fit, playing at their best and ready to go,” he said after a defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground last season ended the Gunners’ hopes of lifting the Premier League. “For many reasons, we haven’t had that.”

The old phrase is that getting a player back from a long-term injury is ‘like a new signing’. With transfers looking unlikely before the deadline next week, Arteta will be hoping his returning players can be the boost Arsenal need to get over the line this time around.

Possible Arsenal lineup after January transfer window: Raya; Timber, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey, Rice, Vieira; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli.