Arsene Wenger has not ruled out the possibility of a short-term deal for the former Arsenal defender Matthew Upson to solve his defensive crisis after another shaky performance from Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou in the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday.
The issue Arsenal face with Upson, 31, is that the player, who is out of contract with West Ham United in the summer, would want more than a one-year deal this month, which would be all Wenger would be prepared to offer him. As it stands, Upson would be in line for a lucrative free transfer in the summer with the prospect of up to three years in what would be his last major contract as a professional.
One possible solution is that Upson signs for Arsenal until the end of the season only, thereby offering him the possibility of a free transfer in the summer, although that would also be dependent on West Ham letting him leave.
The move by West Ham's owners to sign another former Arsenal man, Sol Campbell, from Newcastle United this month suggests that they are putting a contingency plan in place should Upson decide to leave. Speaking after the game at Ipswich, Wenger refused to discuss the subject of Upson and a potential move back to Arsenal.
It is also understood that Wenger and his scouting staff have looked at the two Ajax centre-backs Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen but feel that they are over-priced by their club. Ideally, Wenger would like a loan signing at centre-half to fill in towards the end of the season but has been unimpressed with the options put before him so far.
Following his team's 1-0 defeat to Tamas Priskin's second-half goal on Wednesday night, Cesc Fabregas showed even less generosity in defeat than his manager by claiming that the Championship team had used "rugby kick" tactics against Arsenal.
Fabregas, who was part of a strong Arsenal side defeated by Ipswich, complained that Ipswich, placed 19th in the Championship, had not tried to play football in the same way as his side. Fabregas said: "I don't know it if it is long ball or it is a rugby kick, but it worked for them.
"In England, a lot of teams play like that and it works for them, they create chances like that and it is their football. We just have to put the ball on the floor and try to play football, that is what we do."
The Arsenal back four – especially Koscielny, Djourou and Emmanuel Eboué – looked badly exposed for Priskin's goal on 78 minutes but it was not the first occasion in the match when Koscielny, in particular, was caught out.
Fabregas said: "It was disappointing, but we will now play at home. We do not need to go over something which is not needed. It is a 1-0, we lost and we did not want to lose, but it is not a 3-0 or 4-0 so we are confident at home we can make it back.
"Maybe it was just one of those nights, but still we have to be disappointed sometime with our decision-making in the first half. If we had just given the ball a bit earlier or had looked for the easier ball, we would have had more opportunities. Sometimes we did not do it and you see that when you do not score, you pay for it."
The 20-year-old goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny should keep his place in the Arsenal team for tomorrow's visit to West Ham with Lukasz Fabianski still "50-50", Wenger said yesterday. There was better news on Thomas Vermaelen who has not played since August because of an Achilles problem. Wenger said: "He has no long-term problem but we still need to be patient in the next weeks."