West Ham manager Alan Pardew was able to beat the transfer deadline by minutes to solve his defensive problem with the capture of Argentina international Lionel Scaloni.
Pardew had been desperate to sign a right-back to replace Tomas Repka, who was allowed to move back to the Czech Republic for family reasons.
The Hammers thought they had their man when Barcelona agreed to let the hugely-experienced Gabri leave the Nou Camp but at the last minute the 26-year-old opted to stay with the Catalan giants.
That gave Pardew little time to carry out Plan B in time for tonight’s trip to Arsenal, a game which he already knew he would be without stand-in right-back Christian Dailly through suspension.
But a deal for Scaloni was thrashed out in time and the defender joined on loan from Spanish outfit Deportivo la Coruna until the end of the season.
Scaloni, who has five Argentina caps and more than 50 Champions League appearances, flew into London to agree personal terms yesterday evening.
The 27-year-old had been skipper at Deportivo but found starts harder to come by under coach Joaquin Caparros.
Scaloni’s agent, his father Angel, said: “After eight years at the club we though that the best thing was to move to a new place and the player is satisfied it will let him play more often.
“Everything is fixed with West Ham. The truth is that this wasn’t a pleasant surprise, but this is the way in which the things happens in football.”
Roy Carroll is expected to return in goal at Highbury, where new record signing Dean Ashton, the £7m (€10.2m) capture from Norwich earlier in January, could make his debut.
One man who won’t be playing for either side is striker Jeremie Aliadiere, who has ended his loan spell at Upton Park to join Wolves on loan until the end of the season.
The 24-year-old had featured only occasionally under Pardew, making one Premiership start and seven substitute appearances.
Striker Petr Mikolanda has joined Rushden and Diamonds on loan. The 21-year-old Czech has yet to make a first-team bow for the Hammers and had previously been borrowed by Northampton and Swindon.
He joins midfielder Tony Stokes, whose loan spell at the League Two club has been extended until the end of the season.