On-loan goalkeeper Mat Ryan admits he may not pull on a Brighton shirt again, as he works to make every second of his Arsenal adventure count in a move that has the potential to become permanent.
The Socceroos shot-stopper’s accomplished debut in last week’s 1-0 loss to Aston Villa was a statement of intent, and will have shown coach Mikel Arteta that rescuing Ryan from his sudden exile on the south coast was a canny piece of business.
With incumbent Bernd Leno back from suspension for Monday’s (AEDT) visit of Leeds United, Ryan, 28, might, in some people’s eyes, be best placed to garner game time in the UEFA Europa League, with Arsenal travelling to Portugal to face Benfica four days later.
However, many Gunners fans already feel he’s in a neck-and-neck duel with the German for the top spot.
“Although we lost the game against Villa (with Ryan pulling off seven saves), I think I can take a lot of positives from that that match,” he said.
“I don’t think I did myself any harm in terms of getting more opportunities between now and the end of the season.
“Hopefully I’m able to provide a bit of a headache for the manager in his team selection going forward, and create competition for spots.
“I feel I’ve announced myself at the club in a positive way, that’s the standard that’s been set.
“There are two world-class keepers to choose from, and I’ll be working hard to keep on pushing.”
Ryan’s dream switch to his boyhood club came out of the blue after he was cast aside by Seagulls coach Graham Potter.
“There’s no alternative in life, or in football, but to keep rolling with the punches,” explained Ryan of the surprise axing.
“You have to stay resilient and get on with things - and see the positives in every situation.
“Having come out the other side of what happened at Brighton, I feel like I’m in a better place and I’m trying to take advantage of everything at my disposal here at Arsenal.
“I’m going to do the best I can to contribute to the club in any way I can and learn from Mikel Arteta.
“Hopefully, at the end of the season I may have some nice options with Arsenal.
“Maybe there will be an offer to continue on a more permanent basis.
“If that happens of course I’ll look at it and consider it. But that’s a long way off at the moment. I’m just focusing on the here and now, trying to do my best and see what will come of that.”
Ryan has a year left on his Brighton deal but finds it difficult to envision a scenario whereby he would see out his contract.
“I’m still a Brighton player and once this season is done and dusted that will be my circumstance,“ he said.
“However, given everything that’s gone on I’d be very surprised if I was there next season ... certainly the way things stand.
“In football things can quickly change, as I’ve seen myself this season, so who knows - I could still quite possibly end up staying there for whatever reason.
“We will just have to see how everything unfolds.
Given Arsenal’s fitful form this season - flashes of promise giving way to further frustration - Ryan contends that Arteta commands a squad that’s “buying into everything he is trying to do“.
“He’s really impressed me since coming in,“ said Ryan. “The sense I get is that he’s been able to exert more of an effect on the team by perhaps cleaning out some of the players who didn’t quite buy in to what he was trying to accomplish,” he said.
“He’s a manager who pays great attention to detail ... you see that with the team meetings every day, where he goes over everything with a fine tooth comb.
“He makes it clear what’s expected of each player in every aspect of the game.
"It’s all about instilling a winning mentality and everyone is buying Into that. I really feel like I’m thriving in this environment.”
That wasn’t so much the case in recent times on the south coast, where Ryan was cut adrift before Christmas, and told he was free to find a new club.
He was left to pick up the pieces psychologically and emotionally, and doesn’t pretend it was easy.
“The moment I was left out of Brighton I just tried to prepare myself for the next opportunity, whenever or wherever that might come,“ he said.
“I’m not saying that was a simple thing to do.
“But I think that mindset contributed to me having a good first game for Arsenal because I tried to stay on top of every training session and treat each day as a new learning curve.
“I wasn’t going to let the situation get to me at Brighton and I think if I’d let frustration and disappointment get the better of me I don’t think I would’ve been as ready as I was to make an impact with Arsenal.
“That first performance may not have been as complete as it was.”