Arsenal have completed one signing this month so far, Cohen Bramall arriving from Hednesford Town. The highly-rated youngster will most likely be registered to the youth team and if that’s the case, Arsene Wenger is yet to bring in a new player that will improve the first team.
The Gunners are currently in fourth place as the top six are starting to pull away but Arsenal are in danger of losing their Champions League spot due to the increased competitiveness in the league this season.
Although in the past Wenger hasn’t spent much during the January transfer window, there is no better time than the present to reinforce as the Frenchman attempts to win his first Premier League title in 13 years.
Despite the general strength of the squad and quality available for the manager, here are the three key areas that still need addressing this January if Arsenal are to challenge for the title.
Current first-choice left-back Nacho Monreal has been very inconsistent compared to last season and has been regarded as the weakest link in the Arsenal back four. He has struggled to cope in the company of a winger with pace and many of the goals conceded by the Gunners have been from his side of the pitch.
With Kieran Gibbs suffering from injury problems, preventing him from getting a good run of games, Arsenal could really do with a younger left-back who isn’t prone to injury.
Hard-working, fast, intelligent full-backs don’t come cheap, but Arsenal have been linked with Valencia’s Jose Gaya. The fact that the La Liga side are in a mess on and off the pitch, could increase the chances of the transfer happening.
Arsenal may face a lot of difficulties should they fail to sign a quality left-back this month. The Gunners have been known for producing first-class players in that position over the years, with Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy among those illustrious alumni.
POTENTIAL SIGNINGS: Jose Gaya (Valencia, £25m) Dijbril Sidibe (Monaco, £30m)
Arsenal saw Callum Chambers leave on loan to Middlesbrough over the summer and though Mathieu Debuchy returned to the club after a short spell at Bordeaux, Hector Bellerin has made the right-back role his own.
The Spaniard has rapidly become an integral part of the Arsenal team, a talented presence on both sides of the pitch. From recovering to defend with his unstoppable pace to offering another dimension in attack, Bellerin has been brilliant. And after apparently rejecting an offer from Manchester City and signing a new deal with the Gunners, it’s become clear that the 21-year-old wants to stay at the club.
The problem for Wenger’s side is that when Bellerin was out with an injury this problem, Debuchy deputised but only lasted for a short period as his injury problems returned – leading to centre-back Gabriel Paulista having to play out of position. Although the Brazilian did a good job defensively, he didn’t pose much of a threat going forward and is not a long-term solution.
As Carl Jenkinson is reportedly close to completing his permanent departure from Emirates Stadium to Crystal Palace, Wenger needs a reliable understudy to Bellerin. It could turn out to be a problem for the rest of the season, if they don’t act fast.
POTENTIAL SIGNINGS: Rick Karsdorp (Feyenoord, £15m) Hugo Mallo (Celta Vigo, £10m)
REPLACMENT FOR SANTI CAZORLA
The final piece of the jigsaw involves finding a replacement for the ageing Santi Cazorla, who appears to be getting more and more injury prone. In an interview last week, Wenger revealed that the Spaniard is far away from a return and could be out for longer than three months.
Cazorla has been heavily missed and the former Villarreal player simply makes Arsenal tick when he’s fit to play, though he doesn’t receive as much credit as the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. From dictating play in the middle of the pitch to producing the goods in the final third, Cazorla has truly become the unsung hero at the club.
The 32-year-old has become a huge influence within the Arsenal squad over the years. Although Arsenal are lacking leaders in the squad and summer signing Granit Xhaka still needs a bit more time to adapt to English football, a replacement for Cazorla will not be easy to find this month.
Jack Wilshere is the closest player Arsenal have to Cazorla but with Wenger going against using a recall clause in his loan move to Bournemouth, fans will have to wait until next season to see the English international in an Arsenal kit again.
POTENTIAL SIGNINGS: Oliver Torres (Atletico Madrid, £20m) Youri Tielemans (Anderlecht, £25m)
Pogba missed a sitter before giving away the penalty that James Milner converted to put Liverpool ahead at Old Trafford.
It’s a hilarious watch for neutrals but one that United fans will likely view through their fingers.
Each week, Sport360 brings you the best five players from the English Premier League, as chosen by you the supporters through our ValoraFutbol fan ratings tool.
YOU have direct influence on who appears in each Top Five, so be sure to rate each weekend.
What do you make of this week’s ratings?
MARCOS ALONSO (CHELSEA) – 8.4
When questions were posed about who would take up the goalscoring duties for Chelsea in Diego Costa’s absence, Spanish full-back Marcos Alonso was far from the first answer in anyone’s minds.
But the player who had scored once in the Premier League prior to this weekend was instrumental in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Leicester City, netting a superb brace.
TOM DAVIES (EVERTON) – 8.2
Tom Davies was largely unheard of before making his first start a couple of weeks ago, but the Everton youngster has made sure everyone will remember his name after his display against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Facing the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva, and Kevin de Bruyne, the 18-year-old outshone them all.
Davies played a key role in Everton’s attacking play, and didn’t shirk his defensive duties, clearing off the line from City right-back Bacary Sagna’s header to preserve Everton’s 2-0 first-half lead.
He capped a fine all-around display by scoring Everton’s third goal.
XHERDAN SHAQIRI (STOKE CITY) – 8.2
Marko Arnautovic may have gotten the goals but Shaqiri was the outstanding player for Mark Hughes’ side as they ran riot at Sunderland.
His outstanding long through pass set up Arnautovic’s first goal, and he was involved in the build-up to the second goal as well, crisply exchanging passes with Arnautovic.
Shaqiri nearly rounded off his performance with a long-range goal, but a combination of Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone and the post denied him.
CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR) – 8.2
The Tottenham playmaker features in the top five for the second straight Premier League gameweek, and although he goes slightly under the radar as Harry Kane and Dele Alli capture most of the attention, his importance to Mauricio Pochettino’s team cannot be understated.
Against West Brom, Eriksen’s delightful through ball set up Kane for Spurs’ opener, and he was credited with another assist after his shot went in off of two deflections for their second.
MICHAIL ANTONIO (WEST HAM) – 8.1
By now, it should come as no surprise to opposition defences that Michail Antonio is capable of the sort of display he had against Crystal Palace.
The England man assisted all three of West Ham’s goals against the Eagles as the London Stadium crowd was finally treated to an attacking display that matched its expectations. Antonio’s three assists in Saturday’s game were as many as Mesut Ozil has this entire season.