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What Arsenal Need In the January Transfer Window


What Arsenal Need In the January Transfer Window

Arsenal have made one of their best-ever starts to a Premier League season this year, with the Gunners’ impressive performances seeing them sat at the top of the Premier League table before the break-up of the domestic calendar for the winter World Cup.

Mikel Arteta’s men have been at the top of the table since matchday three, having won the most matches of any side in the league (12). On par with Newcastle, the Gunners have lost the joint-least number of games (1) and conceded the joint-least number of goals (11).

This year is Arsenal’s best chance of winning a league title in many years, with the last time the Gunners came close to title glory was in that 2015-16 campaign when Leicester ended up unlikely champions. But, if Arsenal want to make sure that they go all the way this time, then there is one thing they need to do – spend in January.

Arsenal simply do not have the kind of squad depth that champions and challengers Manchester City do, with the Citizens able to essentially field two full different starting XIs. Getting some bodies into the dressing room is important for Arsenal.

One only has to cast their mind back to last season, when Arsenal’s failure to adequately pad their squad in January arguably cost them a place in the Champions League. The Gunners only brought in defenders Lino Sousa and Auston Trusty, both of whom were sent to the academy and out on loan respectively.

The Gunners oversaw a mass exodus of players in January, with Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, Sead Kolasinac and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang among the players who left the club. This left Mikel Arteta with a paper-thin squad that ultimately couldn’t handle the run-in, leading them to finish fifth after initially looking certain of a fourth-place finish and a return to the Champions League.

If Arsenal wants to avoid another such situation, spending in January is a must.

Can The Gunners Sustain a Title Charge?

The Gunners went into the World Cup break five points ahead of second-place Manchester City, with a 2-0 over Wolves at Molineux ensuring that they finished the first portion of the season on a high. They make their return to action on Boxing Day, taking on London rivals West Ham at the Emirates.

One key part of Arsenal’s impressive form so far has been the togetherness of the team, with the players of Arsenal finally seeming to be playing as a cohesive unit, linking up with each other to deadly effect.

But then came the World Cup, which took away one of the key facets of the Arsenal system. Gabriel Jesus suffered an injury to his knee during Brazil’s defeat to Cameroon, an injury in which he had to have surgery on. No timescale has been put on Jesus’ return, but it is rumoured that he will be out for around three months. It means that Arsenal will be without one of their key men for an extended period of time in which the Gunners could really could do with him.

Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard are all top players, but they will all miss Jesus and what he brought to the team, with Jesus bringing out the best in the trio. The trio might be able to cover the goalscoring burden between them, but they will miss is what else Jesus brought to the side.

Apart from goals, Jesus is outstanding at pressing from the front and creating chances for teammates via his sublime link-up play. As a forward, Jesus has a bit of all the qualities that a good striker should have in today’s game. So now that Arsenal are without Jesus, can Arsenal cope, and can the likes of Saka and Odegaard step up and make up for what the forward line is now missing?

Gabriel Jesus Replacement?

Some media reports have claimed that Arsenal will not be focussing on buying a replacement striker for Gabriel Jesus in January as there are more pressing squad issues at hand, and because Eddie Nketiah is also seen as an adequate replacement in the squad. Nketiah is a decent striker, but in such a key part of the season, can he actually lead the line for a title-chasing, Champions League-chasing Arsenal side? It is a lot of pressure…

Nketiah is an unknown quantity in this Arsenal side – he could either be great, or sub-standard. The presence of players like Odegaard and Saka will be helpful in creating chances for Nketiah to dispatch, but he could also fail to make an impact. The 23-year-old did bag five goals last season after a sustained run of starts in the team, but he has no goals or assists in 12 substitute appearances this season.

If Arsenal want to ensure that their title challenge continues, then they will probably need to enter the market for a striker in January.

Which Players Have Been Most Talked About?

The Athletic’s David Ornstein has described Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykhaylo Mudryk as Arsenal’s “priority target” in this window, with the player himself previously saying that a move to the Emirates appeals to him.

Arsenal will face competition from Newcastle for Mudryk’s signature, with Shakhtar reportedly asking for a fee of anywhere between £40m-£100m. The 21-year-old has impressed with his searing pace, close control and goalscoring ability from the wing – Mudryk has 18 G/A in 18 appearances this campaign, with three goals and two assists in this season’s Champions League.

Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport has suggested that Arsenal are in the race for Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix, with the Gunners currently leading Manchester United and Aston Villa in the race for the Portuguese’s signature.

Signed from Benfica for around £120m, the Portuguese international has failed to impress at Atletico, but that could be attributed to the negative style of play that Simeone employs, which restricts the creativity of a player like Felix. A move to a Premier League club could revive his career, and with three G/A at the World Cup, that could tempt Arsenal into testing the waters with an offer in January.

The Evening Standard have again brought up Arsenal’s interest in Palmeiras defensive midfielder Danilo. The Gunners are among a slew of interested parties in the 21-year-old – the Gunners did try to pursue a deal in the summer but a deal could not be agreed upon.

Their interest has cooled somewhat, but they do remain keen on the young midfielder. Palmeiras would reportedly be willing to do a deal for around £20m, which is a reasonable fee for one of Brazilian football’s most talked-about players. And considering the injury woes of Thomas Partey, another body in midfield is needed.

With some tough fixtures in January (Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United), plus the fact that Manchester City notoriously always performs stronger in the second half of the season in title races, it means that the journey to Arsenal’s first potential title since 2004 will not be straightforward at all. The decisions made by the club hierarchy in January could either make or break Arsenal’s season.