Gazidis and Wenger plotting their transfer activity
After last night's Capital One Cup defeat to Bradford City, the need for reinforcements at Arsenal is greater than ever. Fortunately, the January transfer window is just around the corner, so Arsenal fans will hope they won't have to wait too long for the cavalry to arrive.
Ivan Gazidis suggested back in November that Arsenal had "kept some powder dry" as far as their summer transfer activity was concerned. Well, that powder needs to be used now, and possibly even augmented with income from the new commercial deal with the Emirates. Arsene Wenger has been reluctant to spend the money available in the past, but Arsenal's recent travails on the field will surely persuade him that the squad could benefit from a couple of significant additions.
Over the next five slides I'll take a look at players who I think could add something to the squad. Some of them won't surprise you; some might.
The links between Arsenal and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar grow stronger by the day, with The Independent being the latest newspaper to suggest the Dutch forward could make a January switch to The Gunners.
A little while ago, Huntelaar leaving Schalke at this time seemed unthinkable. They are still in the Champions League, topping a group that also contained Arsenal, and are fighting to qualify once again for the tournament in the Bundesliga. Huntelaar's contract expires in the summer, and he has stalled on a new one, but the feeling was that Schalke would seek to keep him in the hope of maximising their revenue by ensuring consecutive qualification for Europe's premiere club competition.
Of late, however, Huntelaar's form has begun to dip, and there is a feeling Schalke may look to cut their losses and let him go for £6-10 million in January. Arsenal would seem a perfect match: they desperately need a goalscorer, and Huntelaar's record in front of goal speaks for itself. He may not be as mobile or skilful as the departed Robin van Persie, but he's every bit as lethal.
Should Arsenal choose to look closer to home to solve their striker problems, Demba Ba seems an obvious solution. He has been linked with a move to London by The Sun, due to the £7.5 million release clause that exists in his Newcastle contract.
There is little doubt about Ba's pedigree. He is tall, athletic and a good finisher with both feet. He has proven he can score goals in the English Premier League at both West Ham and Newcastle United. However, despite nearly two years without a major injury, doubts remain over his fitness.
In the early part of his career Ba was beset by knee problems. Indeed, he once failed a medical at Stoke. Knowing Arsenal's luck with injuries, would Arsene Wenger be prepared to gamble on Ba? With the team in such dire straits, it might just be worth the risk.
If Wilfried Zaha joins Arsenal this January, he will be following a familiar path. Twice before Arsene Wenger has pounced to snap up an exciting young winger from the English Championship: first Theo Walcott, then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Palace are keen to hold on to Zaha, but if Arsenal come calling, will they be able to resist? Certainly as a self-confessed Arsenal fan—and with The Daily Mail claiming Arsenal are confident they will acquire him—the player might be keen to make the move. The last major star to move from Palace to Arsenal didn't do too badly: a certain Mr. Ian Wright.
With Theo Walcott's future in doubt, a move for a speedy winger would make sense for Arsenal.
This is a bit of a left-field suggestion. It's certainly not something you'll have seen in the newspapers. However, SL Benfica's left-sided midfielder Nicolas Gaitan is a tremendous talent. You don't become an Argentina international without having more than a modicum of ability.
In the summer, he was heavily linked with Manchester United, (via the Manchester Evening News) only for that move to be put on the back-burner when United moved for Robin van Persie. Now, perhaps Arsenal would consider making a move for a player who can both create and score goals, and provide competition and quality on the flanks.
Signing a player like Gaitan would not only add to Arsenal's wide and creative options; it could free up Lukas Podolski to rotate with Olivier Giroud in the central striker's role.
The most likely new face at Arsenal this January could be a familiar one: that of Thierry Henry. The French striker rejoined the Gunners for a two month loan spell in 2011, and scored a couple of crucial goals against Leeds and Sunderland, as well as another against Blackburn that was harshly ruled to be an own goal.
Whilst his electrifying pace has gone, he's still an intelligent player and a reliable finisher. Perhaps more important is that he is able to exert a huge influence both in the dressing room and in the stands, inspiring players and fans alike.
The Daily Mail suggests that Arsenal are pushing to extend Henry's deal until the end of the season. I can't see why the New York Red Bulls would agree to losing their star designated player for the beginning of the MLS campaign, so I consider that an unlikely outcome. If Henry does return, he will be welcome, but I know I won't be alone among Arsenal fans in hoping that he is joined by one or two signings who can contribute more in the long term.