Arsene Wenger Has to Break the Bank to Bolster Arsenal's UCL Hopes

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterJanuary 14, 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger needs to strengthen his squad in January.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger needs to strengthen his squad in January.Stu Forster/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has not enjoyed the most comfortable of seasons at the club so far.

Supporter unrest has gained groundswell after a campaign which has seen the club dumped out of the Capital One Cup by Bradford City of League Two at the quarterfinal stage. The Gunners are also six points behind fourth-placed North London rivals Tottenham in the race for a Champions League spot.

The successful style of the White Hart Lane club this season must be especially galling for Arsenal fans, who have grown accustomed to watching passing football played at the Emirates Stadium and Highbury under Wenger.

A run of three successive Premier League wins in December papered over the cracks before Sunday's home defeat to Manchester City proved that major surgery is required for the squad.

There is no easy way to put it: Arsenal need new players to replace those who can't cut it and those who don't even know where the knife drawer is.

Wenger had to accept defeat in signing striker David Villa from Barcelona this month (according to the Metro). Will a concerted charm offensive be enough to see the Spain international exit Camp Nou this summer?

Wenger still needs to fill the void created by Robin van Persie's transfer to Manchester United in the meantime to avoid missing out on the Champions League. Don't rule out another attempt at Villa before the month is out.

The Theo Walcott contract saga has dragged on too long and cast an unnecessary shadow over Arsenal's transfer window.

Wenger needs to look beyond Ligue 1 for his purchases. It is, perhaps, understandable that the Frenchman views his home country as a natural pool for talent, but his latest acquisitions from France have not been resounding successes (Gervinho from Lille, for example).

Jack Wilshere remains a sliver of optimism at the Emirates. His battling display against City on Sunday was just one of several resilient performances from the England midfielder this season.

Even when his colleagues seemed disinterested during matches such as the cup defeat at Valley Parade, the England midfielder still carried the fight to the League Two side.

But the 21-year-old is too young to be carrying a team for the second half of a grueling season with the financial riches of Champions League qualification at stake.

The loss of Mikel Arteta for three weeks with a calf injury needs addressing, and at least the injury has happened during the January window for Wenger. Arteta cost £10 million to Everton in August of 2011, and a similar figure is required this month.

Of course, as Wenger's one-time nemesis Sir Alex Ferguson pointed out in a Eurosport-Yahoo interview last month, the January transfer window offers limited value compared to the summer version.

Players are unwilling to leave midseason, and clubs are reluctant to let bigger names depart.

But Wenger has some decent form in the January window, as the arrival Andrei Arshavin in 2009 proved. The Russia international made a name for himself at Euro 2008, and his signing sparked an upturn in Arsenal's fortunes that season.

This season has been so undeniably dire for Arsenal supporters that only new arrivals will lift the despondency currently hanging around the Emirates.