5 January Transfers to Make Arsenal EPL Contenders
Arsenal are currently priced as being third favorites to win the Premier League behind Manchester City and Chelsea. It begs the question; who does Arsene Wenger need to sign to overtake Manuel Pellegrini's and Jose Mourinho's teams?
The Gunners are on top of the Premier League, have only lost once since last March and have taken the most Premier League points this calendar year. They are the form team in English football.
Between now and January 1, the Gunners have 16 matches to traverse. They face two incredibly difficult periods within those games. The first begins an awful six-game run starting on October 22 when they play Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. They then play Chelsea, Liverpool, Dortmund, again, and then Manchester United.
Should the Gunners come through those stern tests, bookmakers will have no choice but to shorten their price from 5-1 and consider them genuine Premier League contenders.
That being said, Wenger will still need to strengthen to match the likes of City and Chelsea and Manchester United who will, undoubtedly, improve after Christmas.
Here, Bleacher Report looks at five transfers to make Arsenal guaranteed Premier League contenders.
There is little doubt that Arsenal are a little light up front.
The only conventional center-forward at the club is the on-form Olivier Giroud.
Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott and Yaya Sanogo are all capable of filling in for the French international in the short-term but not over a long period. Therefore, Arsene Wenger must be thinking seriously about signing a center-forward in January.
Karim Benzema is a name that keeps cropping up regarding Arsenal and strikers.
On October 14, the London Evening Standard and the Metro reported that Benzema would be offered to the Gunners in January for a cut-price fee of £20 million. Real Madrid would then swoop for Liverpool's Luis Suarez having off-loaded their French international forward.
The Metro have now changed their tune slightly and are suggesting that Arsenal will pay Real £43 million for Benzema.
Benzema would bring many attributes to this particular Arsenal team. He is strong, quick, has a great first touch and will offer superb movement on and off the ball.
The key, however, are his relationships with Mesut Ozil and Giroud.
Ozil and Benzema played with each other at Madrid and have a great understanding of each other's game. The same can be said of the French international team where Giroud and Benzema often feature together.
With Ozil having settled in to life at the Emirates so well and with Giroud playing so well, Wenger could do far worse than bring Benzema to his club.
If money is no object, then Michu becomes an exciting prospect.
The Daily Express (h/t Mirror) is reporting that Arsenal and Liverpool are looking to sign the forward-cum-midfielder.
The versatile and recently capped Spanish international is believed to be available for around £30 million.
I see him like a little bit, position-wise, like a Bergkamp, more than an up-front striker.
They can play with both [strikers at Swansea] because Michu’s the kind of striker who is a midfielder as well.
He can play both positions.
To be fair to the Frenchman, he has started the season in outstanding form and a potential combination with Michu, who could drop into midfield, really looks appealing. It could also be appealing to Wenger given his earlier comments.
If money is an object then a move for Fernando Llorente might just be the perfect antidote for Arsene Wenger.
The Mirror has come up with a possible solution to that problem and has linked the Gunners with a short-term loan deal for Llorente. The striker scored an impressive 118 goals in 333 matches for Athletic Bilbao before he signed for Juventus on a free transfer this past summer.
The Spanish international is now believed to be concerned with his lack of game time at Juventus in what amounts to a World Cup year. He is on the cusp of slipping out of Vicente del Bosque's Brazil 2014 plans and a loan deal could help all involved.
Llorente would give Arsenal the kind of player they have not had at the club since long before Wenger ever set foot in the hallowed marble halls. He would allow the Gunners to change their tactics, style and set up while comfortable fitting into their intricate style if needed.
As loan deals go, Llorente would be a no-brainer for any Premier League team, let alone a club with only one center-forward on their books.
Arsene Wenger has long been an admirer of Manchester City's Micah Richards.
City rejected an attempt by Arsenal to sign the 25-year-old in the summer transfer window, according to the Daily Star.
Richards burst onto the football scene at City after graduating from their academy. He went on to become a first-team and England regular and was tipped by many to become Vincent Kompany's partner in the long-term.
Injuries, however, reduced his appearances to just eight last season, and he has only featured three times under Manuel Pellegrini this term.
Wenger is being intelligent in his pursuit of the powerfully built and technically gifted, but raw, youngster. At one stage, Richards was unchallenged for the England full-back berth. Now after missing virtually the entire of last season, he is out of Roy Hodgson's thoughts completely.
If he were to join Arsenal and prove his fitness he would take over from Bacary Sagna almost immediately. He would then have a great chance of winning the league for the second time and making it to Rio into the bargain.
Bruno Martins Indi
The Gunners are being linked with a move for Dutch international Bruno Martins Indi, according to a report by Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail.
Feyenoord are currently coached by former Arsenal player Giovanni van Bronckhorst. The ex-Gunner and ex-Barcelona star had nothing but good things to say about Martins Indi.
He is very good and strong.
It is not for nothing he's a first-choice here and with the Dutch national team.
He will make the move to a foreign club in the long-term. When the time comes and he wants to leave, he will leave the club.
We are very happy with him, but we know we cannot compete with the top European clubs.
The powerfully built center-defender was born in Portugal but moved to Holland as an infant. Martins-Indi made his debut for Holland in August 2012. Since then he has won 12 caps and is now a valued member of the first team. He is expected to have a huge World Cup.
He is the epitome of a ball-carrying center-half and very much fits the bill of a modern defender. He is not particularly strong in the air or in the tackle, but he reads the game like a veteran. As such, he rarely dives in and rarely gives away stupid free kicks or penalties.
The Metro suggests that Wenger wants to add to his options at center-half.
Thomas Vermaelen, the club captain, is coming off a nightmare 2012-13 season where he was one of the Premier League's worst players. He would be the player most under threat by a new defensive signing.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have performed admirably this term. There is, however, no real cover at the club for either player, and Martins Indi would be a superb addition to the squad in the short term. Ultimately he would become a first team mainstay with Koscielny most under threat.
His defensive skill set would be vital in a title run, as it would give Wenger—and the team in general—extra confidence that they have top-class cover. In the long-term, he could even blossom into a first-team mainstay.
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