The jockeying for position ahead of the January transfer window is set to begin in earnest in the coming weeks, and Arsenal are a team likely to be mentioned in plenty of headlines.
Reports on Friday are linking them with Hamburg keeper Rene Adler, who, according to Jamie Sanderson of Metro, is open to a switch to the Premier League.
The Gunners have transfer needs, but a new goalkeeper does not appear to be one right now.
Arsenal staved off a backlash from fans late in the summer window by bagging Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid, and it is looking like a masterstroke.
Not only has Ozil settled seamlessly into life in the Premier League, his arrival has coincided with some previously underachieving Gunners, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud the most notable, raising their games to a new level.
Heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures, Arsenal hold a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League. It’s not a bad place to be for manager Arsene Wenger, given the pressure he had been under on account of the club’s long barren run.
But leading the table will raise expectation and will see calls for Wenger to spend in the January transfer window.
I believe so much in this #Arsenal team. Just that I feel we need a striker come January— Adedöyin A. (@TheRealGooner1) October 23, 2013
It’s fairly apparent that Arsenal need to add a striker to their ranks. Giroud has performed superbly this season— he has four goals and four assists in the league, per Premierleague.com.
Per Paul Doyle’s piece in the Guardian, Wenger said:
Nobody came in, so you know at the start of the season that at least you get the chance to show how good you are.
I was not too worried when we didn't bring anyone in because I thought he had a chance to develop.
There may be sense in what Wenger has said, but Giroud simply cannot carry the attacking burden for an entire campaign without suffering either a dip in form or injury.
Looking at the backup options at the Emirates, it is pretty evident that the cupboard is a little bare.
Nicklas Bendtner would have been on his way had someone else arrived, while Yaya Sanogo is completely untested. Lukas Podolski can play as a striker, but he is not going to lead the line in the same fashion as Giroud, while Theo Walcott is an attacking option as a support striker rather than a line-leader.
In the midfield, Arsenal are dripping with options. Ozil and Ramsey (five goals and three assists) have been superb, while Jack Wilshere has stepped up in the past couple of Premier League games by getting his name on the scoresheet.
The fit-again pair Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla add craft to the side, while the summer return of Mathieu Flamini on a free has been as important a signing as that of Ozil.
Gunners legend Ray Parlour, speaking to Arsenal’s website, was glowing in his praise of Flamini:
At times over the last few seasons when Arsenal have broke forward they look great but when they lose the ball they have been very open in midfield. Good teams will exploit that.
He's always in those areas where the ball breaks loose and is always trying to win the ball back.
He's a very important player to have in there because you can see [Per] Mertesacker and [Laurent] Koscielny really enjoying their football because they have got Flamini in front of them.
He's doing a great job shielding them because at times they do look a bit open when they play with all the attacking players they have got.
As Parlour stated, Koscielny and Mertesacker have looked far more solid this season. A central defender could be a January option for Wenger, but it is not a pressing need.
The same statement applies to the keeping ranks. Since the departure of David Seaman in 2003, Arsenal have been searching for that great player between the sticks.
Wojciech Szczesny is the current No. 1, and he is a player who divides opinion. There are some who feel he will go the same way as the likes of Manuel Almunia and Richard Wright—both good keepers who ultimately floundered. There are others who feel Szczesny could be the next Seaman.
Should Arsenal Sign a Keeper in January?
Szczesny looked to be more Wright than Seaman on occasions last term and appeared to be losing the battle with Lukasz Fabianski for the starting spot.
An injury to Fabianski in April handed Szczesny an opening, and he has not looked back since. He conceded only two goals in the final six games of last season.
Szczesny has carried that form into the present campaign and was not fazed—it could arguably have acted as a spur—by the summer links from the Daily Mail with Iker Casillas, Victor Valdes and Julio Cesar, nor the arrival of Emiliano Viviano late in the summer window.
It appears he has the support of Arsenal fans on Twitter:
He may have his moments but Szczesny has proved he is the real deal http://t.co/HxjG2EJZNx— aadhithyavarman (@Aadithyavarman) October 24, 2013
If Arsenal are to sign a new keeper, it has to be a top-class option—of the calibre of Casillas, Valdes or Cesar. Those options are unlikely to be available in January.
Adler does fall into that top-class bracket. He has fought back superbly from a serious rib injury and is now back in the Germany fold.
The 28-year-old would be a solid addition, but the Gunners would be better served waiting until the summer to make a move for a keeper, leaving them to focus their January attentions on finding an attacking option to take the burden off Giroud.