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Why Arsenal Don't Need West Brom's Youssouf Mulumbu

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Why Arsenal Don't Need West Brom's Youssouf Mulumbu
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With the January transfer window just weeks from opening, Arsenal fans will be hoping for the arrival of fresh reinforcements for their title charge. However, West Brom's defensive midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu ought not to be a priority.

The Gunners are reportedly tracking the Congo international. Alex Richards of The Mirror follows up on a story originally published in The Sun suggesting Arsenal could be ready to launch a post-Christmas raid for the tenacious midfielder.

Mulumbu himself has been forthcoming about the Gunners' interest, saying:

I’ve had approaches from Arsenal.

I could leave this winter. This is the right time for me to set my sights higher. I’m ready to join a top-four club.

Mulumbu certainly seems to have the attributes to flourish at Champions League level. His defensive midfield pivot with Claudio Yacob has been the cornerstone of West Brom's success under Steve Clarke. Yacob is positionally excellent and an astute reader of the game; Mulumbu is a pure powerhouse. Together, they have made West Brom's midfield one of the most secure in the Premier League.

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However, defensive midfield is no longer a problematic position for Arsenal.

The Gunners are blessed with plenty of squad depth in midfield, and have two specialists in top form competing for one spot in the holding role: Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.

Arteta arrived at Arsenal with a reputation as a creative midfielder, but has gradually evolved into a defensive midfielder or 'pivote.' This season, he seems more comfortable in the role than ever before. His football intelligence is just as effective when applied to destroying moves as starting them.

Meanwhile, Flamini is enjoying something of a renaissance at Arsenal. After leaving the club on a Bosman free, he became something of a utility player at AC Milan. However, since returning to London he has been redeployed in his favoured holding role. Arteta's injury at the start of the season handed Flamini an opportunity, and the Frenchman has seized it to force himself into the first-team reckoning.

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The pair are adaptable enough to play together: they did so to great effect in October's home victory over Napoli. However, Aaron Ramsey's outstanding form in the central midfield position means there is usually only room for one of Arsenal's two holding players.

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Squawka's statistics service tells us that the two players' performances are almost identical. The choice that Wenger faces between Arteta and Flamini is a difficult one.

Adding Mulumbu to that mix would simply be over-egging the pudding.

There are other areas of the squad that should be a priority for Arsenal as they seek to add the players needed to retain their spot at the top of the table. The Gunners require a reliable alternative to striker Olivier Giroud, and could even do with adding a fourth senior centre-back.

When the window opens, those areas of the pitch must be the subject of Arsene Wenger's focus.

Defensive midfield, and Mulumbu's top-four ambitions, can afford to wait.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013/14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.

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