The January transfer window is just a matter of days away from opening. Arsenal fans, not sated by the Christmas gifts received from friends and family, will be hoping Arsene Wenger delivers them a belated present or two.
Arsenal's place at the top of the Premier League demonstrates that the Gunners have a strong squad. However, we are only just arriving at the season's midway point and doubts remain over whether or not Arsenal have the necessary depth to last the course.
The Gunners' need for a striker is well documented. Arsene Wenger spent most of the summer pursuing a high-profile forward to supplement Olivier Giroud but ultimately fell short in moves for Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez. Wenger even attempted to secure a late loan deal for Demba Ba but was thwarted by Jose Mourinho.
The failure to bring in a new frontman forced Wenger to retain Nicklas Bendtner, against both the wishes of the manager and the player. The marriage of convenience has not been particularly productive: Bendtner has just one goal this season and has been a largely peripheral figure.
Starved of support, Olivier Giroud has led the line for Arsenal manfully throughout the season. However, fatigue is beginning to take its inevitable toll. The Frenchman has failed to score in each of his last six Arsenal appearances.
The return from injury of Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott, both on the scoresheet against West Ham, has alleviated some of Arsenal's attacking concerns. However, both players are more comfortable on the flank than through the middle. Arsenal need someone to lighten the burden on Giroud in the centre.
In a dream scenario, Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa would be signed in January. It may seem unlikely, given Atletico's own title aspirations, but according to John Drayton of the Daily Mail, Arsenal scouts have been assessing the Brazilian-born forward ahead of a possible £32 million move.
Costa has the physical attributes to cope with playing as a lone striker in the Premier League. He could rival Giroud's intelligent link-up play. However, on current form, he is a far superior finisher to the Frenchman.
Costa has been on fire this season. According to WhoScored, he has 19 goals in 17 La Liga appearances. In the Champions League, he has managed four goals in just three starts. He would be cup-tied from European competition, but that should not be too much of a problem for Arsenal, whose focus is largely on their Premier League title charge.
Acquiring Costa would also enable Arsenal to allow Bendtner to leave. Few Gunners fans would shed a tear should that eventuality come to pass.
It's not only at centre-forward that Arsenal require strengthening. If the Gunners really want to ensure that they're protected against an injury crisis, they also need to move for a centre-half.
Laurent Koscielny's injury has exposed Arsenal's lack of depth in the centre of their defence. Currently, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen are the two first-choice centre-backs. However, if one of those players were to suffer an injury, Arsenal would face the prospect of having to move right-back Bacary Sagna in to the middle.
Not only does Sagna lack experience in the centre, but shifting him would also force Arsenal to field reserve full-back Carl Jenkinson, who has produced some mixed displays this season.
Finding a quality defender prepared to play second fiddle to Mertesacker and Koscielny will not be easy. Arsenal's best bet might be to look for a young prospect who would be able to learn from the more experienced professionals already at the club.
St. Etienne's Kurt Zouma would fit the bill. According to John Cross of The Mirror, Arsene Wenger has already received glowing reports on the defender from French scout Gilles Grimandi.
At 19, Zouma is the perfect age to play understudy to Arsenal's first-choice pair. However, within a year or two, he will have the experience to challenge for a permanent place in the Arsenal first XI.
If Arsenal could get Costa and Zouma, and allow Bendtner to go, their squad would look even healthier ahead of the crucial second half of the season.
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