January is a crucial month for every Premier League team, but with questions constantly being raised from pundits and opponents alike about Arsenal's squad depth, the Gunners are being put under particular scrutiny at the start of 2014.
Having maintained a regular presence at the summit of the Premier League table since September despite injury lay-offs to important squad members like Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and more, Arsene Wenger's personnel is still just as depleted in the new year, and the open transfer market provides Le Professeur with the opportunity to restore some of that depth.
Among Arsenal's squad presently in the treatment room crucially includes long-term absentees Walcott, Abou Diaby and Ramsey, the last of whom is reportedly close to a return to first-team action. Although Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs made substantial if not full appearances in Arsenal's Monday night victory at Villa Park, there is next-to-no depth behind Giroud with both Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo out of action as well.
In the minds of many Gunners fans, the crucial area of investment (should any investment be carried out in this window) is in reinforcing Wenger's options in the final third.
Giroud has been in some inspired form in this, his sophomore year in north London, but should he fall victim to injury once more in this campaign, it will leave Arsenal with just Lukas Podolski to deputise in the absence of other options. And although Podolski has experience in that centre-forward role, as the focal point of Arsenal's attack, it is not something he is particularly accustomed to—his performance against Cardiff, contrasted with that of Bendtner in his brief cameo, can give some weight to that assessment.
So should Giroud succumb to another injury as he did in December, Wenger's options would hardly be ideal, especially given the cruel ACL injury suffered by Walcott.
And so it goes, then, that the Gunners have been linked with plenty of attacking options in this transfer window—from out-and-out poachers like Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata to Juventus' diminutive firecracker Sebastian Giovinco—as well as more unconventional attackers such as Schalke 04's wunderkind Julian Draxler and Real Sociedad's French wide-man Antoine Griezmann. More information on these exciting prospective arrivals can be found elsewhere on Bleacher Report at the links provided.
All four represent exciting opportunities for addition to the Gunners' ailing personnel; Morata's rumoured loan move also provides food for thought, as a temporary move to provide cover and experience brings intrigue.
For the other three, the long-term scenario is of primary interest. Should Draxler join in January, his current injury situation means he wouldn't be available until March anyway—yet his seemingly limitless potential should make any move for a player of his calibre a no-brainer to Wenger.
Griezmann and Giovinco—the Italian the oldest of our quartet at 26—are both interesting options worth pursuing to provide cover for both now and in years to come as well. But neither truly represent the qualities of Giroud; the Frenchman's imposing frame, his strength and hold-up play are attributes that neither player truly possesses.
All four of these players can bring different qualities to this Arsenal side—it just depends on whether that is what Wenger wants, and whether the manager is prepared to shell out for a player who is not a like-for-like deputy for Giroud. Given the lack of legitimate transfer speculation surrounding a player of Giroud's ilk, this writer would be inclined to suggest Wenger's inclination is as suggested above.