Arsenal Transfer News: Paul Merson Slams Gunners' Lack of January Action

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24:  Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on January 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arsenal legend Paul Merson has slammed the club's efforts during the January transfer window, saying the Gunners didn't do nearly enough to improve the squad with an eye on the Premier League title race.

Per Sky Sports (h/t Goal's Jamie Dunn), Merson wonders what will happen if striker Olivier Giroud gets injured: "Mohamed Elneny is nowhere near enough. They definitely needed a defensive midfield player, but also a forward. If Olivier Giroud gets injured then can Theo Walcott come in and score enough goals in the last 15 games?"

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - MARCH 19:  Paul Merson answers questions during Gillette Soccer Saturday Live with Jeff Stelling on March 19, 2012 at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny was the only major transfer signing the Gunners made in January, while the club also invested in a couple of prospects for the future. While Elneny is a solid player, he's not expected to contribute early as he will need time to adapt to the English game.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters he would have preferred to make additional signings, but the opportunities weren't there, via James Olley of the London Evening Standard:

The January window was a relatively quiet one for most top clubs in Europe, including the Premier League. The likes of Manchester United and Manchester City all refrained from making a big splash―something Bleacher Report's Andy Brassell thinks is perfectly normal:

There is a reason that Barca and Real don’t tend to do business in January. It’s more expensive than making things happen in the summer, and it’s overall more difficult to get megastars (the market to which this pair of behemoths are squarely pitching) to uproot in the middle of a campaign.

In terms of continuity and simply marketing, the summer fallow period makes better sense economically, sportingly and in making sure the news isn’t swallowed by an intense, already rolling calendar of competitive fixtures.

Brassell describes the Elneny transfer as "sensible rather than the sexy," as the Egyptian fills a clear need as a backup to Francis Coquelin.

Merson disagrees, however, as he would have liked the Gunners to make more signings. His claim the club lacks a solid secondary option in case something happens to Giroud in particular stands out, with Wenger admitting he was shocked at how Southampton were able to land Queens Park Rangers striker Charlie Austin so cheap, per Alex Harris of the Daily Star.

Wenger said he was surprised "not many teams came in for him" given his obvious quality. He added that Austin immediately showed his value by scoring against Manchester United on his debut.

Austin could have been an option for the Gunners, who lack a prolific, traditional forward behind Giroud in the squad. Manchester City, Arsenal's main competition for the Premier League title, can fall back on a player like Wilfried Bony, a luxury the Gunners don't have.

Titles aren't usually won in January, however. As reported by Mattias Karen of ESPN FC, Wenger has always maintained he doesn't like doing business during the winter window, and his lack of consistent success with mid-season signings seems to underline that stance.

While he has struck gold with the likes of Nacho Monreal and Theo Walcott in the past, fans won't have forgotten about Andrei Arshavin and Kim Kallstrom, two major January flops.

Getting healthy will be the key for Arsenal to compete in the second half of the 2015-16 campaign, and the Gunners seem to be doing fine in that department, as Eurosport UK reports Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil started together for the first time in 2016 against Southampton on Wednesday.