I wanted to write this article on Dec. 31 but couldn't resist, so I've written it two days earlier. So, here we go! Turn on the music...
With Robin Van Persie out for the season, Nicklas Bendtner three weeks away from recovering, and the lack of goals from a recognised centre-forward leads me to believe we need an experienced striker who can adapt from day one. Wenger himself has said he feels the need to strengthen the striking department. So this area might be top priority!
Our midfield has struggled with fitness more than form. We have brilliant players and possibly the best midfield in the league. But we lack cover in the defensive midfield position and a good left winger who can cause havoc. Injuries to Tomas Rosicky, Cesc Fabregas, Denilson, and absence of Song could see us struggle in January, so we need to bolster our midfield with one, possibly two, players.
The back four has been hugely impressive this season.
A fully fit Sagna-Gallas-Vermaelen-Clichy are world class and can handle the best of attacks. But over reliance on the Gallas-Vermaelen pair at the back could come back to haunt us late on in the season, as the only backup we have are Silvestre and Senderos (who may soon leave, possibly to Atletico Madrid). So this position needs to be addressed as well.
So it really isn't rocket science to predict that we need to buy players in January to sustain our title challenge and have hope of winning some silverware.
The only question is which position and player will Wenger choose first to strengthen the team, and more importantly, how soon will he pick the player?
For me, we need four players in four positions, which are as follows...
GK: I've lost all hope in Manuel Almunia, and we should buy a reliable GK (age not being a restriction). Possible targets include Akinfeev, Asenjo, Lloris, Frey, and Mandanda. All of them have been linked with Arsenal at some point during the season.
CB: A centre back who can play backup for a season and a half and then take Gallas' spot. Right footed players are preferred. Targets: Neven Subotic, Ryan Shawcross, M. Sakho. Wenger should also look to sell Senderos for a few million in this window.
CM: A central midfielder who can play both as a DM and as a CM. There are not many about, but a player of this kind is vital for the formation we're playing. Barca are blessed with two, possibly three (Keita, Busquets, and even Toure). I wouldn't mind a player in his twilight to fill this gap since we have an abundance in CM/DM types in our youth setup. Possible targets: Vieira, Frings, Matuidi, Jack Rodwell (never linked with us, but great prospect none the less).
ST: A no-brainer. Wenger should buy one or see this season die like 2007-'08. No need to think about RVP's return while buying this one. An out-and-out forward in the peak of his career (aged 23-30) should be our priority. Possible targets: Gignac, Dzeko (if he's for £15m as reported, buy him NOW), David Villa (couldn't resist), Pavlychenko (no please), Pandev (disloyal), C.Cole (good target and should be available at a comfortable price), L. Toni (anyone?).
We should be able to mount a serious challenge if we can get two of those four players, preferably a striker and a DM/CM.