Arsenal Transfers: 10 Things Arsene Wenger Should Do in January Transfer Window
Arsene Wenger endured another frustrating afternoon as the Gunners lost to Tottenham at White Hart Lane, and it means that the Gunners have accumulated a meagre seven points from as many games, which is not good enough for the club.
Arsenal have lost two of their most influential midfielders in the summer and also, their best midfield prospect has been ruled out due to injury. Bacary Sagna, Arsenal's most consistent defender, also sustained a fracture to add to their woes and Wenger does seem to have a host of problems in front of him.
Robin van Persie and some others must have been disillusioned with the performances of the team, and, for a team renowned for attacking flair under Wenger, they have lacked the creativity to open up defenses this season.
Also, their off-the-ball movement has been poor.
Their defense did not look good again at Tottenham and though Germany international Per Mertesacker is immensely experienced, he is yet to come to terms with the pace of the Premiership—his lack of pace has been exposed on many occasions already this season.
There are many supporters who are questioning whether Wenger's time at the club has run its course, and whether he is the right man to take the club forward. However, it is better to take a long-term view in such a situation, and it is for the benefit of the club if Wenger does stay at the club—for the near future at the least.
It is important to remember that Sir Alex Ferguson has also been bombarded with similar questions in the past, but the Manchester United manager bounced back in style, winning numerous titles. Similarly, it is too early to write-off a manager who has achieved great things in the past, and there exists every possibility that he could turn things around for the Gunners.
This January transfer window will be an important time for the, Gunners and it is important that Wenger and Ivan Gazidis can sign their transfer targets in the window. This is a list of some of the things which Wenger should do in the January transfer window in order to have a stronger team at his disposal for not only this season, but also for the future.
1. Sign a Defensive Midfielder: Yann M'Villa
Arsenal did lose two of their most influential midfielders in the summer in Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas. As a result, their midfield quality has depleted in comparison to the last season.
Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere formed an excellent partnership in the previous season, but, for this season, Wilshere has been ruled out till February while Fabregas has departed the club. Song is one of the best players in his role as defensive midfielder.
However, with the African Cup of Nations in January, Alex Song might not be present for around six weeks, and there also exists the possibility of youngster Emmanuel Frimpong being called up for the tournament to represent Ghana. Arsenal do not have a quality experienced backup in that position, though Francis Coquelin has shown that he has the talent to establish himself in the future.
Arsenal did try to sign the highly rated Yann M'Villa in the summer, and, though they did miss out on the youngster, the Gunners' manager should make efforts to sign him in January as he would certainly improve the quality of the midfield. The Rennes midfielder would be a huge addition to the team and can play in Song's role or alongside the Cameroon international.
2. Sell Sebastien Squillaci and Manuel Almunia
It is clear that Wojciech Szczesny is the first choice keeper for Arsenal, and if he can keep up his consistency, he could be the Arsenal keeper for a very long time. The Polish international is hugely confident and has established himself as the first choice keeper ahead of Lukasz Fabianski, who had a good 2010-11 season. Fabianski is also a very talented keeper but will have to be the No. 2 keeper this season.
However, it is also evident that Manuel Almunia no longer features in Wenger's plans and has been sent out on a short loan to West Ham United.
Arsenal need to seal a permanent deal for the keeper who will not bring much transfer fee to the club, and also, they need to offload France international Sebastien Squillaci, who has struggled since his move to Arsenal in the last summer.
With the signing of Per Mertesacker, Arsenal do have decent depth, and Squillaci himself has been injured for quite a long time and at the age of 31. His fitness problems could get worse, which is why it makes sense to sell the defender as well.
3. Sign a Strong Centre Back: Gary Cahill / Jan Vertonghen
Arsenal have not been solid at the back and have been exposed on a number of occasions this season.
This is why Wenger did sign Per Mertesacker: to provide some solidity at the back.
Though the experienced Germany international is a quality player, it is clear that he does lack pace, and only with time will he cope with the pace of the Premiership. Also, the worrying problem for Arsenal is the injuries to Thomas Vermaelen, who has missed plenty of football in the last year.
Vermaelen is a huge presence for the Gunners and is arguably the best centre back for them too.
With Bacary Sagna also injured till the new year, the return of Vermaelen cannot come soon enough for the Gunners as the Belgian provides good leadership at the back and is also very strong technically with the ball. Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny are talented players but have been inconsistent which is why they should not be first-choice players for the Gunners unless they eliminate their lapses in concentration.
Gary Cahill should be available in January considering that he only has six months on his deal, but Arsenal would probably face severe competition from others if they do try to sign him on a bargain. The Bolton defender is likely to move, but he has been linked with a number of clubs, and Arsenal's terrible start makes it even harder to attract the player.
Jan Vertonghen is a player who should be considered by the Gunners because of his versatility, and he is a very strong player with attributes quite similar to Vermaelen. The Arsenal defender could have an important role in persuading the Ajax defender, who is also Belgian, to join the club, and if Gunners sign Vertonghen, it would be a great addition to the team.
4. Ryo Miyaichi to Be Loaned to a Premier League Club
Ryo Miyaichi is one of the most talented youngsters in the current Arsenal squad and had a hugely successful six-month loan spell with Feyenoord last year. The Japanese teenager has been granted a work permit, but has not been able to get many chances, and, with many experienced players ahead of him, it will be difficult for the youngster to break into the first team.
Also, another important factor to consider is the performances of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who also plays as a winger ,and the England youngster has performed superbly when given the chance.
The Englishman is currently ahead of Miyaichi, who is likely to get opportunities mostly in the Carling Cup. However, for a player of his talent, he needs to play regularly in order to adjust to the pace of the Premiership and develop into a fine player.
Even for a player of the talent of Jack Wilshere, he was able to break into the first team after a successful six-month loan spell with Bolton, who also aided in the development of Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge. Bolton are currently suffering due to injuries and departures of important players and would most probably want Miyaichi on loan if he was available. Lee Chung-Yong is injured for the long term and Miyaichi could be a great addition to the Bolton team.
It would be a move which would be beneficial not only to the player and Arsenal, but also Bolton, as it would help them in their fight against relegation. Their manager, Owen Coyle, is a fine manager and does give youngsters the opportunities to impress, and Miyaichi could benefit from playing in a tough side like Bolton.
5. Sell an Attacking Midfielder: Andrei Arshavin / Tomas Rosicky
Arsenal do need additions in midfield, but they also need to sell players who have not been performing to the quality required at Arsenal.
Arsenal currently have a number of midfielders above 29 years of age, and might have to sell one or two of them in January. Yossi Benayoun is on a season-long loan deal, and there is every chance it could be temporary.
The former Liverpool midfielder could leave at the end of the season.
Tomas Rosicky and Andrei Arshavin have both not been able to produce to their best form, and it does seem like they have lost some of their pace, which is why they are not beating defenders like they used to when they were at their best. Both the players have been committed to the cause, and Arshavin in particular still possess the ability to create goals for the team.
Rosicky brings in more leadership to the team and is versatile and hardworking, while Arshavin is more mercurial and possesses the rare ability to change a game when he is in the mood. However, they have both been very inconsistent for the Gunners, and, if Arsenal do sign a midfielder in January, one of them could be on their way out of the Emirates.
6. Sign a Quality Attacking Midfielder Like Yoann Gourcuff or Christian Eriksen
Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are two of Arsenal's best young talents, and while one is injured till February, the other is still on his way to reaching his best after being set back by a year due to the horrific injury sustained by the Welshman against Stoke City.
Ramsey will continue to improve with more playing time and has shown no visible effects of the injury affecting his style of play.
The Welshman is hugely talented and, if he can play with confidence, he will be a force for the Gunners.
Wilshere did prove that he is a world-class talent in the previous season, and it is very unfortunate for the Gunners to lose the England international for more than six months this season. The Gunners did sign Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun (on a loan deal) this summer, and though both are established in the Premier League, they are past their best and have not provided the creativity for the Gunners, who have looked bereft of ideas in some games since the departure of Cesc Fabregas.
Arsene Wenger should sign a quality attacking midfielder in January, because it is not certain whether Jack Wilshere will play any significant role this season, and because they do need creativity and depth in the squad.
French internationals Marvin Martin and Yoann Gourcuff could be considered by the manager, though signing Ajax's Christian Eriksen or Borussia Dortmund's Mario Goetze would be a huge coup for the Gunners.
7. Send Either Francis Coquelin / Emmanuel Frimpong on a Six Month Loan
Arsenal have a number of immensely talented quality youngsters, and Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin are two among them. The duo are currently behind Alex Song as backup players for the role of holding midfielder.
Song has progressed impressively in the last couple of seasons and has established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. It is difficult for either of the youngsters to displace the Cameroon international from the starting eleven.
Also, it could be too soon for them to perform consistently over a period of time if Song is injured or cannot play due to the African Cup of Nations, which is why the Gunners must sign a strong central midfielder. Coquelin went on loan to Christian Gourcuff's Lorient and made considerable progress.
It is evident that he is now a much better player.
If Arsenal do sign another central midfielder in January, it would make sense to send one of them on loan to a Premiership club as it would help them play at the highest level regularly, something which might not be possible at the Emirates. Both Coquelin and Frimpong are talented players but both need more playing time to realize their potential.
A loan spell might do good for them just in the way it did for Alex Song and Jack Wilshere.
8. Secure Alex Song, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen's Futures by January
It is clear that this will be probably the toughest year in Arsene Wenger's long time at Arsenal.
The quality of the team is certainly not up there with the best, and there exists the realistic possibility that they might not finish in the Champions League places for the first time in a very long time. However, it is important to note that this is a period of transition following the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and Arsenal do have the quality in their ranks to establish another title-winning team.
Arsenal's youngsters, which includes the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Wojciech Szczesny are capable of challenging the world's best, but they need the senior players to stick with the team, which is why it is important for Wenger to have a strong core. Alex Song, Theo Walcott, Thomas Vermaelen and Robin van Persie have around two years left on their contracts, which is when Wenger is apparently ready to consider new deals for the players.
Out of the four players mentioned, the one most likely to postpone talks is captain Robin van Persie, because the Dutchman is currently 28 years old and is desperate to win trophies in his career. This could be his last big-money contract, which is why he would probably take the time to think about his career. However, for the rest of the players, they are approaching the peak of their careers, and, barring Thomas Vermaelen, Wenger has had a big part in the development of these players.
Wenger will have to convince the trio of Song, Walcott and Vermaelen to commit before the January transfer window so that they can build around these established players and, if these players do sign new contracts, it could also play a big role in Van Persie's contract negotiations, as it is clear that Van Persie does indeed have a strong bond with the club and its supporters.
9. Sign a Striker If Arsene Wenger Does Not Have Plans for Nicklas Bendtner
Arsenal have had plenty of excellent strikers under Arsene Wenger, including the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie. However, in the current team, it is evident that the team is reliant on Van Persie to score goals regularly for the side and, considering the fact that the striker is one of the most injury-prone players in the league, this is a risk for Wenger's side as they do not have a quality backup.
Marouane Chamakh did have an excellent start to last season but has faded away spectacularly, and Wenger will hope that the Moroccan international can regain his form.
Arsenal did sign South Korean captain Park Chu-Young in the summer, but he is more of a player who benefits from a two-striker formation and it is still not certain if he can adjust to the lone striker formation in the physicality of the Premiership.
Nicklas Bendtner was frustrated by the lack of playing time, which is why he left on loan to Sunderland, but it is uncertain whether he will return to Arsenal. It depends on whether Wenger does have plans for the Danish international, and whether Bendtner wants to push for first team football at Arsenal or is desperate to leave the club.
If Bendtner does have a change of heart and wants to stay and fight at the club, it depends whether Wenger does indeed want the striker. If not, it would make sense for the French tactician to bring in a quality striker at the earliest and sell Bendtner in the summer.
10. Arsene Wenger to Have a Plan B If Initial Transfer Targets Are Not Signed
It will be difficult for the Gunners to attract players to join the club considering that they have lost some quality players and have made a terrible start to the season.
So, it is natural that players might question the ambition and direction of the club, but the key to Arsenal is the presence of Arsene Wenger, who has proven himself in the past and can still steer Arsenal to a safe position at the end of the season.
Arsenal have a good scouting staff under Wenger, and they will need to identify the players who will take the club forward in the future. The important thing to consider here is that there will be a lot of times when they might not be able to beat the competition to sign a player, and if they do lose out on a player, they must have backup options.
Also, it is very important that Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis, the board and Arsene Wenger can agree that it is sometimes more important to sign the player—even if it means spending around €5 million over the actual valuation of the player—because if the player has the quality to make an impact, he could be the difference in achieving a Champions League place, just like Andrei Arshavin proved to be when he was signed.