Amongst the 11 months of a season’s campaign, there are always a few weeks which prove most pivotal in determining where a club finishes at the end, and more than the weight of fixtures to come after Boxing day and the New Year, the 31 days of the January transfer window will go a long way to dertermine what will be expected of Arsenal’s season come May – or June if we made the Champions League final.
There is no better, straightforward way to put it, Arsenal’s success this season will depend on the quality of signings made in January. The needs are there, of one or two extra defenders to shore up the brittleness of the current back four, providing cover the injured and competition for the waning.
And that elusive defensive midfielder, the inevitable conjoining piece of a working midfield.
Both portfolios – a central defender and a holding midfielder – require pretty much similar features in a player in terms of physical presence, composure and a keen ability to track a man. For the shepherdman, though, he will have to be a man akin to playing the Arsenal way going forward.
Names have been reeled constantly as potential targets in both departments but as much as we must sign, it shouldn’t be about pulling off a last-gasp Kallstrom. We don’t expect Wenger will sign more than 2 players, so we give him a couple of possible and available options each for both roles.
The slide has began already for the saints after the run of fixtures against the top teams in the League, just as their own man, Schneiderlin, had predicted. A blooming start to his season has been cut short by an injury which has coincided with the slip in their form. We’ve had our issues with taking gambles on injured players but if the 24-year old recovers enough to play a game or two before the 31st, he should definitely be on the line of our list of transfers in January. Schneiderlin has the abilities we have regularly wished for in a holding midfielder, and his energy will be complimented with that of Ramsey or Wilshere or any other with whom we would wish to pair him. He would give Arteta more calmness to play his role if Wenger chooses to use him in a box-to-box role. And at 24, he would still have a lot to give at the Emirates.
By Wenger’s own admission, Mings will probably be an Arsenal player by the beginning of February and for all its worth, it would represent a good deal for us. A 21-year old ball-playing center-back, he will be a natural fit to the left of Mertesacker being left footed, and is fresh enough to give Koscielny a nudge, either to get back to his best, or to take the Vermaelen route.
Already a constant feature for Joachim Low’s teams for the Euro qualifiers, 21-year old Rudiger is making a name for himself in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart. He is the leader of the next generation of youngsters to take the German National team forward after the retirement of the likes of Per Mertesacker and Philip Lahm. A massive 6 ft 3 frame makes him a towering package that fits into the physicality of the Premier League. And guess what he says about his heart? “My heart beats for Arsenal”. Need I say more?
With the players available and those out on the sidelines, you’d be mighty bold to place a bet on Wenger signing an attacking player this winter but our injury records makes it possible for one of our main forces to still suffer some strange ailment along the way. And while the Dybalas and Destros have flattered, I think we could make use of some experience and proven record. Not easy to find one with both qualities checked, but Pedro is on the fringes at Barceloan and he might be in need of some breather. He’ll take that left wing position with more comfort that some of our guys do at the moment. Perhaps on a loan deal.
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