By Brendon Netto
This Season's Stats
|Premier League: 5th
Champions League: Round of 16
FA Cup: Third round
Capital One Cup: Quarter-finals (eliminated)
Win %: 46.15%
GF ratio: 2.15
GA ratio: 1.27
Their Season So Far
It’s been the same old Arsenal this season and not in a good way. Following their last seven trophy less seasons, the Gunners have started this one in much the same fashion. They did and still do show flashes of the Arsenal we used to know but on a whole, but have flattered to deceive yet again.
In the Premier League, their latest victory over Reading has seen them climb to fifth in the table but they remain level on points with Everton and West Bromwich Albion while they are only four points better off than 11th placed West Ham United. On the flipside, they are also only two points behind Chelsea in Third spot although the Blues have a game in hand.
Shadow performances have hurt the Gunners
Their season has been marred by inconsistent performances again and their Capital One Cup exit at the hands of League two side Bradford City only raised further questions as some sections of the fans have begun calling for Arsene Wenger’s head.
Meanwhile, despite finishing second in their group, Arsenal can be proud of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the competition for the 13th consecutive season although that means little to their fans who would rather have them challenge for top honours.
What They Need
Arsenal have sorely missed the game-changing goals Robin van Persie provided last season. There certainly is life after the now Manchester United striker but a void was left in Arsenal’s attack and they have failed to fill it.
Lukas Podolski has looked a decent buy so far but he’s never going to be the main goal-scorer from the left flank. Olivier Giroud took some time to get going but is gradually growing into his surroundings although his ability to consistently score goals for his side is still in doubt.
Arsenal haven't yet replaced Robin van Persie
Abou Diaby was a massive driving force for them in midfield in the start of the season but his injury-plagued career soon endured another blow and the midfielder isn’t expected back any time soon. Jack Wilshere’s return from injury has been encouraging and the youngster has immediately boosted the midfield.
Santi Cazorla has been a revelation since his arrival and is undoubtedly one of the buys of the season but they have still been missing a natural goal scorer while they seem to run out of ideas in the final third when Cazorla is stifled.Wenger seems to have finally conceded that he cannot wait for Diaby to move past his injury woes and securing the services of a defensive midfielder has become a priority. Encouragingly, the word from the Arsenal camp is that Wenger will have plenty of funds to work with once the window opens.
Perfect replacement for van Persie?
Since the turn of last year, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has regularly challenged Van Persie for his spot in the Dutch national team and has come out on top several times as well. The 29 year old has scored 58 goals in 70 appearances since the start of last season for FC Schalke.
Despite the fact that Schalke have already dismissed the suggestion of the player moving to Arsenal, he is the kind of prolific striker that the London club have lacked this season. However, he struggled to settle in Real Madrid and AC Milan so there is an element of risk involved. Despite nearing 30, the Dutch striker has never relied on pace but has proved to be lethal with his movement and clinical finishing.
The fact that he has been stalling on a contract extension with Schalke as his current deal runs out in the summer lowers his market value considerably which has alerted Liverpool and Inter Milan as well. His transfer fee is believed to be in the region of £6 million and if he settles well in London, Arsenal could replace Van Persie’s goals for a fraction of the price they got for their former captain.
Someone to drive them forward
Adrian Lopez may not be the prolific striker the London outfit are in desperate need of but he is very much an Arsenal type of player. He can play on either flank, behind the striker or even lead the line on his own. He is a diminutive player who can dribble well and has bags of technical ability.
The Atletico Madrid man would certainly fit into Wenger’s system and compliment the style of play he aims for. If Theo Walcott does leave the club in January then Lopez would be more than capable of taking his place while also offering Wenger options with his versatility. The Spanish International reportedly has a £14.4 million release-clause in his current contract and would be a great buy at that price.
The revelation is not unheard of
Demba Ba’s form this season has once again made him one of the most sought after strikers in the Premier League. With 11 goals in the league so far, the Senegalese striker has rediscovered his goal-scoring form that seemed to evade him towards the second half of last season.
Ba’s aerial ability and the power with which he leads the line makes him a handful for any defence but there are questions over his compatibility with Arsenal’s style of play. Then again, he has a release clause of just £7 million and to snap up a proven Premier League striker at that price is an absolute steal and it’s no surprise that Liverpool are showing a keen interest as well. However, the striker has voiced his admiration for Arsenal which has fueled speculation surrounding the move.
Why not sign a defensive midfielder?
Surprisingly, Arsenal haven’t been ‘heavily’ linked with any defensive midfielder in particular in recent times. Following Alex Song’s departure in the summer, it was widely suggested that Wenger would swoop in for Yann M’Vila but he decided to put faith in Diaby instead.Diame has been inspirational for West Ham United this season and has literally changed games for Sam Allardyce’s men. The Hammers are willing to double the midfielder's current salary in a bid to keep him. The drive he offers from midfield is not too dissimilar to what Diaby offered the Gunners early on in the season. Once again, a release clause of just €4.5 million has made the prospect of signing the 25-year-old very inviting.
Is 'HE' the only possible hero?Following last season's decent loan spell with Arsenal for the New York Red Bulls striker, Thierry Henry is tipped to return to the club where he is much adored again in January. The Frenchman will attempt to replicate his bit-part role last season as Arsenal may be lacking in attacking options with Gervinho scheduled to take off on international duty while Theo Walcott may leave the club altogether.
Who Could Leave
Theo Walcott is the player who may realistically leave the club and the whole contract fiasco between club and player has been all over the news. The 23-year-old has improved his goal scoring prowess over the last couple of seasons and is enjoying his most prolific season yet.
However, the England international feels like he has matured enough and deserves to be played as an out-and-out striker while Wenger still has his reservations about that idea. Of course, it has been widely speculated that trophies and a bigger pay cheque may also be on Walcott's mind. Negotiations have been moving slowly and there is every possibilty of the player leaving the club during this transfer window despite Wenger insisting that he will not.
|Who do you think Arsenal should sign? Leave your comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @BrendonNetto.|
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