It is ‘that’ time of year again, crazy season, the January Transfer Window. Because of the unusual end to last season and the consequent later summer window we find ourselves back here swiftly. The mid-season opportunity to strengthen is of course, always trickier for clubs, with value harder to find and for Arsenal, Edu and Arteta, it will be no different.
However, Arsenal’s cause has been helped considerably by three back-to-back wins, which will make the task for those selling a move to The Emirates that much easier. The prospect now is to sign for a project that is blending quality experience with exciting young talent.
I feel therefore this window, should be more about replacing the exiting experience with better quality experience as opposed to bolstering and already exciting tranche of younger players. With the likes of Kolasinac, Mustafi, Sokratis and maybe even Ozil departing, regardless of our individual views on their ability Arteta is losing some older statesmen. If he and Edu are to bring in new players for this squad, they surely must be players in their mid-20 approaching their peak and ideally, for me at least, Premier League ready.
In reality, Arteta has seniority and experience in attack with Aubameyang and Lacazette and in defence he still has David Luiz to mentor his younger peers for the remainder of the campaign. Bellerin too is the club’s longest serving active squad member and Tierney, Mari, Gabriel and Holding are all seasoned professionals. Where he lacks quality and experience combined is in the midfield area and particularly at the creative end.
Elneny is a good squad stalwart, Ceballos is talented but young and not our player, Willock is an enigma and his box to box to attributes do not really fit, Willian seems a failed gamble and Smith Rowe is super talented yet untested and injury prone. With Guendouzi unlikely to earn a reprieve, that leaves only Torreira, who could be recalled, Arteta’s go to man Granit Xhaka and the big hope, Thomas Partey. The Swiss is not perhaps every fan’s favourite, but he is vastly experienced the squad is bereft of that valued commodity in a key area of the pitch.
Therefore, in this window I believe Edu will have been tasked with potentially bringing in two midfielders. One of creative disposition to share the creative load with Emile Smith-Rowe, centrally and to mentor the young Englishman. The second, in my honest opinion, will be the long-term central midfield partner of choice for Thomas Partey. I strongly believe that 2020/21 will be the last season where Xhaka is first choice and Arteta needs a true defensive midfielder, but with more mobility and pace than the Swiss International. I am not saying they will be the players, but it is this rational that sees Arsenal liked to Buendia and Brandt for need number one and Bissouma for need number two. I favour the Argentinian, purely as he is more used to the English leagues and the Brighton player seems a perfect foil for Partey in the longer-term. Idrissa Gueye, who is unsettled at PSG, also fits the profile perfectly, although he is 31 so may be too old.
Any activity comes downs to available money and reducing the wage bill and I think with the exits being primarily loans, until the summer, Arteta too may have to utilise that medium this month. If we can bring in only one of the two now, then I think it needs to be the experienced link between the midfield and attack to challenge Smith-Rowe. This window is about balancing the books, trimming the wage bill, and moving on the players Arteta does not see in his plans. If he and Edu can do that and push on with the current group, then I believe the Board will back the duo in the summer window.
As so often in the latter years of Wenger, the squad is only one or two quality players away from being one capable of challenging. The difference now is that Arteta does acknowledge The weaknesses I believe, and he genuinely has a more exciting core of young talent than any new manager inherited since George Graham in 1987. If he can show he can develop and integrate these young stars for the remainder of this season I am confident KSE will back him come June to supplement with high quality.
This is the unedited version of my Sun Football Fan’s View from Saturday
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.