There are a number of things Arsenal could do in the January transfer window to improve their position as a club, but let’s look at what are the most important issues for the Gunners to focus on.
1Make a decision on Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil
Alexis and Özil are in the final year of their respective contracts, you might have heard. They’re now in their last six months, meaning they can negotiate pre-contract agreements with foreign clubs and will surely be thinking about moving on.
If they’re distracted by their next move, negotiating with other clubs or considering bids from English clubs looking for a cut-price deal, it’s hard to see how they’ll be able to focus on their football.
So given Arsenal couldn’t agree anything before the window opens, they need to do so as soon as possible in January, and finalise whatever that decision is.
For example, if Alexis is moving on, I’d much rather see him sold on January 1st and replaced than playing an extra month where every game could be his last and he plays like he did in August.
If they’re both signing new deals (we can dream), then again, I’d rather that was done as soon as possible to end the speculation distraction.
2Identify and bid on replacements for the pair
If Alexis or Özil leave in January, Arsenal need replacements.
If they leave in the summer, Arsenal need replacements.
Even if they both decide to stay, the Gunners still need to look to the future.
Both players will be 29 by New Year, and half way to turning 30 by the summer, someone will need to take their place in the team before long.
As we’re now all too aware, it’s easier to deal with problems like this sooner, rather than later.
The club simply can’t afford to let more potential targets slip through the net because they don’t need them quite yet.
3Sign a wing-back (or two)
The current wing-back options we’ve seen so far are as follows: Sead Kolašinac, Hector Bellerín and youth players.
Monreal is now a centre-back, so is Mathieu Debuchy, apparently, and the youth players coming through aren’t even wing-backs in the first place.
Reiss Nelson is a forward, and Maitland-Niles is best in central midfield, but both are playing out wide.
Josh Dasilva can play wing-back, but other than that there are no back-ups to the first team options.
The Gunners need to sign one, or risk being derailed by injuries as so often in the past.
4Sign a goalkeeper
Both David Ospina and Petr Čech have made mistakes that directly led to goals this season.
That’s a danger of the profession, but neither goalkeeper is doing much more than the bare minimum at the moment.
They save the shots you expect them to save (generally), but that’s it.
They aren’t saving penalties, or putting in performances that cause pundits and fans to talk about them as the key factor in a good result.
Pretty much every big-six side have a goalkeeper that has done one of those two things.
5Address the situation at centre-back
Arsenal have a lot of centre-backs at the moment, so the problem isn’t numbers.
The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a trio Wenger can rely on.
Mustafi has injury problems and apparently wants out, Koscielny and Mertesacker can’t seem to play more than a game a week because of their injury/age issues, and Calum Chambers’ fitness has been a roller coaster.
Krystian Bielik has also been out long term, whilst Rob Holding was dropped at one point due to confidence issues.
Nacho Monreal is about the only reliable centre-back at the club, and the revolving door of partners next to him can’t be good for building a good defensive base for the team. Besides, he’s injured as well.
Wenger needs to look at his options, and evaluate whether any of them will be able to play more regularly in the second half of the season.
If not, one or two need to leave to be replaced by someone that can.
Last season, Cahill played 37 league matches, Azpilicueta played 38 and David Luiz played 33 (after joining on matchday four).
The team that wins the league doesn’t tend to have a new back-line every week.