On one level that was a pretty impressive display by the Gunners against Newcastle. However before we get carried away and start predicting great things for the club in the new year it is worth noting the following. Firstly, injury-crippled Newcastle aren’t far off relegation fodder at the moment. Secondly Arsenal were poor for much of the first half managing only a couple of meaningful chances in addition to their goals.
There are clear holes in the team which need filling and Wenger, for all his talk of only signing exceptional players, knows this to be the case. No matter how big the new sponsorship deals are, not qualifying for The Champions League will blow a huge chasm in Arsenal’s financial plans and at the moment Arsenal look like a team that could well finish fifth or even sixth.
Also the pressure on the manager (and the board too) from the fans is starting to increase. What was the odd murmuring from disgruntled supporters a year or so ago is now a crescendo of discontent and it is an issue that needs to be met head on this January.
So, to help Arsene out a little, here are the six players who I think could transform Arsenal’s season. Obviously Arsenal would be unlikely to secure all six, but they are clearly missing a striker, a defensive midfielder, a wide player (especially if Arshavin goes) and a left back (if as expected Santos heads to Turkey).
This lot should realistically cost £30-40 million in signing on fees and a significant wad in wages. However that should still leave plenty of cash for more rebuilding, and in particular that marquee striker signing, in the summer.
So who have I missed?
Pics from PA
5 Luke Shaw
Assuming that Santos is on his way Arsenal look a little light at left back. Jernade Meade looked good in the Capital One Cup and also against Olympiakos in the away leg of the Champions league and maybe he can play an important role as a squad player. He was originally a left winger, but has become the regular left back for the Under 21s. In some ways he is almost an analogue of Gibbs, tough, quick and not afraid to get forward. However an injury to Gibbs and a sale for Santos could propel him into an extended run in the team and maybe Arsene thinks that he just isn’t ready for that responsibility. So Shaw, who has shown himself to be a class act already this season would be an excellent under study for Gibbs.