The players Arsenal need this January – compared with what other PL clubs need

By Tony Attwood

In every transfer window various newspapers do their own survey of what each of the PL clubs need.  Some papers (such as the Observer – a UK Sunday paper) also do a review submitted by fans (what the Observer rather pompously calls its “Fans Network” – which is seemingly one blog or reader selected at random from each club) and ask each to say what he/she (actually I think they are all “he”) wants.

My guess is that the vast majority of readers tend to read about their own club and leave it at that.  But this year, for reasons that will not become clear at this point, I decided to start flipping through the desires of supporters of other clubs.   At first I just went through the Observer list, and then, in case it was rather biased I compared it with the Telegraph’s list (written by one correspondent, rather than the supporters of individual clubs).

The result was rather remarkable.  Whereas I started out by thinking that Arsenal fans have identified the left back position as our particularly weak spot that needs sorting, now I realise that loads of clubs need a left back.   Whereas I thought that newspaper columnists and bloggers just thought that the Arsenal 25 was particularly feeble, I see that most people think that most of the squads have gaping holes.

The results are below but before I let you loose on them allow me to point out one of the more hilarious suggestions which comes up repeatedly: buy a player as cover for the Africa Cup of Nations period – as if a quality player would transfer knowing he was just there to cover for three weeks and then be dropped because someone who is obviously the first team choice is going to return.  Besides which the clubs with non-African Cup playing players have them, because they are not vanishing this month.

What’s clear is that to most people who commented are simply lumps of meat to be bought and sold.  Make a bid and the player will come.  That’s it.  Players don’t think, players don’t have wants.

In what follows the positional columns (goal, defender, midfield, attack) come from the “Observer Network”, the last is the key point from the Telegraph’s “analysis”.  The latter generally includes a comment on who the club is “desperate” to get.

One point made by many fans is the need to hold on to a particular player or two – expressing the fear that if the right offer comes in for their top star player, he will be let go.  To keep the format manageable I’ve left such columns out, but beyond the top six clubs they are commonplace.

And may I point out the lovely demand in the Leicester section for a “new head of recruitment”.

Club Goal Defender Midfield Attack Telegraph “desperate”
Arsenal Replace Xhaka A poacher Left back
Bournemouth Needed Attacking With energy Keeper (Ospina?); holding midfield
Burnley Central Wide player with pace No money, so no deals.
 Chelsea New right wing back Must extend Fabregas contract New man needed as backup Nothing desperate – central defender, midfielder helpful
Crystal Palace Needs overhaul; left back needed Enforcer needed Attacker is most urgent need Left back, striker, centre half
Everton Obvious Yes Yes Yes Every department desperately needs fixing
Hull City Right back; centre back Crouch? Short in every dept
Leicester Centre back Ball winner Winger and new head of recruitment Centre half, centre midfielder, striker
Liverpool Yes unless Karius improves Centre back and left back Striker Striker.  The Ox?
Man City Defence is a mess Another midfielder Central defender
Man Utd Centre back Not scoring enough – another striker Centre back to cover for Africa Cup
Middlesbrough Backup attacking midfielder Winger, Striker Striker, attacking midfield
Southampton Striker who can score Centre back, striker
Stoke City Another keeper Left back Striker Striker, defensive midfielder
Sunderland Full back (Jenkinson?), centre back Peter Crouch? Robbie Brady? Free transfers; anyone
Swansea City Centre back, full back Winger Central defender, right back, midfielder, striker
Tottenham* Player with creativity Pace and goal threat New striker**
Watford Attack ;midfield to cover Africa Winger (Ashley Young)
West Brom  Striker Defensive midfield, striker, left back, centre half
West Ham Right back Creative midfield Striker who can stay fit Right back, striker, midfielder

Two notes about Tottenham.

The comments from the Observer Network for Tottenham, and from the Telegraph, are worth spelling out in full.   First from the fan, because it is one of the very rare instances of someone admitting that they are going to do an Arsenal – that is have restrictions on spending because of the new stadium.

*Pochettino talks about how we need “more quality” even though our squad is very strong, with a tight wage structure… but to improve what we already have is a tall ask with a new stadium to finance.”

Meanwhile, the Telegraph don’t expand on their Tottenham comment, but I still rather like it.

** There is no plan B because there is not as such a Plan A.”

I wonder if that comment means, there is no Plan A because there is now no more money, because of the stadium.  Could it be that the Untold prediction about Tottenham’s finances, so vigorously denied from so many quarters, could be true?

So what have we learned?   That very few people are satisfied, except it seems Watford, of whom the Telegraph says they don’t want to do much business, and the fan who says “Our squad is as strong as it’s ever been, and the signings of Okaka, Success and Pereyra giving us an attacking armoury we didn’t have last term.”

Also five clubs specifically want a left back while another five seemed to indicate this is the wider discussions. In a sense that is not surprising since 50% of a team’s full backs are left back but only 10% of the population is left footed.

But overall, few people seem satisfied and the Telegraph sees mileage in pointing out the cracks in every squad.  It is in fact all part of the endless fantasy of suggesting that transfers work (except those secured by Arsene Wenger because he is a dolt who won’t spend money and even the £91m spent last summer is not enough.)

What is missing here of course (because it is always missed) is any mention of promotions from within the club’s ranks of juniors.   Which means that in the fanatical rush to spend, Iwobi, Bellerin, and Coquelin, all present yesterday, (although the Mirror said on 13 October 2016 that Bellerin was certain to leave and just “waiting for the call” from Barcelona) are not counted or recognised.  “Bringing up a kid from the youth team” just isn’t part of the deal any more.

I don’t know if other clubs have gems waiting to take their place this year, but if I had to put money on it, I would say that both Ainsley Maitland Niles, and Jeff Reine-Adélaïde (who were both subs yesterday) will be in the first team squad on a more regular basis this time next year.

Still, it is interesting to know that…

a) Most clubs have desperate needs for players (according to fans and journalists) not just Arsenal.

b) Hardly anyone expected the Africa Cup of Nations to happen and so desperate short terms buys are the order of the day now someone has read a newspaper and realised that the players are about to leave.

Untold Arsenal: 


10 Replies to “The players Arsenal need this January – compared with what other PL clubs need”

  1. OH NO it is january again…. I better go and hide and stay away from the internet as much as possible.
    Only reading our own sublime summary of the foolishness will be more than enough.

    Now who should we buy to cover for Elneny who is off to the ANC from today…. LOL Maybe give Maitland-Niles a chance every now and then?

  2. ‘I would say that both Ainsley Maitland Niles, and Jeff Reine-Adélaïde (who were both subs yesterday) will be in the first team squad on a more regular basis this time next year.’
    I think you’ve discovered the secret key to Arsenal’s first team squad. A double barrelled name.
    Expect James Ward-Prowse to be signed any time soon to join Alex, Ainley & Jeff.

  3. All “experts” agree that we need a WORLD CLASS STRIKER. –

    (although they have gone a bit quiet at the moment – don’t know why).

  4. Yes, Ainsley Maitland-Niles & Jeff Reine-Adelaide could be drafted into the first team to start playing regularly in the PL for Arsenal as from next season. But for our 2nd half season PL campaign that begins at the Vitality Stadium tomorrow away to AFC Bournemouth, I suspect the duo may be on the bench again to cover for some missing Gunners like Elneny and Walcott if the later continue remain missing.

    I can’t see Le Prof signing a Leftback this winter because the injury suffered by Gibbs is a very short team one. I think top LB is difficult to get at the market even so from our Under 21 team than a rightback. Right now we have them many at RB.

    If Le Prof will not trade one of his 2 RBs surpluse to requirement for a Dimitri Payet or his like this January window for an improved quality in Arsenal’s midfield, Le Prof must be sure one of Niles & Adelaide can fill any top quality void at our midfield when the necessity calls for that. Because we don’t want our PL title campaign to suffer again this season other than it has already suffered at Everton & Man City some weeks ago for any excuse of lack of top quality depth option at our midfield.

    Arsenal will beat Bournemouth tomorrow to gain another 3 points in the table and extend their PL winning run to 3 games. In fact, Arsenal have no any other choise other than to choose to beat Bournemouth at the Vitality. The Gunners should not be interested in getting a point from this match but a win. Because to get a point in this match will be equivalent to a defeat for Arsenal in this highly tight title race.

    In particular, Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth manager should remember that Arsenal loaned him their Jack Wilshere who has improved his team and as result of this loan that is benefiting Bournemouth, Eddie Howe should oblige Le Prof’s Arsenal to beat Bournemouth by 3-0 to collect all points in the match.

  5. Just to emphasise the importance of promoting from within the club – Arsenal are coming to the end of massive investment in upgrading the training facilities for all levels of players. The target was to create ‘the best academy in the world’ and, for a club that has always had a good reputation for home production, this is an awesome prospect.
    Ivan Gazidis stated two years ago that the first team squad would be largely home grown and this will leave cash available to compete at the very top of the market (not including China!) for world class talent when it’s available.

  6. @John L.

    I am no expert but I have been one of those saying we need a World Class Striker. And I still say so.

    Barcelona had Messi who was scoring more than 50 goals per season but they still went on to buy Suarez.

    I am not a Wenger-hater. I am one of Wenger’s biggest fans but I think we could do with a World Class Striker.

    Sanchez is a very good player no matter where he plays. As striker, as winger, as midfielder, etc.

    I know that there are many fellow Gunners who don’t like it when we suggest that Arsenal should buy players. It is often forgotten that our best players in the squad were “bought” e.g.: Sanchez, Ozil, Cech, Kos, etc etc.

    It is often said that we shouldn’t buy because we have a full allocation of “foreign-raised” players. I say that is a weak excuse when we have players such as Yaya Sonogo as one of our 25 players.
    Even the home-trained Carl Jenkins (whom I love for being an Arsenal fan) is NOT Arsenal quality.
    Mathieu Debuchy is not committed to Arsenal (if comments attributed to him on several occasions are true). He too can be moved on. We need players who want to be at Arsenal.

    It is no crime to want Arsenal to improve by getting better talent.
    Wenger has bought many great talents before. He bought the great Robert Pires. He bought Overmars. He bought Anelka. He bought Kanu. He bought Thierry. He signed Sol Campbell.

    My friends I agree that many enemies of Le Prof use the failure to sign players as a stick to unfairly beat him with. Regardless, I don’t dismiss a good point simply because it has been suggested by the haters. I judge each suggestion on It’s merits.

  7. @zuruvi,

    Mr Wenger has signed players….But people don’t want to give them to develop into world beaters. Simple point. We cant ‘always’ compete with the money clubs for players…We have to do the next best thing… Develop them. That’s why we signed Ox, Chambers, Holding, etc…So that we can make them world beaters.

    Just look at Chambers performances on loan…Hez been very very good.

  8. I don’t think we need any new faces in January.

    We have a big squad and all positions are adequately covered.

    Next summer, however, we might use a new left full-back as Nacho is 32 and Gibbs has never managed to find consistency.

    What we do need is a serious analysis on how to play without Cazorla. Santi has missed the second half of the last season and the biggest part of this season – both times results and performances have dropped significantly. When he was fit, Arsenal were capable of beating big clubs on a regular basis. Without him, we haven’t been able to do so. I heavily disagree on this guy Azulay’s writings for Guardian – we don’t need a replacement for Xhaka, we need to find out who is the best partner for him. His passing range is immense, he has a hunger and a heart of a lion… It’s only matter of time when he will become an irreplaceable member of the starting eleven. He is superior to all our other central midfielders bar Santi.

    Other teams have more issues than Arsenal. We have very few but have cost us a lot of points.

Comments are closed.