I struggle to remember a more pivotal transfer window with the exception of 2006. This January we have the opportunity to ensure we are not scratching our heads come June on how to replace our two biggest assets. Here is a 10 point plan for a successful January (there are others areas to be strengthened but the below focuses on our key priorities):
1. Swap Ozil and Sanchez: See previous entry. Willian and Draxler would be top swap deals given Ozil/Sanchez ARE going.
2. Sign up Jack: See previous entry. Form is temporary, class is permanent.
3. Centre Half: Football is a game of combinations. Ask yourself why Koscielny was at the very top of his form when playing every week with Mertesacker? Or why Toure never looked the same when he could no longer sweep behind Sol Campbell? Arsenal need the big, domineering, organised centre half we have talked about for years and therefore a serious offer for Van Djjk is a must. Failing that Jonny Evans is a consideration (albeit he is more composed than domineering.) At present we lose big games due to an overload of sweepers meaning a lack of command/control over certain defensive situations.
4. Defensive Midfield: This one is tough because it’s not as simple as a ball retriever. Arsenal have arrived at Xhaka partly because Coquelin struggles to distribute against ten men behind the ball (which now shapes approximately 70-80% of the games we play.) Therefore although we need to add an option with presence, aggression and ball retrieving ability it has to be balanced with decent distribution. I like Kondogbia and Goretzka but both prefer box to box roles. Can they adapt their game to a more disciplined role?
5. Let Walcott go: A parting of ways at this stage is in both parties interests. Theo will thrive playing in a counter attacking side whilst Arsenal’s weekly challenge to beat ten men camped in their own half just doesn’t suit Theo.
6. Loan out Iwobi: I am a big believer that in a 3-4-2-1 or 4-2-3-1 the attacking players must contribute goals and assists. It’s a role where tangible outputs are a necessity. Alex isn’t quite there yet and therefore regular football will bring about a better level of efficiency.
7. Loan out Rob Holding: Performing consistently over a sustained period is imperative for a top level centre half. Simply to achieve that you need the games. The Europa League is becoming more serious now which will also limit Rob’s opportunities.
8. Let Elneny go: Signing another midfielder (as per point 4) will make Mo redundant. It is with regret as I am not sure he really got a fair chance.
9. Promote Nelson: Moving Iwobi and Walcott on may leave us short with only Sanchez/Ozil (or their replacements) and Welbeck to cover our wide attacking positions. This is an area to give Wilshere more games but promoting Nelson as a 5th choice (with all his youthful exuberance) can’t hurt.
10. Start negotiating Ramsey’s contract: We need to learn from past mistakes and get this boxed off early doors.