At many points since August, Arsenal’s season has looked like a lost cause. As things stand, the Gunners are in the top half, just barely. New boss Mikel Arteta has turned things around for the time being. Arsenal must have a successful January, both on and off the pitch, to ensure the season is not wasted.
Successful January Can Save Arsenal’s Season
On the Pitch
So far under Arteta, Arsenal have won two, drawn two, and lost once. Even with a small sample size, it is clear he has had an effect on the squad. The players are working harder and are playing in a more organized fashion. They have executed the press better already than they did in 18 months under Unai Emery. Arsenal have kept a clean sheet with Sokratis at right-back against the best team in the Championship. There are many reasons to be excited about the new era.
The Gunners have three matches remaining in the month of January, all of which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will miss after his straight red card against Crystal Palace. They return home next weekend to face sixth-placed Sheffield United before travelling to Stamford Bridge in the midweek. They close out the month with an away Emirates FA Cup fourth round matchup with Bournemouth.
Arsenal lost to Sheffield United away from home earlier this season under Unai Emery. However, a more organized side may fare much better this time around with Arteta in charge. Already missing Aubameyang, the Gunners may also be without Lucas Torreira, who came off injured at half time against Palace. This will be problematic as he has been one of the best players for Arsenal in the last month or so.
If Mikel Arteta is able to get at least four points out of the next two league matches, he would be ecstatic. It is especially important that Arsenal plays well against Chelsea after the late collapse at home in the reverse fixture just a few weeks back. Arteta will also need a deep cup run to satisfy the fans. It has been a tough season to watch thus far and the chance at a trophy would be a huge boost for the club.
It would be quite reckless of the Arsenal Football Club hierarchy to not strengthen in the January window. With the injury to Calum Chambers, plus the lacklustre play of the backline this season, it would be wise to bring in a centre-back. They would have six months to get comfortable at the club and in the Premier League. A new defender would also make a deep cup run a better possibility.
In the aftermath of the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday, Arteta spoke on potential transfers in the January window.
“You know how difficult this window,” Arteta said told talkSPORT. “I’m not expecting many things.”
This will not exactly excite Arsenal supporters. The club clearly needs reinforcements. Although this does not rule out any moves, it does not sound confident. The club has been linked with RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano since last summer. He could revitalize the defence if he is brought in this month. If not, he could still sign next summer as the centre-back partner for William Saliba.
Arsenal have also been linked with Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare. His physicality would help the midfield greatly. He would bring depth at a position where the Gunners lack. It would take the workload off of Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi, who have both struggled at times this season. Although it seems Xhaka’s Arsenal career will not extend beyond this season, Guendouzi could be an important player in the years to come. It is important that he is not overused too early in his career.
Arsenal’s success in both the FA Cup and Europa League may very well dictate the players they can bring in next summer. It could also have a say in what players depart in 2020. An FA Cup triumph would secure Europa League qualification, while a Europa League win would put Arsenal back in the Champions League. This is why Arteta will put a big emphasis on these matches in a bid to save Arsenal’s season. It is likely that the Premier League squad will be rotated to accommodate the cups, not the other way around.