The clock is ticking for Arsene Wenger.
With the start of the January transfer period just days away, the Arsenal boss will be searching for reinforcements to fill the void of injured full backs, as well as bolstering an attack that relies too heavily on Robin van Persie.
Unless Wenger decides to finally give Chu Young Park and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain significant playing time in the absence of Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh due to next month's African Cup of Nations, a forward is a top concern. There aren't many clear options available for the club, based on recent reports.
Wenger continues to weigh the prospect of bringing back famed striker Thierry Henry on a two-month loan. The Times of London have linked Henry to Emirates, though the New York Red Bulls claim they're not accepting loan deals.
It would be quite a sight to have Henry back with the Gunners. The French star is certainly past his prime, but as a substitute Henry could serve as an inspirational figure and would likely draw a prolonged roar from Arsenal supporters, who have had bouts of disenchantment with their club since the legend departed.
Arsenal, however, care more about results than photo opportunities. After a terrible start to the Premier League season, the Gunners need more than a final encore for Henry as they are fighting to finish in the top four. London rivals Tottenham appear to be over-achieving, and it may very well be a seven-club race for a chance to play in next season's Champions League.
Henry knows Wenger's system, but is coming off a season in MLS where he seemed more concerned with counting down the seconds the opposing goalkeeper was holding onto the ball than finding opportunities to score. At age 34, Henry might be too much of a gamble for a club that will host rivals Manchester United and Spurs in the next two months.
The best option for the Gunners would probably be Lukas Podolski, though Wenger has rejected interest in bringing the £15-million-rated striker to Emirates.
Podolski has 18 months remaining on his Koln contract and appears poised to depart from the club. The 26-year-old German has 14 goals this season, and the consensus opinion is that Podolski is having a career season. The concern with Podolski might be that he can only excel with a mid-level squad, and therefore struggle with a top-flight squad like Arsenal, as evident with his rather lackluster stint with Bayern Munich from 2006-2009.
Wenger hesitated to add players over the summer until the final days of August when the situation at Emirates became increasingly dire following the departures of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Eboe. The Frenchman has given indication he might be less active in January than some might expect, and choose to have more faith in his current squad.
Park has to step up, Wenger said, according to The Telegraph. The adaptation period for him is over now, so he has to show he has the quality to play for us. I believe he has. We also have [Andrey] Arshavin and Chamberlain, who is now ready to play.
Should Wenger test the market, he will have forward options beyond Henry and Podolski. According to Metro, Chamakh, who has lacked confidence this season, may be moved back to France next month, which will create an opening for adding Wigan forward Hugo Rodallega. Another name that has surfaced in recent weeks is Ederzito Lopes, a 24-year-old forward who plays for Portuguese side Academica.
While forwards might be the hot topic for Arsenal, there have been few reports of possible full backs to join the club. The only possibility that has received significant traction is a loan for Wayne Bridge of Manchester City. The 31-year-old left back may be a weak option as he has struggled to complete passes in his rare playing opportunities, and earns a £95,000-a-week salary.
Belgium centre back Jan Vertongen was speculated to be an Arsenal target in recent months, but there has been minimal discussion in December of a possible move from Ajax to Arsenal.