Tuesday night saw Arsenal’s season and indeed Arsene Wenger’s reign at the club reach a new nadir. Already struggling in the Premier League after a strong start to the season, a nearly full-strength Gunners side crashed out of the League Cup to Bradford City, from the fourth tier of the English league pyramid.
Yes, Arsenal twice hit the woodwork, but it was hardly a case of a freak result. Wenger’s men simply weren’t good enough. The pressure on Arsenal’s vastly respected boss has surely never been so intense during his 16 years in charge of the club. Supporters have been clamoring for serious investment in the playing squad for some time and now it would appear that money needs to be spent in January not just to improve the quality on display at the Emirates but also to help alleviate the malaise that now surrounds the club.
Here are five players who could potentially arrive next month to improve Arsenal’s fortunes:
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schlake)
Following the departure of Robin van Persie in the summer, Arsenal have lacked a cutting edge in the final third for much of the season. With Olivier Giroud absent against Bradford, it was disturbing how painfully toothless the Gunners were up front, even against such modest opposition. Schalke’s prolific Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar would surely provide an immediate boost to Arsenal’s goal threat.
The 29-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer and a cut-price move in January has been strongly mooted, with Arsenal reported to be among the leading contenders for his signature. Huntelaar struck 29 Bundesliga goals last season and also scored against Arsenal in this season’s Champions League. The biggest stumbling block to a potential move next month is that Huntelaar would be cup-tied for Arsenal’s European campaign.
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Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)
If Huntelaar’s unavailability for the Champions League is a significant deterrent then Wenger could instead turn to another leading striker whose contract is set to expire next summer in Fernando Llorente. The Atheltic Bilbao front man has already revealed that he will leave the club at the end of his deal. However, with the 27-year-old frozen out of the first team at San Mames, it may be best for all parties if Llorente move for a minimal fee in January.
Arsenal, Juventus and Tottenham have all been mentioned as potential destinations. The Spanish international has the combination of physicality and technical acumen that could see him flourish leading the line at the Emirates.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
With Theo Walcott looking increasingly likely to exit the club having failed to agree a new contract, Wenger could well be seeking a replacement. The Arsenal boss has already spoken—much to Crystal Palace’s dismay—of his regard for 20-year-old Wiflried Zaha. Already an England international, Zaha has starred in the Championship for Palace and it appears only a matter of time before he joins one of the Premier League’s big guns with which he has been repeatedly linked.
Palace have stated that they value the Ivory-Coast born winger at £20 million, although it seems probable that a deal can be struck for a lower value. The biggest struggle is likely to be in convincing Palace to sell in January when they are still pushing for promotion.
Victor Wanyama (Celtic)
One of the main reasons for Arsenal’s strong start to the season was the return from injury of Abou Diaby. And quite possibly one of the main factors in Arsenal’s subsequent downturn in form is the injury suffered by Diaby against Chelsea in late September.
The France international gives the Gunners a dynamism and drive in midfield that no other player in their squad can currently provide. But, with his repeated struggles to keep fit, it becomes an increasingly questionable decision to keep relying on Diaby. One player that could arrive to add a physical intensity to Arsenal’s midfield is Celtic’s Victor Wanyama.
After a strong first season in Glasgow, the Kenyan has come to further prominence this campaign with his performances in the Champions League, particularly against Barcelona. Wanyama has been linked to the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United and it is likely that a bid of around £10 million would seriously tempt Celtic to the negotiating table in January.
Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven)
Another midfield target has also emerged for Arsenal in recent times with the Gunners said to be one of a growing number of clubs that are taking a close look at Nether lands international Kevin Strootman. The 22-year-old—who has already captained his country—has added a more attacking element to his game this season, scoring five league goals already this campaign.
Arsenal are believed to have been scouting Strootman of late, although competition from the likes of Manchester United and Milan, coupled with a reported £20 million asking price could scupper Wenger’s interest. Comments from Strootman’s agent also suggest it is unlikely that the player will leave PSV before the end of the season.