This was touted as the season that Arsenal would return to former glories and lift the Premier League for the first time in over a decade. To be fair, the title challenge is on track in one of the most bizarre seasons of all time and the Gunners are still well within touching distance of Manchester City (and Leicester).
Still, as ever with the North London giants, it’s not been done the easy way. There have been impressive wins over Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Leicester along the way, but the losses are still there.
The Jose Mourinho cloud hanging over the Emirates outfit is so strong that even out of sorts Chelsea could beat them. A humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich along with losses to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos have made this Champions League far nervier than it should have been, and Sheffield Wednesday knocked them out of the League Cup with ease.
Still, you can’t write them off in the battle for the Premier League. However, in what seems like a yearly occurrence, the injuries are mounting for manager Arsene Wenger going into next month’s transfer window.
Key midfield pairing Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin are long term casualties and superstar Alexis Sanchez is struggling with a hamstring problem.
January could be a big month for Arsenal as reinforcements are desperately needed.
Here are three in and three out at the Emirates this January…
Lars Bender has been linked with a move to Arsenal for what seems to be forever. The German dynamo is the perfect man to arrive at the Emirates to fill the void left by Coquelin, and good enough to challenge the Frenchman for a starting berth when he returns.
Solid, no thrills and likely to sit back to soak up play, the 26-year old is equally comfortable with the ball at his feet in order to start attacks from deep.
There is growing speculation he could soon arrive, in what would be Wenger’s most sensible outfield deal in years.
Where defensive additions are clearly the theme of the rumour mill heading up to 2016, we must not neglect the frontline in the wake of Sanchez’s hamstring issue.
The Celta Vigo forward looks set for a switch to London after tearing up La Liga. The 29-year old has fired the unfancied club up the league and in contention for a Champions League squad.
Despite reported Barcelona interest, Wenger looks set to trigger his £12.6m release clause and land the wide forward.
Nolito will add goals to this team no doubt, while also able to deputise as both a wide forward or more centrally.
Jorginho has been the subject of much discussion over the last few months after some excellent form for Napoli has made them genuine Serie A contenders.
The 23-year old Brazilian born midfielder is constantly linked with a move to the Emirates and would represent an excellent addition. Classy yet combative, he is the ideal candidate to deputise for silky Spaniard Santi Cazorla.
He will only go from strength to strength, so Wenger would be wise to formalise his interest as soon as possible.
The meteoric rise of young Hector Bellerin over recent months has seen Mathieu Debuchy lose his place in the side despite only arriving around 18 months ago. Barring an injury to the young Spanish speedster, it’s hard to see that changing.
The 30-year old has expressed his frustration at his bit part role in North London, with links to Italian giants Juventus surfacing. As France gear up for their home campaign at Euro 2016, the former Newcastle man looks likely to leave in order stake a claim for the national squad.
David Ospina is not a bad goalkeeper by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just the Colombian custodian is competing with Petr Cech between the sticks.
Cech is reliable in every sense, as well as a world class shot-stopper. As a result, the former Nice man has been linked with a move away from the Emirates in an effort to find first-team football.
The 27-year old has been linked with a move to Turkey after ‘liking’ several of Besiktas’ tweets in recent weeks.
Wenger would be losing a top class understudy, but you can’t keep a good man down.
Despite his recent run of games in the side, the return to fitness of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will surely push the Costa Rican back down the pecking order.
Premier League strugglers Aston Villa have been touted as a potential temporary destination for the 23-year old should be once again be farmed out on loan. While he’s proven to be a capable player at this level, he clearly isn’t up there with some of his teammates and once Nolito arrives it will be goodnight, Mr Joel.
Putting him in the shop window by loaning him to another club in the Premier League is a wise idea.