Key positions Arsenal need to strengthen in January

Arsenal’s 2023/24 campaign has gone off the boil in recent weeks, with the Gunners recording just one win in their last seven games across all competitions.

The downturn saw Arsenal end 2023 with back-to-back London derby defeats to West Ham United and Fulham, undermining their pursuit of the Premier League title.

Ending 2023 in fourth place in the Premier League standings, the Gunners’ woes continued into the new year. 

Having failed to progress past the fourth round of the FA Cup since their 2020 triumph in the tournament, Arsenal faced another uphill battle in advancing to the latter stages of their favourite competition.

Liverpool stood in their way to the 2023/24 fourth round and proved to be their final stop as the Gunners succumbed to a 2-0 defeat courtesy of an own goal from Jakub Kiwior and a late strike from Luis Diaz.

For the third successive year, Arsenal have failed to get past the FA Cup fourth round, and the defeat to Liverpool further diminished their chances of ending the 2023/24 campaign with a major trophy in their coffers.

Perhaps the winter break could offer Arteta and his side precious time to re-evaluate their ambitions for the season ahead of another London derby against Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium.

Gunners faithful anticipating a turnaround in form after the winter break can visit Seatsnet.com to buy Arsenal tickets for upcoming matches, including the clash against Palace.

Where did it go wrong for Arteta’s side?

Arsenal’s struggles this season have prompted a number of opinions on the reasons behind their sudden blip. But one undeniable factor is the significant drop in efficiency in the final third this term.

Over the past two seasons, Arsenal have relied heavily on their wide men Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka to provide the goods.

During the course of their futile title challenge, Martinelli notched 15 goals and five assists, while Saka chipped in with 14 goals and 11 assists.

Gabriel Jesus notched 11 goals, but it was evident that Arsenal needed a more prolific centre-forward to narrow the gap on Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

But they weren’t struggling to put the ball in the back of the net, so talks of a new striker were brushed aside as Saka, Martinelli, and Martin Odegaard carried the torch.

This season, the Gunners have struggled in the final third, scoring the second least number of goals of any side in the top seven (37).

Saka and Martinelli have struggled to hit the heights of last season, returning a meagre eight goals between them this term, and Jesus has failed to shoulder the burden, netting just three times.

Creating clear-cut opportunities has hardly been an issue for Arsenal, evidenced by the game against Liverpool, where they created five big chances but failed to score.

The Gunners are lacking killers in the final third, and that issue needs to be addressed this January if they intend to salvage their title challenge.

Arsenal’s over-reliance on Martinelli and Saka means they barely have options to replace them on the flanks, which has also contributed massively to their current stutter.

Reiss Nelson can hardly be considered a suitable backup option regardless of his acclaimed ‘super-sub’ status, and neither is Leandro Trossard, whose form has jumped off a cliff this season.

A prolific number nine should also be on Arsenal’s shopping cart, considering Jesus and Nketiah have failed to live up to expectations, notching just eight Premier League goals collectively.

Key positions Arsenal need to strengthen in January

Arsenal were not shy in splashing the cash last summer, forking out over £200 million to reinforce key areas of the squad.

More than half of their summer expenditure was invested in Declan Rice, but Arsenal’s decision has been vindicated, considering the Englishman has added solidity to their midfield ranks while chipping in with a couple of important goals.

Arsenal may be faltering, but they still have the Premier League and Champions League titles to fight for this season, having breezed past the group phase of the latter.

However, if they are to compete for domestic and European silverware, they may need some extra reinforcements in key areas of the pitch.

Here is where Arsenal could look to bolster this January.

Centre-back reinforcements

Arsenal boasts two fantastic centre-back options in Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba, whose partnership has significantly contributed to the club’s push for silverware.

However, the defensive depth is notably lacking in quality beyond these two standout players. 

Jakub Kiwior is the next viable option, but the Polish defender falls short of the standard set by the regular starters and may even be considered for a loan move this January.

Jurrien Timber remains sidelined until further notice, but Arteta would be keen to bolster his defensive ranks this month after an injury to Saliba derailed his side’s campaign last term.

Arsenal are one of several clubs keen on Portuguese duo Antonio Silva and Goncalo Inacio, who have picked the interest of several clubs across Europe this season.

A deal for either may be complicated for the Gunners to pull off, but they could do much worse than one of the Portuguese duo.

Defensive midfield

Arsenal have a number of defensive midfield options, but injuries in that area may force the Gunners to open their purse this month.

Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny have missed large chunks of the season due to fitness concerns, while Jorginho is rapidly approaching the twilight of his career.

Arteta may also consider moving Rice into an advanced role on either side of a holding midfielder, a tactic he has experimented with in big games but will require another high-calibre defensive midfielder to implement successfully.

Arsenal are among several clubs expressing interest in Fluminense midfielder Andre. 

The 22-year-old Copa Libertadores winner has impressed in Brazil and appears likely to make a move to the Premier League this winter. 

However, securing his signature won’t be easy, with Premier League title rivals Liverpool also keen on the highly-rated youngster.

A new number nine

Jesus has confessed to being a striker whose strongest attribute isn’t goalscoring, which should have promoted the recruitment team to begin the search for a new number nine.

Although he’s adored by the Arsenal faithful for his unique skill set, there is the sense that his lack of ruthlessness could prove costly in the title race, especially up against City’s goalscoring machine Erling Braut Haaland.

Nketiah has been tasked with stepping in when the Brazilian is absent, but he is hardly the goalscoring phenom Arsenal need to lead the line.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney is one of several names on Arsenal’s extensive shortlist, with reports claiming the Gunners have held talks with the 27-year-old’s representatives. 

The Bees’ number nine will return from a lengthy ban in January but is unlikely to jump ship during the mid-season window.

Subscribe for notification