The One Player Arsenal Need This January Transfer Window

Many regulars on BK will know how much I detest the focus on one or more players when things go wrong. I understand that disappointment needs a target and it is much easier to aim it at a single player than at the whole club, its system of football or even the management of the team. Blaming effing ‘lazy Ozil’, effing ‘liability Xhaka’, etc is just so appealing for so many.

Players do not just do well out of pure intrinsic motivation and ability. They are part of a team and need to operate in a system of football, and as 1/11 of the whole team they can only have a limited impact on it. If I have learned one thing over the years about football it is that system of football is King, not the total sum of the qualities of the players on the pitch.

ArseTeta appears to be a manager who focusses hard on a system of football with a strong set of values, and he is using the squad to fit into this. And all of a sudden the players who were written of by many start to show us how good they are. A defence that gets protected can take a breath and organise itself; its individual footballers gain confidence and play much better. A midfield that gets support from the attackers can stay more in position and don’t have to cover acers of space; they are then able to boss the area and support both defence and attack much better. An attack that gets support from all areas – both wings and through the middle – will start to enjoy themselves again and score goals much easier (this still needs to come).

I don’t want to put the boot too much into emery – more than has been done already – but it is fair to say that his system of football did not work for us and individual players became less confident and then effective under his management. Arteta appears to be turning this round, although it is of course still early days. We look much more compact and play as a strong unit in which everybody fights for each other. Players are enjoying themselves again, and Arteta, unlike Unai, seems to understand how to motivate the Millennials. 

I am over the moon with Arteta’s approach: to see Mesut, Lucas and Granit come to the fore again is just pure ecstasy. The big question is, though, what will happen when one of them gets injured? Our back up players are all young and seemingly not ready to replace them: Guendouzi, Willock and ESR are all promising players but even Arteta will struggle to get them ready for the big midfield roles.

Now, we have Ceballos who can stand in for Ozil and possibly Granit. I am not yet convinced about him but he is ahead of the youngsters just mentioned. But that is it. An injury to Torreira especially is likely to cost us. So this January, Arteta/Arsenal have to buy back up. The good news is that Arteta will know exactly what he needs and the tabloid rumours are encouraging.

Arteta has of course two more internal options: bring back Elneny, who I have always rated, or turn Ainsley Maitland Niles in a Torreira-Terrier. But maybe the best thing to do is to buy right now as to give the squad a boost and fill the gap instantly.


I would love Francis Coquelin to return to Arsenal, but I guess that ship has sailed. I feel he still has unfinished business at Arsenal, but whether the club would want to pay Valencia good money for him is doubtful. 

Any realistic suggestions from fellow BKers?

By TotalArsenal.

18 thoughts on “The One Player Arsenal Need This January Transfer Window

  • TA, if Le Coq comes in he will only be a backup to Tor. I do not see that they can fit in the same 11 as they are too similar and their positions are the same.

    We need a player that can be a backup to Xhaka. Luiz is a good fit from within, and Matic can be one from external.

    The total football that Arteta play is Wengerball. We need to do better in getting the players we really need, and not just some players available readily. Our former players on the coaching team will be good enough to piece the puzzle well.

  • Ah, no 84, I don’t agree with that. Le Coq can play in both roles, Xhaka’s and Torreira’s, and he can play with either of them. It would be a great addition imo.

    Matic is not a bad shout. Not the biggest fan but Arteta could get him to shine again (thought he was quite poor against us on NYD).

  • Good thoughts, TA.
    Here are my candidates for the DCM role:

    1. I don’t really think that we should a defensive midfielder that from age, talent and value point of view would be peer (competitor) to Lucas, but since you asked, my choice would be Denis Zakaria from Borussia M’gladbach.
    Pros: big fella, international with 28 caps, EL-CL experience, Swiss (possible synergies with Xhaka)
    Cons: expensive (€45M according to TM, could cost us ~Ł50M), demands frequent starts, no trophies yet for the 23-year-old

    2. Let’s look around elder players, who would love to play for Arsenal, but won’t need starting place week-in-week-out. I would nominate the seasoned Grzegorz Krychowiak, who currently plays for Lokomotiv Moscow.
    Pros: experience in 4 top leagues as well as CL, EL and many cups, no language barriers, decorated with trophies, affordable (cost 10M to Moscow, worth 20M now), 45 goal contributions
    Cons: turns 30 in 3 weeks, occasional red cards (6), never played more than 2 years in one sitting (could have a difficult personality)

    3. If we check the promising youngsters I would recommend the Norway giant Sander Berge (playing currently for KRC Genk) and AZ Alkmaar’s utility man Teun Koopmeiners.
    Sander is 1’95, a good dribbler, plays extremely fair, holds 20 senior and 21 junior caps.
    Koopmeiners on the other hand is efficient in attacks (has 33 goal contribution compared to Berge’s 12), loves to shoot from distance, already a club legend and captain with 38 junior caps.
    Both could be good choices and would fit in the rumored 30M transfer kitty.

  • TA– thanks, and I’d mentioned ‘the guy’ a couple of days ago.
    Don’t believe it’ll be a midfielder we might make an offer on. We have Ceballos. And though you don’t feel either Joe nor Matteo are ready to take on the role? Pretty sure both MA and the club feel that spot is at the least covered.

    Where we are nearly bare in the cupboard is in defense. Mostly at CB. Chambers who was a gem this season at CB is now gone a year at best. Rob Holding was on the bench yesterday. You-know-who wasn’t. Even though Mikel knew Kola was iffy– and that there were only one backup for each pair of spots on the back line other than he. Took Freddie and Mikel both– just one match to see their clean slate visibly chalked-up.

    While both Papa and David Luiz shone yesterday– both are also prone to bookings/suspensions. Papa to injuries as well. Holding will round into shape now– yet? We are just an injury or suspension away– from relying on you-know-who.

    So– a CB it is. That guy– is Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings. 1G/1A only 3 bookings in 2019-20. Big (6’5″), rangy, mobile– and valued at £25M. Might require a premium– but that is the price for immediate PL experience. Given that we don’t know how well or quickly William Saliba beds-in next season? Mings would end up both a bargain– and a purchase that would solidify the CB spot for some time.

    Arsenal could end up with a deep set of CBs next season. With one buy in January. But they need to do it now– as other Big-Sixers are certainly coming for him in the Summer.


  • Cheers JW1. A CB would be nice but another DM is a necessity imo. Maybe you are indeed speaking for the club, who know?! 😀 , but let’s see what will happen this month.

  • Coincidentally Tyrone Mings and Dad, Adie were mentioned in an article this morning in ‘The Athletic’:

    Topic being how a footballing parent engages with their child– after he’s no longer one.


  • He does look like a prospect, JW… but we have William Saliba joining us this summer and that will leave us with Holding, Big Sok, Luiz, Saliba, Chambers and Mavro… I cannot see it happening, but we could get a CB loan till the end of season. An injury to Ozil, Torreira and Xhaka would hit us hardest in the current system, especially Torreira..

  • i agree with pbarany, who doesn’t think we need to bring in a competitor for lucas.
    ainsley/luiz might deputize, if need be.
    after a soon-to-be-forgotten, shaky period under unai, things have to settle down imo.
    we have now a terific headcoach, with two clearly identified XIs (in the absence of kieran/calum, and with shkodran – sadly imo, but hopefully for him, who’s now been officially guscaesared, moving on – back to germany? – during this transfer window)
    team A
    team B
    (hector/rob obviously need more time than i/we expected to fully recover)
    bringing anyone expensive recruit at this stage might be too disruptive, after what this squad had to go through before reaching a peaceful, sunny shore.
    but i agree a few extra injuries would hurt badly, especially in defense as jw1 pointed out.
    it might be time to bring saliba home, otherwise the umtiti prospect is tantalizing, for many reasons: he’s left-footed (we have no left-footed CB) , experienced, he’s been laca’s best pal ever since they were kids, valverde seems to have given his preference to lenglet over him once and for good, and he has to regain his place in the France team – and when highly motivated, he’s really, really good; but he would come at a price, and we spent a lot last summer …

  • Cheers Legallos, the idea of Guindouzi and Ceballos covering for Xhaka and Torreira really gives me sleepless nights. We have plenty of CBs but are bare in the cupboard of midfielders who know how to defend. Luiz is needed in defence, especially in Arteta’s system. I agree that AMN could play deep midfield but he is a work in progress.

  • Le Gall, I love the approach of 2 full XI, with the only difference that I would swap AMN with Bellerin.
    And if we keep Nketiah with the squad (instead of loaning him back in the winter), then we can move Martinelli to the left wing and have Eddie leading the attack, so Mustafi (CB/RB) and ESR (CM/LM/AM/LW) can be utility substitutes.

  • The U23 team – under the management/coaching of Steve Bould – is playing against the PL2 leaders Derby County at the moment at Meadow Park (Arsenal U23 home turf).
    The good news: ESR and Mavropanos are not involved, so they will be available for the game against Leeds. (Maybe Burton too, but he is suspended from the game tonight).
    The bad news: we are trailing by 0:2. 77 minutes gone, and we are unlikely to turn the game around, even though we would have jumped onto the top of the table with a home win.

  • TA … if we have to bring in only one player it should be in the midfield. As soon as Arteta got the whole team defending our defence isn’t looking that fragile anymore. 2 clean sheets in 3 matches. It supports the view of those who fled that our poor defending was more of a midfield issue than of the defenders. The most important demands from midfielders these days are good technique and hard work.

    We the fans need to be pragmatic and embrace Mustafi for the rest of this season. He is very much ahead of Mavro who has not fully resolved his issues with the passing game. The days of the hard tackles and blind clearances for defenders are gone. Luiz, Sokratis, Holding, Mustafi and then Mavro should see us through the rest of the season.

    Like you TA, I cringe at the frequent jibes aimed at specific players. We forget that they are as human as us, with average age about half the average age of humanity i.e. very much on the young side. We should only curse under our breath, if at all.

  • pbarany
    2-2, final score at meadow park
    they did it … but jeorge bird does not seem to believe much in this generation
    just like you, i think eddie upfront and martinelli on the left is our (near) future, but i’m afraid they’d get very little playing time if we kept them both; as for hector, he has been worrying me a lot ever since he came back
    hope you slept well, ta … dani/matteo have to make mistakes, listen to mick, make fewer mistakes, in order to improve: they’re well behind lucas-granit, of course, but just look at the already mature player ainsley has become, after a far-from-simple development
    hope we’ll see something like the “B” team monday, our youngsters need test like this

  • There is ONE player who can address all the issues mentioned above -Emre Can: he can provide cover for Xhaka-Torreira and can be used as a ball playing CB. He is both young enough and experienced international and attainable through a loan in the first instance.

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