January transfer window improvements: AFC Bournemouth and Arsenal.

The January transfer window is arguably the most important time of the Premier League season as teams are both strengthened and in some cases weakened for the rest of the season with make-or-break transfers being negotiated and completed before the 31st. As we roll into December it’s now time to look in-depth as to what crucial signings each Premier League side needs to complete over the crucial transfer window period to improve in the second half of the season.

AFC Bournemouth

Let’s face it, every football fan (unless you’re from Portsmouth or Southampton) likes AFC Bournemouth and what the club brings to the 2015-2016 Premier League season. Their recent history is nothing short of heroic, a sort of fantastic dream every lower league football fan has before waking up on a Monday morning disappointed. This season Eddie Howe and his men have shown real courage and a desire to stick to the slick passing style of play that saw them crowned Championship champions last summer even if the opposition they face this season have single players worth more than the Cherries whole club combined.

Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe has the footballing knowledge and tactical awareness to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League this season.

Bournemouth’s antics this year are a throw-back to a couple of seasons ago when Blackpool came storming through the Championship play-offs and started putting in gutsy performances against the Premier League big boys. Unfortunately however, but rather not surprisingly, Bournemouth are locked in a relegation battle and find themselves in the bottom three heading into the Christmas period but this isn’t through a lack of desire or passion, as seen in their 3-3 last gasp draw at home to Everton and their historic 1-0 win away at Chesea, but maybe due to a substantial injury list which includes the likes of star forward Callum Wilson and winger Max Gradel.

Where to improve?

Despite been hammered by Tottenham at home 5-1 and by Manchester City away, Bournemouth have usually lost matches this season by only the odd goal or so and have usually put in very credible performances in most matches this season. This shows that whilst Eddie Howe’s defence could always be improved, just like most other Premier League sides up and down the league, maybe investment should come in the form of a prolific striker who could steer the South coast team away from relegation. As mentioned before, Bournemouth have been extremely unlucky with the long term injuries of both Callum Wilson and Max Gradel, two key forwards whom were in great form for their side before their retrospective injuries earlier in the season. With both predicted to miss at least three quarters of the season, Eddie Howe needs to strengthen Bournemouth’s front line. For me, Howe should be looking for a striker with Premier League experience, a player that is known for top finishing who can stick away those chances created by players like Matt Ritchie at Bournemouth and for me it is key for the South coast club to avoid relegation this season.

Arsenal

In a season full of unpredictable twists and turns is it time for Arsenal to step up and win the title for the first time in thirteen years? Although struggling for form in the Champions League with loses to Olympiacos and Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal sit second in the league at this point of the season and are been tipped by many to win the title this year. The losses of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin due to recent injuries are a big worry for Arsene Wenger but with Chelsea out of contention, Manchester United struggling to score and Manchester City faltering, with a bit of invest the Gunners could quite easily capture the Premier League title in May.

Where to improve?

When will Arsene Wenger buy a solid, defensive midfielder?! I’m not even an Arsenal fan and it massively frustrates me. Don’t get me wrong Francis Coquelin has been in inspired form for Wenger this term so far but his recent injury is a worry for the Arsenal manager. Santi Cazorla has also been playing well in a deeper position, protecting the defence but it has since been confirmed that the Spaniard midfielder is set to miss up to four months of the season due to having surgery on a recent knee injury.

Cazorla injury
Santi Cazorla sustained a serious knee injury in Arsenal’s match against Norwich. The Spaniard could be out of action for up to four months.

For me, there are a few players that would really fit the bill at Arsenal including Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkusen and William Carvalho of Sporting Lisbon who both have a fantastic reading of the game and will protect Arsenals back four by breaking up the play in the centre of the park meaning the forward players can play without any defensive restrictions. I still believe that Arsenal too need a top striker. To be fair to Olivier Giroud he has bagged ten goals in all competitions this season for the Gunners but in my opinion this still isn’t good enough as Arsenal’s Premier League rivals have a better standard of strikers like Sergio Aguero at Manchester City. If they do want to bring in a top, in form striker this January, Arsenal will most likely have to go up against Chelsea for the players signature as the Blues are also struggling for goals so far this term. Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid or Borussia Dortmund’s rapid forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be options for Arsenal Wenger to bring to the Emirates in the next transfer window.

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Can Arsenal be title contenders next season?

Three key signings that Arsene Wenger has to make this summer.

Ever since the unforgettable season of the ‘Invincibles’ in the Premier League campaign of 2003-2004 Arsenal have somewhat struggled to regain the golden years of football the North London club once had. An eight year barren run in the form of trophies was only halted last season with an extra-time win over Hull in the FA Cup final and since then Arsenal have improved but have not fully challenged for the title this time around once again. This season there have been many positives however and key players that have stood up to the plate for the London based team. Alexis Sanchez has particularly impressed since joining from Barcelona, netting 24 goals in 49 games, Olivier Giroud has had his best season for Arsenal arguably scoring 18 in 33 appearances and other players such as Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck in particular have played consistently well for Arsenal especially in the second half of the season. This coupled with the experience of players such as Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky with the bright future and youth of the club performing well in the form of Hector Bellerin, whom has been outstanding this year for his young age, among other youngsters make for good reading for Arsenal fans everywhere.

Arsenal need a strong, ball playing central defensive midfielder who can shield the back four but who can also fit in with the teams passing set up and tactics. Certainly Francis Coquelin has been a solid player for Wenger this season when asked to play in this role; however he lacks the passing ability to back up his powerful presence in the heart of midfield. It can be said that the club have never been able to replace that man Patrick Vieira since his departure in 2005 as newer signings such as Alex Song failed to shine as brightly. There is one player currently in the Barclays Premier League whom could be the signing that Arsenal fans desire, Morgan Schneiderlin. The Southampton midfielder has long been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium after enjoying another successful campaign at the South coast club despite been ruled out for the rest of the season from the 25th April. Although linked with rival club Tottenham, Arsenal is likely to be Schneiderlins preferred destination as the midfielder has stated a desire to play in the Champions League consistently, something Arsenal can offer. It is expected that in order to sign the French international Wenger will have to part with around £25 million as stated by various sources, http://goo.gl/xPiKdo.

Schneiderlin could make the move to Arsenal in the summer.
Schneiderlin could make the move to Arsenal in the summer.

Wenger needs to address the problem he has in net at the London club. Wojciech Szczesny has struggled massively this year as his replacement, David Ospina, has put in a better level of performance with the Polish stopper been linked to a summer move to Southampton. Reports suggest that Chelsea back up goalkeeper Petr Cech, who has made 332 appearances for the Blues in his career, could make the move across the capital for a fee expected to be around £10 million. Manchester United and PSG are both also interested in the Czech international. Asmir Begovic could further be a transfer target for the North London club.

Could Petr Cech be making the move across London?
Could Petr Cech be making the move across London?

Despite Olivier Giroud having a good goal scoring campaign for the Gunners and Alexis Sanchez chipping in a healthy supply of goals during the course of the season, some would argue that the club still need a prolific talisman to compete with the likes of the Manchester clubs and rivals Chelsea. Arsenal have long been linked with a move for Karim Benzema however the French international seems settled at Real Madrid so Wenger may instead turn towards a transfer for Napoli star Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine international has been in fine form this season for the Italian club scoring an impressive 23 goals in 49 appearances however the money needed to complete a transfer here could prove to be a stumbling block for Arsene Wenger and the North London club. Another possible target could be Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon but he too would fetch a reasonable sum of money.

Gonzalo Higuain has hit form this season at Napoli.
Gonzalo Higuain has hit form this season at Napoli.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger will make youthful signings as usual during the summer window too with The Metro already reporting that Arsenal have signed French 16-year-old Yassin Fortune from French side RC Lens for around the £3 million mark, http://goo.gl/B9kZPT. The talented young midfielder had attracted interest from other major European clubs including Manchester United, as he is considered to be a star for the future.