Talk strikers later, Newcastle United need a new defence.

At third place in terms of most goals conceded this year behind rivals Sunderland and Norwich, it is evident that Newcastle United should be looking to improve their defence in the last five days of the January transfer window. Instead with stories flying around at various online newspapers and the NUFC hashtag on Twitter becoming inundated with transfer rumours bringing Lacazette and Remy to the club, we ask is it really a new striker that Newcastle United need before the end of the January transfer window?

In the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” For Newcastle then maybe it is a case of winning games right now to avoid relegation come the end of the season but what about in five seasons time? Will they be in a similar position again because the Newcastle board have failed to make the right signings over and over again. You only have to look down the road to Sunderland to see a similar example. For years now Sunderland have struggled and if you look at the transfers the club has made it’s clear to see why. Big money spent on the forward line and not enough quality brought in defensively. Unfortunately for football fans in the north-east it’s becoming a normal sight to see the two sides towards the wrong end of the Premier League table.

Prior to the signing of Jonjo Shelvey whom on a side note will create more chances as seen on his debut which will inevitably bring goals for the team, Newcastle had spent £41,000,000 from the summer transfer window onwards on attackers. Granted it takes time for players to settle in, especially in a league as demanding and challenging as the Premier League, but when you compare the £12,000,000 spent on so far flop Florent Thauvin and the £8,400,000 spent on strong centre back Chancel Mbemba, every Geordie will be in agreement over who the better purchase has been so far. With news breaking that Spurs winger Andros Townsend is joining the club for around £11 million, fans will once again be excited with the proposition but in my mind, that’s another huge sum of money that can’t be used to strengthen the team in more urgent areas. With a very young core of Wijnaldum, Mitrovic, Perez, Sissohko, Shelvey, Thauvin, Saivat and 18 year old Adam Armstrong out on loan at Coventry City who has 16 goals so far this season, I fail to see the real problem upfront for Newcastle. There’s no patience at Newcastle United any more, granted we all know the story of Mike Ashley and how he has sometimes run the club in a manner that the majority of the fans don’t like but compared to Norwich, Bournemouth, Sunderland, Aston Villa, West Brom, Swansea and the list can go, Newcastle have a developing squad that in a few years will be very strong going forward.

Jonjo Shelvey is another great addition to the Newcastle United forward line.
Jonjo Shelvey is another great addition to the Newcastle United forward line.

On the other hand however in defence it is clear to see the teams’ quite serious weaknesses. The backline is reliant on 33 year old Fabricio Coloccini who yes has had a fantastic career on Tyneside but this season in particular has shown his unreliable side and has at times come under heavy scrutiny from Newcastle fans. Aside from Mbemba who has proved a fantastic purchase so far and will only improve during his stay in the Premier League, the main form of back up in the central defensive position comes in the form of 31 year old Mike Williamson, a player who went on loan to a Championship club this season and has always been a target for the Newcastle boo boys. Jamaal Lascelles is one for the future, Steven Taylor has unfortunately become a bit more injury prone in the later stages of his career and other than that, Newcastle are struggling at centre back. Daryl Janmaat is solid at the right back spot but has no cover if he gets injured while Paul Dummett can be a bit up and down in terms of form, similar to Massadio Haïdara.

Without a doubt, a new striker would be an exciting proposition for the fans of Newcastle United especially if a star striker such as Loic Remy or Alexander Lacazette is signed however the defensively frailties will still be present going into the second half of the season and personally I think to leave the defence in the same state that it’s already in is too big of a gamble to take in the position that Newcastle United are currently in.

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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.

What next for Liverpool F.C.?

What does life after Steven Gerrard mean for the Merseyside club?

To say that Liverpool have relied on their captain for 10-12+ years would be an understatement. Gerrard has stuck with the Merseyside club through thick and thin down the years and fully deserves his ‘legend’ title both within the North-Western city but also in the world of football in general. With his move to the L.A Galaxy in the rapidly developing MLS however, their once captain leaves a massive void within the club both on and off the pitch. Understandably in recent years, Gerrard has slowed down and made fewer appearances at the club but his presence will be sorely missed.

First of all, there doesn’t need to be a change in management. Brendan Rodgers will be the first to admit that his team have underwhelmed this season both in the league and the cup competitions but his young age and previous managerial record show that his knowledge within the sport is only going to grow further. It needs to be addressed too that Liverpool fans themselves need to understand that the club will not find another Steven Gerrard figure in this summer’s transfer market and need to possess patience in the near future.

This summer it will be the clubs new potential new signings that will have to do all the talking. First of all, Liverpool desperately need a new central defensive midfielder as Lucas Leiva has had a poor season. Emre Can could provide cover in that position but Rodgers seems to like the German international in a back three system. Liverpool need a defensive powerhouse that will shield the back two and give Henderson the freedom to move forward up the pitch. Victor Wanyama would fit perfectly within this role after having another fantastic season at Southampton and importantly he is tried and tested in the BPL. Yann M’Vila of Rubin Kazan, Axel Witsel of Zenit and Fernando from Shakhtar Donetsk could also fit this demanding role in front of the Kop next season.

Victor Wanyama in action for Southampton.
Victor Wanyama in action for Southampton.

It is not difficult to see that Liverpool have struggled massively in terms of goal scoring either this term as Gerrard himself is top scorer for the team with 12 goals in all competitions subject to this weekend’s final game of the season away at Stoke. Gonzalo Higuaín would cost too much for the club with transfers needed elsewhere on the team however both Aston Villa’s inform Christian Benteke, subject to very heavy rumours http://goo.gl/bvzQNB, and Lyon’s hometown hero Alexandre Lacazette could offer solutions for Rodgers, when Sturridge is out injured, for close to the £20 million mark.

Benteke could make the  move to Anfield this summer.
Benteke could make the move to Anfield this summer.

The Merseyside club further need to make a move for an attacking right-back to fit into Rodgers formation and tactics as Glen Johnson is phased out of the club. The front-runner according to various news articles, including Metro http://goo.gl/UaroqI, is Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal after the Spanish giants signing of Danilo from Porto for £23 million.

Carvajal is subject to strong rumours.
Carvajal is subject to strong rumours.

A new back up goalkeeper and centre back could be on the agenda too as the club look to drop unwanted contracts whilst bringing depth into the overall squad for next season. Peter Cech has been subject to heavy press rumours linking him with a move to Liverpool this summer as he plays second best to teammate Thibaut Courtois at rivals Chelsea however the Reds are more likely to revisit Fiorentina to pick up Brazilian stopper Neto for close to £2 million. At centre-back Rodgers needs strength in-depth. Skrtel has had his usual solid season but Lovren has struggled whilst Sakho has suffered various injury setbacks throughout the course of the year.

Other depth signings could include James Milner whom is sought after by Liverpool and Asier Illarreamendi for £15 million from Real Madrid.