The January Transfer Window has hardly earned itself a reputation as the best place for clubs to do business; just ask any Chelsea or Liverpool fan, who are still waiting for Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll to burst into life 12 months after making their high-profile switches.
But for some there is little alternative than to enter the murky waters of the mid-season window, and GMF is here with a handy guide to explain where each and every Premier League club could look to improve before midnight on January 31st.
With plenty of twists and turns along the way, each manager will be doing their best to either add some strength-in-depth to their squad, whilst trying to avoid losing a prized asset to a domestic rival. Here's our run through of the possibilities and perematations...
It’s been a tough campaign for Arsenal so far; their worst start to the Premier League under Arsene Wenger, key players leaving, and an 8-2 defeat against Manchester United that looked to have threatened Wenger’s job.
While results are going the Gunners' way recently, all is not rosy for the red half of North London as they contend with a severe injury crisis that threatens to destabilise their newly found defense strength and their push for a Champions League place.
Bacary Sagna, Keiran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Andre Santos have all had spells on the sidelines this season, while Thomas Vermaelen, who has acted as cover at full-back, has also battled with injury.
If Arsenal are to continue their charge up the league, they will most likely look for some defensive cover as they attempt to weather their current injury storm at the back.
The striker conundrum that faced Wenger with Gervihno and Marouane Chamakh heading off to the African Cup of Nations looks to have been solved with the proposed short term loan of Thierry Henry – which looks likely to have put paid to a move for Lukas Podolski.
Rumoured targets (estimate): Wayne Bridge (loan) Thierry Henry (loan), Aly Cissokho (£8 million), Kieran Richardson (£5 million), Maxwell (£2 million).
Poor old Alex McLeish. Having not enjoyed the usual honeymoon period that most managers get when they arrive at a new club, the Scot faces an almighty struggle to get the Villa Park faithful onside during the rest of the season, especially after some insipid displays thus far.
McLeish has already said they need to sell before they buy – perhaps rather ominously for Villa fans Darren Bent is being linked with a move to Liverpool – but chairman Randy Lerner has never been afraid to back his manager with serious cash before and may be willing to do so again.
With Jermain Jenas out for the rest of the season through injury a central midfield player will be McLeish’s priority, although if his main striker stays put it may be a loan move that appeals most to Villa.
Rumoured targets (estimate): Josh McEachran (loan), Steven Pienaar (loan), Robbie Keane (loan).
Blackburn may be more preoccupied with fending off clubs who are showing an interest in some of Rovers’ brighter lights to have shone as they struggle amidst the relegation gloom.
Keeping hold of the likes of Chris Samba, Junior Hoilett and Mauro Formica may take precedent over own transfer ambitions, but that hasn’t stopped boss Steve Kean insisting he will be trying his hardest to bring in plenty of new faces in January.
Backed by Venky’s, Kean certainly needs to bolster his team in numerous areas, with some creative attacking options to support the evergreen Yakubu needed almost as badly as someone to add steel in the backline alongside Samba with Scott Dann out injured.
Rumoured targets (estimate): Silvan Distan (loan), Jordan Rhodes (£3-5 million), Marice Edu (£3 million).
Bolton have suffered badly since a string of high profile players left the club – Daniel Sturridge and Johan Elmader both left the Trotters short of attacking power while injuries to Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong certainly left boss Owen Coyle short of verve and energy in midfield.
Add into that the fact that Gary Cahill is on the verge of leaving then the battle to avoid relegation looks to have got just that little bit more difficult for Bolton.
Bolton have proved themselves to be particularly savvy in the loan market in recent years (Jack Wilshere, Daniel Sturridge), and with Coyle saying there is little money available for new signings (unless the fee for Cahill is available) that may be a favoured route for the Scot to take.
Rumoured targets (estimate): Josh McEachran (loan), Bobby Zamora (£8 million), Kyle McFadzean (£1 million).
It’s stick or twist time for Chelsea as Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas is set to be handed a wadful of cash in January to continue with his planned overhaul of Chelsea’s ageing squad.
Alex and Nicolas Anelka have already been shown the door and rumours suggest that Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda and Solomon Kalou are next to leave Stamford Bridge.
Roman Abrahmovich showed last time round that he wasn’t afraid to flex his financial muscle mid-way through the season, but the Russian may have had his fingers burned as Fernando Torres continues to struggle.
The arrival of Gary Cahill is all but confirmed at Stamford Bridge as Villas-Boas looks to shore up a defence that has already conceded more goals than Jose Mourinho’s team did in the entire 2004/05 season.
Recent poor results may force the former Porto man’s hand further, and if he is tempted into the market the potential loss of the likes of Malouda, Kalou and Drogba to add to the confirmed departure of Anelka may see him go after an attacking option.
Rumoured targets (estimate): Kaka (£20 million), Milos Krasic (loan), Marek Hamsik (£25 million), Edinson Cavani (£30 million), Jack Rodwell (£20 million).
Everton face the perennial problem of wanting to progress and move up the league, but do not have the cash to do so.
Having lost Mikel Arteta before the start of the season and Tim Cahill going through 2011 without scoring a single goal to add to David Moyes’ attacking headache, the return of an Everton old boy may be on the cards to add a bit of spice to the Toffees line up, especially with Jack Rodwell reportedly attracting a lot of interest.
Steven Pienaar has struggled to establish himself since moving to Tottenham and could make a return to his former club on loan, while Josh McEachran is also a target, and Landon Donavan has already arrived at Goodison Park.
Rumoured targets (estimate): Steven Pienaar (loan), Josh McEachran (loan), Nicky Maynard (£1 million).
Martin Jol’s side have begun to make progress after an extremely slow start to the season, culminating in their astonishing 2-1 win over Arsenal on Monday.
The Cottagers already have an excellent unit up front, with Moussa Dembele, Bryan Ruiz and Bobby Zamora (who could still leave) complimented perfectly by the likes of Clint Dempsey, Karim Frei and Orlando Sa.
Despite this Fulham continue to be linked with a host of strikers, which only seems feasible of the rumours linking Zamora and Johnson with a move away from the club prove to be true.
Reported targets (estimate): Ivica Olic (£2 million), Andre Pierre-Gignac (loan), Josh McEachran (loan).
Liverpool looked all set for a quiet January transfer window after their frantic efforts last year, but that has all changed with the impending eight game ban of Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan has proved a hit since arriving from Ajax in the last transfer window, but the possibility of the Reds going eight games without him after he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra may be too much for the Scot to bear, especially with Andy Carroll failing to fire still.
In fact such is the exasperations said to be felt on Merseyside at the struggles of Carroll that he may be allowed to rejoin Newcastle on loan to regain his sharpness is reports are to be believed. Lucas Leiva’s season ending injury may have also forced boss Kenny Dalglish to re-think.
Reported targets (estimate): Gaston Ramirez (£15-20 million), Riccardo Montolivo (free), Chieck Tiote (£20 million).
The most feared club in the transfer market, Manchester City have the might to swoop in on any player they so please to add to their already impressive squad.
Manager Roberto Mancini has already admitted an interest in bringing Napoli trio Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi, while Roma’s Daniele De Rossi is also a target for the Italian.
The question remains however, is there even an area in which City can improve?
Well they have looked shaky at times in defence, especially at centre-back, ever since the defeat against Napoli in the Champions League in November, with Joleon Lescott in particular struggling to reach the levels of his defensive partner Vincent Kompany.
Despite the persistent rumours, there are likely to be more departures than arrivals at the Etihad Stadium in January - Carlos Tevez and Wayne Bridge are almost certain to leave .
Reported targets (estimate): Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi (combined £100 million), Daniel De Rossi (£20 million).
Will Sir Alex Ferguson ever be moved to do business in the January transfer market? Not likely, given his repeated insistence that there is no value to be had in the mid-season window whatsoever.
There is a chance however that this season could be the one to change all of that. An injury list that contains almost enough United players to field a full strength side has tested the Old Trafford outfit’s resources to the max, and if their insipid display in the 3-2 defeat against lowly Blackburn is anything to go by, they are at breaking point.
Of course the main question remains, will United ever add that elusive creative midfielder that they have been perennially linked with since the retirement of Paul Scholes?
Midfield is certainly a problem area for Ferguson. He has been forced to patching up the gaps left behind by injury and has deployed, Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs in the centre of the park.
The presence of Manchester City at the top of the table may also make him re-think his plans to keep clear of the transfer market for another season.
Reported targets (estimate): Wesley Sneijder (£25-30 million), Nicolas Gaitan £35 million) , Alan Dzagoev (£15-20 million), Eden Hazard (£30 million).
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew recently called off his search for a striker after the collapse of the deal to bring Modibo Maiga to the Sports Direct Arena, and it now seems unlikely any attacking talent will arrive on tyneside despite the impending departure of Demba Ba to the African Cup of Nations.
Pardew instead has switched his attentions to defensive cover having been caught short at the back after Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor were both ruled out through injury at the same time.
While Newcastle may be keen to bring in some fresh blood they may struggle to keep hold of some of their most prized assets, with Chieck Tiote and Yahan Cabaye both said to be courting attention from elsewhere.
Reported targets (estimate): Lewis Dunk (£2 million), Andy Carroll (loan), Robbin Ruiter (£300,000).
Over the summer, Norwich boss Paul Lambert made the astute decision to go after his transfer targets early on, allowing them plenty of time to bed in.
It seems to have worked well as the Canaries are currently flying high in the Premier League after their latest win against QPR.
With that in mind there is little chance of Norwich making any rash decisions in January, with Lambert likely to stick with his winnign formula so far until the summer.
If the Scot is tempted into the market, it will be to pick players form the lower leagues, with a full-back said to be the priority.
Reported targets (estimate): Chris Gunter (£2.5 million), Nathan Delfouneso (loan).
With the backing of Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, QPR are expected to be welcoming a host of new players to add to the new arrivals over the summer.
Boss Neil Warnock has seen his side’s form plummet to the point where they are now just two points clear of the relegation zone.
QPR have been well short of goals at home this season and may look to add up front to offer some support to Heidar Helguson, while the absence of Anton Ferdinand is also proving an issue.
They’ll also be hopeful of keeping hold of Adel Taarabt and Alejandro Faurlin.
Reported targets (estimate): Darren Bent (£24 million) Alex (£2 million).
Stoke invested heavily over the summer in the likes of Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios, so the likelihood of them bringing in more new faces in January is unlikely.
Jonathan Woodgate was forced to play at right-back recently highlighting a potential weakness in the Potters backline, while Jermaine Pennant’s recent absence – said to be down to a rift with boss Tony Pulis – could mean the arrival of another winger sooner rather than later.
Reported targets (estimate): Junior Hoilett (£8 million), Aymen Abdennour (£4 million).
While Martin O’Neill has been able to turn around the fortune of an ailing Sunderland side, there is little doubt the Ulsterman will want to put his own stamp on a squad he inherited from predecessor Steve Bruce.
Under O’Neill, Aston Villa became the 6th highest spending club in the league and finished 6th for three consecutive seasons, and the new Black Cats boss will be keen to cut some of the fat from his team and bring in some fresh faces.
A striker would be the main target for Sunderland following the departure of Asamoah Gyan and Darren Bent.
Reported targets (estimate): Bobby Zamora (£8 million), Nikica Jelavic (£5 million) Nathan Delfounso (£3 million).
Swansea boss Brendan Rogers has already confirmed there will be “ins and outs” in January at the Liberty Stadium as the Swans go about securing their Premier League spot for next season.
They have an excellent defensive record and have been extremely strong at home, but have struggled at times to put the ball in the back of the net.
Some support for summer signing Danny Graham up front would certainly be welcomed by fans.
Reported targets (estimate): Rory Donnelly (£200,000), Jamie Procter, (250,000-750,000) Keith Andrews (£2 million).
For a man with a reputation in the transfer market as Harry Redknapp, the Spurs boss has remained remarkably coy so far, insisting he would only act in January if a ‘special’ player becomes available.
Tottenham’s rigid wage structure is somewhat prohibitive and means their challenge for the Premier League title will have to be made with players who earn a shadow of the amount both Manchester City and Manchester United players are taking home.
The emergence of Younes Kaboul this season and the consistent performances of William Gallas has meant they offered little challenge to Chelsea for the signature of Gary Cahill, although Redknapp may still strengthen at the back.
Having looked so strong so far this season, Spurs have shown few signs of weakness and are instead focusing on seeking out players that will improve what they have rather than plugging holes in their team-sheet.
Chairman Daniel Levy is keen to shift some of the deadwood in the squad and keep costs down, but with Redknapp at the helm anything is possible.
Reported targets (estimate): Chris Samba, (£8 million) Junior Hoilett (£8 million) Kaka (£25 million), Carlos Tevez (loan).
Another club hoping to operate within tight parameters, West Brom have demonstrated they have some good options in attack already this season, with Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long playing well in the first half of the season.
The loss of Zoltan Gera early in the season will have been a bitter pill to swallow for boss Roy Hodgson, and the former Liverpool man may look for someone to provide support for his attacking pair from deep.
All has been a little quiet on the rumour front for West Brom so far, something which may worry the Baggies-faithful.
Reported targets (estimate): Nikica Jelavic (£5 million).
Stuck in yet another relegation battle, manager Roberto Martinez may have to act quickly if he is to repeat the feats of last year and keep the Latics in the Premier League for a 7th consecutive season.
The most worrying news for Martinez is the reported impending departure of Hugo Rodallega – Wigan struggle in front of goal as it is and to lose the highly rated Colombian would be a huge blow at a crucial time.
They must also tighten up defensively if they are to survive, with Martinez no doubt eying up some defensive options.
Reported targets (estimate): Billy Sharp (£3 million), Michael Ciani (£3-5 million), Curtis Davies (£2 million).
Wolves boss Mick McCarthy has admitted he is keen to add to his squad in January having failed to make any major moves over the summer – in fact the former Republic of Ireland boss has already acted, bringing in Eggert Jonsson on a three year deal from Hearts.
An improvement must be made if they are to pull away form the relegation zone, and will they have just about enough quality up front the centre of midfield could be a problem, especially with Jamie O’Hara’s injury woes.
Reported targets (estimate): Nicky Maynard (£1 million), Mohamed Diame (£1 million).