Arsenal must avoid making transfers in January

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Arsene Wenger's wish-list for the start of 2014 was almost complete on Monday morning.

Top of the table at the start of the new year, in to the fourth round of the FA Cup with an, at times, effortless victory over their closest rivals Tottenham.

And, with Olivier Giroud returning to face Aston Villa next Monday, a squad with no pressing injury concerns, with the exception of Nicklas Bendnter. Nobody would have begrudged the manager a couple of days off for his troubles. 

Then reality struck.

Nobody saw the shocking news that Theo Walcott tore his cruciate ligament last Saturday coming, which makes its presence all the more disappointing and frustrating for Arsenal. 

Those looking for an immediate, swift response in the transfer market are jumping the gun, though.

Any player bought this month, unless it is an exceptional piece of business, will not boost the quality of the squad at Wenger's disposal. Arsenal have enough quality in their squad to still be competitive at the end of the season without having to dish into the January transfer window. 

Whilst Walcott's departure is a massive blow to Arsenal, as any injury to a player nearing world-class status is, they do have the resources to cover his loss.

Admittedly, Serge Gnabry and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are not the lethal finishers or as consistent as Walcott has come to be. But they do both possess the raw pace that frightens defences and can, when combined, try and fill the hole that Walcott's injury will leave in the side. 

Midfield is not an area that Arsenal are troubled by and, if needs be, Wenger would not be worried about playing both Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla on the flanks.

He will not be worried about slightly adjusting the system played in midfield now that Walcott is injured, and nor should he be as the confidence in his superior midfield will not be diminished by Walcott's injury.

In Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini, Arsenal already have three of the players of the season in their midfield. And that is a midfield without Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Cazorla and Mikel Arteta; all of whom are incredibly tactically aware and receptive to Wenger's tactical wishes.  

What will be worrying most Arsenal fans, though, is the shortage up front. With Nicklas Bendtner absent for the next three weeks, Olivier Giroud will be their only recognised striker.

And, with the French striker's goals seemingly drying up after scoring only once in his last seven matches, many will be screaming for a new addition. It will be unlike Wenger, though, to give into the masses demands and buy a player.

To use one of his favourite adages, is there currently anybody better, who is available, than the players already at his disposal? The answer, which is unlikely to appease those worried fans, is an emphatic no. 

To panic would be to put a distinct lack of faith in the players who have taken Arsenal to the top of the Premiership. True, Giroud is not scoring as freely as he once was, but his form will return. Maybe injury was, ironically, the rest his body needed after a gruelling year. 

Furthermore, Wenger will be secretly pleased by the improving form Nicklas Bendtner has shown as the season has gone on. There can be no doubt that, given the opportunity, the Frenchman would have happily sold him in the summer.

But, in a strange knack of events, Bendtner is a very useful replacement striker for the system Arsenal play.

His ability to hold up the ball has improved markedly, and, although his goal-scoring ratio is never likely to strike fear into defenders, it is under-rated.

In 150 minutes of league football this year, mostly off the subs bench, the Dane has scored two goals; including the crucial winner against Cardiff.

Granted, that is not world-beating form. But Dimitar Berbatov, the striker Arsenal have been linked with the most over the last week, has scored only five in 16 games. It is doubtful whether he would add anything significant to the squad that Wenger has not already got and would, therefore, be very surprising if Arsenal were to stake an interest in the languid Bulgarian.

A winter signing, may not be the wisest, or most realistic, move that Wenger will make.

He knows that strikers are the main area that the Gunners need to bulk up on but, realistically, a signing in the ilk of Diego Costa is as unrealistic as Arsenal selling Mesut Ozil.

Wenger will know that buying in January will bring over-priced players; he need only to look at Arshavin's time at the club to realise what a poor winter signing can bring. He will be confident that the current squad will bring back success to the club.

And, what's more, the faith Wenger may show in his players by not buying may provide the biggest sign of faith his players could have asked for. What will happen in January, and the season beyond, is intriguing.   

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