Arsenal's January fixtures have come to an end.
In a month that has often proved to be detrimental in previous years, the Gunners have flexed their muscles, coming through a relatively easy run of fixtures with only two dropped points.
Whilst Arsene Wenger's side should have been aiming to take maximum points, that one blip on the radar; a 2-2 draw last night with Southampton, could prove to be a point gained rather than two points dropped due to the difficulty teams have had in getting points at St Mary's.
However, Arsenal's midfield has taken a battering recently: an injury to Santi Cazorla and Mathieu Flamini's three match suspension last night coupled with Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere's own injuries means that Arsenal's midfield is not quite the force it has been this season.
These problems caused Wenger to admit in his post-match interview that he may be forced to bring in some new blood before the transfer window shuts on Friday.
Now that Arsenal have no fixtures left this month, the press can fully concentrate on circulating the wild and wacky transfer rumours we have come to know and (perhaps not) love since the January transfer window's inception in 2002.
But it is the next two months that will surely cause Arsenal to spend the money that many have been predicting them to since September 2.
With February and March bringing trips to Liverpool, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur and home fixtures against Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Bayern Munich it would seem that this Arsenal squad will not be able to keep going at the current rate for such a long period of time.
But there is no point in just demanding that Arsenal sign players; one must look at exactly who and where Arsenal should look to strengthen.
The most scrutinised position seems to be up front. Olivier Giroud has proved a crucial part of Arsenal's squad and has produced very fine form this season, but some groups of Arsenal and general football fans believe that the Frenchman isn't up to title-winning standard. Regardless, his only backup is Nicklas Bendtner (and Ju Young Park, but the debate remains as to whether he still exists).
Arsenal have been linked with moves for more strikers than you can shake a stick at (although shaking a stick at even one of them can seem unusual and rather excessive). Rumours of moves for the likes of Karim Benzema and Diego Costa this window have died, but faint flickers of life remain concerning loan moves for strikers.
Alvaro Morata and more recently Cristian Tello have been touted as short-term solutions for Mr Wenger with the idea being that he go for a marquee signing in the summer.
I would subscribe to a more short-term deal rather than a big-money move in January. Getting strikers from foreign leagues to settle in is very difficult, but midway through a season can often be far too demanding on a player. Arsenal should stick to their guns and let Giroud lead the line whilst having one of the two abovementioned youngsters as backup.
Both have, when given their chance, proved to be able to score when needed and when the time comes in this infamous run for Arsenal to face a supposed "lesser" team one of those two could be the perfect man to give Giroud a rest without sacrificing goals because of it.
One area which seems to be less talked about is at centre-half. Whilst Messrs Koscielny and Mertesacker have combined to devastating effect this term their only backup is Thomas Vermaelen, who is more than up to the task but has been rusty and has struggled to blend into the squad like he used to.
I believe that a team needs either four or five centre-backs, depending on the circumstances. In recent years Arsenal's trophy hopes have been dashed by a lack of depth and talent at the back.
However, the difference is that Arsenal currently have three up-to-standard centre-backs unlike previous years when they may have had just one and therefore another two would make things impractical.
Arsenal need one more centre-half who is only needed to fill in when necessary. Someone like Ashley Williams or Nicolas Lombaerts would be perfect as they would be more than up to the task of grinding out results when needed.
With Theo Walcott out injured and it being rather demanding to expect Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Serge Gnabry to be producing Champions League quality football every week, the winger issue remains.
It would seem that the most likely solution would be Julian Draxler who, although not exclusively right-sided, can play anywhere across the midfield and is both-footed; crucial for a versatile winger. Whilst he does possess a variety of traits, he is currently injured and we do not know whether his move will be completed in time.
And what of the midfield? With this sudden depletion of troops would not a new player be required? According to this very website, Wenger is now looking for a new box-to-box midfielder as a replacement for the injured Aaron Ramsey.
I would suggest Ivan Rakitic: the Sevilla captain has all the traits required to be at the heart of Arsenal's midfield. However, I would add that Arsenal need a midfielder with pace. Both Arteta and Flamini, who started together on Tuesday, lack the pace of their younger teammates and with the counter-attacking style that Arsenal so often use the team needs one of its deeper midfielders to be able to break as quickly as the rest of the team.
However, too many signings at once can unsettle the team due to how difficult it is to get them all to gel: look at what happened at Spurs. All those big signings at once slowed down the progress of the side amongst other factors.
It would seem that Wenger has to find the balance between having no squad left and having a squad that cannot play together.
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