Ok, let’s say this out loud – Arsenal don’t appear to be the force they once were. Under Arsene Wenger, the Gunners were Champions League qualification shoe-ins every season.
Those days may seem a long time ago to some Arsenal fans, but Mikel Arteta’s side aren’t that far away from being back where they belong – buzzing around the top of the Premier League table.
The 3-1 win against London rivals Chelsea certainly cheered all Arsenal fans on Boxing Day.
But, here’s the bad news. The side hasn’t competed in Europe’s elite competition since the 2016/17 season. And they look unlikely to return to the top table next season.
Heading into 2021, Arteta’s team seems in dire need of reinforcements.
Arsenal need fresh faces
But let there be light. It could take only, say, three fresh faces to see the Gunners surging back up the table.
Let’s take a look at three players the Gunners should sign in January to kick-start their resurgence.
Arsenal’s right flank is a cause for concern. The Gunners’ £72 million record signing Nicolas Pepe has failed to live up to the hype.
Meanwhile, summer signing Willian has failed to kick on following his sensational debut against Fulham in September. Fans have been left wondering where the Chelsea-era Willian has gone?
Whatever the answer to that conundrum, Arteta definitely needs more from his wide men. This is where Buendia comes into play.
The Arsenal faithful may scoff at the idea of Buendia coming to the Emirates. After all, he is only plying his trade in the Championship.
However, the Norwich City wideman was playing in the top flight just last season.
He provided seven assists for the Canaries in his maiden Premier League campaign, showing he’s capable of moments of magic in the final third.
You don’t always have to spend a fortune to dig up a diamond.
Arsenal have plenty of options in central midfield. The problem is, none of them stand out.
Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny can produce workmanlike displays, and the odd flash of magic, while Dani Ceballos and Joe Willock have shown glimpses of potential.
Arsenal fans prayed Thomas Partey would be the difference this season. Unfortunately, he has had an injury-hit start to life in north London.
The Gunners need added class in the middle of the park – and Aouar can provide it.
The Lyon midfielder helped his team to the Champions League semi-finals last season. His displays in the competition included two assists against Manchester City in the last eight.
With displays like that, he would fit in perfectly at Arsenal.
Six months ago this move would have seemed impossible. Even now, it’s a tough sell given Arsenal’s current woes.
Yet Dybala continues to be linked with the Gunners, indicating a deal isn’t entirely off the table.
The Argentine playmaker almost signed for Tottenham Hotspur in 2019. Spurs couldn’t get the deal across the line, though, and Dybala stayed at Juventus.
It worked out perfectly for the mercurial midfielder. He went on to register 22 direct goal contributions during the league season, earning himself the Serie A MVP award.
Unfortunately for Dybala, things haven’t gone quite as well since. Fitness issues and stalling contract talks have curtailed his progress under new manager Andrea Pirlo.
Dybala has been unable to hold down a regular place in the Juventus side this season, and could look elsewhere for first-team football.
Some Arsenal fans long for the return of Mesut Ozil. How about a player five years his junior who can also unlock defences with a deadly through ball?
Dybala could be the game-changer Arsenal are crying out for.
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