What now for Arsenal after Man City win and Bielik signing?
Following their outstanding win against Manchester City at the Etihad, Arsene Wenger has made his first move in the January transfer window, snapping up highly-rated 17-year-old midfielder Krystian Bielik.
They look certs to finish in the Premier League top four this season, being odds-on at 4/9 with Coral to do so; however, retaining the FA Cup, which they are 7/1 fourth-favourites to do, and going as far as they can in the Champions League should be a priority.
At 9/2 to reach the semi-finals, this is a realistic possibility and it shouldn’t be beyond them, especially after showing they can beat the Premier League champions in their own backyard.
Wenger has already implied not signing a defender in the winter window would be risky, and is reportedly lining a bid up for Villarreal’s Brazilian centre back, Gabriel Paulista. The 24-year-old will provide cover and competition in the position for Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, with the Gunners having to utilise left back Nacho Monreal in the middle at times this term, as well as rookie Calum Chambers.
Any deal may rest on Paulista being able to obtain a work permit, though the fee which is being bandied around, £6m plus add-ons, represents great value for money.
Ideally, Arsenal also need steel in midfield; something that has long been said and with club captain Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere both crocked, there could be a short-term need to plug the gap, especially if anyone else sustains injury.
Wenger, though, appears to have found a successful combination in central midfield, after recalling Frenchman Francis Coquelin from a loan spell at Charlton, and creating a new role for Santi Cazorla, who now merges creativity and flair with relentless industry as evidenced against Man City.
Ideally, Arsenal will need to find a long term replacement for Arteta who, at 32 and plagued by injuries, is unlikely to be a regular fixture in the first team for much longer. After spending on flagship signings for the past two years, in a change to their recruitment strategy, a ‘galactico-esque’ midfielder could be on the radar this summer.
Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan keeps being linked, for as little as £16m, due to his contract expiring soon, which would represent a top class acquisition for a steal of a fee. However, former Liverpool player Dietmar Hamann said recently that Wenger should scrap plans to sign Gundogan and instead look at either Sven or Lars Bender whose more no-nonsense style is what the Gunners need.
However the rest of the season pans out for the north London side, should they land at least one defender this transfer window and keep on playing the way they are playing, then winning a trophy to go with a top four finish shouldn’t be beyond them.