Arsenal’s Champions League ambitions may have taken a major hit after failing to defeat Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, but their Premier League title hopes remain firmly in grasp.
Wednesday’s draw due to Alex Iwobi’s calamitous own-goal means that unless the defending French champions fail to beat Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets, the Gunners will finish second in their group.
However, the draw means that Arsene Wenger’s side extend their remarkable unbeaten record in eighteen games, but star man Santi Cazorla is often missing due to his regular issues with his Achilles.
And as in previous seasons, injuries have cost Arsenal dear in the long-run, with any title bid often falling apart midway through the second half of the season.
And with Wenger evidently not trusting Granit Xhaka entirely, it is obvious that the club will need at least one more midfielder in order to stabilise their efforts to win that elusive title.
Here’s three moves that the Gunners could make when the window re-opens.
1. David Alaba, Bayern Munich.
You may have laughed at us for suggesting the Austria and Bayern man as a possible candidate for Wenger’s next acquisition, but yesterday’s revelation by Manchester Evening News that Alaba would be much more interested in a switch to the Emirates than Old Trafford has certainly posed an int
The same source also revealed that Alaba is a boyhood Gunner, and his versatility would certainly make the 24-year-old a useful option for Wenger to have at his disposal.
Alaba is most adept as either a left-back or a holding midfielder but has been known to roam forward into more advanced roles depending on the style of play within a team structure.
Squawka’s statistics on Alaba during the 2015/16 season certainly reveal what an asset he would be to Arsenal should a move ever come to fruition.
Alaba had a 54 % duel success rate, enjoying a 92 % passing success rate and completing 71.43 % of his take-ons.
Bayern are struggling to transition from life under Pep Guardiola to Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure, and perhaps this will be the best opportunity for Arsenal to strike.
2. Michael Keane, Burnley
Manchester United will surely regret letting Keane slip from their grasp. Once a boy dreaming of being a fan favourite at Old Trafford, the Englishman’s decision to move on to pastures new has proved to be a wise one.
Now a regular starter for a fairly established Premier League team, the 23-year-old has impressed to such an extent that he was called into the England set-up as a replacement for Glen Johnson in October.
We compared him to Arsenal star Laurent Koscielny – appreciating the fact that he has played two games more than the Frenchman – but it is also worth taking into consideration that Koscielny is playing alongside much stronger players.
That being said, his below statistics are all the more impressive.
Not many defenders in the Premier League can claim a stronger aerial duel success percentage than Koscielny, but Keane certainly can.
Keane’s statistics in the categories of interceptions, blocks and clearances are also why he is arguably Burnley’s highest-rated player, and exactly why Claudio Ranieri tried so hard to bring him to Leicester in the summer.
Of course, Keane would be unlikely to dislodge Shkodran Mustafi or Koscielny from the Arsenal team, but strength in depth is a crucial ingredient to a successful title bid, and he would be a very astute purchase in January.
Keane was man-of-the-match in the Clarets’ undeserved loss to the Gunners, so he must be in Wenger’s thoughts.
3. Vincent Koziello, Nice
We are very excited about what France’s next star has to offer. His club team are level on points with a game in hand at the time of writing over leaders Monaco, and Koziello has been one of the main driving forces in Lucien Favre’s title push.
Just 21, Koziello has not been deterred by the plethora of up-and-coming midfield quality in France, competing with the likes of Lyon’s Corentin Tolisso and Paris Saint-Germain’s Adrien Rabiot for a starting spot in the national set-up.
As a result, he has already been rewarded with a call-up to France’s U21’s, and made quite an impression.
— Hugo Sánchez (@ElFutbolDeHugo) 14 November 2016
Koziello operates mainly as a centre midfielder, but he is more than capable of being deployed in a defensive role. The parallels being drawn with the Nice starlet and Santi Cazorla are unsurprising.
Outside of the Boot have done a comprehensive scouting report on Koziello, in which Mosope Ominiyi describes Koziello’s main strengths being his phenomenal passing range and energetic work-rate, which enables his high defensive work when he is not on the ball.
Ominiyi also praises Koziello’s somewhat surprisingly impressive tackling, as well as his ability to transition from defence to attack with the ball at his feet seamlessly.
Koziello sounds like the perfect addition, but the rest of Europe’s elite is sure to be chasing what could be a world class player.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Wenger will need to strengthen his forces going forward – or risk leaving Arsenal known for his failures, rather than his triumphs.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena.