Arsenal currently sit top of the Premier League table four points ahead of Chelsea in 2nd place as they prepare to face the blues of Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton this month ahead of the New Year.
The Gunners' biggest test of the season so far will be whether they can get results – not necessarily wins – from these three clashes starting on Sunday at the Emirates against the Toffees.
There are great swathes of rumours linking Arsenal to strikers in the run up to the January transfer window and whilst I DO expect Arsene Wenger to dip back into his pocket, I DON’T expect he’ll spend anywhere near (not even half) the £42.5 million he spent on Mesut Ozil this summer.
Whilst reports link Arsenal with the likes of Karim Benzema, Alvaro Morata and Julian Draxler I don’t think Wenger will spend £20 million or more on one player and I don’t believe he will bring in another attacking midfielder given his options in that position. I think, for that reason, we can rule out Draxler straight off the bat.
The only way I would even consider the Gunners making moves for either of Real Madrid’s two strikers are if Morata came on a loan deal until the end of the season and Benzema signed next summer. I know the Frenchman is unhappy at the Bernabeu but I think the price tag is going to put Wenger off in January and I don’t see what Benzema would gain from joining a club where he would be pitted against Olivier Giroud ahead of the World Cup. I think he could well be signed after Brazil but not in January.
I believe Arsenal will sign Dimitar Berbatov – I’ve outlined the reasons why previously. I know that will be controversial due to his affiliation with Tottenham and Manchester United but I think he is exactly the kind of signing Wenger will make in January.
His agent has specifically said he wants out of Fulham but wants to stay in England, his contract expires in the summer and Arsenal need a top-class finisher which I believe he is, regardless of his age.
He knows the Premier League, he’s got Champions League experience, he wouldn’t be cup-tied for the Champions League as Benzema would be and he’s already based in London – he’s the ideal January striker signing in terms of Wenger’s and Arsenal’s requirements. That’s my first prediction.
My second is another Premier League player – to sign players from foreign leagues in January means they spend the whole rest of the season adapting and that’s not ideal for a team challenging for the title. Nacho Monreal did it well last term but he’d been learning English and preparing six months prior to his arrival in North London from Malaga – he’s an anomaly in my estimation.
Arsenal need a centre-back who can come in, fill in and hit the ground running without needing to adjust to the intensity and physicality of the Premier League. Wenger may have a guy like Nicolas Nkoulou in mind from Marseille – I wouldn’t rule that out – but I think he’s far more likely to sign Micah Richards, especially given his ability to cover at right-back if Arsenal lose Bacary Sagna through injury, suspension or on a free transfer in the summer with Carl Jenkinson still developing as his long-term replacement.
I predict Arsenal will sign Richards on a four-year deal for less than £10 million from Manchester City who will negotiate on the price due to his £65,000 a week wages. I think Berbatov will sign for a one-year deal on more than his current £50,000 a week at Fulham who will be compensated with £4 million plus Nicklas Bendtner and, furthermore, I predict that Arsenal will go on to win their first Premier League title in a decade.
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