The January transfer window has got off to a quiet start but will surely come to life sooner rather than later. With clubs up and down the league each trying to improve their lot in the second half of the season, the transfer scramble will soon be underway. With that in mind, we look at five of the transfers that are most needed in the January transfer window.
Norwich – Centre Back
Stranded at the foot of the division, five points behind 19th placed Watford and seven points from safety, Norwich are the leakiest side in the Premier League.
Conceding 41 goals in 21 games and keeping just two clean sheets, the Canaries defence have been welcome hosts for almost every attack they have encountered so far. As a newly promoted side it’s difficult enough staying afloat in the Premier League without asking your forwards to score two or more a game to secure a point.
Norwich haven’t been helped by injury. The absence of captain Grant Hanley was a particular blow but such setbacks are to be expected in a league where the fixtures come thick and fast, Norwich’s squad has simply lacked the depth to cope.
Things are looking grim at Carrow Road, though a few wins in a row could bring Norwich back from the brink. However, they desperately need to invest in the playing squad in the January transfer window to give themselves a fighting chance.
Will the owners give Daniel Farke the cash he needs or are they already planning for life in the Championship? Considering the financial hit of relegation, it would be a gamble.
Linked with: Ben Gibson, Ravil Tagir, Marc Guehi
Manchester United – Creative midfielder
Much has been made of Manchester United’s misfiring strikers, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial each under the spotlight due to missing chances at different points this season. However, it is their midfield that is in greatest need of improvement in the January transfer window.
United must have their greatest dearth of midfield quality since the inception of the Premier League. Paul Pogba is the only true world class midfielder in their ranks but he is injured and clearly wants out of the club at the earliest possible opportunity. Scott McTominay has proven himself a worthy addition and will be captaincy material in the future, however he is also crocked.
Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata are long past their best. The much-derided Fred hasn’t been as bad as is often said but still hasn’t justified his fee. Jesse Lingard hasn’t scored since Robbie was still in Take That.
United’s lack of creativity has led to an xG of just 35.86, four less than Chelsea, seven less than Liverpool and nearly 20 less than City. If they are to increase the form of their forward line, they could start by giving them proper service, and that means spending in the January transfer window.
Linked with: Bruno Fernandes, Emre Can, James Maddison, Nicolo Zaniolo
Arsenal – Centre back
Trying to qualify for the Champions League with a central defensive partnership of David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi is akin to trying to put out a fire with a can of petrol and some kindling. Yet that is what Arsenal, supposedly a big six side, have been left with at points this season.
Owing to injuries to Sokratis and Rob Holding, Arsenal have had to rely on the footballing Chuckle Brothers far more than they would have liked this season. As a result they find themselves tenth in the league, below Sheffield United and Crystal Palace, having conceded the most goals in the top half (30).
Their failure to replace the leadership and ability of previous captain Laurent Koscielny, who forced his way out of the club in the summer, has cost them big time.
Currently three points behind the Europa League positions and nine points behind Champions League qualification, it’s not yet too late for Arsenal to salvage something from their miserable season. However, if new boss Mikel Arteta is to complete an unlikely salvo job, he will need a new defensive leader who can make The Gunners more resilient. Will he be given any cash to spend in the January transfer window though?
Linked with: Jerome Boeteng, Merih Demiral, Dayot Upamecano
Crystal Palace – Striker
While Arsenal have crept into the top half of the table despite an atrocious defensive effort, Palace have reached the heady heights on ninth owing to the heroics of their rearguard. In fact, Roy Hodgson has been performing miracles with them.
Conceding just 23 times in 21 matches, including a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Spurs which now looks to be one of the weirdest results of the season, only Liverpool, Leicester and Sheffield United have been more miserly at the back this season.
It is a feat made even more impressive considering the seemingly endless succession of injuries Roy Hodgson’s defence has had to overcome. Patrick Van Aanholt, Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Gary Cahill, Mamadou Sakho and Jeffrey Schlupp have all been missing for extended periods and many of them at the same time.
It is up front where Palace have let themselves down though, with the Eagles netting just 19 times so far. In fact, only 19th placed Watford have found the net less often.
Christian Benteke continues to misfire and the once prolific striker has now scored just four goals in his last 61 Premier League games. Conor Wickham has contributed little more, the perennially injured Englishman has managed to play just 18 times over the last four seasons, scoring three goals.
Jordan Ayew has really been the only bright spot in the Eagles’ attack so far, scoring five goals in 20 appearances, but Palace could desperately do with recruiting a regular scorer in the January transfer window to lead their line. Indeed, just how higher might the Eagles be if they had a decent striker?
Linked with: Michy Batshuayi, Cenk Tosun, Fedor Chalov, Fabio Borini
Tottenham – Right back
As Spurs fans sighed a reluctant sigh upon the appointment of their former foe, Jose Mourinho, at least some of them must have thought “Well, at least he’ll tighten up our defence”.
12 games later, Spurs have kept just a single clean sheet and shipped 19 goals. In Mauricio Pochettino’s final 12 games, they managed three clean sheets and conceded 20 times, though that included the 7-2 hammering at home to Bayern Munich.
Things have not improved under Jose Mourinho and, in many ways, have become worse. The big problem is that Mourinho sides operate from a stable, defensive base and the Portuguese doesn’t currently have the tools in his arsenal.
The biggest issue has been at right back, a position which hasn’t been properly addressed since Kyle Walker left for Manchester City in 2017. Kieran Trippier was deemed an unworthy replacement until he was sold to Atletico Madrid in the summer. But while Spurs have floundered, Trippier has prospered in Madrid, featuring 14 times for the side with the joint best defensive record in the league, conceding just 12 in 19 matches.
None of Serge Aurier, Juan Foyth or Kyle Walker-Peters have been able to convince as his replacement and Spurs have been hugely vulnerable down their right side as a result. If they are to bridge the six point gap to the top four in the remaining 17 matches, recruiting an assured right back in the January transfer window is a must.
Linked with: Ricardo Pereira, Max Aarons, Nordi Mukiele