Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Walcott must improve his form.

It's been a long, hard season yet again. With 9 games to go, you'd have thought that we'd have settled on a proper starting eleven by now, but after the reshuffling ofthe team in the last few weeks, no one can claim to know our best team.

Vermaelen and Szczesny are to notable absentees from the starting eleven right now, as poor form, rumoured poor attitude, and some "mental fatigue", have seen Wenger ruthlessly banish them from the team. This is surely more than just a tactic, but a statement to our key players that noone's place is the team is safe, and that for the last 9 games the players need to up their performances, or face chop.

A player who by now should be looking over his shoulder is Walcott. It been a strange season for Theo. One where he started at pretty much the bottom of the pile due to the contractual issues, but worked his way into the starting line up through consistent performances, and goals. Walcott's great mid season form even led to a short spell in his favoured central position.

Then came his long awaited new contract. Since signing, we've seen the Theo of old. Someone who drifts in and out of games ad often look disinterested. You'd have to be pretty cynical to assume that this drop in performance level since signing his contract was anything other then coincidence, but that doesn't detract from the fact that Theo's current form is a worry.

He hasn't scored since the end of January.
With that spell including extremely disappointing displays against Bayern Munich in both legs and Swansea this weekend, where he was eventually hauled off by Wenger. But its not only the lack of goals, but his chance creation level and involvement in matches has significantly dropped. Whereas a few months ago the quality cross to Giroud that helped open the scoring against Bayern was a common occurrence, nowadays, it seems to be an anomaly.

That assist in Munich does show that the quality is still there. After all, Walcott has 17 goals and 13 assists in only 25 starts this season. An amazing return from any forward player, let alone one who has been thrust in and out the the team and all over the forward line. His new bumper contract means he needs to deliver consistently though, as he is now valued as one of the clubs biggest assets. It also means that he will face more pressure and scrutiny. Lets hope he can respond.

With Wenger showing his ruthless streak in recent weeks, and Gervinho, Chamberlain and Podolski all looking to assert themselves as a starter, there is little scope for failure. We only have 9 games left, and our goal is clear, to win as many of those games as possible and secure 4th place or higher.

Walcott must show he is up for the fight. Come on Arsenal.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Super Santi vital for Arsenal as derby day approaches

Saturday's game truly illustrated the amazing talent of Santi Cazorla, as the Spaniard gave yet another sizzling display of his technical skill, as well as his inner fight, in what is becoming an amazing first season for him.

The 27 year old was the heartbeat of the Arsenal side going forward, and his two goals were exactly what the doctor ordered as Arsenal struggled to overcome their opponents. As soon as the Cazrola signing was announced this summer, everyone was full of excitement. This was perhaps the best, biggest name signing for the past 4 or 5 years.

Its not often that Arsenal's 62 year old manager gets so obviously excited by a new signing. But when you get to work with a player of exceptional technical ability, and who evidently enjoys every second of the game, it becomes hard to not recognise the childish adulation Wenger has for Cazorla.

Speaking following the Aston Villa game, Wenger reflected: “I did not expect him to score so many goals, because there are still 11 games to go so he could get a few more.“For me he is a complete player because he also has spirit. He continued to fight until the last minute even though he was a bit tired.

“He is a good example to follow because every day he is happy to come and play and practice. When he is on the pitch he gives you everything.“He is a great player, which you have noticed since the start of the season. I am happy and grateful he delivered two important goals today.”

The two goals have seen Santi reach 11 goals this term, to go with his 6 assists. For a debut season in the Premier League, its hard to find someone who has made more of an instant impact.

Cazorla has cited the "spanish style" of Arsenal's game as the key reason for his quick adaption, as it allows him to use his passing ability. Saturday saw Santi complete 90% of his passes, just above his season average of 87%, with the vast majority being in the final third.The 27 year old also averages 2.4 key passes per game, a total among the highest in the league.

Today, his Arsenal teammates spoke of their admiration for Cazorla, relishing the ease at which he plays the game.Speaking to Arsenal player, Per Mertesacker said “He is the perfect footballer. He has the technique to score goals and that’s what we need after losing the last two home games."

On a similar note, his fellow countryman, Mikel Arteta picked up on how easily Cazorla has settled into this Arsenal side. “I think he’s been outstanding,” Arteta said. “He’s played almost every game and, the way he plays, he takes a lot of knocks and plays a demanding game physically as well. To adapt to the Premier League in his first year and do what he’s doing, I think we have to clap him. He deserves that.

“I think he [Cazorla] needed a few goals like that. He helped the team to earn the points today. He was outstanding - his overall play as well. He was involved in many areas of the pitch today and he’s a top player."

Cazorla has been deployed predominantly in the number 10 role this year, using his technique, dribbling skills an vision to create numerous chances for the forwards ahead of him.

However, more recently Arsene has pushed Jack Wilshere into a more advanced role, with the Spanish talisman featuring on the left hand side for the Gunners, with the freedom to maneuver his way around the pitch as he wishes. This has allowed Arsenal to gain more potency as an attacking force, with Wilshere and Cazorla illustrating their skills and linking up well together.

Arteta went on to pick up on the strength of the Arsenal line up with Santi playing out wide, saying, “He seems to be comfortable when he plays off the left. He’s got a lot of freedom and he causes problems to the other teams because we can use the extra man in midfield."“I think he’s a player that can make the difference with his ability. I think Jack’s another one of them that has something special that can decide a game or can unlock a door when the game is really tight, as he did today with the ball to Nacho. For us, they are very important players."

There is no doubt that Cazorla is one of our most important players, especially considering that in games where he has been at his best, Arsenal have tended to dominate.Yet, there is definitely still more to come from the silky Spaniard. Despite his impressive tally of goals and assists, there have been numerous chances squandered by the diminutive playmaker, and he could have easily reached 15 goals and 10 assists by this stage of the season.

Moreover, we are yet to see Cazorla dominate in the big fixtures, against the sides competing with us at the top of the league. In fact, many have stated that he has gone missing in these massively important fixtures.

Whilst I personally would not go that far, we are definitely inclined to ask more from Santi in these types of matches. Other than a consolation goal against United at Old Trafford - albeit one which was superbly taken - and a somewhat impressive second half display at the Bridge, we haven't seen enough of the Spaniard, especially considering the talent at his disposal.

However Sunday offers him a chance to make up for all that, in what is going to be the biggest game of our season. A goal against Tottenham, and an outstanding performance to go with it will perhaps write his name into Gunners folklore, as well as giving him the confidence to kick on for the rest of the season and drive the Gunners into next years Champions League.

Come on Santi. Come on Arsenal.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Arsenal 1-0 Aston Villa - player ratings and performance analysis

Arsenal just about did enough for the three points yesterday, as two Santi strikes led them to victory.

My reaction to the game is available here:

Player Ratings

Szczesny 4
Jenkinson 6.5
Vermaelen 6
Mertesacker 6
Monreal 7
Arteta 6
Wilshere 6.5
Diaby 6
Walcott 5
Cazorla 8.5
Giroud 5.5

Ramsey 7
Podolski 5
Koscielny NA

Szczesny continued to struggle. Yesterday's error was his third successive mistake in consecutive games. He is starting to make costly mistakes and need to improve if we are to get 4th.

Jenkinson put in a solid shift at right back in place of the injured Sagna. He put in a great defensive shift, completely nullifying the threat of Agbonlahor. As the game continued, he became more involved going forward and was quite unlucky to get substituted.

Vermaelen is still some way off his best form. He put in a much better performance than against Bayern, but truth be told he was rarely tested by Benteke and co.

Mertesacker was perhaps the better of the two centre backs, but like Vermaelen is nowhere near the top of his game. Came close with a few headers, and seemed quite solid at the back, but rarely tested.

Monreal is continuing to settle with every game. Had some difficulty dealing with Weimann at times who was Villa's main (only) threat. Maybe could have closed down the ball for their goal, but made up for it later. A great cut back for Cazorla helped seal the win.

Arteta continued to put in a solid shift. A great link between defence and midfield, he completed 94% of passes and made 7 interceptions which illustrates his effect on the side. Could possibly become more of an attacking threat, but does his job well.

Wilshere maybe wasn't at his very best yesterday, but was still integral to our attacking movement. Had a few chances to score and possibly he should have scored.

Diaby put in a decent shift before being substituted. He may have picked up another injury which is incredibly disappointing for him. He keeps the ball well, and his physical presence is much welcomed. Sometimes he does slow down the game though.

Walcott definitely didn't have his best game for the club. Seemingly nonexistent for much of the game, he did start to contribute in the last 15 minutes. Was maybe lucky to stay on the pitch though, and can't play like that next week.

Cazorla was simply outstanding for us. Continually found himself with time and space, and constantly created chances. He simply loves playing football and when he's on top of his game he's an absolute joy to watch. Took both of his goals well, and had some finishing been better he could have ended up with some assists. A top game from a top player.

Giroud was somewhat disappointing. He was definitely our major threat, and constantly caused problems for the Villa defenders. Better finishing would have made the game a lot easier. He does tend to have games where he can't score for love nor money, but hopefully he will regain form soon.


Ramsey replaced Diaby with half an hour remaining and continued to show that he is getting back to top form. He injected energy and creativity into our midfield, and even had to put in a shift at right back again. Ramsey is always 100% effort, and possibly should have started the game in place of Diaby.

Podolski was largely disappointing when he entered the fray. Struggled to make an influence on the game and could have done better with some half chances. Needs to improve him form as he will be needed next Sunday.

Koscielny only played the last few minutes so doesn't receive a rating.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Arsenal struggle to overcome Villa

A win is a win, and the three points gained are a much needed boost to the squad following the week we've just had.

But there wasn't much to be pleased with other than the result.

Saturday was another afternoon spent in a nervy, anxious, agitated daze, as - in a typical Arsenal manner - we preceded to make a seemingly easy fixture much harder than necessary.

As Wenger illustrated in his pot match press conference, the start was quite tentative from the Gunners. Despite an early goal from Cazorla, his tenth of the season, Arsenal confined to struggle to assert themselves.

The passing was quite restricted, and the attacking players struggled. Jack was not quite at his usual standard, whilst Giroud and Walcott failed to get involved in the game, the latter being almost non existent for large periods of the 90.

As we struggled to dominate, Aston Villa started to cause problems in and around our beleaguered defence.

Weimann gave Monreal a lot of problems, whilst the pace of Agbonlahor and N'Zogbia gave us a lot of difficulty through quick counter attacks. In fact we were quite lucky that Benteke was not at his best, as Villa squandered a few chances before the half was out.

However, as we see on such a regular basis this season, the second half was started with much more of an impetus from the Gunners.

In the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half, Arsenal really took the initiative, showing almost as much desire as they had in the entire first half.

Cazorla was starting to dominate, spraying beautiful passes around as Villa simply couldn't get near him. Giroud was clearly the main threat, but seemed to lack support in attack, again highlighting the lack of option we have available up front right now.

As we attacked with more conviction, the corners came thick and fast. But time and time again we squandered the opportunities.

And it was costly.

After yet another wasted corner, Villa countered and we were left short at the back. Bu inexplicably Weimann was allowed to carry the ball forward for almost 40 yards without a single challenge coming in from a player in red and white. Noone got anywhere near him, and as he approached the edge of the area he let fly with a speculative shot. It was a shot that should have been saved, but Szczesny let slip through his arms as it nestled into the bottom left hand corner.

1-1 and the groans from disgruntled home fans were loud and clear. More of the same defensive errors were proving costly, as our slender grip on the top four was slowly fading away.

But credit to the players, as they truly went for it. Wenger took of Jenkinson for Podolski, as Ramsey was slotted in at right back. It was the start of an onslaught on the Villa goal.

The build up was with more conviction, and clear chances followed. Giroud hit the bar from a corner, before Mertesacker headed just wide. Whilst Podolski maybe could have done better following clever play from, at first, Cazorla then Walcott.

It was starting to seem like we were going to have one of those days. And agains a very poor Villa side it was going to be more disappointing then most.

However, with four minutes left, Cazorla came up with the goods. Arteta found Wilshere, who chipped a ball forward into the path of Monreal. The Left back was unfazed, and unlike other players yesterday, produced a ball of real quality, cutting the ball back to his Spanish international teammate who duly delivered.

It was the second of the day for Santi, who has done amazing for us considering its his first season in English football.

He was the one player who attacked with conviction throughout the game yesterday. He constantly had time and space when others struggled, and it was bound to be him that came up with the vital winner.

The performance may not have been great, and we didn't exactly see a major reaction from the squad following the dismal week we've just finished. But those three points picked up today will be vital in our chase for forth place.

After the game, Wenger expressed his delight at seeing his team return to wining ways.

“I am not here to lose games, I want win. We are in a catch-up situation and we depend a little bit on the results of the other teams but vastly on our consistency.

“The key for us is to be consistent and that is why today a draw would have been a very, very bad result for us.

“We cannot drop points, I have said that many times after the Chelsea game. That is what is in our minds, no matter where we go and who we play.”

Frankly he is exactly right. We can't afford any dropped points. Today's win was our third in succession in the league, and it's significant that all of them have been hard earned victories.

The 1-0 over Stoke was a pretty good performance, and showed some resilience. The 1-0 against Sunderland truly showed two sides to this team that we have to see more of. The first half saw us play free flowing, fluent, attacking football. The second half showed true grit and determination as the 10 men held on for a great win.

Today's win also showed that we can recover from the disappointment of the previous week. We were not amazing in any sense. But we came out with the win and that's all that matters for us right now.

4th place is completely integral for us this year. Every game matters, and next weeks battle with Tottenham will undoubtedly go some way to deciding who gets 4th.

We have to get a result next week. Today may have helped restore some confidence that we had lost, but we still need to retain focus for the remaining matches.

4th isn't exactly what we wanted at the start of the season, but we have to settle for it now.

Come on Arsenal!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Dire, depressing Arsenal crash out the cup

Another depressing day for The Arsenal. A dire performance in the FA cup saw us knocked out, virtually consigning us to yet another trophy less season. Bar any Chelsea-like shocks in Europe.

The whole game was played at a level unacceptable for an Arsenal team, with a slow tempo and lack of urgency throughout.

Whilst we retained constant possession and total control, the passing movements were forced and inflexible, and quite easily dealt with by a Championship side.

Chances came and went, but in actual fact, their keeper wasn't thoroughly tested as you would have expected. Looking back to the first ever defeat at the Emirates, Rob Green had to produce an amazing performance to deny us from getting something from the match, but today Kean quite easily stunted our few shots on target.

In the end, as the clock continued to tick, our confidence slowly drained away, whilst theirs started to grow. As our dominance faded, and the chances created became few and far between, they started to come up with the odd chance and were rewarded for their efforts.

Szczesny's save from a drilled Olsson shot, was pushed straight into the path of Kazim Richards, whose shot hit off the middle of his leg and somehow found its way into the net. There may have been some luck on their part, but it was all we deserved for our lifeless display.

Even the changes of Cazorla, Wilshere and Walcott couldn't inject the energy needed to win the game, and in the end the game stuttered into a toothless defeat, and the team slumped to an eighth successive trophy less domestic campaign.

Following the game, Arsene waited a full hour before addressing the media, whilst his name trended worldwide on twitter as fans started calling for his head.

When he finally discussed the woeful game, he illustrated his anger at the performance, saying "I do not want to go too much into detail but I believe we were really guilty on the goal."

"Not one defeat is acceptable. You are in this job to win every single game"

"It is very painful and very disappointing to lose a game like that. What is important now is to focus on the next one."

The performance was simply unacceptable and highlighted many of the problems that are so ingrained in our squad.

The changes made should have been enough to win the game, but instead we saw a major lack of depth. Diaby didn't look anything like the same player we saw earlier this season, constantly dwelling in the ball and needlessly giving up possession. Chamberlain continued to struggle for form, whilst Gervinho was as useless as we all expected him to be.

But the major disappointment came from last months player of the month, Olivier Giroud. Today he illustrated many of the faults left in his game.

The Frenchman does have something in his game, but still needs improvements. Today we saw the faults in his build up play as he failed to make much of an impact on the game at all.

It was very disappointing, but shows we need more reinforcements up front above anything.

Right now defeat is very hard to take, and the fan disappointment is definitely understandable. 8 year without a trophy is unacceptable for a club like Arsenal, especially when we are defeated in both cups by lower league opposition.

However, with the games coming thick and fast, there is a chance to reinstall some confidence in the squad on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A crucial month for Arsenal

So here we are. The return of the Champions League always tends to mark the start of the most important part of the season.

It's this time where runs are started, leagues are won and lost, and teams can quickly climb up the league. We only have to look at last season to see what the significance of this area of the season can have. Our 5-2 victory against Tottenham at the end of February sparked a run of form that secured us top four, with us playing our best football of that season. In stark contrast, it set our North London rivals on a stuttering path of disaster as they started dropping all number of points, and, by doing so, handed us the coveted Champions League place we desired.

Whilst we're not playing Ze all-conquering Germans for another week, the point is still clear. We need to start winning, and forging a great team spirit that we can use to secure the fourth place we desire, and possibly pick up a trophy along the way.

Mikel Arteta was quick to focus on the next month. And particularly fight for the Champions League. Following the 1-0 victory at the weekend he said: “There’s been a big improvement in English football; there’s no other league in Europe where it’s as hard to get into the Champions League.”

The fight for the Champions league is as tight as any other league, but what separates the Premier League from the others is the quality of sides competing. The fact that only 2 teams out of Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton will be in the Champions League completely underlines this.

Our next month contains 6 vital matches. The Blackburn game may not be getting the full attention as the upcoming Bayern match, but it still represents our only realistic chance of silverware this season. After Blackburn comes the Bayern Munich home game, before a Aston Villa make the trip to the Emirates in a game where nothing less than 3 points is acceptable.

But March is where the tougher tests lie ahead. What is looking like our most important game of the season at White Hart Lane is followed by a home game against other 4th place rivals. Next comes the return game against the Germans, before a tough trip to the Liberty Stadium against Swansea.

Arteta continued, stressing: “This next month is the month, it’s crucial, Everything can look brighter at the end of it or really, really bad.”

He's 100% right. We could either end up being in a great position in the league and FA cup, and who knows, we might even raise a few eyebrows in Europe, but before we get ahead of ourselves, we could have little or nothing to play for in just over 30 days time.

Some consistency has started the come through since the Chelsea defeat. We have managed to secure 4 wins in the last 5 games, and our performances have significantly improved. Szczesny showed what a great keeper he is some match-saving saves against Sunderland. Whilst the defence is struggling for injuries, we have even managed 2 clean sheets in the last 2 games.

It's also significant that we finally have a fully fit midfield, featuring the talent of Wilshere, Cazorla, Arteta, Diaby, Ramsey and Rosicky. That depth which has been missing this season will be needed as the fixtures come thick and fast from now on.

With Giroud, Podolski and Walcott all on good form its also vital they continue to find the net. But there are signs that partnerships are starting to be formed which can really help our forward lines in securing three points.

The next month is crucial, and the players must start to strive for consistency.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Arsenal show they're up for the fight for fourth

There's not many people who will tell you they had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in Sunderland, but Arsenal - in our own unique, stress producing way - did just that yesterday.

The North East is always a tough place to go, but for the second year in succession we have left the Stadium of Shite with a much needed three points.

After a great start, It was perhaps somewhat surprising that Santi Cazorla's strike in the 38th minute was the solitary goal of the afternoon, but a red card to Carl Jenkinson, plus the loss of Wilshere shortly after half time, ensured that we were not going to make it an easy day at the office.

For the first time in a while, we started the game with a sense of urgency and quickly started to dominate the early proceedings.

Walcott came close with some early shots, whilst Giroud should have done better with an effort that was driven across Mignolet's goal, but it was the fluent, cohesive passing that stood out.

It may have only been against Lee Cattermole and a small ginger kid, but Arsenal's attacking movement was its best its been for a while. Arteta, Ramsey and Wilshere were amazing in midfield with quick short passing moves. They cleverly linked up with the front men too, as Cazorla and Walcott were constantly posing a threat, whilst Giroud's hold up play was exactly what was needed in a tricky away trip.

After one particularly impressive move, with fluent one touch play, Ramsey forced a great save from Mignolet. but the goal seemed to be coming. A great surging run from Jack, as he danced his way through the midfield opened up space for Walcott, who controlled well before passing back to Cazorla, who drilled a fizzing shot into the corner of the net.

It could, and should, have been more than 1-0 at the break, but the way Arsenal midfield had controlled the game, and the surprising solidity of our makeshift defence, meant we were all confident of a win come full time.

However in a particularly Arsenal-esque manner, we decided to make things difficult for ourselves.

First, Jack limped off after being kicked once too many by the shadows in Sunderland's midfield. Hopefully its just precautionary, and afterwards Wenger stressed that he'd be out for days rather than weeks, but the fact remains that he shouldn't have played 90 minutes in midweek in what was a meaningless game. Surely Hodgson wants whats best for Wilshere, and at this moment 90 minutes of football in a meaningless friendly was not best for Jack. In his post match press conference Arsene was quick to place some criticism on the refereeing, who rarely give Jack enough protection.

It was the Manchester City game where they systematically, consistently fouled him as distrusted our attacking moves. Other sides have also started to pin point Jack as our main threat, and referees should really strive to give him the right protection he deserves under the laws of the game.

As we were coming to terms with the loss of Jack, a much improved Sunderland side following the break decided to try and play some football. Sessegnon was always a threat whenever he ran at our defence, and as he ran at Jenkinson, who had already been booked, he drew a foul. Carl was sent off in a decision that its quite hard to argue with, but looking at some the the fouls committed by Sunderland yesterday and the amount of booking thy picked up, it's also difficult to say that the referee was consistent with his cards.

Anyway, now there was a real contest. With Sagna already slotting in at central defence, and only the yourhful presence of the untested Ignasi Miquel on the bench, Arsene moved Ramsey to right back, and deployed a 4-4-1 system. Arteta and Diaby shielded the defence, whilst Santi, Giroud and Theo could counter and try to secure the decisive second goal.

For the last 30 minutes there was something of a cup-tie atmosphere in the ground, and it was very end to end stuff. Walcott hit the post, whilst Giroud and Cazorla had slightly take efforts on goal for Arsenal, whilst Sunderland threatened with an aerial bombardment on our box.

Some superb Sczesny saves were needed to make sure of the victory, but Arsenal's makeshift defence stood firm to deny Fletcher, Graham and co. and secure an important victory.

Sagna will rightly be heralded after an amazing display in the centre of defence. He was aggressive and no-nonsense in the tackle, whilst he was always in the right position, displaying an intelligence and experience that was needed for the occasion. Throughout the game, he didn't put a foot wrong, and was the main catalyst for what some people were calling our best defensive performance of the season. Mertesacker was also back to his best, and dominated in the air. Monreal also produced another impressive performance, successfully illustrating his defensive positioning, but Jenkinson and Ramsey also stood firm at right back meaning we actually had a solid defensive unit for once.

It may have been close, slightly too close for my nerves anyway. But Arsenal showed two different, yet equally important sides of our game that will be needed to ensure we reach the top four this season.

The attacking fluidity that we showed will surely produce more goals as the season goes on. Especially considering Podolski, Rosicky and Chamberlain were all available in reserve. The passing game which is so integral to our performances has appeared "forced" at times, but the quick, one-touch play came naturally yesterday, and had some luck gone our way, or our players finished with move conviction, we could have won that game easily.

Yet the steely determination on show for the last half hour is something that we can't be without if we want that Champions League place. A few years ago, we might not have won that game.

In fact, just two years ago we led Sunderland 1-0 before losing our best player through injury and then going down to 10 men. We were left to rue missed chances as a very late Darren Bent goal cost us two points.

Yesterday was different. We showed fighting spirit, with Szczesny stepping up with some vital saves, and Arteta looking like a perfect leader in the centre of the park. It's important to note that since his return, we've managed 2 consecutive clean sheets and 6 points out of 6.

There are certainly a lot of positives from the game, but none more so than the three points. With a week off until Blackburn we can now get a much needed rest with the Bayern match on the horizon.

Up the Arse!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Midfield Targets for Arsenal This January

Arsenal's troubles this season have been well publicised, especially after the depressing home defeat to Swansea at the start of December, where it seems like the majority, or at least a vast amount, of Arsenal fans started to turn on their almost celestial manager Arsene Wenger.

Many of our troubles have been at the centre of the side, where Arteta and Cazorla have been forced to fight their fitness issues and feature in almost every game this season. Since his return from injury last month, Wilshere has also probably been used much more than Wenger would have preferred, but it only serves to underline how depleted the Arsenal squad is right now.

The reliance on Diaby after the exit of Alex Song this summer has been a catastrophic decision from the manager, and is certainly something he has to rectify in the coming transfer window - as well and the much maligned forward line. Whilst the rested midfield three of Arteta, Wilshere and Santi did perform well against West Brom, they do seem to lack the balance that was there when Diaby started the season in fine form. They aso lack strength, which is a key attribute in this league, and has seen our midfiled become overrun at times this year.

Arsenal need new additions, and here a 6 possible transfer targets for the January transfer window.

Mohamed Diamé - The West Ham midfielder has been in great form this season since his free transfer from Wigan in the summer, and has helped propel Sam Allardyce's side up the table. The French-born Senegalese international adds dynamism and drive to the midfield, with his robust defensive play all across the pitch.

Yet he is not merely a defensive anchor man. Diamé has also impressed this season with his attacking, technical play. The 25 year old already has 2 goals this season in his 15 Premier League starts, and has contributed to much of the great attacking play from the Hammers this season with surging runs through the midfield.

He is 6ft 1in which would add the power into our midfield that has been lacking recently, as we've seen the diminutive trio of Cazorla, Santi and Wilshere being overplayed for much of the season. He also adds the energy and drive which provides a link between defence and attack; something Diaby did excellently before his injury earlier in the season.

Despite his hamstring injury, he is expected to be fit by January, and has a clause in his contract which Arsene could easily exploit. The free transfer - possibly one of the signings of the season so far - has inserted a buy out clause in his contract, expected to be less than £5 million. Allardyce revealed on Sunday that "there's always a situation where you're powerless to keep a player because of the size of the price," hinting at a possible exit for Diamé in January. Arsenal have been heavily linked with him recently and he could prove to be a a great bargain buy.

Yann M'Vila - The French defensive midfielder was subject to much transfer speculation this summer, but eventually all possible transfer deals broke down and the French international had to stay at Rennes.

The lack of any move has had a very negative impact on the midfielder, who has since been involved in a number of contentious issues over the last year, and has subsequently been dropped from the French national side. Representing the under 21 side, he was involved in another incident, and has since been banned from all international appearances until 2014.

However, despite the question marks surrounding his temperament, there is no doubting M'Vila's quality. His tall, solid frame provides a stark reminder to the Arsenal great Patrick Vieira, and the Rennes manager has previously talked up the comparison, saying that M'Vila "reads the game like Makélélé, has the presence of Vieira and can pass the ball like Yaya Toure." High praise indeed. Before this season, where his form has declined dramatically, he was one of the most sought after young players in Europe, and had made a stark improvement in the past few years.

With 22 appearances for the French International side already at the tender age of  22, he certainly has the talent. Wenger could take a gamble on the player whose value has recently plummeted to around 10 million euros. If we did deal with his personality, he could certainly develop into a world class player.

He is probably not the finished article that Arsenal are in need of, but would certainly add something to the squad. He is tall strong and possesses a great passing ability that would fit in with our style and with his 6ft 2in frame, he would not need too long to settle into the physical rigours of the Premier League. It is certainly a gamble, but might be on worth taking.

Moussa Sissoko - Another great young French talent is the Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko. The 23 year old has been admired for a long time by Arsene Wenger, and could be available for a cut down price this January.

The 6ft 2in midfielder has a swift dynamic style, and is very strong in the tackle. With 5 international caps already, he has been more involved this year and looks set to become a regular name in the squad. He is predominantly a box to box player, but is adaptable across the central midfield positions. His game is suited to the Premier League, and he is one of the most coveted defensive midfielders in Europe right now.

He has previously discussed his admiration for the English game, saying ‘To play in the Premier League would be a dream come true, it’s a fantastic league and I enjoy it,’ He has recently been linked to Newcastle and Liverpool, but with Arsene Wenger at the helm and the attraction of Champions League football, if we were to move for the midfielder we would certainly be first choice. In fact he has previously said that “If I had to chose a club, it would be Arsenal.”

With the midfielder available at a cut down price since his contract is on the verge of expiration, he would help add quality depth to the midfield that we are in desperate need of.

Victor Wanyama - The 21 year old Kenyan has been the shining light of Celtic's Champions League exploits this year, particularly impressing in the two fixtures against Barcelona. The Kenyan international combines his power and drive to an almost unstoppable level, as well as being imperiously strong in the air.

Whilst he remains quite a raw talent, Wanyama has certainly progressed over the last few years since his move to Celtic. It is not only his tough tackling and energy that has impressed, but the smart distribution of the ball, which makes him seem much more experienced than he is. With a defensive nous and powerful surging runs being sorely missed in Arsenal's midfield this season, the potential £7 million signing could be smart business from Arsene.

At 21 years old, Victor will certainly improve in the future, and certainly has a long career ahead of him. He may not be the ready-made player we need right now though, with some lapses in concentration and a lack of consistency in his performances. However, when he is on his game, he is almost unstoppable.

Wanyama has 7 goals in his 27 matches this season, and is constantly improving. The Premier League could certainly be a likely destination for the Kenyan in the future, and Arsenal could make a move for him this January.

Kevin Strootman - The 22 year old Dutch international is becoming one of the brightest prospects in European football. Strootman has been watched by Arsenal scouts in recent weeks, including the chief scout Steve Rowley. In a nutshell, Kevin endears himself as a truly old fashioned midfielder, someone who is versatile enough to do a number of roles in the centre of the pitch and never look out of his depth.

The 22 year old has not become a household name throughout Europe yet, but his constant improvements mean he is now trusted as one of the key players in Holland's national side. Former Netherlands's manager Bert Van Marwijk is a particular fan of the PSV midfielder's vision and ability to retain possession. In addition to these skills, Strootman has bundles of energy which he uses to unsettle the opposition, as well as amazing timing of runs on his attacking forays, which has helped him contribute to 7 goals this season.

But i is hard to deny that his main expertise lies in passing the football. At times, Kevin is a joy to behold with his metronomic passing range leading him to be the heartbeat of the PSV side. Last season he managed an impressive 17 assists, and would undoubtedly settle into the possession based Arsenal style, but also provide something extra which has been lacking so far this season.

The Arsenal midfield has been in desperate need of more depth, and Strootman would add to the options in central positions. moreover, he probably provides more defensive nous than the other midfielders at the club, with Mikel Arteta currently occupying the defensive role with mixed results. similarly, At 6ft 1, the Dutch international provides a certain strength and power which the Gunners have missed since the injury to Abou Diaby and sale of Alex Song this summer.

However, PSV sporting director Marcel Brands has recently declared that "Kevin Strootman certainly will not move in January, Without a doubt, he will stay at PSV."

Considering their reluctance to sell, it would probably mean a large effort would have to be made to secure Strootman this January. However a bid around 20 million euros would certainly test their resolve, and would be hard to turn down. With Strootman seen as one of the improving talents in Europe, he would certainly be an impressive coup for Arsene Wenger if he were to make a move for him.

Marouane Fellaini - Despite his inflated transfer fee, Arsenal may be dark horses to sign the Belgian international . The all action midfielder has shone for Everton and has been widely regarded as one of the best players outside the top four. He has been deployed by Moyes in a number of positions around midfield, earning a bumper 5 year deal last year. Tenacious in the tackle, imperious in the air, as well as possessing an eye for a pass, Fellaini has all the qualities to succeed at the highest level, and has been amazing for Everton this season.

Playing in an advanced role this year, Fellaini has demonstrated his creative guile, and the 24 year old Belgian managed 5 assists in his 40 appearances for Everton last season. But this year he has also added goals to his repertoire, with 8 goals in 15 Premier League games. This creativity and attacking drive have helped Everton mount a serious challenge for the top four, But the tall midfielder's aerial dominance, tough tackling, and determined attitude will be his greatest addition to the Arsenal midfield. 

The lure of Champions League football, and a chance to reignite a partnership with Mikel Arteta could see this transfer go ahead, if Arsene is willing to possibly break his transfer record on Marouane.