Arsenal Focus - Southampton frustration underlines need for reinforcements
All good things come to an end and for Arsenal that conclusion came on New Year's Day down on the south coast.
Up until that point, the Gunners had been on a run of four straight Premier League victories since the woeful 2-0 reversal at home to Swansea in early December. But the 1-1 draw with Southampton, a team who Arsene Wenger's side beat 6-1 earlier in the season, again highlighted Arsenal's tendency to fall back into inconsistency.
Inspired by the intrepid form of Theo Walcott, Arsenal had scored 15 goals in that run of four straight Premier League victories. But against the Saints, they looked a pale shade of that free-scoring, confidence-high unit, surrendering possession with flippancy akin to New Year's Eve revellers buying complete strangers alcoholic beverages - a wastefulness not seen from an Arsenal team for some time.
The upshot of such a performance from the viewpoint of Gunners supporters is that it may encourage Wenger to reach down the back of the Arsenal sofa in search of coppers in the January transfer window.
The Frenchman is usually thrifty even in the summer months, let alone in the cold, harsh economic environment of the footballing winter, but he may not have a choice. With Chelsea progressing steadily under Rafael Benitez and Andre Villas-Boas finally getting a chance to imprint his philosophy on Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal are once again in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification for the first time since 1998.
As Theo Walcott continues to um and ah over putting pen to paper on a new deal and Lukas Podolski continues to underperform, it was thought that Wenger would be keen on bringing in a striker. Demba Ba was touted but the Senegalese forward has injury problems and would not come cheap - it may be a blessing in disguise that Chelsea look to be closing in on his signature.
Some media outlets have instead linked Arsenal with Adrian Lopez of Atletico Madrid . But at £14m, he too could prove too expensive - especially with a scoring record, 9 goals in 50 La Liga appearances, that will hardly reduce one to their knees. Another target ,Thierry Henry, will not be returning to the Emirates Stadium for a third spell, after Wenger claimed the French forward is ”not ready”.
Reinforcements will be required at the other end of the pitch too. At least one of Johan Djourou and Sebastien Squillaci will depart north London in the window. Even both could move on, leaving Arsenal with a sizeable space in the dugout.
Whoever arrives and departs, the balance of the squad must be right if the Gunners are to secure a top four finish, at worst. Walcott, currently performing admirably as a forward, and his location at the beginning of February must be key to that. But all good things come to an end.
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