What each of the ‘Big Six’ plus Aston Villa and Newcastle need in January

Sport

At the halfway point of the 2023/24 season, the Premier League table has taken shape. There is now a clear idea of the title challengers, the top four contenders and the strugglers.

The January transfer window offers an opportunity for clubs to strengthen their squads for the second half of the campaign with speculation already swirling over the moves that could happen before the end of the month.

Here’s what each of the traditional ‘Big Six’ and Aston Villa and Newcastle United need more than anything else in January.

 

Arsenal – a centre forward

Arsenal sat top of the Premier League table at Christmas, but defeats to West Ham and Fulham highlighted how Mikel Arteta requires a new goalscoring centre forward. Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah simply don’t have the natural cutting edge the Gunners need to keep Manchester City behind them over a full season.

 

Aston Villa – attacking depth

Ollie Watkins has been a star for Aston Villa in the Premier League this season, registering nine goals and eight assists in 20 games, but there isn’t much depth behind the England international. Athletic Club’s Nico Williams has been mentioned as a potential target, as has RB Leipzig attacker Yannick Eduardo.

 

Chelsea – a finisher 

Progress has been slow, and sometimes painful, for Chelsea under Mauricio Pochettino this season, but the Argentine coach is putting in place the building blocks. The Blues’ biggest problem has been putting the ball in the back of the net and so if they could find a reliable finisher in January, that would go a long way to ensuring success in the second half of the campaign. That player doesn’t necessarily need to be a number nine.

 

Liverpool – a defensive midfielder

Jurgen Klopp revamped Liverpool’s midfield in the summer transfer window with Wataru Endo, Ryan Gravenberch, Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai all signed by the Anfield club. However, the Reds are still without a world class number six with Endo signed as a stop-gap solution when Chelsea won the race to sign Moises Caicedo. Could Liverpool find a player of this mould in January?

 

Manchester City – a deputy for Rodri

Manchester City boast the strongest squad in the Premier League, but they lack a deputy for Rodri. The Spanish midfielder is crucial to Pep Guardiola’s tactical set up. Without him, City have lost four matches in all competitions this season. Kalvin Phillips was signed to be Rodri’s deputy, but the England international has struggled to perform and could leave City in January.

 

Manchester United – a centre back

Manchester United need reinforcements in a number of different positions, but their need is most acute in central defence. Jonny Evans continues to be a first team figure at 35 years old with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire still in the picture at Old Trafford. It’s also possible Raphael Varane could depart. A long-term leader at the back must be top of Erik ten Hag’s shopping list.

 

Newcastle United – a goalkeeper

Nick Pope is Newcastle United’s first-choice goalkeeper, but he is sidelined for the rest of the season through injury. This has pushed Martin Dubravka into the starting lineup and the Magpies no longer look so solid in defence. Newcastle could also move for a new defensive midfielder and right-sided forward, but David de Gea’s availability could solve arguably their most pressing immediate issue.

 

Tottenham Hotspur – a centre forward

Tottenham Hotspur have made great progress under Ange Postecoglou, but their squad remains thin. Spurs could do with a new centre forward after the departure of Harry Kane to Bayern Munich in the summer with Dominic Solanke reportedly on their radar. Son Heung-min and Richarlison have stepped up in Kane’s absence, but Solanke is a more orthodox number nine and penalty box finisher.

Author: Mark Hayes