January transfer window overview: a look at what each team needs

By on December 12, 2018

We are nearly halfway through the season and what a few months it has been. Pre-season favourites Manchester City have lived up to the expectation of being the team to beat and find themselves challenging for the league title once again.

However, it is Liverpool what head into the Christmas period as the league leaders. Summer signing Alisson Becker has been a revolution in the Reds’ net and has only conceded a record 6 goals after 16 league matches. The question is: can they keep up this form for the remainder of the season and bring the title back to Anfield after a 28-year long wait?

At the other end of the table, things are looking bleak for Fulham. After spending over £100m in the summer, they were aiming for a solid mid-table finish. However, after a long winless streak and conceding a record-high number of goals for the Premier League era, new manager Claudio Ranieri has a mountain to climb to keep them among England’s elite.

The upcoming January transfer window offers teams the chance to bolster their squads and make difference, from Premier League survival to champions-elect.

Here is what each team needs in the January Transfer Window:

Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick-Aubameyang-arsenal

Unai Emery had a tricky start to North London, suffering defeats to rivals Manchester City and Chelsea on the opening two fixtures. Since then, they have gone on a 20-match unbeaten run with their sights firmly on the top four. If they continue to play this way, there’s no reason why they can’t compete for major honours this season.

What they need:

Summer signing Sokratis has not improved the heart of their defence as previously thought. With Mustafi still suspect to frequent mistakes, Rob Holding’s inexperience and club captain Laurent Koscielny’s time spent on the sidelines, a centre back would be the logical sense, but they won’t come cheap.

Bournemouth

Life under Eddie Howe has seen Bournemouth continue to soar in the Premier League. Their fast-paced, free-flowing football can be a joy to watch and the manager deserves all the praise he gets. Currently sat in 8th position, they continue to look up the table rather than down, with Europe a real possibility this season.

What they need:

For Bournemouth to succeed, they need to keep hold of their manager. What Eddie Howe has done has been nothing short of a footballing miracle. For a club that only houses just shy of 12,000 people, they continue to defy the odds. From here, they need to get new England striker Callum Wilson fit and firing and possibly another to fill his boots from the bench.

Brighton

Chris Houghton must be very pleased with what his team have achieved so far this season. They have forged themselves an 11-point gap to the relegation zone, with veteran striker Glenn Murray firing in 8 goals already.

What they need:

When Murray plays, the Seagulls are at their best. When he is off the field, they haven’t quite got someone to win aerial duals and pounce on the loose balls. They have a lot of speed to come off the bench though, so a scout’s valued opinion may point towards investing in a poacher to cope in Murray’s absence.

Burnley

What a difference a year makes for Burnley. This time last year, they looked they would challenge the top 4. Their defence was being lauded for some excellent performances that saw them finish in the European positions. This season, it is a completely different story, with Sean Dyche’s men hovering just above the relegation zone.

What they need:

They need to shore up their defence to have a chance of staying up this season. They have conceded 32 goals already, the second most in the league. Burnley’s strength has always been defensive structure and discipline, so a signing at the back will go a long way to their survival.

Cardiff City

Few thought that Cardiff would be where they are in the table at this moment. With 14 points after 16 games, they have exceeded many experts’ and pundit’s expectations alike that sees them 14th in the table. Manager Neil Warnock knows how to win promotion to the Premier League but rarely finds himself out of a relegation battle.

What they need:

Cardiff has struggled for goals all season, so much so that Callum Patterson, a right-back by trade, has seen himself used as a makeshift centre-forward. Kenneth Zohore has struggled with form and injury, so it would not be a surprise to see the Welsh side make moves up front in January.

Chelsea

Eden-Hazard-chelsea-2018

The Maurizio Sarri era at Chelsea started off very well, going undefeated until a defeat at Spurs in late November saw them suffer a slight blip in their aspirations for the title. Alvaro Morata continues to misfire and with Olivier Giroud’s deal expires at the end of the season, manager Sarri has a lot to ponder in the striker department.

What they need:

Even with their struggles up front, Chelsea find themselves in a similar situation to Bournemouth, in that their season depends on one thing: the future of Eden Hazard. Hazard has flirted with leaving in the past but with a proposed new deal on the table, his decision to sign or not will have a significant impact on the rest of the season. They must try to keep him at all costs.

Crystal Palace

Selhurst Park is used to seeing the same tactic week in week out: give the ball to Wilfried Zaha and hope he can do something with it. After all, his brilliance helped them escape relegation last season. This season he has had little to feed off and the team’s results have suffered. Roy Hodgson needs to find a way to get his star man firing again.

What they need:

Zaha works well when he has someone to work with up front. When they occupy the defenders, it enables him to roam freely and make those devastating runs in behind. In theory, forgotten man Christian Benteke is the ideal partner for the Ivorian but for some reason, it just hasn’t worked out for the former Liverpool and Aston Villa frontman. Another striker is needed.

Everton

The blue half of Liverpool have finally started to see their season turn around. A slow start saw them languishing in the bottom half but the Toffees have risen in the table to 7th place. Gylfi Sigurdsson has been the playing the sort of football that merited the £50m transfer in 2017, filling the departed Ross Barkley’s shoes adeptly.

What they need:

With Sigurdsson and Idrissa Gueye in the heart of midfield, they have a good balance of creativity and power. However, they often lack that third player that compliments the formers’ talents. A box-to-box midfielder that can take find Sigurdsson in pockets of space could see them break into the top four for the first time in years.

Fulham

With signings such as World Cup winner Andre Schurrle and Jean Michaël Seri, who was linked with a move to Barcelona in recent times, Fulham fans could hardly be blamed for dreaming of competing in the top half of the Premier League. 16 games down and with a new manager at the helm, they are rooted to the bottom of the table.

What they need:

The reason is clear. In the 16 games played this season, they have conceded the most number of goals in Premier League history. They are lacking a general at the back that isn’t afraid to make the blocks and challenges required to maintain their Premier League status. Failing to acquire this could prove fatal.

Huddersfield

David Wagner defied all the odds in 2017-18 as he kept the Terriers up. This summer saw Huddersfield spend a club record £35m on talent. They are yet to reap the rewards of their investment so far and are in the bottom three because of it. There is serious work to be done.

What they need:

The lack of goals in this Huddersfield side is worrying. They have only managed to score 10 goals in their 16 games, the lowest in the league this season. A creative midfielder is needed to spark the forwards into life. Either that or a creative winger to put the ball into the box may help preserve their top-flight status.

Leicester

jamie vardy

Image: Mirror

It’s hard to know what Leicester’s aim at the start of the season was. Without N’golo Kante bossing their midfield and mercurial winger Riyad Mahrez on the wing, the best they would have hoped for is a top half finish. However, after the tragic accident at the King Power Stadium in November, they’ll be playing in honour of the victims for the seasons to come.

What they need:

The Foxes’ strike force is ageing, so manager Claude Puel may be thinking of adding some youth up front. Summer signing James Maddison has been impressive in the Number 10 role, with his form being rewarded with an England call-up, but there needs to be someone who can convert his chances.

Liverpool

mohamed salah liverpool

The Reds have seen the best start to a league season in their history. Virgil van Dijk has been a rock in the heart of the defence, summer signing Fabinho is starting to find his feet in midfield and Player of the Year Mo Salah is starting to hit the lofty heights he set in the previous year. Jurgen Klopp must now focus on keeping Manchester City at arm’s length for the rest of the season.

What they need:

In the summer transfer window, Klopp signified his intention of replacing former star Phillipe Coutinho with Nabil Fekir of Lyon. This never materialised so it could be tempting for Liverpool to enter the market for a playmaker. However, they will be wary of not upsetting the balance they have in the forward positions.

Manchester City

kevin-de-bruyne-manchester-city

It is hard to believe that they are not top of the league. Manchester City have started the season like a house on fire, with England star Raheem Sterling and David Silva, who seems to get better and better, playing key roles. Pep Guardiola knows how to win titles and will expect his team to do nothing less than win.

What they need:

City already have a £150 million player returning in 2019: Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian star has missed many games this season but with him returning next year, it will feel like a new signing. It’s difficult to suggest he has been missed due to City’s riches of talent and recent performances, however, they will be delighted to see him back sooner rather than later.

Manchester United

It seems like what could go wrong has gone wrong for Jose Mourinho this season. The Red Devils already find themselves 16 points behind league leaders Liverpool and it seems unlikely this gap will shrink anytime soon. Mourinho needs his players to step up or he could find himself, and his job, in a difficult situation next summer.

What they need:

The centre of defence must be sorted out. Since Rio Ferdinand left the club in 2014, they have lacked a commanding presence at the back. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have not created a partnership that Sir Alex Ferguson had hoped for and Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof are constantly in and out of the team. A priority for sure.

Newcastle

Rafa Benitez has won league titles and the Champions League during his managerial career and deserves much better than what is currently happening in the North East. It wasn’t too long ago that Newcastle was challenging for Europe but in recent years, the lack of investment from owner Mike Ashley has seen them drop into the Championship twice, and face yet another relegation battle this season.

What they need:

The sooner that the sale of Newcastle United completes, the better. Benitez has been working with a below-par squad for too long. They are not scoring goals, the midfield lacks genuine creativity and the defence always looks suspect when balls come into the box. Significant investment is needed in January and beyond to propel the Magpies up the table.

Southampton

Southampton used to be the envy of the rest of the league. They had an endless stream of young and talent breaking into the first team, going on to be sold for large fees. That seems an awfully long time ago. Mark Hughes has paid the ultimate price and new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has one of the toughest jobs around to keep them up this season.

What they need:

In Charlie Austin and Nathan Redmond, they have the players at the top end of the field to do some damage to their opponents. It’s keeping the goals out and getting the ball to their dangerous players that are the problem. They haven’t been good enough when it matters so a leader is needed to keep them focussed during the key moments.

Spurs

Mauricio Pochettino tottenham

For the first time in sports investing history, a Premier League team did not make a single signing in the summer. That accolade went to Tottenham Hotspur and they are not feeling the negatives that usually comes with lack of investment. Manager Mauricio Pochettino clearly believes in his squad and, being only 6 points off the top, it seems the club made the correct call.

What they need:

In Harry Kane, they have one of the strikers in world football. When he plays, they can beat anyone on their day. When the England captain is not on the field though, it’s a different story. The Vincent Janssen experiment failed miserably and they remain on the hunt for Kane’s understudy. If they can find this missing piece, they could be real contenders for trophies this season.

Watford

The first two months of the season had fans dreaming of ‘doing a Leicester’. Roberto Pereyra was playing out of his skin. Now in December and those fantasies are no more. The Hornets are not on great form and will be looking to consolidate their mid-table position as quickly as possible. Javi Garcia still has some work to do.

What they need:

One of Watford’s biggest assets is their left back, José Holebaas. He provides much-needed width which allows the likes of Pererya and co to work their magic. However, just like how Spurs feel the effects when Kane vacates the pitch, Vicarage Road feels a lot narrower without the Greek international. Investing in someone to stretch the pitch will do them wonders.

West Ham

It’s been a season of ups and downs for the West Ham faithful. A miserable start to the season saw them lose their opening four games, with star man Marko Arnautovic providing a glimmer of light. But how things can change. Record signing Felipe Anderson has shown the sort of form that warranted his big money move and the team is full of confidence.

What they need:

Declan Rice has impressed this season in defensive midfield but often gets isolated due to the attacker’s forward-thinking mentality. Manager Manuel Pellegrini may look to bring back Reese Oxford, another one of their young prospects, who’s currently out on loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach, to add further protection to the back four.

Wolves

Wolves romped to the Championship title last season and picked up where they left off at the beginning of the season. After only one win in six before the start of December saw them slide down the table, back-to-back wins have provided a much-needed confidence boost to Nuno Espirito Santo’s men.

What they need:

After significant summer investment, their squad is more than capable of challenging for places in the top 10. Former Porto captain Ruben Neves needs to start taking control of games. His partnership with compatriot Joao Moutinho can unlock defences in the blink of an eye so expect to see them at the heart of everything they do in the second half of the season.

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