As the curtain rises on 2015, there is some serious drama to be played out in the Premier League over the next five months. The question is: does each club have the protagonists they need to make a real success of the latter half of the season?
If they don’t, now’s the time to sort it. For the next month, clubs have an opportunity to bolster their ranks, say goodbye to some players and get some much-needed new faces in. Let’s see what each team needs:
Arsenal need what they needed in the summer and what Arsene Wenger resolutely refused to bring in – cover in defence.
Despite selling Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona, Wenger chose not to replace the Belgian in August and the result was entirely predictable – the Gunners went through the first four months of the season woefully short on defensive depth.
Whether Wenger splurges on a quality defender remains to be seen, but one thing seems certain – the Frenchman will do as little business as he can in January, having shown previous disdain for the midseason window.
After a promising start, Villa are very much in the bottom half now, and sitting only five points above the relegation zone is not the most comfortable place for them to be. Will that prompt owner Randy Lerner to release some funds for Paul Lambert to strengthen his squad?
For the last few years, the American’s policy has very much been one of spending as little as possible and hoping for the best, and with that in mind, the chances of Lambert being given a ‘warchest’ (or any chest for that matter) are pretty slim. Instead the manager may have to remain content with a few contract extensions for some of his key players.
Burnley lie second bottom in the Premier League, and for clubs in this predicament, January is an extremely important time. The trouble is, it seems unlikely that significant funds will be released.
Unlike Leicester, Burnley made the decision to spend frugally last summer – perhaps mindful of the situations that teams like Portsmouth have faced following relegation – and it seems unlikely that this view will change this month.
Therefore, it seems that the Clarets will have to shop in the bargain bin and/or look for good-quality loans, with central midfield and defence being priorities.
This one’s pretty easy. Are there likely to be any members of Jose Mourinho’s squad who will want to leave the table-toppers? No.
Does Jose Mourinho need any new players? No. After a season of ‘transition’ in which the Blues very nearly ended up winning the whole thing, Mourinho has brought in the players he needed and the results are fairly frightening. There are no weaknesses in the Chelsea side, and with FFP becoming ever more important, it seems unlikely that the ‘Special One’ will splurge unless he has to.
Well, the Eagles need a new manager for a start (and they may have one by the time this goes to press). Neil Warnock’s departure was not a massive surprise, but it still leaves Palace massively exposed at a crucial time of the season, and to be honest, it smacks of poor planning.
Whoever the new man is – with Alan Pardew looking like the favourite – he’ll need to address the fact that Palace simply don’t seem able to score goals. A striker – preferably one with Premier League experience – simply has to be a priority for a club that really should be staying up this year.