January is upon us and that inevitably means that each Premier League club will be linked with dozens of players, regardless if they are needed now. The majority of the tabloid headlines will be shown to be false, but every now and again a big signing will turn around a club’s fortunes.
Most Gunners will be (painfully) aware that Arsène Wenger rarely makes a big statement in the January transfer window – Cohen Bramall and Mohamed Elneny are the only signees to have arrived at the Emirates in the last two years. Arsenal are nowhere to be found in the list of top 20 January transfers in history, whereas Liverpool, Manchester United, City and Chelsea feature prominently.
However, this January could – and should – be a different story for Arsenal. The era of guaranteed Champions League football is now over. Four places for six teams and, at the moment, Arsenal are looking more likely to be the sixth team. A Europa League Final win would see Arsenal back in the Champions League, but the knockout stages are uncommonly strong this year with Napoli, Atlético Madrid and Borussia Dortmund all expected to go deep.
A big signing in the next few weeks would give a lift to the club and its fans. And, nobody would fit the bill better than Riyad Mahrez. The Leicester man is bang back on form this season, having had a down year after his title-winning season in 2015/16. Checking the odds and betting chatter on the Arsenal team page at freebets.co.uk, you will see that the Gunners are 7/4 (Bet 365) to finish in the Top 4. Having Mahrez in theArsenal fold would significantly lower those odds.
The Algerian is exactly the kind of player Wenger and Gunners fans adore. Full of guile and cleverness, he has made his name feeding smart passes to suit the blistering pace of Jamie Vardy. While Alexandre Lacazette and Oliver Giroud are different players to Vardy, their movement is nonetheless excellent. Mahrez would be the perfect foil to either one. Moreover, with all due respect to Leicester, Mahrez seems like a player who would improve with better players around him. His interlinking play with Mesut Ozil and, if we keep him till the summer – Alexis Sanchez could rip open any defence.
All of this transfer buzz is centered around the fact that Ozil and Sanchez have yet to sign new contracts. So, it is possible that Mahrez becomes part of Wenger’s rebuilding plans rather than the final piece in the puzzle. There is, of course, still a chance that one or both of Ozil and Sanchez could stay at the club. If that transpires, a fluid three of Sanchez, Ozil and Mahrez playing behind Lacazette could be one of the most potent attacks in the Premier League.
Mr Wenger often holds his cards close to his chest, so nobody truly knows what he will do over the next few weeks. But if he can convince the brilliant Mahrez to come to North London and, perhaps, convince Ozil and Sanchez that more signings will follow, then the good times could be back at the Emirates once more.