On Boxing Day, Mikel Arteta will take charge of his first game as Arsenal manager, the Gunners travelling to the south coast for a clash with Bournemouth.
After the meeting with the Cherries, the Spaniard will have just one more match before he can start making changes to his squad, with the north London outfit welcoming Chelsea to the Emirates Stadium on 29th December. If Arteta and Arsenal are to end the season on a high, they’ll need to be rather active during the January transfer window.
There are a number of positions in the team that desperately need strengthening. However, if they’re to make the necessary additions to the side, the Gunners must shift some of the deadwood currently littering the Emirates.
Here’s five Arsenal players Arteta should look to move on next month.
He may have been reintegrated following a petulant gesture towards his own fans back in October, but Granit Xhaka is not fully forgiven.
The midfielder was stripped of the club captaincy for his behaviour in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, with that incident showing he lacks the character needed to succeed at the top level.
Of course, it’s not just Xhaka’s attitude that falls short of the required standard. He’s been a liability for the entirely of his career in north London, and the team are often worse with the Swiss around.
He’s self-destructive, so the Gunners should rinse themselves of Xhaka before he deals any more damage. Hertha Berlin seem to be interested, and Arsenal would be well advised to sell him to the Bundesliga side.
It’s really not an overstatement to say the £36m purchase of Shkodran Mustafi was the worst signing Arsenal football club have ever made.
How he’s still kicking around at the Emirates is just baffling. The Gunners should have sold him during the last transfer window…and the transfer window before that…and the one before that. You get the picture.
Arsenal have to accept they’ll never get their money back, having been conned by Valencia into paying a ludicrous fee for Mustafi. The sooner he’s gone, the sooner Arteta can start working on bringing in a reliable defender.
Calum Chambers isn’t a bad centre-back, but he’s never going to be Champions League quality. He’ll probably never be Europa League quality, either.
Arsenal have to be admired for their faith in the Englishman, who’s been with them since 2014 after switching from Southampton for £16m.
When he joined, Chambers was a teenager with huge potential. Fast forward half a decade, and he’s a fully-grown man who never really kicked on and took his game to the next level.
The 24-year-old isn’t getting any better. It’s high time the Gunners cashed in and looked for a new face to build their defence around.
Over the course of his two full campaigns as an Arsenal player, Konstantinos Mavropanos has made a grand total of four Premier League appearances for the club. Like Chambers, he’s another who just isn’t going to make the grade for the Gunners.
It’s clear the centre-back lacks the quality to challenge for a starting berth. Competition for places is essential as Arteta aims to get the team back up and running, and Mavropanos cannot help in that regard.
If the Greek is sold in January, the money Arsenal recoup can spent on a defender who’ll actually bring something to the squad, rather than simply make up the numbers.
It should be clear where Arteta should focus in terms of revamping the side. He’s inherited a woeful defensive line, and it’ll take plenty of chopping and changing before he’s fixed the Gunners’ issues at the back.
Joe Willock reminds me of Arsenal academy graduate Kieran Gibbs. Not for his playing style, but for the way he is treated by the coaching staff at the club.
It’s as though they’re desperate for him to come good and be their new homegrown star, overlooking the youngster’s mediocre talents because he’s been in the academy since the age of five.
This is the world of top-level sport. It’s cutthroat, and there’s no room for sentiment. Arsenal must cut ties with squad members like Willock. They’re a drain on the team, and will never be good enough to get the Gunners back in Champions League contention. [Editor’s note: this entry is absolutely melted and I do not endorse it]