Arsenal suffered another setback in their quest to reach the top four in the Premier League this season, with the defeat at the hands of West Ham at the London Stadium. The club now finds themselves six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, the team which they face next week.
Reaching the top four for Arsenal is certainly achievable and to be in a position currently to challenge for this, must be considered a positive for manager Unai Emery for his first season in North London.
The biggest problem that Arsenal face is the re-occurring problem which has been highlighted many times in the last few years, the defence is simply not good enough. Emery has made improvements defensively for the team, adding Uruguay international defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira and the young Frenchman Matteo Guendouzi has helped the team maintain defensive shape in the heart of the midfield to protect the back-line of the team.
The first and most important remedy that manager Unai Emery must consider is the sale of German international Shkodran Mustafi who has struggled ever since arriving at the Emirates from Valencia.
The German defender has played twenty times this season, and despite chipping in with two goals, the frailties are still there with the central defender, even playing in the back three that Emery has favoured more recently, the former Valencia man still finds himself out of position, making rash decisions and losing his concentration which have been direct errors for goals.
It is reported that Arsenal in this window can only make loan signings, but surely if Emery and the club could offload Mustafi, which would allow for Emery to sign a replacement, and one who could have a massive influence on this Arsenal back-line in terms of organisation and leadership.
Emery has been unfortunate to lose defenders throughout the season, new signing and arguably his best central defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos has been the most consistent member of the Arsenal back-line however his lack of pace is evident. The loss of Rob Holding was a major blow as the former Bolton defender was starting to show his real potential and was cementing his position as a permanent member in the heart of the Arsenal defence.
The return of club captain Laurent Koscielny could have a major influence for the rest of this season, however right now it looks like his role could be as a squad player and play only in certain games. One positive all the same is the return of the highly regarded Konstantinos Mavropanos, who Arsenal fans will be looking forward to seeing back among the first team in the coming weeks.
We have even seen Emery having to use the much criticised Granit Xhaka in a central defensive role this season. Also we have seen Nacho Monreal in the three man defence on the left hand side, a role which Monreal is not disciplined enough to fulfil. The hope for Arsenal fans must be, to see the club make an improvement in this position during this January transfer window in an attempt to challenge for Europa League success and a top four finish in the Premier League.
Moving forward the consistent links with Barcelona attacking midfielder Denis Suarez could be considered a frustration for the fans who would agree the need defensively is far greater than in the attacking areas of the pitch.
The move for Suarez, who Emery worked with during his time with Sevilla in Spain, looks inevitable according to reports. The question must be, have Arsenal got their priorities right and could they be potentially looking to raise money from the sale of an attacking player? Either way Arsenal need a defender and they need it this window as the rest of the season will reflect on the impact Emery has had to the team post Arsene Wenger.
The January transfer window can be a difficult transfer window to get the right players in and the availability of players can be harder to acquire. These are 3 defenders who could be marketable for Arsenal and they could potentially try and lure to the Emirates: