ARSENAL – centre-back
Mikel Arteta has been in the job for a week and a half now and already he will have concerns about almost every area of his side. But the centre of his defence must be the one causing him the biggest headaches while he gets his feet under the table at the Emirates. Despite an abundance of bodies – David Luiz, Sokratis, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Skhrodan Mustafi – there is not a functioning partnership among them, regardless of what system Arteta finally decides upon. The new boss will need a centre-back who can use the ball but more importantly, he needs one who will stop it bothering Bernd Leno quite so much. William Saliba may be a long-term solution, but the young Frenchman still needs a partner when he makes a belated appearance next summer and Arteta needs a rather more swift solution. That could come in the shape of RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano.
ASTON VILLA – centre-forward
Villa spluffed £130million in the summer but even that wasn’t enough to keep them out of the bottom three by the mid-point of the season. Of all the teams in the bottom half, only Arsenal have scored more goals but Dean Smith could really use a centre-forward to take some of the goalscoring and creative burden off Jack Grealish. Wesley cost £22million in the summer but after a promising start, the Brazilian bought from Belgium has gone off the boil and hasn’t netted in almost two months. Villa have been linked with a loan move for Rhian Brewster but putting their survival hopes in the hands of a rookie about whom no one can be certain that he is ready for the Premier League might be a risk. Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos would be a gamble for other reasons.
BOURNEMOUTH – full-back
After bringing in five players in the summer,Eddie Howe has already stated that Bournemouth “have to focus on the players we have”and their priority will be getting to February with the squad still intact. Nathan Ake will attract attention and this is the Cherries’ final opportunity to get any cash for Ryan Fraser unless he eventually decides to sign a new deal. Either would require replacing, especially given Bournemouth’s slide towards the trap door, with only two points separating them from the relegation zone and all the clubs below them likely to take decisive action in the window, if they haven’t already in their dug out. Should they fend off any offers for their players, perhaps Howe might look for reinforcements at full-back since injuries have hit them hard on both sides.
BRIGHTON – full-back
Like Howe, Graham Potter is equally focused on the players he has: “A club should be looking at every window to see if they can improve, but I don’t think that we’ve got the most out of this group that we have,” he said a fortnight ago having made big investments through the summer. But there are areas Potter can strengthen. A striker would be a boost for Potter, though he may feel he has enough in Aaron Connolly, Neal Maupay and Glann Murray to get through to the end of the season. He appears lighter in the right-back area, with Tottenham youngster Kyle Walker-Peters heavily linked.
BURNLEY – central midfielder
Sean Dyche went looking for a dynamic midfield presence in the summer and though he got Danny Drinkwater, it seems the Burnley boss will have to restart his search if, as expected, the former England international returns to Chelsea after a hugely disappointing half-season at Turf Moor. Dyche will be rather more focused on making sure Dwight McNeil doesn’t follow Drinkwater through the door but should that happen, then another wide player will be required. The central area, though, is one which is already ripe for improvement.
CHELSEA – centre-forward
Now Chelsea are free to spend all the money, Frank Lampard can finally address the shortage of centre-forward options at his disposal. Tammy Abraham has seized the opportunity Chelsea’s transfer ban gave him but the Blues are desperately short of viable alternatives, and Olivier Giroud’s apparently-imminent exit will leave them even lighter on bodies. Timo Werner appears to be perfectly suited given the RB Leipzig striker’s ability to play across the front line, while Wilfried Zaha and Jadon Sancho also remain targets. But a central striker or at least an attacker who can play through the middle should be the priority.
CRYSTAL PALACE – striker
Roy Hodgson has needed a fit-for-purpose forward seemingly since the dawn of time and it is no wonder the Palace boss labelled 2019 a ‘wondrous’ year since the Eagles ended it in ninth place despite being the second-lowest scorers in the Premier League. But Hodgson admits his threadbare squad has left him ‘demoralised and depressed’ and his attack must be the greatest priority should he be allowed to sign ‘the four or five players’ he feels Palace need. Jordan Ayew has top-scored with five so far while Wilf Zaha has chucked in three goals despite being off-colour for much of the season. That is really the full extent of Palace’s attacking threat.
EVERTON – centre-back
Marco Silva will point to Everton’s failure to land a centre-back in the summer as one of the reasons for his downfall, though there were plenty of others to make the mess of the opening weeks of the season one of his making. But the Toffees really did waste far too long going down Kurt Zouma’s dead end which left Silva and now Carlo Ancelotti with only three senior central defenders: Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate. Some leadership to add to that trio in front of a fidgety goalkeeper would be most welcome for Ancelotti, who we know has the money to spend.
LEICESTER – centre-back
Leicester’s priority this month will be to retain the squad which has taken them to second in the table, which should not be too hard. The Foxes have no need to sell so it would take an obscene amount to tempt them into selling the likes of James Maddison or Ben Chilwell. They could not resist the £85million put down on the table for Harry Maguire in the summer and they chose not to spend any of it on a replacement. Should the opportunity arise, some competition for Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu would be most welcome since Wes Morgan is the closest thing to cover at Rodgers’ disposal.
LIVERPOOL – back-up forward
They’ve already got him. Next.
MANCHESTER CITY – centre-back
For the love of God, Pep – just for a month, stop buying £50million full-backs and have a look for a centre-back. Guardiola is very picky about central defenders and though we might not be at the stage where anything is better than nothing, we cannot be far off while Fernandinho continues to fill in. The City boss might suggest that he did not see City’s defensive injury crisis coming, with Aymeric Laporte being the biggest miss, but his job is to prepare for the those eventualities. By refusing to sign a centre-back despite Vincent Kompany’s exit and John Stones being untrustworthy, City’s problems are mostly of their own making. The belated recruitment of a centre-back won’t be enough to catch Liverpool but that doesn’t make it any the less important, especially if City are to go full-tilt at the Champions League.
MANCHESTER UNITED – central midfielder
Having wiped the Erling Haaland’s custard from his chops, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may still be on the lookout for another centre-forward, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin said to be his Plan B. But United have good options across the front line, especially if Anthony Martial can be arsed to put a half-season shift in and Mason Greenwood continues to capitalise on his opportunities. In the short term that forward line would thrive with better service rather than more competition for places, especially with Nemanja Matic and Fred being the only midfielders left while Scott McTominay is crocked and Paul Pogba content to sit out.
NEWCASTLE – forward
Newcastle have spent around £75million on their front three over the last year, in addition to re-signing free agent Andy Carroll. But Steve Bruce’s priority once again must be to find a way to add goals to his squad. Joelinton has struggled – perhaps not surprising for a forward who has never scored double figures in a league season and more used to starting from wide – while Miguel Almiron has grafted by only recently played a direct role in a goal for the first time. Allan Saint-Maximin is a thrillingly unpredictable winger, both in terms of form and fitness. So Bruce is on the hunt for further reinforcements, with Hull’s Jarrod Bowen most heavily linked.
NORWICH – centre-back
Daniel Farke chose not to strengthen his defence in the summer which was a ballsy move when you consider that his rearguard was hardly the most resilient in the Championship – only three teams in the top 10 conceded more than the Canaries last season. The gamble hasn’t paid off. Norwich are bottom having conceded more goals than anyone else. Farke’s priority this month is said to focus on possible recruits who can feed Teemu Pukki but the Norwich striker could score 30 this season and it might not matter unless the Canaries tighten up at the back.
SHEFFIELD UNITED – striker
Owing to limited injuries and superb form, Sheffield United fans will be pretty relaxed about the upcoming transfer window. Aside from the front two, the Blades have largely started with the same team all season. Even that seems largely sorted, with either Lys Mousset or Oli McBurnie playing with David McGoldrick in the majority of matches. With McGoldrick used in the main as a link man, and with United not overly blessed with goals, a striker could be quite high up Chris Wilder’s wishlist. The Blades boss has already committed to bringing in “two or three players” as he looks to strike while the iron is hot. Ollie Watkins, who has bagged 15 Championship goals for Brentford this term, is one player that has been linked.
SOUTHAMPTON – full-back
Ralph Hasenhuttl hasn’t been coy about his plans for January. “It is absolutely important. We must see that we get some new players in.” He even told us in what areas and how many: “It is absolutely clear that we must do something with the full-back positions. This is definitely a position we’re looking at for the moment and we will do something.” So there you go.
TOTTENHAM – right-back
Jose Mourinho seems to think Serge Aurier is the best of a bad lot when it comes to Spurs’ right-back options, which also include Kyle Walker-Peters and Juan Foyth, neither of whom have proved they are up to the job. Aurier has his attributes but composure and reliability are certainly not among them. Napoli’s Elseid Heysaj was considered in summer and Max Aarons is also being linked with Spurs though they would have to pay big money to land the Norwich youngster, which may not be available to Mourinho, who admits Spurs will be reactive to possible exits this month, rather than proactive in strengthening their options.
WATFORD – left-back
Javi Gracia wanted Danny Rose in the summer but Watford could not agree a deal with Tottenham on deadline day. Two managers and five months later, the Hornets are still in the market for a left-back, with Ricardo Rodriguez linked but AC Milan aren’t too keen on a loan-to-buy deal. Elsewhere, Nigel Pearson would dearly love to add a goalscoring threat to his side which is still too reliant on Troy Deeney. There are seven teams in the Premier League who have created fewer chances this season but none with a worse shot conversion rate.
WEST HAM – central midfielder
Now that Lukasz Fabianski is fit again, West Ham need hope he never gets injured again unless they have plans to sign a competent back-up. But David Moyes has plenty of other concerns, many which focus on getting something from the big-money signings from the summer. The new boss will expect Sebastian Haller and Albian Ajeti to step up immediately before perhaps looking late in the window to sign more firepower, but the addition of a dynamic central midfielder is a greater priority, with the Hammers seemingly unable to cope without Mark Noble.
WOLVES – centre-back
Nuno has stated his enthusiasm for some January recruitment since Wolves have “a very small squad” and a very demanding schedule if they wish to continue pushing on all fronts. Wolves are looking for reinforcements rather than season-defining additions, especially if two of their summer signings, Patrick Cutrone and Jesus Vallejo are heading back to Italy and Spain respectively. Both will need replacing, with reports suggesting RB Salzburg’s Hwang Hee-chan could come in for Cutrone, leaving work to be done in the centre of Nuno’s defence or perhaps just on front of it.