The January transfer window is only a few weeks away, and with the Premier League's halfway point approaching, it seems like a good idea to assess which clubs are in desperate need of conducting business in the new year. For some clubs, the frenzied start to 2014 may simply pass them by, but there are clubs that will most definitely use the transfer window to import fresh talent and export stale players.
Let's kick off with Arsenal and Liverpool, the two clubs currently first and second in the Premier League. There is no doubt that these two clubs have been the most entertaining and successful so far this season. Surprising many with their current league positions and performances, opponents will do well to knock them off their perch. Despite this excellent start to the season, it appears that they both lack in the same department - strength in depth. Arsène Wenger and Brendan Rodgers have assembled some formidable squads with an array of skill, speed, power and quality, but you cannot help feeling that if they get injuries in a few key positions, then they will struggle to continue their admirable form.
Liverpool have been unstoppable at times, with controversial Luis Suárez leading the way. His form alone puts him up there as the best player in the Premier League and possibly the most in-form individual in Europe. They also have a top goalkeeper and midfielders who seem to excel in Rodgers's playing philosophy. That being said, even with having the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Victor Moses and Philippe Coutinho, you feel that they need to provide more adequate backup than Iago Aspas, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson.
Likewise, Arsenal's attacking talent of Jack Wilshere, Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud have been nothing short of breath taking. Throw in Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski, who have both struggled with injuries this season, and Arsenal look solid. The same confidence cannot be shared, however, with the likes of Mathieu Flamini, Tomáš Rosický and Nicklas Bendtner.
Some of you may think that this is being overly critical of certain players, but compared to the chasing duo of Manchester City and Chelsea, it becomes slightly more pronounced. Both the teams in blue have significantly more strength in depth at almost every position, which will give them a huge advantage as teams continue to battle on league, cup and European fronts. If Liverpool and Arsenal, who both have money available and responsible managers, do not use January as an opportunity to fortify their ambitions, then they may just slip away.
Further down the league are Manchester United, a team in a state of transition. The problem is that Manchester United are not used to this situation and David Moyes is having mixed success of late. Finding his preferred line up has been handicapped by the Red Devils' inability to lure a quality creative midfielder to Old Trafford. Their attempts to sign Cesc Fabregas or Thiago Alcântara in the summer highlighted their desire for a creative midfielder and you have to be surprised that they didn't mobilise to sign Mesut Özil when he became available. Filling this position will not solve every problem for United, they are still pursuing Leighton Baines and could do with a more athletic centre back than Rio Ferdinand, but a quality creative midfielder would certainly help.
If we continue going further down the table, we find Hull City sitting five points above the drop zone. This is very impressive work from Steve Bruce's side and something that they need to build on. Steve Bruce signed smartly in the summer with the likes of Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone arriving from Tottenham to control the midfield and Curtis Davis excelling in the heart of defence. Hull need to do so again to ensure safety. Signing some experienced Premier League players will help during the business end of the season, while a loan for a skilful and exciting young talent might also add some bite in attack.
Finally, we arrive at the bottom three, who have all replaced their managers in the past few months. Fulham, Crystal Palace and Sunderland have undoubtedly been the worst teams in the league so far, but all of them have shown some promise after the managerial changes. Tony Pulis is very experienced at Premier League survival and with Crystal Palace having such a big squad, it will be hugely interesting to see who he chops from his plans and if he introduces anyone new to Selhurst Park.
Fulham and Sunderland, on the other hand, actually have decent squads and have simply been performing inadequately. Despite only being in charge for a handful of games, however, Gus Poyet at the Stadium of Light and René Meulensteen at Craven Cottage have produced some fine performances from their sides, even if they didn't get a result. Nevertheless, both managers will have plans regarding player changes. Sunderland could do with more changes due to Poyet's playing philosophy requiring a certain quality in possession.
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