City A.M.’s resident columnist on how each London club has fared this season and how, if at all, they should buy this month
ARSENAL: Nothing needed
The Gunners will be delighted to be top of the Premier League and still in the Champions League, albeit having targeted as much. Despite injuries they’ve been consistent and got the best from key players Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud. As such, and with Alexis Sanchez, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla to return from injury, they could probably forgo January business, although the expected arrival of Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny makes sense, not least because both Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini could be in their last seasons at Emirates Stadium.
CHELSEA: Spend big
New Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink is understandably focusing on trying to restore belief to a beleaguered squad, and the question for the the Blues hierarchy is what think they can achieve this season after a terrible start, beyond avoiding relegation. I see finishing in the top four as a pipe dream but if they believe it’s possible they should spend in January, starting with Leicester’s Jamie Vardy to replace the ineffective Falcao. I can see why they’ve been linked with Shakhtar Donetsk’s Alex Teixeira as they could use a more natural left-sided attacker than Eden Hazard on that flank.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Sparkle fading
Palace have had a great run and, despite a few more draws than they’d have liked and Sunday’s loss to Chelsea, they sit a healthy seventh in the table. Their early-season sparkle has dimmed a little, which may tempt Alan Pardew into the transfer market this month, especially given the end of forward Patrick Bamford’s loan. As well as fitting the quick, hard-working mould of this team, it is especially important that any January signings are of the right character and know the league, so that they can immediately challenge for places.
TOTTENHAM: Gamble is essential
Manager Mauricio Pochettino deserves huge praise for making Spurs a team that now knows what it takes to win regularly, even when not at their best. All at the club must realise they are in the title race and that they have to go for it this season. Their weakness is a reliance on Harry Kane – not only his goals but his contribution to play – and they’re crying out for a proven alternative. It doesn’t always work out, as Roberto Soldado’s ill-fated spell proved, but they can’t afford to be scared off by that. Availability and budget will dictate who they target, but they simply have to gamble.
WEST HAM: Loans best option
It’s a case of so far, so good for the Hammers, who could not have asked for much more at this stage of the season. Successive wins have left them sixth – where I’m sure they would be happy to finish – and the outstanding Dimitri Payet is fit once again. Their prime concern should be avoiding further injuries and keeping players such as Andy Carroll, who has been linked away, at the club. They can go into the January window with confidence and no need to panic, leaving them in a good position to pick up a high-quality bargain, perhaps in the form of a loan player or two from a leading team.