New Year’s resolutions – what does each Premier League club need to improve?

by Charlie Coffey

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Arsenal: to keep Vermaelen and Fabregas fit

Wenger’s men have managed to keep within touching distance of the top of the table without their first choice outfield spine. While Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh have made up for the injuries to Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen has been badly missed and Arsenal fans know they need him playing if they are to mount a serious title challenge.

Aston Villa: a striker

Gerard Houllier’s four main strikers have only managed four goals between them, and when your top scoring forward is Emile Heskey (three), you know you’re in trouble. Gabriel Agbonlahor is capable but short of confidence in front of goal. Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton are the club’s top-scorers but should really be the ones to provide the assists for an accurate forward.

Birmingham: creativity

Birmingham have, as always, been tough to beat at home and have already beaten Chelsea and held Man Utd to a draw at St Andrews. They have also not won in 14 away games in the league, which indicates a lack of creativity. James McFadden has been badly missed due to his anterior cruciate ligament injury. He will return in February but Birmingham cannot rely on him or his knee and so need another player of similar ilk.

Blackburn: the Venky’s to put their money where their mouth is

Blackburn’s new Indian owners made themselves instantly unpopular with the sacking of Sam Allardyce early into their tenure. The Venkys then promised new signings and even grand ambitions of a top five finish. Should they live up to these promises all will be forgotten, but if not they will surely feel the wrath of the Ewood Park faithful.

Blackpool: a player with top-flight experience

The Seasiders have thrived thus far on enthusiastic players and relatively adventurous tactics. At some point they might have to endure a poor run and it is then they will need an experienced head on the pitch to guide them through. Although they run on a shoestring budget and can’t afford top wages, they might attract an ageing player, preferably a central midfielder, who wants top-flight football one last time before retirement.

Bolton: to hang on to their star players

Bolton’s finances have taken a turn for the worse in the past couple of season, just as their fortunes on the pitch have improved. Chairman Phil Gartside suggested that the club may have to cash in on some of their most prized assets in the January transfer window, including top-scorer Johan Elmander, the excellent defensive midfielder Stuart Holden and centre-back Gary Cahill.

Chelsea: youthful enthusiasm

The injury to Frank Lampard and Chelsea’s subsequent drop in form has exposed the lack in quality of Chelsea’s squad. Older players such as Deco, Michael Ballack and Riccardo Carvalho were allowed to leave but have not been replaced by younger models. Chelsea have several promising youngsters, but need a couple of quality players in their early 20s with top-flight experience, which is easier said than done in the January transfer window.

Everton: goal-scoring strikers

Everton are in similar position to Villa – four goals between their first-team strikers. Louis Saha can be deadly on his day but with 21 appearances and not one single goal, Everton need to bring someone in who can regularly hit the back of the net. Tim Cahill has a great scoring record (nine in 19) from midfield, but an injury to him and the goals will dry up even more dramatically for the Toffees.

Fulham: Zamora and Johnson fit and firing

After a solid start to the season Fulham are at the rock bottom of the Premier League table. Like Birmingham they are competitive but do not score enough. Their main creative force – Clint Dempsey – has been forced further up the pitch in the absence of Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora, the club’s traditional big-man, little-man partnership who have both suffered serious injuries. If both get fit and one form Fulham should be ok, but there’s no time to waste!

Liverpool: Kenny Dalglish

Current boss Roy Hodgson is the Premier League manager of the year for last season, but his pragmatic approach has not been well received at a club who thrive on attacking football. ‘King Kenny’ has been looking over his shoulder for a while now, and who better than the man who used Jack Walker’s transfer kitty to bring the Premier League crown to Blackburn. Hodgson’s signings have not impressed on the whole, so perhaps the clubs owners will give Dalglish the task of ending the club’s reliance on Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

Do you agree? What do you think your club needs?

Part 2 to follow

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