Who the Premier League title challengers should buy in the January transfer window...
Last Updated: 08/01/16 5:54pm
With the January transfer window now open, Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson casts his eye over where the various teams vying for the Premier League title must strengthen in order to maintain their title challenge.
Just 12 points currently separate the top eight sides in the table, making this one of the most exciting and competitive championship races in the Premier League era.
And that means a key new addition this month could very well prove to be the difference between winning silverware and not, or finishing in the Champions League positions and outside the top four.
So who does The Magic Man think the title contenders need to snap up before the winter window slams shut for business at the start of February…?
I think they need a defensive midfield player, if I am being honest. They missed the boat with Morgan Schneiderlin in the summer, but someone like Victor Wanyama - not great on the ball, but if you can get him to win the ball and give it to someone who is better, then that is someone I think they need.
I can see the Troy Deeney one happening, I think he is a good footballer and works very hard for the team, so that does not shock me that one. He is a decent player, has got a very good football brain, never moans, and gets on with it. When you go and play for this Arsenal team, you need to have a good football brain and when I watch him play, that is what he has. I think a lot of people would be sitting there thinking: 'Why him?' But I can see that.
You would be playing for one of the top teams in the world of football, they are in the Champions League, are in with a chance of winning the Premier League. What Watford are doing is pulling up trees, but do you want to play for a team for the rest of your career who might stay up or might not stay up?
Nowadays you can't say: 'But will he play a lot?' As because of these transfer windows, as soon as the window shuts you only need two injuries and you could play every game.
They have hit a wall if I am being honest and it is a big week coming up, two Premier League games, both away from home, Spurs in the FA Cup and then in the league, so it soon quickly happens.
I had it at Aston Villa many years ago, we were top of the league and flying, then all of a sudden you hit a glass slope with slippers on and you can't stop it, you just keep falling and falling. So this is a very big week for them.
Do they need anybody? I would say they probably need to keep the players they've got and if they can do that and have another good burst in the second half of the season, then who knows, a miracle could happen.
Whoever comes in you will have to give them £70k-80k a week and I do not think Leicester are paying that kind of money, so you do not want to upset it. These players will be sitting there thinking: 'Look what we've done?' So you have to be really careful with that.
The one thing you do see with them is they have an unbelievable team spirit. So unless you bring in a very experienced player that the players respect, then it could work, but I would not want to bring a big star into the team all of a sudden.
I think they need a centre-forward. Aguero, if he is fit every week, is as good as anybody, there is no doubt about that.
The Bony one does not fit with me, I think he is one of those players who needs to play every week. I do not think he is a player who can just come on for 30 minutes, or play one game and then be out.
So for me they need to bring a forward in, but the problem for Man City is they have got all the money in the world. So if you are going to bring a centre-forward in for £30m-£40m, you have got to tell that player they are not playing, because Aguero is playing.
So that is where it is really, really difficult for Man City - finding players that are going to come and sit on the bench who are top-drawer players.
I think Spurs are playing very, very well, they are a very good team - and that is even me saying that! - and when their best 11 is playing and they are fit, they are good.
But a couple of injuries here and there…. They definitely need a back-up for Harry Kane. You go through their team and they have one of the best goalies in the world, they have got two unbelievable centre-halves, Eric Dier is a good holding midfielder, Dele Alli is as good as anybody getting into the box as a midfield runner and they've also got one of the top centre-forwards.
So the spine of the team is very, very good, but if Kane got injured you'd think: 'Who is going to come in and play there?' And they have not got anybody. They might have somebody to come in and play for one or two games. But they are putting themselves in a position now where again you have to bring someone in who is going to sit on the bench.
If Kane got injured you'd think: 'Who is going to come in and play there?' And they [Spurs] have not got anybody
There was a lot of talk about Saido Berahino at the start of the season, but would you bring him in as what he has done at West Brom is not getting good vibes coming out there? So if you are buying him, he is going to be sitting on the bench and will be frustrated, and that carries through.
So again with the Tottenham thing, it looks like an unbelievable team spirit there.
They do need a lot and they do not need a lot. They still have good players who have not all played to their potential yet.
The thing is, I watched them last week against Swansea and it was a really stop-start. They started really well for 10 minutes, but the next 30-odd minutes it fizzled out. They need to score early and start very well in games - when the second half started, they scored straight away, but if they had not scored, you would not have wanted to be in a Manchester United shirt as the crowd were really getting impatient.
But they won that game, they have not been great and they are still there or thereabouts. So I think they need to go out and buy a couple of key signings just to lift the fans, because what they are watching at the moment, the fans are not happy with and they are the people you have got to listen to.
Liverpool need a goalie, like Jack Butland. As you have seen with Arsenal this year, they have a goalie that is saving them points and not losing them points.
If a goalie that you have had over the last six or seven years is losing you six points a season and a goalie comes in and saves you at least six, that is a 12-point turnaround, which is a lot of points. So Jack Butland I am sure will be on a lot of teams' lists.
Watching them against Crystal Palace the other day, they looked back to what they were. They were hard to beat and after weathering a bit of a storm, really finished Palace off.
I still think they need a centre-forward. If Costa does not play, would Falcao get in anybody's team? No. Would Loic Remy get in anybody's team? Maybe a bottom-half team, but we are talking about Chelsea here.
But again, going back to Man City and Tottenham, you would have to buy a top-drawer player and say: 'You are going to be sub.'
In this day and age, a lot of teams play one up front. So I say a forward. I still think they are dark horses - I know they have got Arsenal away soon, but barring that I think they could reel off 10 wins on the trot. And if they do, they might get into the top four.
Regarding Eden Hazard, it is very rare that a team like Real Madrid or Barcelona come after you and you do not end up there, and it is as simple as that really.