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Transfer Rater: Chris Smalling to Arsenal

 By John Cross

Additions still needed at Arsenal

Arsene Wenger is facing two huge games that surely highlight the need for reinforcements. The Arsenal boss goes to Everton on Saturday and then entertains Besiktas on Aug. 27 in two crunch games in the Premier League and Champions League, respectively.

It is a tough start for Arsenal because of the European playoff and now they are without Aaron Ramsey, who is banned for the second leg.

- Report: Wilshere won't get complacent
- Mangan: Gunners in precarious position
- Report:
Wenger complains over bottle incident

To add to their worries, Mikel Arteta will also surely miss out with a sprained ankle. He left Istanbul in a surgical boot.

While Arsenal are overloaded with midfielders, they don't have a classic anchorman to really do the dirty work in midfield. When Arsenal started the summer, the midfielder was a priority and it's hard to understand why that has changed.

Mikel Arteta's injury was another spell of bad luck for an already-thin Arsenal midfield.
Mikel Arteta's injury was another spell of bad luck for an already-thin Arsenal midfield.

Arteta does a good job, Mathieu Flamini is good backup, but, for my money, a holding midfielder is needed. The latest couple of blows only highlight that. Arsenal will be title contenders, but with the right additions they could win the Premier League.

And in the Champions League, no one should take Besiktas for granted. It was a red-hot atmosphere in Istanbul; Besiktas manager Slaven Bilic whips up his players and Demba Ba played like a man possessed.

Of course Arsenal are favourites to progress. But don't write off Besiktas. They were unlucky not to win rather than draw the first leg. Without key men like Arteta and Ramsey, Arsenal will have a tough night next Wednesday in the second leg.

Furthermore, Arsenal do look short at the back, and I'm sure that a centre-half will be signed to back up Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Calum Chambers is doing great but he is a great squad player to cover several positions and, after Thomas Vermaelen's departure, they need another stopper.

A striker who is quick and prolific is the prototype signing and every manager's dream. But they also need a forward to be different from Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo, who are more like classic centre-forwards.

Every club's fans wishes they had two or three more players. And Arsenal's priority is a centre-half right now. But while they need a centre-half, they also need other players to really sustain a whole season. Because if they are struggling in August, imagine what it will be like come next Easter.

Arsenal can have a great season in front of them -- but they must do business before the close of the window.

They have shown a message of intent with Alexis Sanchez and have bought and spent well. But let's hope their business is not done yet.

John Cross is a reporter for the Daily Mirror. He regularly covers Arsenal and has done throughout Arsene Wenger's reign. Twitter: @johncrossmirror.


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