Man United ended 2019 in relatively good spirits.
The Red Devils secured decent wins over Newcastle and then Burnley to go within touching distance of the top four, with Marcus Rashford continuing his goal-scoring form by netting in each.
On top of that, a solid defensive display at Turf Moor secured Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side their first clean-sheet since September, while Fred has started to show fans glimpses of why the club coughed up £52million for him back in 2018.
But while Fred has impressed in recent weeks alongside the club’s outstanding player of the season so far in Scott McTominay, United still desperately need reinforcements in midfield.
In fact, they need midfield bodies now more than ever.
McTominay limped out of their match against Newcastle on Boxing Day and is said to be out for as long as eight weeks with a nasty knee injury.
But perhaps the bigger issue is the ongoing absence of Paul Pogba — who was left out of the match day squads against both Burnley and tonight’s clash with Arsenal with an ongoing problem.
Pog has struggled with an ankle injury all season long, but made his long-awaited return in the 2-0 defeat at Watford before Christmas.
Having then played the second-half against Newcastle, it now seems as though the Frenchman has hit another fitness roadblock.
The truth be told, many fans believe there’s more to Pogba’s latest setback than just another injury.
Rumours and transfer speculation have surrounded the World Cup winner since the days of Jose Mourinho’s Old Trafford reign, and many believe he’ll be on his way out of the club in the summer — if not sooner.
So who does that leave left?
Serbian hard-man Nemanja Matic was given a rare start in the win over Burnley and kept his place in the side for the trip to Arsenal, but is seemingly not the player he once was and will likely be sold by next summer.
Attacking midfielders Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira are all seen as weak-links in the side, with Lingard in particularly bad form this season without a single goal or assist.
Then there’s the academy graduates like Angel Gomes and James Garner; with the former failing to impress while the latter is perhaps not quite ready for the step up into the first-team.
With both McTominay and Pogba out for the rest of January — a month that will see United play six more times after tonight’s game at the Emirates, including clashes with Man City and Liverpool — the Red Devils desperately need to buy somebody new.
They’ve already failed to replace the recently departed Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera in the last 12 months, with a summer-long pursuit of Sporting’s Bruno Fernandes coming to nothing.
Recent paper-talk has linked United with winter moves for Christian Eriksen, James Maddison and Jack Grealish, but each of these seemingly come with their own set of problems.
Be that as it may, signing a midfielder looks to be an almost-necessity for United ahead of the second-half of the season, especially if they want to continue fighting for that place in the top four.
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