With the festive season fast approaching, football clubs up and down the country are busy preparing for the busiest time of the year.
Games every couple of days may be great for fans, but for managers and players it causes the kind of headaches they could do without.
But if each Premier League club could just find the time to write a letter to Santa this year, what would they ask for?
1. AFC Bournemouth – A New Centre Back
Conceding four times to Liverpool isn’t really something to be particularly embarrassed by, but the manner in which Bournemouth did it should have them questioning who partners Nathan Ake at centre back.
Steve Cook was torn apart by Mohamed Salah and turned into his own net against the Reds, and it showed that if the Cherries are to be taken seriously as a Europa League contender this season, they’ll need to sign a new centre back.
2. Arsenal – A System That Fits Their Best Players
This squad is arguably one of the top three in the Premier League – talent wise. The only problem that Unai Emery could face is being able to field the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the same side.
A 3-4-3 or 3-4-1-2 could be the answer, but it’s not a guarantee. In reality this is a pretty nice problem for Emery to have, but it’s one Gunners fans will want solved.
3. Brighton – A Back Up Goalkeeper
“But they already have Jason Steele and David Button!” I hear you cry. Well let’s face it, neither of them have Premier League experience.
Mat Ryan is due to miss much of the Seagulls’ busy January due to Australia’s involvement in the Asian Cup and considering how reliant Chris Hughton is on his goalkeeper, a loan move for an experienced stopper would be a good move for the south coast club.
4. Burnley – A Clean Sheet
What has happened to Burnley’s defence? The core back four from last season that led them to the Europa League qualifiers seems to have fallen apart.
Throwing money at it is always the easy option, but there’s nothing to suggest the likes of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee have suddenly become bad players – they just need the confidence of a few clean sheets under their belt.
5. Cardiff – A Goalscorer
Neil Warnock’s choice of striker or strikers seems to change every week at the moment. The veteran manager recently called upon Kenneth Zohore to step up for the Bluebirds as the Dane has barely featured this season.
Until then it looks like Josh Murphy, Danny Ward and Callum Paterson will rotate in the striker position.
None of the three are natural goalscorers though, and they may need January reinforcements.
6. Chelsea – Christian Pulisic
With rumours spreading that the American may prefer a move to Anfield if he’s to leave Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea fans will be writing down this man’s name on their lists to Santa this year.
There’s no guarantee that Eden Hazard will still be at the club next summer so the Blues need a player to build their future around. Pulisic is that player.
7. Crystal Palace – Goals
With one of the most anaemic attacks in the Premier League, Palace fans will be wishing for some goals for Christmas. Whether that comes in the form of a January transfer or the unlikely return to form for Christian Benteke, Palace need goals.
Wilfried Zaha is not a natural finisher and has been well off the pace this season, highlighting the Eagles’ need for a proper forward.
8. Everton – Some Derby Day Joy
They may not play their Merseyside rivals until March, but Everton fans won’t yet be over the way in which they threw away a point at Anfield earlier in the season.
The Toffees showed they could compete with Liverpool in that match, and they’re well overdue a win over the Reds – it’s something they’ve not managed in 18 matches, a run that stretches back eight years.
9. Fulham – A Clean Sheet
No surprises here, the west Londoners are in dire need of some clean sheets if they want to avoid going straight back down to the Championship.
The arrival of Claudio Ranieri may help that, but he has serious work to do in the defensive department.
10. Huddersfield – An Early Return for Aaron Mooy
Nobody gave Huddersfield much chance of surviving relegation last season, and this season they seemed to be all but doomed when looking at their statistics. But some impressive performances from Aaron Mooy led the Terriers to some important wins, including an impressive 2-0 victory away at Wolves.
Mooy scored both the away side’s goals that day, but has since been ruled out of action for eight weeks. If Huddersfield are to stay up this season, they’ll need the Australian to return before then.
11. Leicester – A Return to Form For Jamie Vardy
The Englishman only has scored five times for the Foxes so far this season, but with the arrival of James Maddison in the summer you’d have expected Vardy to have chances put on a plate.
A seventh place finish is not an unreasonable target for the east Midlands side this season, but if they want to get there, they’ll need Vardy firing on all cylinders.
12. Liverpool – A Manchester City Collapse
The Reds deserve a lot of credit for keeping up with Manchester City so far this season, and Jurgen Klopp has clearly found a very good balance between defence and attack – something his side lacked last season.
Despite this, and despite leading the Premier League, City remain the team to beat and the Reds may need a Mancunian collapse – either on field or injury related – to win their first Premier League title.
13. Manchester City – An Injury Free 2019
Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Benjamin Mendy, John Stones. Just imagine what City would’ve been capable of if all of the above had been available so far this campaign.
It turns out they’re pretty good regardless, but if Pep Guardiola can keep his squad fit in 2019 then they may be able to challenge on multiple fronts as opposed to simply dominating the Premier League.
14. Manchester United – Attacking Football
With Jose Mourinho finally booted out of the Old Trafford door, the tide may be about to turn at Manchester United.
Well, Red Devils fans will hope so anyway as interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes charge in the north west for the final six months of the season. He has promised that entertaining, attacking football will return to a club that has become bogged down with defensive instability.
The best way to counter your problems? Attack, attack, attack.
15. Newcastle – A New Owner
It’s as if Santa has been completely skipping Newcastle for the last decade or so. The Toon have been at constant war with their divisive owner Mike Ashley, and if you ask any Geordie what they’d wish for this Christmas, it would be a new owner.
There have been rumours that a sale of the club is on the horizon, but too often these things have been spoken about and then, never materialised – here’s to hoping eh?
16. Southampton – A Ralph Hasenhuttl Revolution
Remember when Southampton were the side that seemed destined to upset the top six apple cart?
They played attractive football, had talented managers come and go and kept producing excellent players from their academy.
They still have remnants of past squads and possess some talented players – they just need the right manager at the helm to guide them. Hasenhuttl could be that man to lift them from the depths of despair that Mark Hughes dragged them to.
17. Tottenham Hotspur – A New Stadium
This should actually be a wish for every team in the league. Aren’t we all sick of Spurs playing at Wembley?
Either way, it seems Spurs will finally move into their new stadium in 2019, and fans of the north London side will be hoping it’s sooner rather than later. Looks like it could be cracking too.
18. Watford – No Approaches for Javi Gracia
Watford fans would argue that Everton’s pursuit of Marco Silva last season derailed a campaign in which they were performing reasonably well.
Javi Gracia may not be rumoured to be moving any time soon, and Hornets fans will be hoping that stays as it is. This side has a shot at finishing 7th, and they need to avoid rocking the boat to do so.
19. West Ham – A Quick Return For Marko Arnautovic
With the return of Javier Hernandez as one of the Premier League’s top poachers, what the Mexican needs is a more physical player to play off of.
Marko Arnautovic fits the bill nicely, but is currently out injured. The Hammers have a very nice run of fixtures until well into the New Year, and they’ll be looking to pick up as many points as possible in that time. Arnautovic’s return would help that cause massively.
20. Wolves – Adama Traore to Show Some End Product
Adama Traore looks frightening every time he steps up off the substitute’s bench. With pace to burn, he looks a handful for even the best Premier League defenders.
That is until he attempts to pick a pass, or finish off a counter himself. Composure and distribution are two things he needs to work on rapidly, as his dribbling ability is actually pretty good. He just needs, well, more.