After a hugely distracting off-field saga involving Arsene Wenger's contract situation that he admits caused uncertainty in the dressing room as his side missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in two decades, normal service has been somewhat resumed at Arsenal since the Premier League's longest-serving manager finally put pen to paper on a new two-year deal.

Heading into the New Year massively adrift of leaders Manchester City and behind the clubs hoping to capitalise on a massively unlikely meltdown from Pep Guardiola's dominant side, the cup competitions once again present the only chance for the Gunners - winners of just two domestic titles this century - to claim more silverware.

With only two players signed during a lacklustre summer window, further additions are required in January if Arsenal, FA Cup holders, Carabao Cup semi-finalists and among the favourites for the Europa League, are to balance their cup commitments with attempting to climb back aboard the Champions League gravy train.

What they need

Although typically dominant at home, Arsenal have repeatedly come unstuck on the road - where they have been made to look defensively vulnerable - and Wenger recently revealed that one of his resolutions for 2018 was to stop his players from conceding so many goals.

He also voiced the need to find a "better balance between offensive and defensive efficiency" and bemoaned the profligacy that often sees them fail to score despite dominating possession against inferior opponents.

Quality reinforcements at centre-back appear to be a top priority with captain Per Mertesacker set to retire at the end of the season, Laurent Koscielny dealing with a chronic achilles issue, Shkodran Mustafi often failing to impress and the duo of Calum Chambers and Rob Holding unlikely to prove reliable long-term options.

Nacho Monreal has also been dealing with injury problems of late, meaning that Wenger has been forced to rejig a leaky defence that he recently switched back to a three-man system.

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil
Will Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil remain Arsenal players beyond January? Reuters

A new holding midfielder could also help to shield an exposed backline, while replacements for Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere will need to be promptly sought in the event that any of that soon-to-be out-of-contract trio are sold before being given the option to leave for nothing at the end of season.

The decision over that first pair will inevitably continue to dominate the agenda over the coming weeks, particularly with City now potentially on the lookout for attacking reinforcements with Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne on the sidelines - the former for more than one month.

Guardiola think Sanchez will probably stay put, but has not ruled out another move and insists that the leaders will hold "internal meetings and see what is for the best". Watch this space.

Who could join?

As ever with a club of Arsenal's stature, transfer rumours have certainly not been in short supply.

The likes of West Bromwich Albion captain Jonny Evans, Burnley standout James Tarkowski, Mainz's Abdou Diallo, Daniele Rugani and even Chelsea outcast David Luiz are just a selection of the players mentioned as potential defensive solutions for Wenger. It was also suggested last week that a £35m ($46.9m) bid for Moroccan centre-back Mehdi Benatia had been rebuffed by Juventus.

Links to Julian Draxler - a potential Sanchez replacement - continue to persist after Paris Saint-Germain supposedly named a £40m asking price, while Wilfried Zaha, Hirving Lozano, Nabil Fekir, Jose Arnaiz, Malcolm, Yacine Brahimi and Leon Bailey are all said to be of interest. However, AS Monaco insist that Thomas Lemar will stay in the principality after he rejected an 11th hour switch on summer deadline day.

Many believe that former Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City enforcer Steven N'Zonzi is a priority midfield target as he bids to leave Sevilla and Wenger is one of many managers rumoured to be chasing Schalke's Leon Goretzka.

Can a revamped recruitment team now boasting former Borussia Dortmund chief scout Sven Mislintat and head of football relations Raul Sanllehi make an immediate splash?

Mehdi Benatia
Arsenal are said to have failed with a £35m bid for Juventus centre-back Mehdi Benatia Getty

Who could leave?

Wenger insists that none of Arsenal's contract rebels will be offloaded in January and that no approaches have been made for Sanchez, who flattered to deceive before his second-half double at Crystal Palace and lively showing at West Brom.

However, renewed interest from PSG - as well as those aforementioned injuries - could force City's hand and Barcelona continue to be mentioned in connection with a cut-price swoop for Ozil, who is also coveted for a summer reunion with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.

Wilshere seems far more likely to hash out an agreement after forcing his way back into Wenger's Premier League lineup, though several suitors including West Ham United seem ready to pounce if a financial consensus cannot be reached.

Right-back Mathieu Debuchy has already declared an intention to depart, while Everton are unlikely to rekindle their interest in Olivier Giroud, who will not be replaced given that he is expected to return from a hamstring issue in mid-January.

Theo Walcott has been a peripheral figure so far this term and his diminishing hopes of featuring for England at the 2018 World Cup could be boosted by a January exit.

What the manager has said

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger is anticipating a busy January transfer window Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Asked if he expected to be busy during the January window, Wenger told reporters: "I will be busy, yes. First of all you have clubs that will call to get your players on loan or buy your players. I'm open minded on the possibility to strengthen our team.

"But honestly we have not been approached by anyone [for Alexis] and I'll just stick to what I said before [that I want him to stay]."