So here we are then. The dust has finally settled following the cold sore on the face of football that is Transfer Deadline Day, with a fuller picture of who we’ll be sticking with this season, plus a new face to welcome to the club in the form of Manchester United born and bred Danny Welbeck.
It was classic Arsenal, if you think about the last few days of the last five or six deadline days that you and I have been put through as the club frantically searched for replacements, finding one as the transfer went right to the wire in the opening hours of the morning.
When I say it was ‘classic Arsenal’, I don’t just mean leaving it to the last minute, although that seems to be part of our process these days. What I actually mean, is the way in which we’ve filled a position in which we did in fairness need to sure up, but by no means was it the most pressing need. It happened in January when we all thought we needed a striker. So we bought in Kallstrom on loan. Or the summer when we all thought we’d get a striker, then up rocked Mesut ‘Frigging’ Özil. Or the January window before that, when the rumours were red hot about David Villa, before we went out and bought Monreal as a left back.
I guess what we’ve got to get used to with Arsène and Arsenal these days, is that they’ll almost never buy in the positions that you and I think we need to strengthen in. And hey, I’m no football expert, I’m just a fan and as a result perhaps I’m more blinkered to what is needed at the club to help us challenge for the title.
So as I hurtle my way towards London for another day as a desk jockey, I’m in a reflective mood on the squad as a whole and whether or not we can compete. What has the arrival of Danny Welbeck done for us? Well for one thing, it’s yet more pace to add to the team, which is essentially something that a lack of cost us a serious push towards the title. With both Sanchez and Welbeck we have two players who, had they been fit in February and March, would have stopped teams like Everton playing such a high line against us because they know we have men who can get in behind.
But I still have a nagging feeling that the squad is incomplete. I’m sure you do too. We needed another centre-half to take off the pressure from Chambers, should we lose one of the first choice two for any length of time, so to get to the final day of the deadline having not addressed that given Vermaelen’s departure a few weeks ago was poor.
Similarly, the reliance on Arteta and Flamini will now become all too evident and if Flamini has off days like he had at Leicester more often, we’ll find ourselves ruing the lack of options I fear. Thankfully Arteta is back after the international break and will no doubt reassume his position as the fulcrum of the midfield. It will be a welcome sight with Moneycheter City arriving in town.
Given the arrival of Welbeck, I’m also interested to see how the pecking order works at the club. One would assume that Lukas Podolski will be relegated further, most probably into the role of loveable mascot like Gunnersaurus, who we all love but will never actually see getting game time on the pitch. Not unless he’s waving at the fans or they bring back that massive cannon that fired t-shirts into the fans during the interval. It’s a shame really because we know he will score goals, but Arsène doesn’t rate him and I see a similar freezing out to the one we saw with Arshavin.
Or what about Joel Campbell? With Giroud injured his route to the first team was a little shorter with Arsène playing Sanchez up top, but the arrival of Welbeck will surely add in another hurdle for him to overcome, especially if he has aspirations of being a first team player. It’s an interesting conundrum that Arsène has to face, but it’s better to have too much than not enough, I guess.
So if I was to rate this summers dealings in the transfer market out of ten, what would I give us? Well, we’ve certainly replaced all of the departures with capable players, plus we’ve added the guile of Sanchez and replaced Giroud (through injury) with Welbeck. I don’t think we’re weaker than last season, but I do think we’re only just a little bit stronger. I hope I’m not right, but I think we’re going to end up ruing not signing a centre back at some stage in the season. We didn’t need it last season as Kos and Per stayed fit, but I have a feeling one of those guys is due a lengthy absence, so there’ll be much crossing of fingers between now and January. Hey, this is Arsenal we’re talking about, injuries are our ‘thing’.
Based on those thoughts, it’s hard to give this summer anything over and above a six out of ten really. We’ve done ok, we’re better offensively than last season, but for it to be ‘good’, we needed at least one more decent body defensively.
Still, with all of the slight frustration at not shoring up defensively, it could be worse. We could have been Man United and taken the Barcelona route of ignoring where the key deficiencies lie and signing as many offensive players as possible. If Van Gaal continues with 3-5-2 and has only Jones, Smalling and Blackert (is that how you say his name?) as his defensive set up, with the occasional game there for Blind, then he’ll have to be the luckiest man alive not to pick up injuries and have to start considering playing Rooney in front of the back four.
Anyway, that’s enough babbling from me, you have ‘at it’ for today and I’ll see thee in the morrow.