So yesterday saw the Arsenal corner of Twitter explode into a cacophony of gooner excitement, as the confirmation of his signature was released onto the only true reliable source: Arsenal.com. Of course I don’t doubt what some gooners on Twitter were saying last week or the week before – some are very accurate when it comes to players joining the club – but by and large we as fans have been whipped up into a frenzy over this particular transfer. It is probably due to the fact that the transfer from Malaga was such a protracted one, in addition to the realisation that we were finally getting a player as close to the ‘Cesc’ mould as you could without having Fabregas himself publicly declare that he could no longer live without pie and mash and would be returning to London permanently.
As for me, I did the usual scouting around the official site (interesting that there are pictures of him training, which means – like we already knew – that he’d been at the club for a while), soaking up all of the interviews and pictures and trying to work out where Cazorla will feature for Arsenal this season. Will he be deployed in a more central role taking up one of the midfield trio as the furthest forward midfielder? Will that mean we’ll see more of Arteta, Song and Coquelin as the deep lying covering/holding midfielders with Santi pushing Diaby and Rosicky for the more attacking of midfield slots? Or will Cazorla be used to keep Theo on his toes on the right wing? There is no doubt that Cazorla’s versatility will be an invaluable asset to the team, but right now that makes it difficult to determine what Arsene has in mind for him.
What I will also find interesting is how many of the new signings will start in a week and a half against Sunderland. Will we see just one? Or will we see some on the bench? Lest we not forget that Arsene likes to ease players into the first team. Oxlade-Chamberlain being a case in point. Where Le Boss hasn’t been able to slowly work players into the team, they have always taken time to ‘bed in’ and become fully integrated and effective into the Arsenal first team squad. You don’t have to look far to see examples of players thrown in at the deep end that have not quite shined in their first season, but have excelled thereafter. You could go back as far as Dennis Bergkamp’s first few months, or Robert Pires to start with, or even using recent history with Koscielny as a clear case in point. We, as hopeful and expectant fans, need to temper our desire for an instant hit and be mindful of thinking we’ll see a Cazorla hat trick on 18th August.
I think that Arsene now has the squad that he will bring players in slowly. For example, Gervhino has had a particularly effective pre-season, so I think that perhaps he should be given a chance to show that his overall performance last year was due in most part to an adaptation of the Premier League followed by a disruption to his campaign in the African Cup of Nations for which he never managed to fully recover. So anybody calling for Podolski to start immediately and Gervhino to be cast aside should consider the Koscienly ‘second season’ affect.
I’d also say the same about Giroud. This season is about adaptation for him, which is why Arsenal are making all the noises about keeping RvP – even if it is for one season. His presence in the squad ensures that all of the pressure is not on the Frenchman to be a like-for-like replacement for the Dutchman – something he cannot really be. He has to tread his own path and be his own man – and I think he will.
Whoever trots out onto The Grove playing surface in just over a week will get our unequivocal support, but the very fact that none of us truly know who will start just shows how great the business has been this season in bringing in older and more experienced players to challenge for a position in the team.