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Brilliant late moves for Arsenal but the post mortem must be thorough

WOW. Five players in the age 25+ bracket signed in two days.

The significance can not be overstated. Much of the increasingly burdensome philosophical baggage that has built up over the past eight or so years tossed aside in one fell swoop. Those youngsters who Wenger once professed he didn’t want to kill now basically told it is survive or die.

So if Johan Djourou wants to be an Arsenal centre-back he’ll have to be better than Thomas Vermaelen or Pet Metersacker. If Kieran Gibbs is to fulfil potential he will have to barge aside experienced Brazilian competition, much like Ashley Cole did, except hopefully without the passport issues. And if Aaron Ramsey is to cement himself in this Arsenal team, he’ll have to fight off two highly experienced Premier League scrappers.

Out of the incubator and into the adults enclosure if you like.

In many ways, we’ve got there in the end. We’ve taken out a fair bit of trash: Denilson and Eboue were symptomatic of our effort issues last season. Same goes for Bendtner, who I think if he’d only run harder would (and maybe still could) have a fine Arsenal career. And after his odiousness of the past fortnight I’m glad we’re shot of Nasri, as culpable as any player for last season’s collapse.

And at centre-back we have clearly strengthened. Imagine we’d signed an English centre-back age 26 with 79 caps? We’d be cartwheeling. Well, look at it this way: Per Mertersacker has got that and plays for a half decent country too! Two semis and one final is his major tournament record! He’s 6ft 7ins! Who knows how he’ll turn out, but we can’t complain.

And as I intimated, at left back, we’re sorted too. And with Sagna now able to concentrate on his correct position of right-back Jenkinson can hopefully concentrate on being his understudy, playing in the Carling Cup and making the odd sub appearance in the league.

We were never going to replace Cesc with another Cesc. And while Arteta may underwhelm some people, would a 20 year-old French wonderkid with no Premier League experience but a heftier price tag really have been the better option? I think we’ve become so unaccustomed to signing Premier League players that you forget that you can take a good player like Ashley Young or Arteta, put him in a better side and with a bit of luck watch him fruit.

And while Benayoun and Park may not on paper be the ideal replacements for Nasri and Bendtner (surely Chamakh was a better candidate to leave), they are at least replacements.

Have these been desperation signings? I don’t think so. More evidence of what you can get done when you don’t have all summer long to faff around on signing 17 year-olds.

So I think it fair to say the last 48 hours have been a pretty decent stab at doing the equivalent of all Xmas shopping on Christmas Eve.

But there is a major but.

What on earth were we doing in this situation in the first place? Did it really have to take an 8-2 defeat for the management at the club to cotton onto what had been glaringly apparent to most of us all summer long? How can we find ourselves in a situation where we need to sign FIVE proper, for this season, players with 48 hours left of a three month transfer window?

And be under no illusions: the surprise result of this season was not for me the 8-2, but in fact the beating of Udinese. We could so easily have been out of Europe for now and all because we didn’t seem to realise that the season started two and a half weeks ago. We are, it should be noted, already way adrift in the league.

To go into transfer deadline day looking for one player who might be the cherry on the icing of the cake of your squad is one thing. If you miss out, you miss out. But you can’t do that when you have such crucial signings to make and not when your fingers have been burned so badly in previous years.

The upshot of all this is that Arsene has bought himself time. Undoubtedly so. But if he and the board are wise, they won’t try and hide behind these signings. They will acknowledge that this summer was a catastrophe in so many ways and show they are taking steps to ensure it is not repeated.

And it is also true that we still have a lot of cash in our pocket. Let’s spend it in January. And let the manager demonstrate that he can be pragmatic. It doesn’t mean abandoning one’s principles. It just means adapting to what is in front of you. Hopefully this is a first, positive step.


47 Responses to “Brilliant late moves for Arsenal but the post mortem must be thorough”

  1. wtf says:

    Can’t read your blog because there is a bloody big pop-up window advertising Google Chrome which you cannot get rid off! You should seriously sort this out because you’re generally worth reading…

  2. Goon Fishing says:

    Menoschester City – Menos que un club.

  3. Arse&Nose© says:

    Do you honestly believe these were Wenger signings?

  4. stephen says:

    how long before we hear a chorus of ‘Arteta for England’ once we have a wonderful patnership between Jack and Mikel.

  5. drona says:

    I have to second the comment of ‘wtf’. Just how do I remove that stupid google chrome pop up window.

  6. gaya says:

    thank you.
    all we needed were men.
    tired of super skill and all that rubbish.
    just men who know the job
    no fancy flicks

  7. Toye says:

    Seems to me as if Arsenal were doing there business in such a way that if a deal falls through there will always be a replacement.Qualifying for champions league gives us a better bargaining chip in my opinion and I think its why we waited too.I do not believe it has to do with the 8-2.I think it is more of getting the best value for money.Wenger could have said he had players out which was why the result was bad.
    We had a lot of players moving out and based on that alone i know we will buy.

  8. Savage says:

    A balanced view – good read. Clearly we have no guarantees, whether better or worse – this is the risk of making any kind of signing.

    What will change now is that our prime avenues of creation might change. With Cesc it was all Cesc through the middle. With that marginal loss of quality, we’re going to be spreading the job to players like Gervinho and Wilshere. Both are looking promising, but need to remain injury-free and card-free.

    With no obvious candidate for the forward midfield position, how will we get that connection between centre and attack, with RVP being marked out of the game? Something in our attack approach will have to change – maybe a stronger emphasis on wings?

  9. JLSgooner says:

    Good analysis of the players brought in and totally agree about the competition for a deserved place in the team, my own personal beef is that there seems to be a lack of specialist coaches at first team level and this has to be sorted, is it a reluctance of letting some of the strings slip to different hands or an inability to delegate ?

  10. yates says:

    Great post, a good balanced read me thinks.

    I think these signings (bar benayoun & arteta) were already in place but arsene decided to see how the current squad would cope against the champions first. I believe if we had drawn on sunday half of those signings would not have happened. I’m sure during the match the board were already on their phones getting bids at the ready. It’s a shame as we should have bought 3 months ago and let the team gel in pre season like the Mancs but that’s arsenal for you. Absolutely delighted with Mertesacker have wanted him at arsenal for 3 years now Cahill was too expensive and best to get him in jan or next summer if needed. Only downside is gutted we didn’t get hazard or parker.

  11. Elvis says:

    Good call as usual, Goodplaya.

    Mertesacker is the kind of ‘Big Club’ signing we ought to be making every transfer window; experience, class, big name and proper money. We all cried out for a proper centre back like him in 2007. Better late than never I suppose.

    The net transfer window deals will not enable Arsenal to compete for the title – those days are gone until we are attracting two Dennis Bergkamp type players to the club per transfer window. But it gives us enough to get through the group stage of the CL and to realistically compete for the top four and domestic cups.

    And yes, there needs to be a an absolutely brutal post mortem on this desperate, high-risk shambles where 80% of our incoming players are purchased in the last 2% of the time available. Straight from the Keystone Cops Football Management Manual.

  12. Wallace says:

    very pleased with the buys – that big 25m+ marquee signing instead of Benayoun and i’d have been ecstatic. but Arteta is quality and will ease the pressure on Jack & Ramsey, and hopefully Mertesacker is the dominant cb we’ve been waiting for. but terrified by the thought that it was only the humiliation endured at Old Trafford that prompted this spree. if we’d gone down 2-1 or 3-1 in a spirited display would we have bought all these players? you’d like to think so, but i very much doubt it. and even at my most wildly optimistic can’t see us doing better than 3rd.

  13. larrygoonet says:

    We need creative mid field player, Eden Hazard to ignite arsenal back into complete attacking force, Nasri replacement. Maybe and I hope Liverpool will not snatch this guy from our nose just like Mata

  14. DeepRed says:

    Bang on, well played. This represents not just a change in faces, but a change of strategy. Five players over 26, all of them having won trophies, four of them club or country captains. Isn’t this what everyone has hankered after for the past few years? And premier league experience for those hard winter days at Stoke and Blackburn.
    It’s only sad Cesc never got to play in front of this defence.
    I can’t see why so many are still moaning. Well, I can… As you say, a badly organised and late-run summer and money to spend not spent on the pitch. That’s poor management and hardly a sign of ambition at the start of the Kroenke years.
    But, but, but, we’ve got more maturity and depth. Just not Cesc (although let’s not forget how many games he missed last season). And if we’re in the top four in January, I have hopes that ambition may be displayed by the purchase of a “star”.
    The only thing I’d argue with you about is the suggestion that Yossi is a replacement for Nasri. Surely Gervinho is going to be asked to do the job Nasri did last year, and he may just be up to that,

  15. Arse&Nose© says:

    Why couldn’t we get Jagielka?

  16. Tom C says:

    A great day for AFC. Wow. I’m suddenly feeling much more positive about finishing top 4.

  17. [...] has given his opinions about the moves. Great moves, but do they cover up a bad squad? Gunnerblog has also given his opinion. Top stuff from Gunnerblog throughout the window, always on [...]

  18. melcfromfinsburypark says:

    I don’t believe for a minute that the mauling at Manure was the cause of the frenzied close to the window. If Kroenke was stupid enough to think we could get by without replacing Cesc and Nasri then he would never have been in a position to buy the club in the first place.

    The goals we have lost from Cesc and Nasri will, I believe, be replaced by passes from Jack, Arteta and significantly, I reckon, from RVP dropping a bit deeper looking for passes inside the fullbacks to Walcott and Gervinho. This seemed to be an avenue that was exploited well against Udinese in the away leg.

    Lets just hope that Santos and Mertsecker can bed in quickly enough for us not to have a mountain to climb to get in the top 4. One would hope that Arteta and Yossi can hit the ground running. In his last season for Liverpool Yossi seemed to be about their only creative midfielder so I think he can be good for us and Arteta is undoubted class even if Evertonians might have been disappointed by his contributions in the past two seasons

  19. mustafa says:

    Great post but seems to me the only marquée signings will be young players with resale value and somebody like hazard may still come but only when Lille’s position in the champion league becomes clearer.

  20. Arsenalcentric says:

    A good read…I like the line where you emphasized that the younger players have to choices “develop or die” lol…
    I believe Arsenal has been mismanaged over the last couple of years. I Hope the focus as finally shifted to the team and not the profit margin.

  21. Arsa says:

    Great post, you along with arseblog are our only voice.
    I cant help but feel wenger is part of a team (for sharing the responsibility) of stubborn face of inacivity. Having managed club at director level I feel fans money is being used to build dividens and annual bonuses on the back of repeitive mediocre excuses that have run out of gas.
    As a long standing Arsenal fan like everyone else I can see the panick buys from bargain basement have just bought Stan, Wenger and board room some months.
    Yet again we are lead to believe the transfer prices advertised. A significant percentage of Nasri, Cesc & co transfer fees have gone from sale coffers to dividends for Stan, Usmanov, board an Wenger. The fans are watching and expect quality signings in near future.

  22. slc gunner says:

    Interesting indeed. time will tell, but overall, we’re definitely looking to have greater strength in depth than we’ve had for a while. players like arteta and benayoun may not start but are superior as backup to the likes of eboue, denilson, vela and bendtner. is our 1st 11 good enough – time will tell, but i’m happy that we did spend the money on good seasoned players. also, from what i’ve seen of gervinho, he can be frustrating, but far more direct than nasri and in that respect will be a better player.

  23. slipper says:

    Good siigning, will we make the top 4 not sure but we sure as hell now have a chance. To theguy above nasri is way bettter than gervinho technically but he has pace and can score goals so in a way he provides more of a goal threat.

  24. Paulyt33 says:

    The google pop up is stopping us from reading the article ……Help…

  25. gilf says:

    I think the policy at the club over the last few years has been a total failure, I think Wenger genuinely believed that the young players he had were good enough, but they have let him and the club down massively.

    However the buck has to stop with him, it doesn’t help that he seems to have created a no blame culture at the club, he doesn’t publicly criticise, which may well be right but you also suspect he doesn’t criticise in private either.

    You can forget all the other quotes over the last few weeks/months, the most telling for me were one from Nasri saying Wenger avoids conflict and another I think from Schez that he was just silent after the Untied thrashing. I think we heard similar tales after the Carling Cup defeat. He has created an environment where there is no fear, on the one hand it means that players have the freedom to play but the flip side is that there is no consequence of failure.

    I’m positive about the new signings and the future, but we really do need to learn from the mistakes of the last few seasons, the recent transfer activity has gone some way to address that, I just don’t think it will go deep enough in the longer term.

  26. Zak says:

    the google chrome pop up is CRAP

    do something with it, is so annoying !!!

  27. Pete says:

    Slightly off-subject guys but Arsenal look like they need some support over at, a few more fans wouldn’t go amiss I’m sure. Pretty cool site for keeping tabs on the players on Twitter too.

  28. Shandyman says:

    “And at centre-back we have clearly strengthened. Imagine we’d signed an English centre-back age 26 with 79 caps? We’d be cartwheeling. Well, look at it this way: Per Mertersacker has got that and plays for a half decent country too! Two semis and one final is his major tournament record! He’s 6ft 7ins! Who knows how he’ll turn out, but we can’t complain.”

    Typical English self-righteousness. So Mertesacker is somehow inferior to a full-blooded patriotic English centreback with God Save the Queen running through his veins. We can’t complain because we got ourselves some decent CB, who let’s face it, wasn’t our first choice because of his nationality but we could do with him anyway. How patronising. For your information, if the ‘half-decent’ country could wallop your beloved Queen’s army 4-1 in the World Cup without even trying, I wonder what England would be rated as then. Shite?

    With this type of self-denial, no wonder your national team is crap. Hopefully Germany will meet you in Ukraine and Poland once more and we’ll really see how the best team in Europe kick your asses into the next solar system.

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