What is surprising is the 180 degree change in Arsenal’s transfer philosophy that today’s moves reflect. The Gunners new signings; Santos, Per Mertesacker, Park, Benayoun and Arteta. are aged between 26 and 31, they have 233 caps between them and two if them (Park/Benayoun) are national team captains.
Yes, reread that paragraph. Arsenal signed experience today, not potential. Not sure if it was the Old Trafford debacle that was the catalyst for Wenger’s u-turn, but I give him credit for making the right move. Arsenal did not need more players for the future. They needed quality players with experience and that is what they got.
So are Arsenal now better than they were a year ago? I think so and here is why.
Arsenal defence for most of last season was Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny and Clichy. Now that back-four will probably be Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen and Santos. Huge improvement over last season. Squillaci was made 32 appearances last season is now Arsenal’s fifth best center-half. That is saying a lot. Gunners a lot stronger here.
In midfield last season Arsenal’s top three were Song, Wilshere and Fabregas. Song and Wilshere remain and Arsenal will exchange Fabregas for Arteta. Nobody can say that Arteta is a good as Fabregas. But it is not a huge drop off in talent there. So Gunners weaker, but not by much.
Arsenal’s two wide players last season were Walcott and Nasri. Walcott remains and instead of Nasri Arsenal will go with Gervinho. Nasri and Gervinho are not the same players, but Gervinho gives Arsenal a goal scoring threat form the left that they have been missing for several season. I believe that Arsenal are thus stronger here than they were a year ago.
Up-front Arsenal went with van Persie and he remains.
So overall, and with everyone fit, Arsenal’s starting XI looks stronger to me than it was last season. Benayoun gives experience in midfield and Park is an improvement over Bendtner.
What do you think of Arsene Wenger’s moves? Happy with them?