Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Interesting Times

I'm writing at 11pm on 31 August 2011, the transfer deadline day, and what a strange couple of days it has been. First the 8-2 shellacking at Old Trafford; then the major moves in the transfer market. In past years, TDD has been a frustrating one for Gooners - I remember one where Arsene rather pointedly spent the evening watching the reserves play at Underhill. But not tonight. So, here is a summary of our outgoings and incomings so far:

Cesc to Barca, £30 million
Nasri to Man City, £25 million
Clichy to Man City, £7 million
Eboue to Galatasaray, £3m
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas to Ipswich, £1m
Armand Traore to QPR, £2m
Nik Bendtner to Sunderland, loan
Henri Lansbury to West Han Utd, loan
Denilson to Sao Paolo, loan

Mikel Arteta from Everton, £10m
Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea, loan
Gervinho from Lille, £10m
Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen, £10m
Andre Santos from Fenerbahce, £6m
Park Chu-Young from Monaco, £3m
Carl Jenkinson from Charlton, £2m
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton, £5m
Joel Campbell from Saprissa (Costa Rica), loaned to Lorient, £1m
Ryo Miyaichi, obtained work permit

Nik Bendtner is going to Sunderland for a year's loan, but I hope he'll be back; if Chamakh doesn't regain some kind of form, and Nik B has a good year, perhaps Arsenal will swap the Moroccan for the Dane next summer. I've posted about Cesc, Nasri et al before, so the crucial thing is the signings. Clearly, after Sunday, something had to be done. The squad was down beyond the bare bones, to Traore, whose move to QPR must have been lined up beforehand, and to Coquelin, who was handed a debut without having even trained with the first-team squad all summer after being at the u-20 World Championships.

Since then, we've signed Park Chu-Young (to be known as Ju, apparently), who will wear number 9 - a quick, technical striker and captain of his country, Ju will be a back-up to RvP, and will no doubt run his socks off for us; Andre Santos, the Brazilian international left-back, who will make a good platoon with Gibbs (too injury-prone to be relied upon as a full-time starter), an attacking full-back; Per Mertesacker, who has over 70 caps for Germany, is just 26, and is 6 foot 6 tall, solving some of our defensive and organisational problems; and tonight we're chasing two midfielders.

The first is a season-long loan for Yossi Benayoun. I liked Benayoun very much when he was at West Ham, a lively, technical player who I thought could fit in very well at Arsenal in a Bob Pires (minor key) kind of way. I kind of lost track of him at Liverpool but he played over 100 games and scored 29 goals, a pretty decent strike-rate. he signed for Chelsea last summer, but only played 9 games, suffering an Achilles injury. The twittersphere was full of bile when Benayoun seemed to be the only incoming midfielder, but I think he'll do a decent job and is in the same hard-working mould as Ju. What's more, he's 30, highly experienced, and a proven Premier League player.

The other is Mikel Arteta. I've always rated him as a midfield passer, though he has suffered injuries the last few seasons. He'd be an excellent signing if it happens, and would take some of the burden off Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere as creative midfielders. This, then, would be our squad until the January transfer window:

GK: Szczesny, Fabianski, Mannone
RB: Sagna, Jenkinson
LB: Santos, Gibbs
CB: Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Djourou, Squillaci, Miquel
DM: Song, Frimpong
CM: Wilshere, Ramsey, Arteta, Rosicky, Diaby
WF: Gervinho, Walcott, Arshavin, Miyaichi, Oxlade-Chamberlain
CF: RvP, Chamakh, Ju

This looks like a much more balanced squad, with depth, pace, quite a lot of goals and creativity, and a solid look at the back. This looks like a squad to challenge for the Champions League places, to me - as good as Liverpool, and significantly better than Spurs, who let quite a few players go this summer without many coming in (although Modric stayed). The future is looking brighter. Especially when we get Wilshere back from his Twittering (which is, undeniably, marvellous, as is Emmanuel Frimpong's. Two top Gooners as well as Gunners.) And talking of Gooners, this tweet tonight from Cesc Fabregas: "I dnt undrstand fans telling me we need a replacement after my departure when weve 1 of the best 3 young players in the world @JackWilshere". Love the "we".

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