Targeting 4th place

It’s been another typical transfer deadline day for Arsenal. I’ve kept an eye on the transfer activity today, but didn’t see what happened between 19:30 and 22:30. I switched on the television and turned to Sky Sports hoping that Mr Wenger had been playing his cards close to his chest all day, and his alluded-to two signings would be revealed. But as Kylie once warbled “I should be so lucky”.

While Spurs, QPR and Moneybags City were doing all the business, Mr Wenger was wiping the dust off the empty trophy cabinet and re-arranging the paper clips on his desk. What happened to the intention of bringing in another defender and midfielder? Arsenal spent (estimation) £40 million on Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla, and they recouped around the same by selling Judas van Persie and Alex Song. They let players go out on loan again so they can seek out their contracts elsewhere, you can browse around this web-site. So in the end Arsenal didn’t really make any investment at all, they just balanced the books. Actually, they lost a strong defensive mid-fielder and he hasn’t been replaced. Remember how fragile their defence was last season?

What happened to the pursuit of Yann M’Vila? Why didn’t Arsenal go after the excellent Moussa Dembélé? He went to Spurs, but surely would have been tempted by Champions League football.

At one point last season Arsenal had nineteen (yes, 19) players out on loan. These could be divided into three categories:

  1. Promising youngsters with little opportunity of getting games at Arsenal at the current time, so loaned out to get some experience – e.g. Joel Campbell, Ryo Miyaichi
  2. Players who weren’t performing and were loaned out with a view to getting the other club to take them permanently – e.g. Andrei Arshavin
  3. Players with no future at Arsenal who are unattractive to other clubs because of their high wages (the buying clubs wouldn’t pay them) and the players wouldn’t take a pay cut… and they’re still under contract, so the only option is to loan them – e.g. Nicklas Bendtner, Denilson, and now Park Chu-Young (six appearances, one goal)

These loaned-out players are a drain on the club – Arsenal keep paying some of their wages but can’t cash in on them. Meanwhile the squad contains some mediocre players (such as Aaron Ramsey, a man who couldn’t hit the target if the goal stretched from one corner flag to the other) and some players who quite frankly aren’t good enough to pull on an Arsenal shirt. Johan Djourou makes me nervous if he’s on the bench because Arsenal are always one injury or one suspension away from him coming on the pitch.

Arsenal’s new signings are worth having… despite two goal-less draws starting the season I have no doubt that Podolski and Giroud will grab a lot of goals between them (remember than Dennis Bergkamp had a slow start, but by the end of that same season he was worshipped as a god). Santi Cazorla looks like an extremely good addition to the squad. One day Jack Wilshere will be declared fit again. Abou Diaby may show us what he can do if he remains uninjured for a couple of months. Francis Coquelin (I rate him) may get enough games to make an impact. But overall, after losing van Persie and Song, I don’t think Arsenal have strengthened the squad significantly. Look at the signings at City, ManUre and Chelsea (and Spurs if João Moutinho is signed at the very last minute) and you could be forgiven for thinking that Arsenal have fallen further behind their rivals.

Only time will tell. Next May I’ll sigh with relief when they scrape 4th place and squeak back into the Champions League for another year.

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