Arsene Wenger has never been a man to advocate panic buying and despite his claims that the summer’s transfer dealings at Arsenal weren’t born out of panic signing four players in the last few days of the window, two of them without medicals, suggests otherwise. So, what difference have those signings made? With the exception of Mikel Arteta, who has played a vital role in Arsenal’s recovery deputising for the injured Jack Wilshere, and Gervinho (seven assists, two goals) how much of an impact have the new signings really made so far?
With a name that roughly translates as ‘meat sack’ you could be forgiven for viewing the giant German as some kind large inanimate object whose primary purpose was to obstruct attackers using only his physical presence. However on the whole he hasn’t even done that with much conviction. At fault for two goals against Chelsea and again at the weekend in Norwich the hugely experienced international’s performances have left many preferring to see Koscielny paired with Vermaelen at the back, and rightly so. However the acquisition of the former Werder Bremen man will seem better value as he adapts to life in the Premier League. Koscielny’s first season at the club suggested that he wasn’t cut out for life in England but his performances this season have much better and at times brilliant.
Another defender that needs time to adapt; the Brazilian might not be the player that Arsenal fans want him to be (he can’t defend) but he is at least covering for the perpetually injured Gibbs. His attacking presence has been worthy of a place in the team so far and whilst he might lack certain necessary qualities the Brazilian was bought to add depth to the squad. Unless something changes radically about Santos’ play I think we can expect to see Gibbs back in the team when he has recovered.
Largely anonymous, potentially past it; the Israeli captain has barely been used by Wenger so far. But then again: no money was paid for him. Benayoun is a panic buy if ever I’ve seen one. However that doesn’t make him useless. Far from it. Yossi’s versatility means that he can be, and has been, used on the wing or in the centre and his work ethic and defensive ability should provide an example for some of the lazier wingers at the club. He potentially has a part to play for Arsenal this year but he will not get a run in the team unless they are ravaged by injuries. Perhaps Wenger had Gervinho’s absence due to the African Nations in mind when he signed Benayoun.
Park Chu Young
Used sparingly, largely unimpressive. Park’s goal in the Carling Cup against Bolton gave Arsenal fans a glimpse of what could be, but he has failed to produce on his two other appearances. The Korean, like the rest of Arsenal’s new signings, needs time to adjust but he recently told Arsenal that physically he was ready to give his best.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown what he could be capable of with some brilliant performances in the Carling Cup and the England U21 team. However we all knew that he would perhaps be one considered more for the future. Joel Campbell too will perhaps be appreciated in a few years; he is doing well at Lorient and has earned himself a place in the team. Jenkinson was another for the future however even though their were many Arsenal fans complaining about his performances so far this year he was getting better with every game and many of those same fans will be disappointed to see him injured.
Obviously these players need time to settle in. All players do, or at least should. But if everyone knows that is the case then why were these signings made so late. If the inefficiency of the players cannot be blamed on the players themselves then it must be blamed on the people who didn’t sign them early enough to get a pre-season under their belt. There’s no point in Arsene saying that Mertesacker didn’t know he would be closed down as quickly as he was by Morrison on Saturday. The fact is that he should have been taught these things by now because soon mistakes like that will cost them points and the fans will not be as forgiving. Whether the delay in bringing in new players was the fault of the board or the manager is yet to be known, but both should have known better.
The quality of the player signed can be properly evaluated later in the season when they have had time to settle in. The success of Wenger’s ‘panic buying’ can be brought down to one main question: was he buying squad players or first team players? Obviously Gervinho and Mertesacker were bought for the first team but it seems that the others were bought to compensate for Arsenal’s repetitive injury problems. And therefore even though they haven’t lit the league alight with flair-filled performances players like Santos, Arteta and Jenkinson have done what they were meant to do. Benayoun too has provided ample cover and having an extra centre back in Mertesacker has definitely been beneficial to the club. The summer transfer window may not have gone exactly to plan for Arsene but it would be hard to imagine their recovery without their new players.
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