In the summer, Arsenal fans were disappointed with the lack of signings. We brought in Flamini and Sanogo on free transfers, but missed out on Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain, Stevan Jovetic, Lars Bender and a host of other big names.
We played Aston Villa at home on the first day of the season and lost 3-1. Things couldn’t have got any worse.
But then, on transfer deadline day, we pulled off the unthinkable – we signed a world class player at the peak of his career. We signed Real Madrid superstar Mesut Özil. The club had a massive lift and for the majority of the season so far, we’ve been at the top of the league.
Now on the last day of the January transfer window, we find ourselves in a similar position. We’ve been linked with German super-kid Julian Draxler but found out that deal was never going to happen. So instead, we’ve managed to sign 31 year old Swedish International Kim Kallstrom from Spartak Moscow on loan for the rest of the season.
The signing makes sense, with Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky all injured. And we also have Mathieu Flamini out for 4 games after his red card against Southampton, and the number of yellows he’s picked up previously. Mikel Arteta is really our only recognised central midfielder.
I haven’t seen much of Kim Kallstrom to form any sort of opinion of him. From the International games I’ve seen in World Cups and European Championships, he strikes me as a reliable midfielder who does the basics right. Anything special? Perhaps not. Decent cover? Probably.
How Arsene Wenger settled on Kim Kallstrom is a strange one. We all know transfer deals are complicated, drawn out and involve so many different people, representatives and officials. Was Kim Kallstrom offered to Arsenal as a midfield option? Was he our first choice or someone a lot further down the pecking order?
I guess we’ll never know. But he does strike me as a last minute panic buy, in the same mould as Andre Santos, and we know how successful he was at the club.
Then, with only 4 days of the transfer window left and with Arsenal fans crying out for a big name signing (or even a “medium name” signing) we confirmed the deal of Mathieu Flamini on a Bosman. While it was a useful signing given his versatility and ability to play in midfield or at fullback, it didn’t excite all the Arsenal fans.
We are a very good team and the Premier League doesn’t lie. We’ve finished in the Top 4 for the last 16 seasons and that’s where we deserve to be, but unfortunately we haven’t manage to break into the Top 2 for the last 8 years. So that is a problem, a frustration if you like, we’ve suffered as a club recently.
We were paying the highest season ticket prices in the country and not getting a team that could compete. We reportedly had £180 million in cash reserves and spent absolutely nothing.
And then onto transfer deadline day. Arsene teased the media and the fans after we beat Tottenham in the North London Derby, saying he may have “a good surprise” for us all. Even though we had shown little ability to close a deal or complete a signing (I don’t need to mention Gonzalo Higuain or Luis Suarez) I still had that faint hope we would make a signing or two that would get us to the next level.
In the early hours of last night, there were rumours that Arsenal were in for three Real Madrid players – Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Mesus Özil. We were also linked to Demba Ba.
“We are extremely pleased to have signed Mesut Ozil. He is a great player, with proven quality at both club and international level. We have watched and admired him for some time as he has all the attributes I look for in an Arsenal player.
“I have said throughout the summer that we have been working hard to bring in top quality players to this football club. This has involved many many people across the club and I have always had the full support of the club in making decisions on the football side.”
And there is no doubt he is a top top player. He is an exciting signing and will join fellow internationals Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski. His assists record for Real Madrid in 3 seasons is outstanding with 74 assists. If you watch the video below, you will see how class he actually is. A midfield consisting of either him, Cazorla, Wilshere, Rosicky and Ramsey is something to get excited about.
So that’s it, it’s all over. We can sleep at a reasonable hour, and not check our phones or computers constantly to see if we’ve actually bought anyone. Our new signings consist of Yaya Sanogo, Mathieu Flamini, Emiliano Viviano and Mesut Özil. There’s no doubt who the marquee signing and the others will be useful squad players.
But how did we do this summer? Have we done enough to take our team to the next level?
After the euphoria of Mesut Özil joining, then you would have to say we haven’t done enough. We’ve addressed the goalkeeping situation (in one way) and given Szczesny some competition. But could we have done with another defender? We have Sagna and Jenkinson at right back, Gibbs and Monreal at left back, and three decent central defenders in Mertesacker, Koscielny and Vermaelen. So numbers-wise, it isn’t a disaster, and obviously that’s how Wenger feels. Added to the fact that Sagna can fill in at centre back then Arsene must feel we are strong enough in defence.
In midfield, we now have Mathieu Flamini, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta. That’s 6 players for 3 spaces. We have Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil who can play in a more advanced position alongside the striker and we have Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski who can play up top.
For me, if I was being picky (and I am) then I would have liked to see another striker brought in. Demba Ba probably would have been the right call as he is decent enough and if we get an injury to Olivier Giroud then we are in big trouble with Podolski out for the next 10 weeks.
Theo “could” fill in that position but it’s not ideal. Then there is the argument that it wasn’t cover we needed up front but a world class striker. Some are still unconvinced about Giroud and I am still on the fence. He is in excellent form and playing well but I can’t help thinking how good we would be if we had a truly world class finisher.
I am pleased with the Özil signing – you can’t not be after bringing in a world class player – but time will tell if the 4 signings we’ve made are enough to mount a real challenge for major trophies.
Sky Sports News have reported just now that Chelsea have confirmed that both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur made enquiries for striker Demba Ba, but they have rejected both London clubs and accepted an offer from another unnamed Premier League club.
But Ba’s representatives did say that his preference was to play in the Champions League.
So what does this mean? Should Arsenal look elsewhere? Are Chelsea concerned about the threat from Arsenal in the Premier League and are they reluctant to strengthen another Premier League rival?
In the meantime, we’ve also been linked with Chelsea Demba Ba, who is out-of-favour with Jose Mourinho. The 28 year old striker is seen as good backup for the in-form Olivier Giroud, and could give us a different option up front. Reportedly, we are looking at for a season long loan deal and Chelsea are asking for £3 million, while we’re currently offering £1.5 million. According to Sky Sports, Napoli and Valencia are also interested, so watch this space.
We’ve also been linked with Fiorentina (on loan from Palermo) goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, who is also apparently Manuel Almunia’s twin brother. Let’s just hope the similarity ends at physical looks and he doesn’t make mistakes like Almunia. The latest is that we’re going to sign him for £1 million on a season long loan, with an option for a permanent deal at the end of the season.
And their sources say that Ozil is undergoing a medial in Germany as he is currently away on international duty.
So what do you think of this signing?
Personally, I think it is a massive signing. As we proved yesterday, we have a very good starting eleven, but to really kick on and go up that extra level, we need world class reinforcements. And Mesut Ozil is world class.
Statistically, the man is scary. In 3 seasons with the club, he has racked up an amazing 74 assists. That is just crazy. And I don’t care what your opinion is of him, that will make Arsenal a bigger force than they are now.
If you weren’t excited enough about his arrival, then watch this:
One thing I will say from watching this video is that I bet Cristiano Ronaldo will be sorry Ozil is leaving.
They say patience is a virtue and that certainly applies to Arsenal fans. The early signs are extremely encouraging but we still need to make some more signings to strengthen the squad if we want to be considered as true title challengers.