With the injuries to Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mikel Arteta (who has just come back), Tomas Rosicky and Abou Diaby (sorry, force of habit) then Arsenal needed extra numbers in midfield with only Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey as our recognised midfielders.
The Flamini / Ramsey axis has done well results-wise, but the performances have been less convincing. Aaron Ramsey has found his shooting boots again and while Mathieu Flamini has the hugely impressive record at The Emirates, having never lost there (I think the record stands at well over 50 games now).
But the matches have been there for all to see. Against Liverpool, Sunderland, Bournemouth and Newcastle, there have been large portions of the game where we’ve been overrun and the opposing team have had a lot of goalscoring opportunities and possession, with Cech saving us the vast majority of the time.
But the signing of Mohamed Elneny is a strange one. Arsene Wenger has never really used the January transfer window to strengthen an area Arsenal need strengthening. I think once we brought in Sol Campbell to help out our defence but all in all, we’ve had gaping holes in our squad due to injuries and we’ve just never strengthened.
How many times have we needed a central defender and not brought one in? I remember Arsenal signing Andrei Arshavin when we badly needed a centerback, and that is pretty much how Arsene Wenger has operated.
I’m not criticising the signing of Elneny, I’m just surprised Arsene has done it.
Arsene Wenger has always been of the opinion that we’ll just make do with we’ve got. We’ve got Flamini and Ramsey so I thought he would have persisted with that, and then ultimately get criticised by the Arsenal fans when one of them got injured and he didn’t sign a midfielder in January. But this season he’s changed.
And maybe that’s because he truly believes this is Arsenal’s year.
He is a highly intelligent man and must know that Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool won’t be having such bad seasons next year. Those clubs are all in transition and even Manchester City, who are at the top of the league alongside us, will be even stronger next season once they confirm the signing of Pep Guardiola.
The signing of Elneny is more than strengthening our midfield, it’s a signal of intent from the manager that he wants to go all out and try and win it this season.
Should Arsenal make another signing in January? That’s unlikely as Arsene will still want to make do with what he’s got or alternatively, recruit from within.
Central defence has to be a worry and in an ideal world, I’d like to see another defensive signing before the month is out.
That would really signal Arsenal’s intent for the rest of the season.