So I’ll start with the transfer business. On the whole I feel as though we have been through one of our better transfer windows:
Of course there have been some departures but they have on the whole been replaced(ish). Debuchy for Sagna, Chambers for Vermaelen (happy accident or genius?) and Ospina for Fabianski. On top of these we have the two forward additions in Welbeck and Sanchez.
First and foremost I can fully understand the managers view that not too much was needed to ensure a title tilt this season. It feels like he’s thinking that “if not for injuries we could have won it last year”. It looks as though the trust is there for what we’ve got already and with a couple of very good additions we can do it. Welbeck is a quick and strong centre forward and one who will help with our pressing game (Lord knows Sanchez will be happy with his work rate combined with his own!). With Walcott and Arteta due back for the City game our squad is beginning to look stronger and one that has a bit of depth to it.
Giroud’s injury is a complete pain in the arse to our title challenge and is the only thing that, in my view, is in the way of it having been a tremendous window for us. If he’s fit I’m convinced that we can challenge, but for the moment I’m cautious as Welbeck will need a bit of time to bed in.
I do have a niggling feeling that this is a window where we may have missed an opportunity though. There were rumours of us being involved with Falcao, Reus and Cavani before we landed on Welbeck, which doesn’t look like it was a well carved out plan. Especially considering the lateness of the deal. I do wonder that not getting our first choice forward due to money and not bringing in a DM for the same reason could be our demise in the long run. I’m just not convinced by Falmini starting games and on top of that it doesn’t look as though either Flamini or Arteta can spring our attacks in a combative way that might be possible with a 6”3 monster at the base of our midfield (Rabiot?). The same applies for our CB options. I’m really surprised that we didn’t bring in a like for like replacement for Vermaelen and have Chambers as the 4th choice utility man that Sagna was last season. It looks as though Nacho Monreal might be filling that void at some point this season and also means we might get to see more of our new speedster Hector Bellerin, a player that I’m sure will be brilliant for us – the marauding right back conveyor belt seems to be working. The signings that we have made are good however I really hope we don’t end up saying “What if…” at Christmas and then panic buying in January.
We also had the little matter of a football match versus a newly promoted Leicester who we all know would be chomping at the bit as most newly promoted teams are in the early part of the season. I always become very nervous for any Arsenal away game as for some reason we really struggle to impose our natural game. I always feel the fans have a huge impact on proceedings but it really does feel as though the atmosphere and environment of not being at home gets to the players. It was quite a disjointed performance and although we had a fair few attempts at goal there were only 2 or 3 clear cut chances throughout the game. I still think back to that Ramsey header and still scream in my head “give it to Sanogo!!!”. It just happened to be one of those games but I do feel we were lucky to have not thrown it away with Leicester taking advantage of some of our defensive errors. Chambers has been awesome so far but also a touch naive due to his inexperience, something I’m hoping doesn’t bite us in the arse at the business end of the season. It was a shame not to take full advantage of City losing at home to Stoke, however it’s still early days and we’re still finding our feet with the new signings gelling with the team so it will take some time.
The confusing thing for many Gooners out there seems to be with why Ozil is playing wide left and Cazorla inside. Cazorla is playing really well there at the moment and in top of that it looks as though Wenger is trying to accommodate the best players in the team. I do think a little experimentation with the shape could be tried with the Ox suing wide left with Sanchez on the right and playing only one of Ozil or Cazorla. I feel as though that might take the politeness of interchange between the 2 of them out of the equation and leave the creative maestro (whichever it may be) to supply the through balls to the pace in the team. With Ramsey and Flamini/Arteta behind that front line I feel there would be a better balance in the team. But then what do I know…for all we know The Ox might have been terrible in training on the left!
All in all with the transfer activity done and dusted (thank God!), and now well and truly back down to the football, I think we can work with what we have and challenge. We did that and more last year and but for injuries we could have gone all the way. We have a bit more this season and with a bit of luck and a bit of teams realising Chel$ki are terrible at the back we might be able to go all the way this year.
Come on you Reds!