Are Arsenal really title contenders this season?
With a busy transfer window, albeit not as busy as last summer, soon coming to a close I will be analysing Arsenal’s ins and outs and be deciding whether or not the club really are title contenders this season, or remaining a top four team at best.
To start, one thing that really caught my eye was Wenger’s change in transfer policy this time round. He signed early and he signed big. This is a great contrast from last season when he fought for Nasri and Fabregas to stay right till the end and left himself in a situation on deadline day.
The signing’s so far; Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla look to be some decent business, and with the impending transfer of Nuri Sahin on loan with option to buy will make the team look very solid.
Podolski, 27, is a prolific striker that has won over 100 caps for Germany scoring 44 goals, and making 169 league appearances for FC Koln, scoring 79 goals. The one worrying thing about him though was his three year stint at Bayern Munich that ended after making 71 appearances and scoring 15 times.
Giroud, 25, is a late blooming French striker who joined from Montpellier. Last season he was the top goal scorer with 21 goals in Ligue 1 and won the title against all odds with the underdog team.
Along his career up the French leagues, he has played for Grenoble, Istres, Tours and finally Montpellier before his move to the Gunners this season. He looks a bright talent that seems to step up every time he moves up a division, so Arsenal fans will hope that this happens this time round too.
Finally we have Santi Cazorla, who is a 27 year old Spanish playmaker who signed from Malaga for £20 Million. This is a club record for the Gunners, and on his debut for Arsenal looked bright, even though he played against Puerto Rico away for Spain not long before the fixture.
Cazorla is mostly know for his ability to play anywhere across the midfield, or either wing, being ambidextrous, his passing ability, ball control and his shooting accuracy. Finally looks to be the missing link from when Fabregas left.
Soon to be joining, apparently, is Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid, the deep lying midfield player has been highly rated since he made his debut for Dortmund at the age of 16, and since made a move to Real Madrid where his career seemed to grind to a halt due to competition from Lassana Diarra and Xabi Alonso in the Real midfield.
The player has a great passing range, reliable and good in the tackle. All the things we need in the midfield to stop players getting though so easily to the defense.
Next, I will be looking at the Outs, some minor outings such as Bartley (Swansea), Almunia (Watford), Campbell (Loan), Ryo (Loan), Denilson (Loan), Vela (Real Sociedad) and Afobe (Loan) aren’t as important to the first team, mostly being fringe players being sold/released and developmental moves.
The big moves though are Robin Van Persie and Alex Song. These two are two of the clubs longest serving players, and both left within a a few days of each other.
Robin van Persie was Arsenal’s top goal scorer last season with 37 in all competitions, and left for Manchester United for a fee around 24 Million.
In my opinion, this is a great deal on Arsenal’s end. Given his age, injury proneness and current contract, we were lucky to hit the 20′s. He barely has 3 years of top level football left in him, and is long due an injury.
Although it is sad to see someone so influential to the team leave for one of our most fierce rivals, not far behind Spurs, I do think that it is a great deal for Arsenal.
Alex Song yesterday moved to Barcelona for £15 Million. He had 3 years left on his deal with Arsenal and last season was one of the main string pullers of the midfield.
This deal I also think was a good one, and Wenger would not have done it if he didn’t either. With 3 years left on his contract he was in no rush, or even forced to sell the player.
The player does seem to already be covered however, with Cazorla being the more reliable creative side of the midfield, and if Sahin joins, he would be the more reliable defensive side of the midfield.
£39 Million for the two players has pretty much covered the £42 Million odd that has already been spent on the three new signings so far, plus the minor outs I think we’re still in the profit when it comes to the net.
So how would my team line up?
Well presuming Sahin will sign for the club in the next few days my strongest line up will look something like this.
Wojciech Szczesny (Yes, I had to Google his name) would be my first choise ‘Keeper, shown great development over the last few seasons and has great defensive discipline,as shown when he was literally placing players in their positions for a corner.
Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny and Gibbs in my back four.
Sagna, I think is one of the best right backs in the division, he just needs to overcome the leg breaking habit of breaking his legs.
Vermaelen is the club captain this season so he is definitely in the squad.
Koscielny is probably the most improved player from Arsenal last season and is showing some loyalty and respect for the club by signing a long term deal.
Gibbs is very well balanced and is very reliable down the left side.
My midfield trio would be Sahin, Arteta and Cazorla.
Sahin would play the sitting role, as he has the passing ability of Xabi Alonso and the tenaciousness of a young Torsten Frings.
Arteta is the clubs Vice captain and the role he played at the club last season more than earns him a place in the squad, very good passer, goal scorer and all round midfield maestro.
Cazorla will be the more attacking player, with his ball control and assist’s/goals in him will more than come in handy.
The front three I would chose would be Gervinho,
Giroud and Podolski. Giroud the central powerhouse of the three, with this aerial and floor ability, and skill to boot he looks a real goal threat.
Podolski down the left, his late runs into the box often startle defenses and allows room for others and good scoring opportunity for others.
Gervinho on the right would be my final pick, hes quick, skillful, and on the right could be deadly with crosses. On the left he does look quite isolated, and always tries to cut back onto his favored right foot, the right side could get him to be that tiny bit quicker with delivery that is much often needed.
So are Arsenal real title contenders? I think so, with the quality brought in to replace the losses, two fold, Arsenal look stronger and more creative than ever, we will just have to wait and see how the strikers settle into the squad and hope for the best.
Realistically the title may be a bit out of reach, but the amount we have improved the squad over the summer has really impressed me and for the first time in many seasons I am cautiously optimistic about the season ahead.
League – 3rd
Champions League – Quarter Final
FA Cup – Finalists/ Winners (Depending on rotation)
Capital One Cup – Finalists/Winners (Depending on rotation)
Feel free to talk about what you think about the situation, and hope you enjoyed reading this.
Until next time guys