WTTGT Writer: Vivek Arulnathan
With nine new players coming into the first-team this season, Arsene has at least lived up to the promise he made at the end of last season. Many of us are happy with the experience coming into the team in the form of Arteta, Mertasacker, Santos and Benayoun. With such a busy window closed, let us rate all our new signings based on their potential, influence and importance to Arsenal’s first team this season.
Carl Jekinson: £1m from Charlton
For a 19 year old coming in from the League 1, he has looked extremely promising. Still has a lot to do to match Sagna but provides a defensively more solid backup that Eboue. Definitely one for the future and has the potential to become first choice for Arsenal and England.
Gervinho: £11m from Lille
He is one of the best signings in Europe this season and Arsenal’s signing of the Ivory Coast international for just £11m once again proves Wenger’s eye for a bargain. With pace to burn, great dribbling and directness, he brings the cutting edge to Arsenal’s frontline that was sorely missed last season. Doubts still remain over the quality of his final ball but with time and age on his side, he’s bound to improve.
Joel Campbell: £1m from Saprissa
Wenger himself has labelled signing the Costa Rica youngster a ‘gamble’ but having sealed the deal for just £1m, it is a risk worth taking with every chance that it might pay off. He failed to secure a work permit and Wenger wasted no time in sending him out on a season long loan to French side L’Orient.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain: £12m from Southampton
With everyone clamouring for his signing in January, it was a surprise that Arsenal faced very little competition in the summer for the Southampton starlet. While there have been mixed reactions in spending £12m on a 17 year old, the fact that Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs were after him just a few months ago is an ample proof of his abilities. He is one of England’s brightest prospects and I feel he has a huge role to play this season as an impact player coming off the bench.
Park Chu-Young: £3m from AS Monaco
He was smuggled right under the noses of French champions Lille and he represents a fantastic deal for Arsenal in footballing as well as marketing terms. As the South Korean captain, his signing will improve Arsenal’s profile in the Asian market in addition to income from increased sale of merchandise. He is technically very sound and poses a threat with his free-kicks. He’s certainly an improvement from Chamakh but the fact that he will have to leave in two years time for military service is a disappointing point Arsenal fans will have to carry.
Andre Santos: £6.3m from Fenerbahce
He has been brought in as a replacement for Clichy with Gibbs not yet ready for top flight football. He has made 22 appearances for Brazil and at the age of 28, he brings in tons of experience both at the Champions League and international level. More known for his Samba flair going forward, the key to his success at the Emirates will be his balance between attack and defence.
Per Mertasacker: £11m from Werder Bremen
Arsenal’s most important signing of the summer, he could have been bought much earlier. Never mind, he has finally arrived – with 75 international caps for Germany under his belt. He lacks in pace but makes up for it with excellent reading of the game and intimidating aerial presence. Standing at almost 2mts in height, he will provide the physical presence while defending set-pieces and his tackling and ball distribution are good as well. His partnership with Vermaelen should be interesting as will be Wenger’s tactics at the back.
Yossi Benayoun: On loan from Chelsea
The Israeli captain has a lot to prove after a disappointing first season at Stamford Bridge having made the high profile switch from Anfield in 2010. But he could well turn out to be Wenger’s best buy of the season. An experienced Premier League campaigner, he provides versatility to Arsenal’s midfield with the ability to play anywhere in the middle. He shared a great understanding with Torres at Liverpool and he will relish the prospect of linking up once again with a world-class striker in van Persie. His vision and flair will benefit Arsenal’s wingers as well. I am betting on this deal becoming permanent with Yossi clearly not in Villas-Boas’ plans in spite of a good pre-season.
Mikel Arteta: £12m from Everton
Whether he succeeds in filling the hole left by Fabregas is doubtful, but he brings something different on his own. Having taken a pay cut to play in the Champions League, I appreciate the man’s will to succeed at the top and Arsenal should consider offering him a pay rise in the first opportunity possible. Given his frequent visits to the medical table and a subdued last couple of years, his four year contract is a risk. Without trying to be negative, I feel he’ll struggle to replace Cesc but there is no denying that he adds experience, steel, creativity and depth to this Arsenal team. And according to several blogs, he is the most favourite signing among the fans!
The ‘marquee’ signing never arrived but instead we got experienced and proven players coming into the team. With two of them their respective national team’s captains, leadership on the pitch will surely improve. But will our current style of play bring the best out of the new arrivals? A deep defence will suit Mertasacker hugely while a broader and direct game will bring the best out of Gervinho, Arteta and Benayoun. But there is an equally good chance that Wenger will successfully integrate them into the “Arsenal Way”.
Overall rating: 7.5/10
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