A View From Below

Sporting debate and opinion

Arsenal FC – Summer of crisis saved by deadline day moves

In late July I toyed with the idea of writing a season preview blog regarding Arsenal Football Club. However there were so many ongoing sagas an indefinite issues at the Emirates that I decided it would be best to wait untill 1st of September, after the transfer deadline has passed, to express my views on the Gunners summer and the season ahead.

And how glad am I now that I chose to wait until today.

From boy to man - Cesc Fabregas

Since late July, AFC has changed dramatically.
Arsene Wenger has lost his captain, talisman and most able player in Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona for £35 million including variables. He has also lost Samir Nasri, or as many Arsenal fans are now referring to him as, $amir Na$ri, to Manchester City for around £23 million.

The club has suffered the ignomity of being the only Premier League club in history to have had a player sent off in each of their first 3 games of the season, managed to scrape through to the Champions League group stages after a tough two-legged encounter with Udinese, and have been humiliated in defeat, 8 goals to 2 against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Even so, I write this piece on the first day of September 2011 full of enthusiasm and excitement for the season ahead.
Arsenal’s squad looks refreshed and revamped, our transfer policy seems to have modernised and the club now has the potential to adapt our wage structure to keep hold of our best players and bring in top quality stars in the future.

I must admit, however, that back in July I was much less optimistic. In the wake of Arsenal’s final friendly before the season started in earnest, we lost 2-1 away from home to Benfica. I drafted some notes on what I thought was necessary to haul the club out of the ‘crisis’ that was gripping the red half of North London.

Here goes; my plan will be split into 3 parts – sales, signings and team tactics and management.
Under to these points will be what actually happened, and whether I was right or wrong, and if AW has bettered my ideas.

(Gael Clichy had already moved to Man City for £7m & Jay Emmanuel-Thomas to Ipswich for £1million)

Sell Cesc Fabregas quickly for around £35million
Cesc Fabregas was sold to Barcelona. The fee was thought to be around £35 million, including add-ons.
I understand Arsenal were paid £14.5 million when he moved, will be paid another £14.5 million in October, and may receive another £5 million in performance related add-ons. Cesc himself waived his loyalty bonus, saving Arsenal shelling out around £5 million to the player himself.
Here I think all Arsenal fans now the player had to be sold. His heart wasn’t in it, and it was time to move on. However Wenger’s reluctance to let Fabregas leave left us short of midfield options and downbeat before the season started.
Verdict – Right: Fabregas should have been sold earlier in the summer

Sell Andrey Arshavin for around £10 million
Andrey Arshavin has stayed. Rumours talked of a move back to Russia, but likely due to Na$ri’s sale, as Arshavin is a senior midfield player he did not move. Gervinho has taken his played in AFC first choice XI now.
Verdict – Wrong, but probably only because of the sales of Fabregas and Na$ri

Sell Nicklas Bendtner & Denilson for around £5 million each
Both players went out on loan, explaining the difficulty Wenger had in shifting them earlier in the season and in getting substantial transfer fees from other clubs. Denilson went back to Brazil – Sao Paulo after a torrid performance during the club’s far East tour, and Bendtner went to Sunderland on deadline day. Both players will come back next season and may be integrated back into the first team or sold.
Verdict – Half Right, Bendtner and Denilson left the club, but only on loan

(Gervinho had already signed from Lille for £11 million & Carl Jenkinson from Charlton for £1 million)

Sign Gary Cahill from Bolton for around £15 million
Gary Cahill stayed at Bolton after bids were turned down from Arsenal, and after a late flirt with Spurs. His future seems clouded as he will be a Bosman free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign a new deal. Arsenal signed Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen instead for around £8 million. A top quality centre half, and at 6 foot 6 inches is exactly the defender fans wanted to see. His form has been poor in the last 18 months or so, but new surroundings may be just what he needs.
Mertesacker is a former Werder Bremen captain and has 75 caps for Germany, appearing in the 2006 & 2010 World Cup’s, and holds Champions League experience.
Verdict – Better, Wenger has signed a top centre half and saved the club money

Sign Juan Mata from Valencia for around £20 million
Juan Mata moved to Chelsea for around £25 million. After 1st of July the price for Mata moved from around £20 million after a clause in his contract expired. It was then that Guillem Balague, prominent sports journalist pronounced Arsenal’s deal for Mata dead.
Instead Wenger’s move for a wide midfielder saw Arsenal secure Yossi Benayoun from Chelsea on a season long loan deal. Benayoun is the Israeli captain with 83 international caps and a wealth of Premier League experience.
Verdict – Worse, Arsenal could have got Mata for £20 million in June, and although he is more talented than Benayoun, the Israeli holds more experience.

Sign Jose Enrique from Newcastle for around £5 million
Jose Enrique went to Liverpool for just over £6 million. Arsenal did enhance their left back options by signing Fenerbache’s Brazilian defender Andre Santos for £6.2 million to compete with young Kieren Gibbs. A top signing who replaced Roberto Carlos in the Turkish side and holds 22 international caps, Arsenal’s options at full back look strong.
Verdict – Better, Enrique has PL experience but Santos has higher international pedigree.

Sign Craig Gordon from Sunderland for around £5 million
Craig Gordon stayed at Sunderland. No goalkeepers came in or out at the Emirates, which mysteriously sees Manuel Almunia remain at the club. Szczesny’s impressive form shows why he was promoted so quickly to the first team while Fabianski and Mannone are decent back-ups
Verdict – No change

Sign Danielle De Rossi for around £20 million
De Rossi stayed at Roma. This was a long shot, where I felt Arsenal needed a midfielder of stature to come in. This man emerged last night as Mikel Arteta, for £10 million from Everton. I think whilst this is not the ‘marquee’ transfer many fans were hoping for, but I feel the deal will prove a good call for the club. With more PL experience than any of our current midfielders and impressive seasons at Everton in the bank, Arteta can add a lot to the current first eleven.
Verdict – Better, Arteta is a class player and will improve the side.

Team tactics and management

Agree a new long term deal and central role in the side for $amir Na$ri
This clearly became impossible after the Frenchman jostled for his big money move.
Verdict – Wrong, like Spurs should have done with Modric, sometimes it is better to bank the cash and move on when it comes to a clearly unhappy player.

Make Robin Van Persie captain with Thomas Vermaelen as his deputy/vice captain
I was spot on here as RVP was given the armband with TV5 as his second in command.
Verdict – Spot on

The other deal Wenger tied up were to sign Park Chu-Young, a South Korean international striker from Monaco for around £3 million. Whilst letting Bendtner and Vela go out on loan, Arsenal needed cover and brought in S. Korea’s captain from under the noses of Lille to compete with Marouane Chamakh as back up to RVP.

In my opinion, Arsenal now look as strong as they have for a long time. The deals on and just prior to transfer deadline day were well worked, and whilst the fans may question why business has been done so late in the window, they should be happy at the players brought in.

2 International captains have signed, in addition to 2 former club captains. Leadership, Check.
Over 200 international caps have been added to the squad, as well as a midfielder with more Premier League experience than any of our current players. The age of the signings are 26, (Park) 28, (Santos) 26, (Mertesacker) 31, (Benayoun) and 29 (Arteta). Experience ,Check.
And for fans such as Piers Morgan, who so vocally told Arsenal to “Spend some f***ing money, they have, with a late outlay reaching nearly £30 million. Money spent, Check.

The Arsenal squad has been rejuvenated and spirits have been lifted after Sunday’s mauling. Whilst we may not compete for the title this season, (which seems to be on the way to Manchester if you are unfortunate enough to listen to Robbie Savage) we now have a squad to be proud of, a manager to commend for adapting his principles, and a team who can challenge for trophies.

Now, roll on Swansea next weekend and let’s try and beat them 8-2!


September 1, 2011 - Posted by | Football


  1. Danielle De Rossi – Always ambitious mate but I think a player in that mould would have been better than arteta/bennynoon. Just think you need a bit of steel in there, Alex Song stamps on people without getting much done and Frimpong has not come of age…yet. As much as he’s a tool, I think a Joey B, Arteta combo would have been better.

    Also think Mertesacker is class on the ball, but not the greatest at actually defending, though this is alright If, and it is a big if, Vermaelan stays fit. Finally, you need a backup keeper, Sczjeorsffsdesny gets injured and your in a bit of bother.

    Still think your well off premiership winning potential, but your back in the mixer of the big 4, and things could be a lot worse. Hopefully this is the beginning of something more promising in your long term future.

    As a positive, people do not hate arsenal anymore. You’re another average club currently, the underdog, everyone loves that, and while AW is in charge, I will always love AFC!

    Great blog though mate, aside from our differences in opinion on a couple of your buys. I look forward to the next one; a review of Derbys miraculous start perhaps?

    Comment by Tom Shearer | September 2, 2011 | Reply

    • Daniele De Rossi was my outsider transfer but at the time heard he had falled out with Roma management. AFC had been linked with M’Villa, but IMO the likes of Song, Frimpong (who i think could be amazing in future) and Coquelin (who started vs MUFC) will compete for your DMC spot. Plus Joey Barton is a horrible man and I would never want his like at my club.

      Yeah we will see about Mertesacker, seems to be good in air and on floor, but will he be caught out for speed? At least with him, the Verminater and Kozzy we have 3 good CB choices. Yeah could have used another GK but Fabianski is supposed to be good in training and like Hilario at CFC I think he could do a job if called upon.

      We aren’t gonna win the league after losing our 2 best players but hopefully like MUFC after CR7 and Tevez left we will become more of a united team…just hope RVP and others sign new deals. Haha I’d rather people hate us than be an ‘average club’ something that will hopefully change!

      Cheers mate, fancy contributing some pieces towards the blog yourself? I wouldn’t know where to start with Derby but if you fancy articulating some of your gesticulation for a blog, I’d be more than happy to whack it up on here – “The Tom Shearer Column” I can see it now!

      Comment by jdickenson100 | September 2, 2011 | Reply

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