Arsenal was one of the busiest clubs in the last two days of the transfer period. After the transfer of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, the squad was well short of quality and experience. The 8 – 2 humiliation at the hands of Manchester United at Old Trafford caused the fans and manager to press the panic button. The match highlighted the short comings of the squad and it was clear to everyone (and thankfully to Wenger) that the club had to spend in order to keep their place in the top four. While the fans cried out for new signings, Wenger maintained his stance that ‘there are people working hard behind closed doors to bring in new players’. Arsene was right; the Last 48 hours of the transfer period saw Arsenal signing five new players. Here is a look at the new signings at the Emirates:
The South Korean international was signed from Monaco for a fee of around £3 million. The forward will provide much needed cover for Captain Robin Van Persie. He is the present captain of his national team. Park is a tricky player, whose off-the-ball movement is superb and will add some killer instinct in front of the goal which Arsenal lacks at times. Nicklas Bendtner has been sent out on loan to Sunderland and with Chamakh looking off the pace most of the time, Park will provide new impetus to the Arsenal strike force. Park is also a good header of the ball despite his short height. Former Monaco coach Guy Lacombe said “He is also remarkably strong in the air, despite his average size. He has very good timing”. Park took some time to settle in France; thereafter he was Monaco’s most influential player. The former AFC young player of the year winner has scored 25 goals and provided 8 assists in 91 league appearances for Monaco.
Park’s international and club career has been plagued by injuries and with Arsenal’s long list casualties, it could be a headache for the club. Park’s work rate has also come under criticism at times and he is not reliable when it comes to one on one situations. Despite all these probable weaknesses, if Park manages to stay fit and Wenger uses him wisely, he could have good impact from the bench. Park is worshipped as a Hero in his native land and hence can also provide good marketing prospect for the Gooners in Asia. In his first interview as an Arsenal player, Park said
“I just want to show how good I am and prove myself. It feels like a big step up but that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to perform.”
Arsenal and Fenerbahçe have agreed a fee of £6.2m for the transfer of Andre Santos from the Turkish side. The Brazilian left back will be looking to fill the void left by the departure of Gael Clichy and Armand Traore. Injury to Gibbs has forced Wenger to play Sagna and Jenkinson in that position and the makeshift arrangements have failed miserably. Andre Santos, the 28 year old will bring valuable experience to the squad and good amount of flair as well. Santos is straight out of the Brazilian school of Full Backs. He has been often compared with a certain Roberto Carlos due to similar style of play. Santos is known for his attacking wing play and has an impressive goal scoring record for a full back. He has a scoring record of nearly one goal in every five matches for Fenerbahçe. The Brazilian has accumulated 22 international caps for the Brazilian national team. Santos’s days at Fenerbahçe was numbered after the club was found involved in match-fixing scandal and were relegated to second tier league and subsequently was removed from the UEFA Champions League.
Santos has won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 with Brazil. While people in England might be sceptical about the Brazilian, it must be pointed out that he has started in the Brazilian team ahead of the likes of Kleber, Marcelo and Bastos. Santos in one of his interviews said
“I managed to win over the supporters at Fenerbahçe and I hope the same will happen here. I arrive here with one aim: being a champion. I will wear Arsenal’s shirt and give my utmost to it. I will do everything for the club.”
Arsenal’s defence has been the club’s biggest problem for the past few years now. Fans have been begging Wenger to buy a ‘big’ centre half. Arsenal conceded lot of goals from set pieces last season, their inability to deal with a cross, inability to deal with strong center forwards was there for all to see. This time around Wenger has finally brought in a quality defender. Per Mertesacker has joined Arsenal from Werder Bremen for a fee of around £8m. The German International is a ‘massive’ boost to the Arsenal defence, in every sense of the word. At 6ft 6in he has an imposing presence and very clean in his tackles. Die Abwehrlatte (The defence pole), as he was nicknamed in Germany started in 144 games for Werder and has received just 7 yellow cards and 2 red cards during this period. He went on a record run of 31 games without being booked during his stay at Hannover 96 and was booked only twice in his 74 match stint over there. He has arguably been the most important signing made this summer. The German International has 75 caps to his name for his country. He will add massive amount of experience and solidity to this Arsenal team.
Some fans are sceptical about this lack of pace, and how he will find it hard in England. Mertesacker never possessed lightning pace, but his weakness starts and ends over there. When you see some of the big name defenders in England over the years, the likes of Campbell, Adams, Vidic and Terry neither of them are/were quick, but they were effective to say the least. Mertesacker and Vermaelen can form an excellent partnership at the heart of the Arsenal Defence. Mertesacker said:
“I had a great time at SV Werder Bremen and I’m grateful to the club. Moving to London enables me to fulfill a dream and a further step in my career. The Premier League has always represented a great challenge for me.”
‘The Diamond from Dimona’ as he is sometimes called in Israel, was signed by Arsenal on the transfer deadline day for a season long loan from Chelsea. Arsenal’s midfield was looking thin due to transfers of some big names, injuries and suspensions. Benayoun, now 31 years of age will add depth and experience to the depleted squad. The former Liverpool midfielder usually plays in the hole behind the striker. The Israeli captain has good movement and possesses a calm head on his shoulders.
Arsenal fans are bit sceptical about Benayoun’s transfer. The Gooners expected ‘bigger’ names and not someone who hardly got into Chelsea’s first team. Benayoun is also someone whose career has been plagued with injuries. The Israeli will not be a first team starter when the squad is injury free; he is most likely to compete with Rosicky in the squad. Benayoun is a seasoned premier league campaigner after his spells with West Ham and Liverpool. At Chelsea, Benayoun hardly made it to the first team and made just 8 appearances last year. Jack Wilshere was excited about the new signing and tweeted:
“Massive signing! His quality and class is evident for everyone to see! Welcome Mr Benayoun! ”
Mikel Arteta Amatriain completed his move from Everton to Arsenal for a fee of £10m. He became Arsenal’s fourth signing of the deadline day and the move was completed just minutes before the window closes. It was also reported that Arteta has agreed to take a pay cut in order to push through the transfer to the Emirates. The Spanish player is a big coup for the London side, who look to fill up the gaps left behind by the transfer of Cesc Fabregas and Nasri. Arteta might not be of the same level as the ex-Gunner captain, but he is certainly one of the most underrated player in the world. Arteta brings bags of Premier League experience and creativity along with him. The former Barcelona trainee oozes class and style with the ball at his feet. He has the eye for a defence splitting pass and with his style of play he will fit into the Arsenal system like hands in a glove. The Spaniard has amassed 33 goals and 41 assists in 208 appearances for Everton.
Arteta hasn’t represented Spain in the senior team yet, and many consider him unlucky in that regard. Spain has an embarrassment of riches in midfield at the moment and hence Arteta hasn’t got a look in yet, for most of the other nations Arteta would have been a regular starter. He has been the lynch pin of the Everton team, and his best seasons were in 2005 – 2006 and 2006 – 2007. In 2006 – 2007 season he made the third highest assist, behind Fabregas and Ronaldo. He was also the most fouled player that season. Arteta was awarded the Everton Player of the season in 2005/06 and 2006/07 season. He was also the Everton’s player’s player of the year in 2005-2007. He was also voted the Premiership’s ‘Midfielder of the Year’ by the readers of Sky Sports, beating PFA Players’ Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo. In 2006 – 2007 he was ranked by the ACTIM Index as the sixth best player in the Premiership. Arteta is an astute signing by Wenger and will help the team regain its creative edge, which seemed to be lost after Fabregas left. Jack Wilshere was glad to see the Spaniard at Arsenal, he said:
“I am glad Arteta has signed for us! He was one of the best players I faced last season and was not looking forward to playing him again!”
The new signings have strengthened the Arsenal team, and when all the players returns from their injuries and suspension, it will be a new look Arsenal team altogether. Here is a look at the strongest possible Arsenal Eleven.