Transfer Window Review: Arsenal

The Gunners have had a mixed start to the season despite bringing in five major signings over the summer, but with the window now shut, Goal runs the rule over the north Londoners
By James Goldman

It was a typically tumultuous transfer window from Arsenal who went from the headline-grabbing signing of Chile’s World Cup star Alexis Sanchez to scrambling around for last-minute defensive and striking reinforcements with mixed success – here Goal assesses their key deals.

It was to be hoped that the arrival of Alexis Sanchez shortly after the World Cup would set the tone for Arsenal’s transfer window. Beating a Premier League rival in Liverpool to a player of world repute, signed from one of Europe’s leading clubs, ought to have heralded a bright new dawn.

That the remaining weeks of the window descended into chaos as Arsenal scrambled around for a striker and defensive cover, however, should not detract from the magnitude and impact of Sanchez’s signing.

The Chile international was deemed surplus to requirements at Camp Nou following the arrival of Luis Suarez but he has already adopted the mantle of main man in north London, scoring the goal that ensured Champions League qualification at the expense of Besiktas and impressing with his work ethic and industry in each of his six appearances for his new club.

An injury to Olivier Giroud has forced Arsene Wenger to accelerate his plan to transform the 25-year-old from incisive winger to predatory centre forward and although the results have been mixed thus far there is every reason to believe Arsenal can expect a significant return on their £32 million investment.

We are unlikely to ever know if Arsene Wenger would ever have sanctioned a move for Danny Welbeck had Olivier Giroud not suffered the ankle injury that will keep him out of action until the new year.

Arsenal’s need for reinforcements up front was made abundantly clear last Sunday when they failed to turn the majority of possession into clear goalscoring opportunities and Yaya Sanogo proved once again that he is not yet ready to assume the level of responsibility his manager appeared destined to entrust him with.

Welbeck, himself, is far from a prolific goalscorer either but was rarely afforded the opportunity to prove his worth in his preferred central striking role at Manchester United. When he was given a run in the side by David Moyes last Christmas in the absence of Robin van Persie he struck six goals in nine matches before retreating to the wing for the benefit of the team.

His technique, athleticism and pace make him a perfect fit for Arsenal’s forward line which currently lacks a mobile, physical presence and if he is able to display a greater maturity in front of goal he may well turn out to be an inspired last-minute signing.

Once Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott return from injury Arsenal can lay claim to boasting the most versatile and varied attack in the league. The goals that have up to this point been in short supply will undoubtedly flow again once the squad regains the level of sharpness that characterised their excellent early season form last time around.

Preventing Arsenal from scoring may well be beyond most teams but finding a way through their porous defence ought not to be an overly arduous task – three low ranking Premier League teams have already managed to do so this season.

The need for a defensive specialist at the base of their midfield was highlighted by the crushing defeats suffered at the hands of their title rivals away from home last season when the Gunners shipped 17 goals in three games against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini were overpowered, outmanoeuvred and overburdened by unrelenting opposition and there is no reason to suggest either will cope any better when they are plunged into battle again this season.

Morgan Schneiderlin, however, a proven Premier League performer at Southampton and a member of France’s World Cup squad, looked a perfect fit and was hopeful of forcing through a transfer to a Champions League club this summer but the south-coast club refused to bow to his demands.

The 24-year-old, as elegant on the ball as he is combative in the tackle, has made an impressive start to the season and Southampton’s gain is very much Arsenal’s loss.

Arsenal were almost uncharacteristically decisive in identifying and signing Mathieu Debuchy as Bacary Sagna’s replacement. The former Newcastle man has perhaps been the most consistent of this summer’s newcomers but that is not to say Sagna has not and will not be missed.

Having recovered from the two leg breaks which threatened  his career Sagna rediscovered his best form last season and was a near ever-present in a side which, bar severable notable exceptions, improved markedly as a defensive unit.

His ability to fill in at centre-half and left-back is certain to be missed following Arsenal’s failure to replace Thomas Vermaelen, who was sold to Barcelona and leaves the Gunners with just six senior defenders to fill four positions until the window reopens in January.

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