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Arteta and Benayoun Join as the Window Closes

Well the transfer window closed last night and unlike windows of the past, Arsenal were doing business all the way until it slammed shut.  Four players were confirmed last night as having signed, with Park announced the day before. It was clear from the start of the season that Wenger had to act to change our fortunes and only time will tell if Le Professor has bought correctly.

The first three signings, Park, Santos and Mertesacker were players that we should have secured before the season started.

A centre-back was a priority all summer, several names were linked and we made two bids for players, Jagielka and Cahill.  Everton wanted £18M for a 30 year old defender with little international experience, so Arsene moved his attention to Cahill.  An offer of £6M plus Bendtner was made, this was ridiculed by Bolton who wanted £17M for a player in the last year of his contract and with a handful of international caps.  Rightly so Wenger made a move for German international Mertesacker and secured a player who is one year older than Cahill, but has 75 caps for one of the top nations in world.  The fee £8.8M! The Neanderthals in the British media say he is too slow and we should have gone for Cahill or Jagielka or Dann.  Mertesacker was not bought to win the 100M at the forthcoming Olympics, he was bought to defend, to make challenges, win headers and tackles.  A player does not represent Germany 75 times if is he no good.  This was a great move by Wenger.  My only question is why could we not have bought him a month ago?

When Clichy left, no Arsenal fan shed a tear, we knew in Gibbs we had an adequate replacement, in fact Gibbs will go one to become a great left-back. However, we thought Wenger will buy Enrique, we needed cover and competition at left-back, but Arsene though Traore was capable to cover at left-back.  This was surprising as Traore had been converted into a left sided midfielder by Arsene. Wenger soon saw the light and on Sunday night news broke that were in talks with Brazil international Andre Santos.  We secured a strong, attacking full-back for £6.2M, this is good business, his record at Fenerbahce is one goal in five games.  Santos has again been slated by the blinkered British media as non-entity, who is he, if he was any good he should be playing La Liga or Serie A.  I believe Santos will be the player to bring the best out of Gibbs.  Another great purchase by Wenger but one that should have been concluded once Clchy left.

Search for a striker should have started in May when Wenger allowed Bendtner to leave.  It ended with the acquisition of South Korea captain Park Chu-Young for a fee around £2.6M from Monaco, though in the process we upset Lille!

Having sold Nasri and Fabregas, much to Wenger’s surprise, though everyone else knew it would happen, Wenger had to move in for a midfielder or two.   Rumours were abound with bids made for Hazard, Martin, M’Vila, enquiries for Vargas and Montolivio, but these were young players, big money was required and a bedding in period.  So Arsene looked closer to home, he turned to Chelsea and Everton.  Inquiries were made for Arteta and Benayoun and after some brinksmanship the players were brought in one on a four year deal and the other on loan (due to work permit complications). Arteta and Benayoun will bring experience, graft, inventiveness and goals to our midfield.  Both players will be good signings for Arsenal.

Interesting Arteta took a pay-cut to join Arsenal, what is that about, Arsenal are massive payers overall, but when it comes to our top players we are reluctant to offer big money.

Now that the window has closed and Wenger has his squad for the season, we can now focus on getting our season started and start to move up the table.  A good run of results could see challenging by December, but we need to keep players fit, stop picking up silly red cards and start to take our chances.

On the departure front, youngsters Joel Campbell and Henri Lansbury went out on loans, whilst Gilles Sunu joined Lorient on a permanent basis.  Niklas Bendtner was unable to find the “big” club to play for and has joined Sunderland on loan.  Bendtner will do well at Sunderland as he will be playing regularly as the main striker, this could work well for Arsenal as his value can only go up.  Worryingly for Arsenal fans is that Almunia is still at the club as is Squillaci.

Arsenal cannot stand still however, new contracts must be offered to van Persie, Walcott and Vermaelen otherwise we will be in for a nightmare summer in 2012. Arsenal must re-evaluate their transfer policy and in particular the way we complete transfers, I am referring to the two that got away Ricardo Alvarez and Juan Mata. Arsenal also need to re-asses their wage structure, not every player in the squad is worth £50K -£60K a week, we need to reward some players with £100K plus a week contracts.

Park and Santos Signed – Mertesacker Too? Medicals for Hazard & Cahill?

The 8-2 defeat at the weekend has forced Wenger into the transfer market, rumours are flying around everywhere.

Two deals that are virtually done will Park Chu Young join Arsenal from AS Monaco.  Park is South Korea’s captain and a striker who does not have an impressive record in club football.   Park was due to join Lille when Wenger hi-jacked the deal, the fee has been reported as anything from £2.6M to £10M.  The second signing is Fenerbahce’s Brazilian left back Andre Santos for a reported £6.2M.  As always Arsenal have remained silent over both deals.

Everything else is wild speculation.

L’Equipe is announcing that Arsenal have signed Per Mertesacker.  The article reports that the players was signed last night.

Numerous reports have stated that Arsenal have made inquiries about three Chelsea players, Benayoun, Malouda and Alex.  Malouda is the player that Wenger should aim to buy from Chelsea.

The Arteta/ Bendtner swap is being rumoured on plenty of sites.  This will be a good buy for Arsenal, Arteta is a creative, combative midfielder, though prone to injury, so will be a perfect Arsenal player.

Speculation is rife that Cahill and Hazard are due for medicals today or tomorrow at Arsenal, I suppose if a rumour is repeated often enough, people will take it as being the truth.  Hazard will be a difficult  transfer to complete as we snapped Park from under the noses of Lille.  The deal may be sweetened if we allow Joel Campbell to go on loan to Lille.  The Cahill saga will drag on and unless Wenger buys alternatives, and L’Equipe claims we have, then Wenger will be castigated ifwe do not buy Cahill.

It is going to be a helter-skelter couple of days, but what Arsenal fans must be asking is why were these players not brought in before the season started?

The Next 3 Games Will Define Our Season

The next three matches are the most important matches in Arsene’s time at Arsenal. Never has an Arsenal team been so short of quality players and never has our season hung on thread so early.  Three defeats and the fans will be calling for Arsene’s head, three undefeated games and Arsene will have bought time to restructure the squad.

Matters have not been helped by early season suspensions, Gervinho and Song will miss both games against Liverpool and Manchester United, as well as the Swansea City game. To compound matters for tomorrow’s game, Gibbs, Diaby and Wilshere are all out injured, whilst there is a doubt over the fitness of Rosicky.  In attack we welcome back our captain van Persie, but that is it.

For tomorrow’s game Arsene must decide as to whether he plays Traore at left back or moves Vermaelen to that position, a move that could reveal our weakness at the centre of the defence once more.

Crucially, will Wenger play Arshavin in the playmaker role?  Arguably the Russian’s best games for Arsenal were when he joined and played just behind the striker, this role allowed him to roam around the field and did not require him to track back, something that our little Russian does not enjoy doing. If Arshavin plays in the playmaker role, I would like to see Lansbury employed on one of the flanks, and given a similar task that Ray Parlour used to perform, that is asked to tuck in when we do not have the ball.

Arsene has few options for tomorrow a game that will see many youngsters on the bench.

Both league games will big tests for the Arsenal squad, but I would hope that by the Manchester United game we will have bought one or two more players.

On the transfer front, everything has gone quiet, which in Arsenal terms is normally a positive.  Wenger pulled out of the Mata deal once other teams entered the fray, Arsenal are not prepared to enter into an auction which was one of the reasons that we did not sign Ricardo Alvarez earlier on this season.  Arsenal prefer to do business behind closed doors and nearly always walk away once a transfer has been leaked.  I do not believe the Mata deal is dead, Chelsea may using Mata to force Modric’s hand at Spurs.  If Mata does not move to Chelsea next week, expect Arsenal to try to sign him prior to the transfer window closing.

Everyone agrees that a centre-half is a top priority for Arsenal with four centre-halves linked to us this summer, Chaill, Jagielka, Dann and Samba.  Samba has probably been priced out of the market as far as Wenger is concerned and Jagielka seems set on staying at Everton, though if we have not bought a centre-back, Wenger will try a transfer deadline day swoop, Everton have financial problems and are unable to enter the transfer market without selling.  It was interesting that Scott Dann did not feature for Birmingham City in the Europa League last night.  If was due to sign for Liverpool, playing in Europe would not be an issue, but Arsenal would not have wanted him cup-tied. Gary Cahill will go to the wire.  No club has made a bid for him, Bolton are in need of money and unless he has a change of heart and signs a new contract, he will leave on a free next summer, something that Bolton cannot afford to allow.  Wenger would well tie up Scott Dann soon and then wait until transfer deadline day and offer Bolton £10M-£12M.

Last weekend we were strongly linked with Shaktar Donetsk Brazilian playmaker Jadson, with Shaktar claiming we had agreed a fee for the player.  This was flatly denied by Arsene.  Is this a case of a selling club trying to generate interest or did Arsenal tell Shaktar and Jadson to keep quiet or the deal is off?

Reports from Italy this week have linked us with Lazio’s Argentina attacker Zarate, with some reports claiming we were discussing terms with his representatives over a possible £10M – £18M move.

On the exit front, Nasri will be leaving to join Manchester City this week-end, Armand Traore has been linked with a loan move to QPR leaving us short of left-back cover and Niklas Bendtner has still not found a club.

All in all a very nerve racking 8 days ahead for Arsenal fans.

Van Persie Stalls – Wenger Should Show Him the Door

Robin van Persie’s contract expires in summer 2011 and the club has been locked in contract negotiations all season.  The club appeared to have offered the Dutch striker £75,000 a week, but van Persie is stalling over signing a new contract.

There was talk earlier that he wanted a buyout clause, which was as low as €5 million.  The club, refused to meet this demand.

Now van Persie is coming out with the old “meeting my ambition” chestnut.

‘The club and I have not been able to make any headway,” van Persie said.”My aim was to play as many matches as possible and I achieved it by taking part in 44 games. I am also happy with my number of goals and assists.

“But the one blemish is that we have not won anything. Lifting a trophy, and the feeling that gives you, is what football is all about.”

There is nothing wrong in this statement if you have played your heart out and others have contributed to the club’s failure.  In van Persie’s case this is not what has happened. He had a good start and middle to the season, but when it came to the business end of the season, and we needed a striker, van Persie disappeared.

Does anyone remember van Persie in the semi-final against Chelsea, what was his contribution?  Where was van Persie against Manchester United? In the league apart from the gift on Sunday from Stoke City, the only other goal he has scored from open play this side of Christmas was in January against Everton.

Van Persie is not a prolific goal scorer and has contributed little else in recent weeks. If van Persie thinks  he will hold this club to ransom, then he can leave and experience the success that others have experienced like Hleb, Flamini, Overmars and Petit.

Our attack next season needs to be built around Arshavin and his talents, if that means no van Persie well so be it.