New Faces, New Options

I’ve been promising Paul I’d write a piece about how we’ll line up, or at least the options we have for a while now.  I kept delaying it because, like most Arsenal fans, I thought that signings were going to be imminent.  I didn’t want the piece to be outdated as soon as it was posted!  Now, however, after the crazy day that was Wednesday I have a better idea how we may line up.

If you look at the players we’ve brought in, it’s feasible that (everyone being fit and available) three of the signings are in our starting eleven, those players being Mertesacker, Santos and Arteta.  Out of those three, you could argue that only Arteta is nailed on!  I think both Gibbs and Koscielny would count themselves relatively unlucky to not be first choice, but if the last week has shown us anything it’s the importance of the squad players.

My first choice starting eleven with everyone available (which less face it is rare) would be: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Song, Wilshere, Arteta, Walcott, Gervinho, Van Persie.  

It might surprise you to see that I’ve put Gibbs in ahead of Santos, but I’ve personally seen hardly anything of Andre Santos and am sticking to what I know. Now, what I’ve heard about him is quite positive, but there’s still only a handful of people who can give an informed opinion (and when I say informed I don’t mean seeing him play against Scotland at the Emirates). Still we were desperate for cover there. Arguably, we were more in need of a left back than we were of a centre back. He has International and Champions League experience and he has also won the league in Turkey. All boxes ticked as far as I’m concerned.

Yossi Benayoun is a player I have admired from a far for some time now (Not because of his looks I might add). I was a little bit disappointed we didn’t try for him when he left both West Ham and Liverpool. I know many of you will be thinking that it’s all very well saying that now he’s at our club, but I remember having the conversation with a Liverpool fan last year. The creativity he’s got is something that Liverpool missed last season after he moved to Chelsea. The worry we have is his injury proneness. He hasn’t had the best record in the last couple of years, and I’m always suspicious of the thoroughness of a medical of a signing so late in the day. He is, however, going to have an important place in this squad.  He is able to fill a role as the advanced central midfield role (the Cesc role), or one of the wide forward roles. The way deadline day panned out it looked like we would get either Benayoun or Arteta. I said at the time (as I’m sure we all did) that I would like them both, and was chuffed when we actually did complete both signings.

In Mikel Arteta we have a player that I’m sure we’ve all muttered the word’s, ‘he’s an Arsenal type player’ about. He plays with the Spanish swagger that we were spoilt with when Cesc was here & he’s been in the Premier League for six years too.  If I remember rightly from last season’s game against Everton at the Emirates, he doesn’t mind a tackle either. Although I’m sure that night I was cursing his name when I felt he was a little over-zealous. At a push he could fill in a wide role, but more probably be able to interchange during a match (dare I say it, much the same as Nasri used to). Arteta is probably the poster boy of our signings. I think most of us think he (with Mertesacker) is likely to have the biggest impact on our team. This is surely due to people associating him with Cesc.

The situation we now have in the midfield is that we have options. Song or Frimpong (or Frimpsong as Paul is collectivley calling the pair), Wilshere or Ramsey, Arteta or Benayoun, and that’s without taking Rosicky or Diaby into the equation. That is what we needed as much as anything. With our history (both historically and currently) with injuries and suspensions, we need to have that strength in depth.

Per Mertesacker coming in to bolster our defensive line could be our most important signing. I have a lot of time for both Vermaelen and Koscielny, but (let’s face it) how often do we need to supplement for an alternative?  I used to have a lot of faith in Johan Djourou, but he seems to have been on a gradual decline since February. This coupled with the fact that Squillaci has never shown the proven Champions League player that we were all sold last year. *I’m well aware that is a massive understatement, we’ve all said a lot about the Frenchman’s failing over the last year.

A lot of fans (me included) wanted to see the Englishman Gary Cahill come into the club.  We were obviously interested in the final days of the window. I definitely would not go along with idea that we got the poor relation though.  Mertesacker is only 15 months older than Cahill. The German, however, has an additional 75 international caps and Champions League experience. It’s not like those International caps came for Malta or an equivalent crap nation. He got them for Germany, a team that consistently achieve better than England in major tournaments!  Since his debut six years ago, he has missed less than ten games for his country. I’m aware people are concerned about his pace, but he wouldn’t be the first/only defender to succeed in the Premier League with limited pace. If you read the game well enough, it shouldn’t be an issue. How quick is Terry, Carragher or Vidic?.  Still I could be proved wrong, but I’d be surprised.

The position in our squad that still worries me is up front. As with Andre Santos, my knowledge of Chu-Young Park is pretty limited. He did, however, score a hatrick yesterday (Friday) for South Korea.  From what I’m told, he could occupy the central role, or one of the wide roles. One thing is for sure, you know he’s going to work hard for the team. I don’t think the South Korean’s know how to be lazy!  My biggest worry with the forward line is, if Robin’s out (which is inevitable at some stage – although he walked away unscathed after scoring four goals in Hollands demolition of San Marion last night), we are relying on ‘Ju’ to fill in or on Chamakh (who is so low on confidence at the moment I just want to give him a hug). This shortfall has been highlighted more due to the departure of Bendtner and I think we may see Walcott playing through the middle more than he has previously.

It’s been a very topsy-turvey week for Gooners. One that could not have started worse has actually finished with a very buoyant mood. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait for the Swansea game to see our new acquisitions. It’s the sort of feeling you for the first game of the season, which we’ve been robbed of recently (no offence to Gervinho). Do you think the FA will make the first three games of the season void, I think we’re in much better shape now to start again…

Thanks for reading, and if you are so inclined you can follow me on Twitter



One Response to New Faces, New Options

  1. Usama says:

    Now that Vermaelen’s out , i don’t think Mertesacker would be able to with stand the pressure alone. As Kocielny and Djourou are nearly useless centrals!

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