It’s crazy what winning a trophy can do to a team, especially if it comes after going close to a decade without any silverware. For a club like Arsenal, where the expectations are always high, that FA Cup win seems to have broken the shackles.
“I never worry about action, only inaction.”
In seasons past, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have always dithered on signings, waiting till the last possible minute to confirm anything. But this season has been transformational not just in terms of the kind of players the club is buying, but the speed with which things are moving. It is almost unprecedented, at least in the recent past, for Arsenal to have plugged all the holes in their team before August. But that’s what they have done this summer, with 4 players signed already. And with the imminent departure of Thomas Vermaelen, the only area where Arsenal really need a player is in the defence.
The quality of the signings also shows a sense of urgency from the club and the manager. Previously, while the team was crying out for a major signing to increase the quality of the team and the performance as a whole, Arsene would go ahead and sign a green behind the ears youngster who would obviously require time and a lot of games to make it to the first team on a regular basis. The team suffered for it in the short term; though there have certainly been long term gains. But all the signings made this time, barring perhaps Calum Chambers, are players who would slot straight into the first team, improving an already experienced and talented squad.
“All the king’s men”
The story of the transfer window for Arsenal has certainly been Alexis Sanchez. If Mesut Ozil was a shocking buy last season, Sanchez certainly added to the allure that Arsenal are now in the big league. Ivan Gazidis seems to be standing true to his word that there would be an Ozil type signing every year now. Sanchez brings a much needed pace to the forward line that suffered to get going after Theo Walcott’s injury, and his versatility allows him to play across all 3 positions, giving Olivier Giroud a respite during the season.
Mathieu Debuchy is a like for like signing, replacing the ever reliable Bacary Sagna at Right Back. Of course, Arsene would have loved to have continued with the Frenchman (he confirmed that Sagna was offered a 3 year deal contrary to reports in the media), but Debuchy is not a bad player himself. Coming off a world cup in which he had a more than decent performance, he will certainly be able to fill the very large shoes left behind by Bacary.
David Ospina was signed to replace the departing Lukas Fabianski, and the fight for the number 1 goalkeeper spot will be a lot tighter this season. While Fabianski was a more than capable keeper, having won the FA Cup for Arsenal, he had far too many injuries and psychological issues early on in his Arsenal career to make a big impact. But Ospina will not have such problems and Wojciech Szczesny will certainly be on top of his game if he does not want to lose his spot.
Calum Chambers may be a youngster, but there is no doubt that he will be a first team player, having already appeared for Southampton in the Premier League. He brings a versatility that could prove beneficial to the normally injury prone team. He can play at Right Back, Centre Back and as a defensive midfielder, so he will have a huge role to play in the season.
“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”
While the temptation is to consign Arsenal to yet another 4th placed finish in the league, this will be a hard season to predict for all the teams. Unlike other seasons, all the top teams have strengthened this season, where even Everton have made a significant signing in the form of Romelu Lukaku. But Arsenal seem to have returned with their swagger, if the summer is anything to go by. It will be interesting to see the kind of season the gunners have, as it will be a major indicator on the future of the club.