Arsenal Have Spent Big in 2014 But How Effective Will the New Signings Be?
Arsenal have had a busy summer of signings in 2014 and by their standards exceptionally busy. There is no doubt that new boys Alexis Sánchez, Callum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy will prove long term positive additions to the squad.
They have all started really well, in the hand full of the games that they have played so far for the Gunners. Callum Chambers shows maturity and ability way beyond his 19 years and has already covered at right back and in the centre of the defence.
The great loss of Bacary Sagna to Manchester City, in what was no doubt a tapping up operation, was soon filled with the signing of Mathieu Debuchy, the man who has replaced him as first choice right back in the French national team. From what we have seen so far, this would have to be considered an upgrade. Debuchy defends better and is more dogged all around the pitch.
Alexis Sánchez has shown a huge range of skills and a willingness to fight back hard whenever the ball is lost. Add to that the two vital goals he has scored already and I am sure that he will become an Arsenal legend in the coming years.
Arsenal wouldn’t be Arsenal without a last minute signing in the dying seconds of the transfer window. For once they have picked up a player from one of their main rivals, to reverse a long running trend.
Danny Welbeck, the only Mancunian in the United squad, may not be the most popular signing with Arsenal fans, but he is young and no doubt has ability. Arsene Wenger has a huge reputation for developing young talent, so there is every chance that this could be another positive signing.
Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina was brought in to replace Łukasz Fabiański, who moved to Swansea, after his contract expired at the end of last season. Ospina had a great World Cup and was named man of the match when Columbia played Argentina. He will no doubt prove worthy competition for the number one spot, once he is declared fit.
We should also talk about Joel Campbell, who has finally joined Arsenal after being out on loan for three years, since he signed for them in 2011. At 22 Campbell already has 40 national caps for Costa Rica and had a great World Cup, scoring a goal in open play and a penalty, progressing to the quarter final round.
I think all Arsenal fans would love to see Campbell get more game time, but so far Wenger has only allowed him 16 minutes in the Premier League and 5 minutes in the Charity Shield.
So all in all some very positive feelings about the signings that have been made, but what concerns most Arsenal fans is the failure to strengthen in the areas that have been a problem for some time, that is defensive midfield and the central defence.
Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen was released from his sentence on the bench. Vermaelen has been a great servant to the club, even after he was overtaken in the pecking order by Koscielny and Mertesacker and he had the good courtesy to move overseas and not to one of Arsenal’s local rivals, despite the fact that Manchester United were knocking on the door.
Arsene Wenger said that Vermaelen would be replaced should he be sold and that was after Callum Chambers was signed, but that has not happened. Add to that the departures of Carl Jenkinson on loan and Ignasi Miquel to Norwich and Arsenal are left with only eight defenders in the squad to cover the four back positions. Knowing Arsenal’s record for injuries and bookings this will definitely leave them short sooner or later.
In midfield Ryo Miyachie has been released on loan, but as he has had very little game time since he was signed, that will have no effect on the squad. But the lack of a quality defensive midfielder in front of the undermanned back four will do.
Mathieu Flamini has done well in that area since he was picked up last season on a free transfer, but he does get booked too often and spends a little too much time unavailable.
Mikel Arteta has been forced into that role for some time and it is not really his forte. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Arteta has been one of Arsenal’s best signings in recent years. He is consistent and reliable, but he is not really a great defender.
Arsenal have been linked all summer with Germany’s Sami Khedira and William Carvalho of Sporting Lisbon, amongst others. But neither of those transfers took place, with both players remaining with their European sides.
This could be Arsenal’s Achilles heel in their bid for their first Premier League title in 10 years. With a magnificent midfield and plenty of options up front, a leaky defence is likely to be their undoing. They could well pick up another cup this year, but I am afraid that the Premier League or European Champions League both look unlikely.