Arsene Wenger too had an idea once. That idea was to not overpay for players, and never buy anyone older than their mid-twenties. They called it: “The Arsenal Way.” As of late, that idea seems to have been jettisoned in favor of a “holy shit we have to buy now because I buggered the transfer period and now we might be screwed” strategy. Were Arsene’s signings really great ideas, like the Pet Rock; were they the worst ideas I’ve ever heard in my life; or were they somewhere in between? Arsenal have only played four matches since the transfer window closed, but that’s plenty of time for us to get out our Jump To Conclusions Mat and start jumping.
Looking at Arteta as a replacement for Cesc or Nasri is unfair, because he’s not the same player as either of them was for Arsenal. To evaluate him against the recently-departed would be unfair. That being said, Arteta has assumed the playmaking midfielder role, and will be relied-upon to provide creativity in the middle and service in the attacking third. As expected, Arteta has been solid and a stabilizing force for the squad, and showed in the first half against Blackburn that he can finish as well. That being said, especially when paired with Aaron Ramsey in the middle, it is apparent that he lacks a certain, if you’ll excuse the late 90s WB reference, Joshua Jackson quality in the middle. Now I’m not saying Arteta isn’t fit enough, as I hear the ladies are hardly complaining about our new Spanish midfielder; rather, the Arteta-Ramsey pairing just isn’t pacey enough for my taste, and that limits Arsenal’s explosiveness, especially on the counter-attack. That being said, he was a solid signing, and looks to do well with the club.
Speaking of pace, that’s certainly one of the complaints thus far about Arsenal’s new German man in the middle. Yes he’s big, but he’s also slow, meaning he won’t match up so well against the likes of Chicharito or other quick strikers in the Prem. More than that though, after the Blackburn game, I’m worried about his strength. Chris Samba gives up two inches to Mertesacker, but was dominant in the air because of his strength. If Mertesacker is to be successful in the Premier League, he’s got access his inner Olivia Newton-John, and get physical. I’ll withhold judgment until I see him paired with Vermaelen, because TV5 seems to have the ability to elevate the play of his back line partner. I understand that Mertesacker hasn’t been thrown into in an enviable position, but I would like to see him take charge of the back four and make sure they can at least hold a line. I’ll definitely be paying attention to the shape of our back line against Bolton tomorrow.
The knock on the slight 31 year-old coming in was that he’s always picking up knocks, and he’s already picked up a strain in the game against Shrewsbury that will keep him out of action this weekend. While on the pitch, his work rate has been excellent, he gives max effort all the time, and his goal against Shrewsbury was well-deserved, but he has got to be able to stay on the pitch this season. If he can do that, he can be a valuable role player for this Arsenal squad. As with all the new signings, the jury is still out on the Israeli national, but if he can to prove that he can stay healthy, I could see him bringing valuable energy off the bench as a substitute.
I guess clichés are clichés for a reason sometimes. Our new Brazilian left back seems very fond of attacking, and serviceable in defense, as the stereotype might suggest. I like his aggressiveness in going toward goal with the ball, and his service to Mertesacker in the box late against Blackburn should have yielded him an assist, but his penchant for attacking can sometimes put him out of position, leaving a central defender covering for him down the left while he retreats back after making a run. He has to be careful when picking his spots going forward, as I don’t exactly trust our 4-man back line right now, so turning them into a 3-man back line is dangerous to say the least. If he can create a few goals, I think we’ll all forgive him if he ends up out of position from time to time. The flip side, of course, is that if he’s not successful in attacking Arsenal supporters will have little patience for his inevitable defensive missteps.
We didn’t get theShrewsburymatch on television here in the States, so I have yet to see him play for Arsenal. The consensus I’ve read on twitter was that he looked promising but rusty. Hopefully he can shake off the rust and be a nice compliment to van Persie, the role Chamakh was supposed to fill until he fell out of form last year. The most intriguing bit from his start against Shrewsbury was Wenger using a 4-4-2 with Park & Chamakh up top. Could we see something like that with Park & RvP in the future? Time will tell.
I do wish he would have really hit Joey Barton firm on the chin. I mean, if you’re going to get a two match ban, at least earn it right? Plus Barton’s face is best described as punchable, don’t you agree? I’ve talked a bit about Gervinho before so I’ll keep it brief: I like his one-on-one ability with the ball, I like his aggressiveness in looking to shoot, but he needs to pick his head up and look for his teammates. Once he gets in attacking mode, he’s going to shoot, or at least try to shoot, even if a teammate (cough… ahem… look at RvP… cough) is standing wide open five yards to his right. Oh, and was his forehead really big or was I looking through a couple of bubbles?
I’ll admit, we don’t know much about Arsenal’s new players yet, but each weekend offers us an opportunity to learn more. Let’s just hope this weekend leaves us feeling uplifted and not downhearted, I think we could all use a change. We love you Arsenal, we do.