Transfer window review: Arsenal
As has become the norm at Arsenal over the past few years, the Gunners’ squad has undergone a significant overhaul over the course of the summer transfer window.
The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and William Gallas have all left the Emirates in recent years and Robin Van Persie and Alex Song both joined them through the exit door this summer.
It is impossible to deny that Arsenal will not miss the duo, with Van Persie securing the PFA Player of the Year and the Premier League Golden Boot awards in a stellar campaign and Song contributing a total of 14 assists.
However, the Dutchman made his position at the club untenable when he released a public statement criticising the ambition of the Gunners and few would argue against the fact that Arsene Wenger did well to secure £24 million for an injury-prone 29-year-old in the last year of his contract – albeit if he was sold to rivals Manchester United.
Meanwhile, reports were abound that Song’s attitude had become a problem over the past year, with the Cameroonian enforcer rumoured to arrive late for training on a regular basis.
He was also quick to have his head turned by Barcelona and this angered Wenger to the extent that he helped hurry through a transfer to the Spanish giants.
Unlike last year, the departures came after the arrivals, with Arsenal acting early in the transfer window to secure the signatures of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla.
French star Giroud and former Cologne forward Podolski were brought in as likely replacements for Van Persie and that proved the case when the Dutchman sealed his transfer to the Old Trafford.
While Podolski appears to have settled the better of the two, having already a bagged a goal, Giroud appears to be the target man Arsenal have been crying out for and should also be a success in the Premiership once he finds his shooting boots.
The real star of the trio though is Cazorla. The Spanish maestro already looks a bargain at £15 million as he has dominated all three games he has started and appears to come close to filling the creative void left by Fabregas.
As is usually the case with Arsenal, a host of youngsters have been sent on loan, with fans probably looking at Benik Afobe, Ryo Miyaichi and Joel Campbell as the main ones for the future.
Frustratingly, a lot of dead wood still remains on the books, with the likes of Sebastian Squillaci and Marouane Chamakh still in the first-team squad. Meanwhile, no club appeared willing to buy Nicklas Bendtner and Park Chu-Young on a permanent basis so both have been shipped out on loan once more.
Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski.
Manuel Almunia, Kyle Bartley, Alex Song, Robin van Persie, Carlos Vela, Gavin Hoyte, Henri Lansbury, Tom Cruise, Benik Afobe (loan), Nicklas Bendtner (loan), Joel Campbell (loan), Denilson (loan), Ryo Miyaichi (loan), Park Chu-Young (loan).
A fan will judge any transfer window a success if they feel their squad is stronger than when it opened. In Arsenal’s case this is difficult to decide.
With two first-team players out and three in, it looks on paper to be a stronger squad than before but they will not be able to rely on Van Persie’s goals to bail them out of trouble this time around or look to Song to break up the play as he has so effectively done in recent years.
Arsenal remain a work in progress but the signs are promising. If Giroud settles as well as his fellow new signings, and the likes of Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta continue their fine form throughout the season, then the Gunners have a real chance of making an impact in the cup competitions and the Champions League.
Add the likes of injured stars Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky to the squad and Gunners fans can be optimistic that there is life after RVP.
Laurence Taylor, football correspondent