Will Wenger manage to appease the masses with the 11th hour signing of Mikel Arteta?











…And, breathe.

Wow, what a night. Nothing for 2 months, then at the most 11th hours of 11th, from the dark depth of the lagoons of fortune, the unimaginable happened.  Arsenal Football Club purchased some human beings from another football club. And not just any human beings. A vast array of human beings, all of whom are good at football. And experienced. And with international caps, and captain armbands, and ambition, and facial hair! Having expected the worst with grim acceptance, only to find out the worst was to be overpowered by the much better, Gooners across the land are waking up this morning happier people.

Though to find happiness one has to make great sacrifices, and seeing as transfer deadline day has never been such a whirl of activity for an arsenal fan as it was yesterday, sacrifices were indeed made.  Throughout the day, customer service, a key component to my day job, was thrown out the window, in lieu of constant flicks through the musings of informative twiterrati. And by night, social interaction and pleasantries ceased to matter.

The various degrees of fan excitement towards last night was summed up on Sky Sports News where the tedious ground hopping was greeted with differing shades of enthusiasm . Outside City’s ground, Vinny, Sky Sports’ lonely looking reporter, was surrounded by exactly 0 fans. Activity on transfer deadline day has become so regular for city fans it now seems to bore them to the extent of not even showing up to gawp at a lens and make bunny ear hand gestures behind a news reporter. How rude! The Emirates, on the other hand, was a hive of singing, jumping, smiling activity.  One signing on the last day of the transfer window is a novelty for Arsenal fans. 4 define a gigantic orgy of amazingness.

For we have to remember, a week ago many though that was that. A £12 million teenager from Southampton was to be the highlight of our summer, and thus resigning it to the history books as an atrocious few months. Chants of ‘Spend Some Money Please’ could be heard ferociously at Newcastle, before the momentary joy in Udine and then the blind faith ominously shown throughout the second half at Old Trafford. Cesc had left, Nasri had left and replacements hadn’t been found. This on top of the need for a Centre Back that couldn’t have been more glaringly obvious after the malaise of last season. And yet it was becoming more and more feasible that we could head into the season with a squad largely consisting of untried youths with a horrendous injury record supplementing existing holes in a tired and weary squad. As Wenger continued to relay his favourite gestures of loyalty towards his belegeared squad, the chances of any sort of signing looked less and less likely. Unbelievable, and yet so believable. And then something happened.

Arsenal FC, one of the world’s most successful clubs and onetime superiors of Manchester United, were defeated 8-2 at Old Trafford. The biggest defeat since 1896 and one that made it clear, if it at all needed to be, that our squad was by no means up to the challenge. And I am referring to the challenge of coming inside the top 6, let alone challenging for honours.

As it turned out, that result was the straw to break the camel’s back. And it didn’t just break the back of the poor sod. It blew it to smithereens. First came Armand Traore’s immediate departure to QPR, less than 24 hours after he turned in a shocking performance at Old Trafford. Everyone was happy, but still, did Wenger really need to see what we all saw on Sunday to make his mind up about a player we had established wasn’t good enough 3 years ago? Whispers of a signing were then finalized, after Park Chu Young’s mooted arrival from Monaco became clear on the coach up to Manchester. Who? Well I’ll tell you who. A captain, a leader and an experienced professional who will add great measure to our side. And if his cousin Park Ji Sung is anything to go on, he may possess a work-rate and diligence that would aid our squad no end. Young will also provide ability, having watched him play a few times at the World Cup, and he could be a welcome surprise for a few suspecting fans. Good signing then eh. Good, but not great.

And then yesterday, it all got rather great. Now listen, I am not for a minute suggesting the signings of Per Metersacker, Andre Santos, Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta weren’t panic buys provoked by Sunday’s result. Ofcourse they were and it is very worrying to think what would have happened if Van Persie had scored that penalty and we only lost 3-2, say. And ofcourse I am no way suggesting Benayoun and Arteta are equal replacements for Cesc and Nasri. What I believe is these players, 3 of which have experience as either club or international captains, will add great quality, leadership and desire to our squad. As I said, before yesterday many of us were literally contemplating the possibility of no signings. Now, as 4 come in, filling all the holes we wanted to be filled, I believe there is again reason for hope. Not too much hope, of course, but just a tiny slither.  The squad was becoming stale, players were becoming stagnant, and others were being hindered from thriving, growing and learning. Van Persie and Jack Wilshere both summed up the relief and excitement at these new signings with welcomes and vociferous demonstrations of delight on their twitter pages. Jack for one can now play alongside Mikel Artera without being made to believe the hope of the club rests solely on his 19 year old shoulders. Similarly Aaron Ramsey can afford to momentarily fade into the background and learn the game watching experienced players like Arteta and Benayoun, learning, accompanying and supporting them as opposed to being asked to lead the team. Again, promising players like Miquel, Frimpong, Gibbs and Afobe can gain experience from more experienced heads around them. It is what we have been crying out for and at last Wenger has delivered.

Bemusingly much of the fan reception this morning hasn’t been overly positive, despite Wenger bringing in experience and quality in the positions we were pining to be filled. Metersacker is too slow. Arteta is too old. Benayoun is too injury prone. Andre Santos cant defend. Look, holes are very easy to pick. But when we step back and put this transfer window into perspective, it has been successful. Cesc and Nasri both wanted to leave, and one factor for both being the lack of ambition shown in the transfer market. Now they have both left, regrettably, we have dipped into the market and pulled out an admirable assortment of players.  If Wenger can do with Nasri what he did with Benayoun, if Arteta can link up with Jack as we hope, if Mertesacker can defend and if Andre Santos knows where to stand, we may have a better squad than last season, during which, I must add, Cesc and Nasri were often injured. I am not all of a sudden saying Arsene knows again, but he is remembering how to, and whether out of desire or necessity, has taken one much needed step toward rejuvenating and rebuilding a team to challenge at the top.


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