Saturday, September 02, 2017

Crazy Transfer Window for Arsenal - Part 2/2

The transfer circus is finally over. Clubs scrambled for last minute deals. Some got through, some didn't. Arsenal went through the day apparently bidding for some top players like Lemar and Draxler but, as you already know by now, it went flat. Sanchez remained with Arsenal and so did Ozil. Mustafi staying was, for me, the best thing that happened for Arsenal on the deadline day. So, barring the last day conundrum, how was Arsenals transfer window?

Let's do some expectation setting here before analyzing the window. We are talking about a club who fall in the below categories –
1. Europa league, not in the champions league
2. Has lots of fringe players who won't make it to first team either they don't deserve or manager thinks they don't
3. Frugal spending mindset
4. Still believes they can win the domestic league and turn a profit the same season (a la Leicester)

Given the above traits, how was Arsenals window?
Alexis Sanchez ended up at Arsenal after uturn against Manchester City
On the positive side, Wenger said he will keep hold of his top players and he did! Ox doesn't fall in this category and the Ox deal was, in fact, a great bit of business by Arsenal as it ensured two things – sell a player who doesn't fit the Arsenal structure on the ground and prevented Liverpool to bid for Lemar. The fact that we didn't buy Lemar either is a different story altogether. Either way that's 40 million well earned. Ozil's side was quiet on the last day and it appears to me that Arsenal will eventually get Ozil to sign a new deal. Had Arsenal decided to sell Sanchez and Ozil, they would've got a sum north of 100 million. The fact that Arsenal didn't go ahead with it, itself is a welcome deviation from the norm! Arsenal also managed to sell / loan fringe players and kept them off the wage bill. Arsenal bought two top players early in the window from their respective leagues in Kolasinac and Lacazette. Nice additions and one that Arsenal fans, like me, won't regret.

On the negative side, Arsenal sold Szczesny. I just cannot fathom why would Arsenal do that! Szczesny had two fruitful years on loan and was ready to take on the mantle from Cech, who isn't getting any better and younger. Ospina always wanted to leave and Arsenal are now stuck with him. Selling Gabriel also came as a surprise. Although not a top defender, he was a useful squad player. He can be a backup player at CB and can also cover the team at right back. Given the way the deadline day went, Arsenal are now left with two frustrated players in Sanchez and Mustafi. Both wanted to leave and it just didn't happen. Now they return to the team they didn’t want to be a part of! Imagine the feeling they will be going through and more importantly imagine the dressing room atmosphere. If news reports are to be believed, some players wanted Sanchez to leave because his tantrums were not helping the teams’ cause. Now Sanchez comes back to a team who doesn't want him and who he doesn't want either. What a combustible environment and one which Arsenal could've avoided.

A day after, it feels like Arsenal’s "business" dealings weren't bad after all. Yes, from a footballing point of view, this was a horrible window. Arsenal needed at least one defender with Koscienly and Mertesacker at the wrong end of 30. Maybe retaining Chambers was the answer and time will tell if it was the right decision. Arsenal needed a commanding midfielder with only Xhaka and Ramsey as first team players. Both these players aren't consistent enough to dominate the midfield. Elneny is an able backup. I am not sure where Coq and Wilshere stand in all of this. Arsenal are forward-heavy but not world class enough to score on a consistent basis. It feels like early 2010 when Arsenal had only average players and Wenger still ended up in top 4.

It will be a surprise if Arsenal wins anything this season with the players Wenger has at his disposal and the unwanted dressing room situation. Add to that, teams like Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton and Tottenham have added quality. Manchester teams are already early favorites for the title. This makes top 4 (Arsenals own trophy) highly unattainable.

Catalyst for change, anyone?

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