You Can Please Some Of The People…

September 1, 2011 by   Filed under: Arsenal FC, Transfers

…some of the time, but if you are Arsene Wenger or Arsenal Football Club you will struggle to please pretty much anybody, anytime these days!

Seriously folks, yesterday saw the final tally of signings in the past week cruise to a lofty 5 and for the day an insanely intense and indescribably inciting more than 3 and less than 5!

Got that?! We signed four whole players on the final day of the transfer window! Transfer window totals make even more crazy reading:

11 players out the door, 9 players in, a mountain of international caps leaving but even more arriving, spending like Sheikh and Vacs and STILL making a profit overall.

Inevitably, for a large section of the internet sofa jockeys, it simply isn’t good enough! Already we are hearing things like:

“Mertesacker lost it a couple of years ago, hasn’t been the same player since.”

“Yossi Benayoun is a Liverpool and Chelsea reject, how will he do us any good.”

“A Brazilian left-back won’t help with our defensive issues, they just attack, attack, attack.”

“A South Korean striker with a pretty bad goal scoring record is not what we needed up front. Where is the fox in the box that Arsene was babbling on about all those years ago? Never bought him and still haven’t.”

“Mikael (sic) Arteta is too old and too slow. Plus, if he is the answer, what the hell was the question??? Did we try to replace someone like Cesc with an Everton has been?”

You would think or even wish that I was just joking right?! II have come to the conclusion that, after this past 6 months, there are some people will do anything, literally ANYTHING to tear down the manager, the team, the board, the whole club if they can. I was fairly vocal earlier in the transfer window and, if I am honest, I was starting to consider the possibility that it may actually be time for us and Arsene to go our separate ways, even if his journey just went a little bit further up the stairs at Highbury House. That said, after seeing how the team performed against Udinese, I thought it fair to give Arsene the chance to actually do something in the transfer window and show us what he had in mind before lighting the funeral pyre. I also realised that convincing experienced players to come to a club losing Cesc, Nasri and Clichy in one go and no guarantee of Champions League Football was a tough sell to say the least and qualifying for the CL proper could make a big difference.

What did Arsene do and did qualifying for the Champions League proper make any difference at all? Well, the list of incomings tells us much about that!

So let’s respond to those comments shall we?

Per Mertesacker

Aside from his regular defensive partner, the Brazilian Naldo, spending 15 months (March 2010 to August 2011)out of the game through injury, Mertesacker has been playing behind Thorsten Frings who, at 33 and then 34 years old, in the past two seasons has lost much of his pace, energy and, as anybody who has been paying attention to Bremen due to the us being linked with Per for the past two seasons will tell you, his general ability to protect his defence. Per is a very proactive defender. He sees danger and he goes to get involved in it as quickly as possible, which is good news because, at 6ft 6”, he is not going to outpace the most mediocre paced strikers. This means that when he sees the danger of Frings failing yet again to cover a run, get there in time to put in the needed tackle or even be in the DM position at all, he steps up and tries to cover for him. Obviously there will be those of you now crying out that this is simply bad positional sense on his part but, if you watch some tape of the debacle in Manchester on Sunday, you will find a couple of Arsenal defenders doing exactly the same thing when Coquelin was being found lacking in experience and concentration.

8-2 wasn’t it?!

So, no regular partner whom he had played alongside since joining Bremen, during which time Per was ranked 7th best and then 21st defender in the Bundesliga. Just for perspective, playing alongside his partner, he was ranked 3rd twice and 1st once in the previous three seasons.

If you think that none of this makes any difference then you may well be a little bit simple. Communication and understanding are about as important in the centre of defense as tackling ability and the performance in these areas can affect greatly what happens overall in a defence. Look, for example, how Koscielny has performed alongside TV5 and compare that to how he performed alongside Squillaci or Djourou. See what I mean?!

If you want my opinion as to the type of player Per is, and reading this article at all suggests that you may have a slight interest, I would compare the style of Mertesacker to one Tony Adams. Now, comparing Mertesacker to anybody with the legendary status of Tony Adams may seem foolhardy at best, but I HAVE been watching Bremen whenever possible and I HAVE been paying attention to how the guy plays. Like Tony, he lacks a bit of pace but he makes up for it in anticipation and his general reading of the game. Like Tony he is a tough, tough, TOUGH tackler that takes no prisoners. Hefty, rip the attacker in two, leave him in a heap and the referee wishing he could get a card out but simply can’t sliding challenges are a specialty! Bearing this out is his phenomenal disciplinary record including going 31 league games without so much as a yellow card! Even Tony never managed that! It was a miracle if he went 31 games without attacking Lee Dixon!

Funnily enough, all those crying out for a man-mountain, striker-eating, bone-crunching, hugely experienced central defender got about the best player on earth to fit exactly that bill! 75 international caps stretching back to when he was the ripe old age of 20 and being captain of Werder Bremen surely only serve to further strengthen his credentials, but now we will have to hear all about Cahill, Samba etc. and how Premier league experience was so important! Oddly, that all important Premier League experience didn’t seem to cause too many problems for Pires, Henry, Vieira, Fabregas, Petit, Ljundberg, Gilberto, Bergkamp, Anelka, Rosicky, Touré, Bergkamp, Lauren, RVP, Flamini, the Pole between the Poles, Vermaelen, Sagna and yet how exactly did all that Premier League experience work out when we look at the likes of Gallas, Platt, Walcott )thus far) and, well, the list is not so long, but it is just as informative!

Summary:

Experienced, talented, experienced, a fearsome tackler, experienced, as big as a small mountain, experienced, disciplined, still young enough to play for the Mighty Arsenal for up to 10 years and experienced!

Brilliant signing!

10/10

Yossi Benayoun

Yossi is an odd one depending on your point of view. If, as I am, you are of the point of view that Wenger is looking at a formation change and you, like I do, believe that buying a bunch of wingers and two or three number 10’s in the transfer window suggests that he is seriously looking at a 442 in the Bergkamp/Henry style partnership of the front two, then Yossi makes a whole lot of sense. Able to play behind the striker or on either wing, Benayoun is a versatile player. Tucked in behind a lone front man is, for me, his best role by far.

He is 31, has played a lot of international football, 83 full and 11 U21 caps, has played in the Premier League for 6 years, has a scoring record of around a goal every 3.5 games and has Champions League experience. I have a very good friend who happens to be a bindipper and, for the entire time Benayoun played for Liverpool, I had to hear about how Yossi was simply the best player there, an Israeli Bergkamp and was totally misunderstood by football fans in general. Close to the end of his time at Liverpool it appeared that people were starting to get the idea and, of course, this led to his transfer to Chelsea.

Some may point to his international career as “only for Israel”. Well, that may be so, but Israel don’t play themselves every match, so one assumes that the experience is decent, regardless.

Some may say that he did nothing at Chelsea. Yes he did, he ruptured his Achilles and spent 7 months out of the game. Clearly we need to get rid of Vermaelen immediately!

Some may say that he simply isn’t good enough to play for Arsenal. I would suggest that time is the only thing that will indeed tell.

Summary:

Experienced, versatile, experienced, only on loan so no real risk, international experience, creativity, experienced!

This might just be the rabbit in the hat signing or could turn out to be the dead dog in the alley! Personally I think (and hope) the former!

8/10

André Santos

This guy will NEVER fit in! Care to know why?! Ok, then I shall tell you…

He is a converted left winger who now plays at left back.

See, all we needed to know really! We all know how much luck Arsene has at converting players’ positions. It is the end of the road for Arsenal, the end is nigh, the end is nigh.

Want more “proof”?!

Ok, he is a Brazilian defender.

‘Nuffsed boys. Let’s go home. Tear up those season tickets! Burn down the stadium!

Oh, hold on, this just in…

This guy appears to be an outstanding player either defending OR attacking!

What?! An attacking full back who can actually dribble past his man and not run straight into him or pass it backwards when faced with one of those nasty defender things?!

An attacking full back that doesn’t get caught out of position three times a game?

An attacking full back that has international experience?

An attacking back who has a trophy cabinet with something actually inside it?!

An attacking full back who can actually put in a tackle?!

An attacking full back who can take a mean free kick?!

An attacking full back who is almost 6ft tall?!

An attacking full back that can, wait for it……CROSS THE BALL!??!?!?

Cross the ball? A full back, at Arsenal that can cross the road is a miracle in itself! Seriously, this guy has no chance at all. Clearly has no future in football, let alone at Arsenal. Throw him in the nearest skip and get Gibbs some steel leg implants. Yep, that should do it!

Summary:

Experienced, quick, experienced, good tackler, fairly big for a full back, experienced, lots of defensive and attacking ability, experienced, good positional sense, experienced, veritable top drawer of leave them on their arses attacking moves, experienced!

Potentially great signing with a lot of new tricks that he can bring to the team that we have been crying out for and, being 28 years old, doesn’t immediately end the chances of an Arsenal career for Gibbs.

9/10

Park Chu-Young

I have already spoken about the general positives and negatives of our new Korean friend and I don’t think it necessary to rake over that old ground again. So, to put it simply, he appears to be more suited to a behind the main striker role than an out and out striker role, has a bundle of international experience including being his nations captain but, in reality, we know little about him if we are honest. Maybe the loan signing of Benayoun was as much to teach this hungry 26 year old a thing or two about the floating role as it was to bring Yossi into the first team. In this case we have to hope that Arsene bought us a Honda and not another Inamoto!

All of this said, Joel Campbell failing to get a work permit application and ending up at L’Orienton loan and Park only having two seasons before he has to go back to Korea and perform his national military service may just mean he is a round peg in a round hole for the short term.

Summary:

Not enough information to make a firm decision as yet but we may well get a nice surprise. At the very least he has a decent amount of experience!

7/10

Mikel Arteta

Can I start here by saying that I got a touch of the Rosicky’s when this transfer came steaming to the surface like Martin Keown chasing down RVN after that penalty miss!

Let me explain…

I have spent a long time believing that Arteta is probably the most underrated, most overlooked and best attacking midfielders in the Premier League. He has a great eye for a pass, can score goals, can tackle, can dribble, is consistent and so much more…All this whilst playing for Everton!

Now, why the Rosicky reference? Well, years ago, when Dortmund were buying Rosicky I was SCREAMING for Arsenal to buy him. I had found him, believe it or not, playing Football Manager and he almost immediately became my Bryan“almost guaranteed man of the match in every game” Robson player. This got me interested in the player for real. I spent a decent amount of time watching him play in Germany and even a few games in the Czech Republic prior to that (which was not easy without the web, I can tell you!) and came to the conclusion that he was every bit as good as the game had suggested and would be a great fit for Arsenal.

I think it is safe to say that, horrific injury problems aside, Rosicky could well have achieved the legend status that those aforementioned injuries clearly prevented.

Cut to Arteta…

When Mikel first played for Rangers in Scotland, I noticed things about him that reminded me of watching Rosicky at Dortmund. Always looking for the ball thus having lots of possession and rarely giving it away.Knew when to pass, when to dribble, when to shoot.Glued the ball to his foot like Brady and attacked defenders at will like Freddie! Had that unquantifiable ability to predict where his team mate was going and how to get the ball there, rarely misplacing a pass. Gives the impression that it is all very easy and rarely looks flustered or hassled.

Then he went, after a quick stop off at Real Sociedad, the club where his DNA lies, to Everton. I was literally gutted! Having to watch him win awards like Midfielder of the Year in the Premiership and basically be player of the year for Everton every year was heartbreaking. I knew we should have bought him way back when and, when we didn’t buy him last summer, as it appeared that we might, I felt that, at 28 years old and with Wenger known for despising anybody that has so much as a laughter line, that ship had sailed…

SURPRISE!!!

I simply cannot tell you how thrilled I am that Mikel will be playing for our fine club. I do not believe that he will play in the “Cesc role” but I don’t think that Wenger is going to build another team around one player after the experience of trying it already. Let’s face it, the most successful Wenger teams have been based around pretty much 6-8 players and never around one man. Some may point to Henry, but without the support of Pires, Bergkamp, Ljundberg, Vieira, Campbell, Touré, Cole et al, would he have been quite so prolific? I think not.

Mikel also gives time to some of the younger players to come in when they are ready and not NOW, NOW, NOW, which should also benefit the club in the long run.

A dedicated footballer, experienced, great passer of the ball, experienced, scores goals, experienced, takes the ball past defenders in and around the box, experienced, great role model for the youngsters, experienced.

By far my favourite signing and one that I am certain will make an immediate difference to our ability to penetrate opposition buses!

11/10

All in all, I think that those crying out for 3 experienced players got more than they bargained for. Those screaming for an experienced centre back got one of the most experienced in the world, at only 26 years old! Those baying for a creative midfielder got two both with masses of Premier League experience. Those wailing for a left back who can actually defend got their dreams with a bow wrapped around them whilst those wanting a left back that can attack defenders, cross the ball and even take free kicks got their birthday, Christmas, new year and christening presents all at once!!!

We had holes, we have filled them. We had gaping holes in defence, we filled them with one of the biggest plugs in the world! We needed creativity and we have bought at least three creative players.

We may not have bought Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Puskas and Moore, but, being realistic, we never have and we were never going to, were we?!

In my last article I said this:

“So, until the next time when we will have filled at least three key positions on the pitch and everything will look rosy again.”

I think it is safe to say that we have outdone even ourselves, for once!

I for one cannot wait until Swansea to find out for real whether or not things have gone as well as I genuinely believe they have on what was one of the most interesting days to be an Arsenal fan in quite some time!

COME ON YOU (new) GOOOOONNNNNERRRRRSSSSS!!!

 

Comments

20 Comments on "You Can Please Some Of The People…"

  1. ArthurTheGooner on Thu, 1st Sep 2011 10:55 pm 

    Shaun great piece my friend keep it up…..

  2. Afrobro on Thu, 1st Sep 2011 11:45 pm 

    Shaun,

    Excellent article – thanks for confirming my restored faith. I could not agree with you more. looks like 8-2 does have a silver lining.

  3. pedantic george on Thu, 1st Sep 2011 11:47 pm 

    What a wonderful piece of writing

  4. Rick on Thu, 1st Sep 2011 11:51 pm 

    Great piece bruv!

  5. Oneniltothearsenal on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 12:57 am 

    Mate you know how to get someone excited haha, great piece!

  6. Shaun O'Flaherty on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 12:59 am 

    @Arthur: As ever, you humble me with your compliments! Furthermore, as ever you are entirely welcome 🙂

    @Alfobro: I have to say, whilst the drubbing we got did give me a feeling of total fury as well as a sense of desperacion at how unheeded the warnings appeared to have been, I did have a sneaking feeling that this might just have been exactly what the board and Wenger really needed. I am not suggesting that any of these purchases were as desperate as the media and some fans would suggest, Arteta for example was apparently at the ground in the afternoon taking his medical, so the on/off/on again nature of it all was probably a bit of dramatic posturing courtesy of the media and Arsenal FC in general maybe even a protection against a last minute “buy all the toys ” bid buy the Sheikh and Vac or even Romanski. In truth we will never know, but I believe that qualifying for Champions League football was as much a catalyst for these things happening so fast as anything else.

    Would like to thank you for your kind compliments too. It makes spending the time writing much more fulfilling to know that people are actually reading it and even appreciating it!

    @Pedantic George & @Rick: Seriously guys, you are far too kind. Literally just calling it as I see it. That said, thank you very much 🙂

  7. Carlos on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 1:29 am 

    Bro,
    This is the best have read over the yrs. I was feeling somehow in my body when reading this. the vibes was really on me and touching me so much that i was vibrating and had so much interest in your article.

    I love this club so much. i nearly shaded tears on reading your article and also cos of the purchases we made. we really went into a transition after the new stadium construction even the board knows there will be drought of trophy but I am optimistic that people will see the reason why wenger is not only Prof in young lads but can organize experience and work out the best in them.

    I have this feeling that MAN UTD was the last match we shall loose in the league.which will make us take the trophy and another trophy. Mark my words to the date of today. I just feel like shedding tears of joy. Arsene We love you all.

  8. Shaun O'Flaherty on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 1:38 am 

    @Carlos: Thank you for being way too kind. Let’s hope they play as well as they should, that should see us challenging for a pot or two.

  9. Shaun O'Flaherty on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 1:43 am 

    @Oneniltothearsenal: Mate, I am just as excited!!!

    COME ON YOU REDS!!!!

  10. Aditya on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 2:25 am 

    Awwsssome!! Superb article!!! couldnt agree more with ne1.
    I still think the timing of the MANU match was not correct , we had lots of injuries and had no one as a direct/suitable replacement. and fuck the 8-2 , even manu lost 8-2 to marseille with BARTHEZ playing in goal. (wld hav lost by more margin if it was $$DEGEA$$ :):) ). The main reason of the transfer inactivity was the cahmpions league qualifer and UDINESE. Had it been a weaker opponent we would have got our targets early , even before cesc and nasri left.(this cost a MATA 🙁 ).

    when I saw our fixtures(including champions league qualifier) for August I though our season might actually start from September and so it has..
    with these amazing people coming in I am feeling sorry for Swensea .. 😉

    @ Carlos , believe me mate i have the same feeling and just cudnt control the joy!!

    come on you goonnneerrss.. its time to kick some arse..

  11. Jesse on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 3:34 am 

    Fantastic article! Finally someone else who believes that we are going to be force to be reckoned with this year, and not the “disappointment” that so many other writers (eg. the ‘Daily Noise’) believe. With a squad with this talent, we can challenge for any trophy we want!

    I’m salivating just thinking about the Swansea match! And even more so, the next time we face Man U!!!!

    Gunners Up for a good year

  12. Henry Hawk on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 3:38 am 

    Terific article. Enjoyed the honest analysis of the five players and think you have them spot on. I especially luv the Big German signing as I had been imploring Arsene to grab this guy ever since I heard he could be available. He is really everything one could possibly want in a big tough central defender. Would have been nice to grab Cahill as well just so we did not have to see either Djouroux or Squillachi on the field as an Arsenal defender again.

    Apparently our young British midfielder is very excited about having Arteta beside him and the big {M} playing behind him. Imagine the opponents attack trying to come at Z thru Frimpong and Merteseker. They are taking their life in their hands.

    Good day for Arsenal. Well done Arsene. Next Transfer window we score Hazard or M’Villa and then look for the rematch with ManU.

  13. GoonerC on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 3:42 am 

    A really good read!! I couldn’t believe we ended up with Arteta on top of all the othe signings. Bring on Swansea!!!

  14. Finngun on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 4:19 am 

    Great stuff, thank you.

  15. Carlos on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 8:31 am 

    Thanks all for the compliments.
    have been a gunner fan since yr 2002. I never associated myself suporting any club. many fans has left but the true ones are there even in 6yrs without a trophy we stil have nice fans.

    6yrs without winning any major championship wenger and the lads are happy. not minding the greedy ones that went for money. wenger knows how to blend experience and youth. people always say he is good at raising kids but you will see the type of combination wenger will explore in this team.

    He has been challenged by so many people. but he knew from the time we went to emirates that there will not be trophy not to talk of champions league football. but cos of his best ability he kept us in CL always and the board was surprise because a club needs to be balance financially.

    i don’t like the way MAN UTD takes any cup they see and not that am jealous but ALEX Ferguson lacks the ability to make a team grow financially. MAN UTD has bn put up in the stock exchange of singapore and they are in so much debt.

    spending more than 20 mil pounds to play caling cup which is not more than 3 mil pounds what gain do you have only the joy of trophy and that’s why the club couldnt aford sneider wages except if Nike or Adidas help out.

    Arsenal dont want to be in this type of situation thats why they discussed and agreed to go a long time and manage the team with a low budget but now i think that ideology and policy has changed our stadium debt is now remaining less than 100 mil pounds and am happy because when Wenger starts competing for trophy he knows the right people to bring in and he has just done it. I wish we can have a rematch of the MAN UTD game lets show them that we can spell their name with goals.

  16. Shaun O'Flaherty on Fri, 2nd Sep 2011 11:14 pm 

    @Aditya: Thank you for the compliments 🙂 Totally agree regards the Champions League being a big problem for us in the transfer market, although, with our end of last season and the knowledge that Cesc and Nasri were going pretty much guaranteed, I think that we could have drawn the Royal Family and still not gotten any signings of real quality done! We actually had to be in te CL proper to get anyhing real business done and so that has proved.

    Regards Mata, he looks a very good player but, as is always the case, we as fans were looking for the new Cesc and, realistically, whilst similar, he could never replace Cesc. This would mean a team built around his position but without him bringing the same qualities and results. I think that what we now have gives us a real chance to switch around formations without causing too much harm to the balance of the side or the general understanding of the players, a lot of which are used to playing in more than one position. Basically, FINALLY, a Plan B!

    All that said, I cannot believe we have to wait another week to see this new look squad and formation get a run out. Will tell us much about Wengers’ plans regarding formation and game plan.

    @Henry Hawk: Thank you for the compliments 🙂 Regards the centre of defence, I think it would take an injury crisis of disastrous proportions for us to see Squillaci in anything other than the Carling Cup again and even that would surprise me! Miquel is definitely ahead of him now and I believe that he is the reason we didn’t buy another CB.

    Mertesacker looks to be the missing piece in the defensive jigsaw and I, like you, have been crying out for him for a couple of seasons now. Seriously talented player and one that I am sure will prove to be a top top signing. That said, I think that Arteta could be the best signing of the lot. This guy has so much more to offer than he could possibly demonstrate at Everton considering the lack of real quality and quick thinking footballers around him. With the likes of RVP, Theo, Gervinho et al around him he will get the chance to truly perform to his limits. Expect stunning results from him, I know I do!

    As for Hazard, truth be told, I am not sure that he was ever really on our radar. I was thinking about it the other day. We bought Gervinho from Lille leaving them with a hole in their attack. They lined up our new Korean friend and, at the very last moment, literally in between the two parts of his medical, we stole him out from under their noses. They ended up doing a loan deal for Joe Cole, of all players, at the 11th hour to try and find a balance to fill the gap. I think that if there was any real intention on our part to sign Hazard either this window or in January, we would not have been quite so ruthless in signing a player that can only stay with us for two years!

    Finally, I think that a player like M’Vila may come in January if Song doesn’t grow up a little or if Frimpong is not looking like he is quite ready for the big step up on a consistent basis. To be honest, I don’t think that either of these things will be a problem now that they will have TV5 and PM4 behind them and MA8 in front of them.

    In truth, I think that we will be more likely looking to offload a bit more dead wood (e.g. Almunia) and spend the interim period seeing if Bendtner really can bang them in from the central position. If he is misfiring at Sunderland I think that we may still be looking for a new striker and offloading Bendtner and Chamakh permanently.

    All in all, exciting times with lots of options!

    @GoonerC: Thank you for the compliments 🙂 Agree 100% regards Arteta. A top top TOP quality signing and one that could really change the way opponents try to defend against us. He has the 0-5 yards pace along with the control and balance to unlock the bus door, serve coffees on his way through and go out the back way without anyone realising he is even getting started! Could be the solution to a problem that we have constantly suffered from for some time now.

    @Finngun: No no, no, thank you 🙂

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