Great Expectations

We asked for new signings… and despite a summer of grumbling, pessimism, over-reaction and even despairing cries of “let’s all start supporting Man City” (don’t worry I had a pistol in my pocket and was ready to fake my fellow bloggers’ handwriting in a suicide-pact note should they have suggested it), we did finally get some fresh faces into the club. Nine of them to be precise!

Whilst five were dramatically signed in between The Old Trafford Massacre and deadline day, people seem to have forgotten already that four were signed before that. So, just as a recap, here’s our Graham with a quick reminder of the INs and OUTs… starting with a farewell to those who have moved on:

OUT: Cesc Fabregas (we’ll miss you buddy!) [for not enough million], Samir Nasri (stop checking Viera out in the showers, you Gallic two-faced ponce) [24 million], Gael Clichy (let’s remember the good times) [7 million], Emmanuel Eboue (it was entertaining… if little else) [4 million], Armand Traore (can’t believe we got some money for you!) [2 million], Gilles Sunu (who?) [Undisclosed Fee] and Jay Emmanuel Thomas (so long) [Undisclosed Fee]. We’ve also loaned out a tonne of players including first team squad members, Denilson, Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela… and whilst I’ve got fond feelings towards all three my ruthless streak says we’ve got rid of some, if not dead, slightly moldy and lichen-eaten wood.

As for the cavalry, they arrive in the form of…

IN: Gervinho [10 million], Carl Jenkinson [1 million] Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain [15 million], Joel Campbell [1 million, on loan due to work permit problems], Chu Young Park [3 million], Andre Dos Santos [6.2 million], Per Mertesacker [8 million], Yossi Benayoun [loan] and Mikel Arteta [10 million].

(NB: All fees are approximate, made up, or cribbed from other sources who approximated or made them up).

So now for the fun part… what can we expect from the new boys? Or, more precisely, since I can’t answer that question, what am I expecting from the new boys? And why?

Gervinho

A classic example of what Wenger would consider a big name signing in that he only cost 10 million and was pilfered out of the much better value for money Ligue 1. The fact that Wenger had targeted him early in the transfer window is reassuring and you have to think that Le Prof knows what he is doing on this one. In 53 appearances for Lille last season he garnered 18 goals and 10 assists, which is not bad going. So far for Arsenal he whet our appetite in pre-season with two well taken goals on his debut, but then managed to stupidly get himself sent off against Newcastle. Some redemption came from an assist against Udinese, presenting RVP with a tap in for what was obviously a crucial goal for our ambitions this season. He’s definitely going to be a great addition to our squad, my one concern is that he’s another Theo or Arshavin. Moments of brilliance, with a fair bit of wastefulness or bad decision making, tripping over the ball etc. He looks like he’s got the right attitude though and it would only take some awareness of his defensive duties to potentially oust either of the aforementioned for a regular starting role.

Carl Jenkinson

Hmmm, bit early to tell on this one. Pressed into action way too early in the campaign bearing in mind his inexperience, and although he’s shown some admirable qualities hard to say if he’s going to inherit the number 1 spot as right back even after Sagna’s gone. Eboue was becoming a bit of liability as back up though, so hopefully CJ’s introduction will put paid to 107th minute penalties at least.

AOC

Wenger’s spent big money on this boy and the fact that Man U were sniffing around has to be a good sign. He’s got the right attitude, and with his Dad, a former England man, keeping him on focused, I’m expecting big things. AW seems to think he can make an impact this season, but I don’t see that too be honest.

Chu Young Park

This is a man worth getting excited about I feel. Captain of South Korea the former Monaco man netted 12 times in 33 appearances last season – not too shabby bearing in mind they got relegated. Having watched the video of his international exploits at the weekend, where he scored a great hat trick against Lebanon, he seems to be a versatile goal scorer who can net with his head or feet, and his first touch looks fantastic.

Per Mertesacker

Of all the new signings Per is the one that most has been written about… much of it negative. Many have questioned his pace, some have said he only thrives in a certain environment, and others have said he was all over the place during Germany’s poor outing against Poland last weekend (read here for damning analysis on his limitations). I have my concerns too. The way we defend, half way up the field, could be a problem if he really is as slow as people say, whilst his upper body is bit more David de Gea than Drogba. However as Captain of Werder Bremen, an international with 75 caps to his name who’s played in the Euro 2008 final and World Cup semi finals and with a great reputation in Germany it’s hard to see him being a failure at Arsenal. At 6’6″ he should help with the set piece problem that has been dogging us for a while and he’ll have plenty of defenders with pace, plus Alex Song, around to help him. You get the feeling that certain quarters of the press want to see him fail because AW opted for an 8 million German instead of a 17 million Englishman… but on paper he looks like a better player than Cahill.

Andre Santos

The joker in the pack! As far as we knew Wenger wasn’t even looking for a Clichy replacement, happily leaving Jose Enrique to drift off to Liverpool and not following up purported interest in Leighton Baines. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, we’ve snapped up Brazil’s left back. With Gibbs as brittle as egg shells and Traore taking his year’s supply of Wrigleys off to QPR, thankfully AW saw some sense. Ok, I know, I know I shouldn’t get excited by one Youtube clip. But this guy has got technique by the bagful. And he follows up every trick with a laser accurate pass with the outside of his boot. I’m seriously excited about this boy. When we’ve struggled against teams it’s usually because we can’t play our way out of the left and right back positions. Even if he is a bit dodgy in defense (he plays for Brazil so he can’t be that bad!) I think the virtues of having someone as comfortable on the ball as he seems will help us get back to our possession hoarding, chance creating ways. With 10 goals in 52 appearances from Fenerbache as well it’s safe to say he is going to open up whole new worlds of attacking intent, unknown in the Clichy era.

Mikel Arteta

This is the boy that got all the fans purring. A big money (for AW) signing, a creative midfielder, with age and experience in the Premier League – ie. we’ve actually heard of him! I have to say that I can’t remember ever having seen him play so I’m going to have to reserve judgment. Overall I’m a bit less excited than most, as the general consensus is he hasn’t been quite the same since coming back from his serious injury (3 goals and 4 assists last year only!) and personally I still find it a bit strange that David Moyes left him go on deadline day, just because the player said he wanted to go… His career stats aren’t mind blowing either. In 208 appearances for Everton he scored 33 goals (many from penalties I believe) and got 41 assists. In 303 appearances for Arsenal Cesc managed 57 goals and a whopping 100 assists. Anyhow let’s not be pessimistic… by ordinary standards his stats are ok and put him in a good team, with the likes of RVP on the end of his passes, and there’s every chance the assists will start flowing. By all accounts he’s a good technical player and strong in the tackle, and let’s face it, he has to be an improvement on Rosicky in his current form. I’m sure he’s be a valuable addition who can take some pressure of Ramsey for a season or two.

Yossi Benayoun

A classic Wenger gamble! A rival reject, aging, signed with no medical…. but dirt cheap. Fans would have been furious if he was the only midfielder Arsenal signed on deadline day, but luckily for him Arteta put pen to paper too, meaning that he has been perceived as a shrewd bit of cover. Personally I think he could be much more than that. Having watched him several times with Liverpool I feel he’s a really dynamic player who can come on, make things happen and change the game. In fact, he was one of the only ‘Pool players in recent years they could look too to win games when Gerrard and Torres were making one of their frequent visits to the treatment table. My prediction is that he could make himself a cult hero at the Emirates… and may even nail down a starting spot.

So enough talk already… the Swansea game is nigh! Hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of some of the new boys at least, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see starts for Mertesacker and Arteta in particular, what with Vermaelen and Jack out and Song and Frimpong suspended. It promises to be an interesting game. Let’s hope that the new signings gel pretty quick as this is one we definitely can’t afford to lose if we’re finally going to get the 2011-12 season on track… If we’re able to put a few past the newbies so much the better, as I think we all agree putting a bit of pride back in the shirt would be a wonderful thing right now!

Come on the Arsenal!!!!!!!!!

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