Another year, another transfer window closed and it doesn’t get any easier. I don’t think I’ll be alone in saying that I found the final 24 hours of this window especially stressful and emotionally draining. Come the end of it though (well, almost 2 hours after the end of it really) we came away with a new addition up front.
With Man United bringing in Falcao on a season’s long loan (I wonder if they can play him in central midfield or centreback?) Danny Welbeck headed out the opposite direction and Arsenal, as opportunistic as ever, brought him into the club for a fee that is rumoured to be around £16 million.
The reactions of Arsenal fans to the news of Danny’s impending arrival, and the eventual confirmation of his addition to the squad, were varying and constantly changing, with some articles even comparing it to the 12 stages of grief. I know that I, personally, went through a similar span of emotions during/immediately after the saga (which we go into a little bit more on our upcoming Podcast) but have ultimately come away feeling pretty positive about the whole thing.
One of the most encouraging things for me about the transfer has been the reaction of many Man United fans. Sporting fans have a long and storied history of being extremely revisionist individuals; overrating their own players when wearing their colours but quickly shooting them down when the move on, but the majority of United fans seem to be of the opinion that Welbeck was going to be a big part of their future and that letting him go could well prove to be the wrong move.
Also, when you dig into it and drill down further than simply looking at his goal scoring statistics (which, as demonstrated by the below chart were actually impressive last season when compared to how many minutes he actually spent on the field) I think that he brings a skill set that Arsenal fans have been crying out for in a centre forward for some time. Not only is he adept in hold-up play and bringing his team mates into the game but he’s an athletic freak. He’s strong as an ox and is extremely quick for his size. Our front three was criticised for being rather slow and ponderous last season when Walcott went down and the addition of Welbeck (along with Sanchez) should go a long way to improving that.
Danny’s situation has also drawn certain parallels to that of Daniel Sturridge before he made his move to Liverpool. Two players who, at roughly a similar age at the time of their moves, were being underutilized and played in wider roles by their clubs despite showing potential to thrive in a central role. Both moving for similar fees and both leaving from, and arriving at, traditional English powerhouses. Hopefully we see Danny undertake a similar transformation to the one that Sturridge did after his move to Liverpool (ridiculous dancing aside please).
Despite the positives regarding Danny however, we still left the transfer windows with a couple of holes in the squad in my opinion, whilst a commanding deep lying midfielder would have been nice, whilst not necessarily essential, the biggest one in my opinion being the number of centre backs we posses at the club. Once again, this is something we drill into in more detail on the upcoming pod but I do feel that the decision to not bring in another centre back was one that could come back and bite us further down the line. Sure, Calum Chambers looks to be an excellent young prospect and his future may lie in that role, but still, football is a numbers game in many respects and 3 specialist centre backs (if Calum can be called a specialist centre back at this early stage) is extremely light as far as I’m concerned. What’s done is done now, but I can’t be the only one that would be sweating if we rolled out a centre back pairing of Monreal and Chambers at any stage this season.
Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me for now. We’ll discuss the above points further in depth and more on our podcast which will be released this week. We’re joined by Giles (@RamblinGooner) of the AFTV Podcast so keep an eye out for it!
– Until next time