Well there you have it, the transfer window slammed SHUT bang on 11pm, regardless if the deal was complete or not, ruthless as an executioner but forgiving for any fans waiting with their breath held for any last minute transfers.
And that was us Arsenal fans, all 2.7 million of us trying to get on Arsenal.com, frantically trying to see what reliable source said what, seeing if Mikel Arteta was confirmed, was he in, was he out? He almost felt like "that" Lampard goal vs Germany. But thankfully this time, he was in, just. Earlier in the day, not one person had a clue who we were gonna sign besides the BFG (Big F**king German) and Santos.
It was all up in the air, contrasting views on if it was M'Vila, if the sighting of Kaka wasn't just a UFO at Heathrow, if Michael Jackson had really returned outside Craven Cottage, to be fair, it was all a bit of a shambles. But bam, 6pm hit and stories of Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun broke out. Duncan Castles and BBC's very own David Ornstein reported murmurs of a deal for either one, not both together. Vast majority of twitter was HIGHLY against the Benayoun signing, you'd honestly think he scored 30 own goals a season as such the demand for no deal for him was shouted. But then came Arteta, the guy often dubbed "The poor mans Cesc Fabregas", the Spanish Maestro of Merseyside. Very mixed views, some citing he's too injury prone, some citing he would fit like a glove. But everyone did agree, if we can't get anyone and he was available, we definitely need to get him. By 8pm the deal was OFF, everyone on Twitter threw a bitch fit and we were back to Benayoun.
Never have I seen a players reception depend so much on another transfer. Everyone saying Benayoun would be brilliant, IF Arteta signed, if not, he would be the worst player to sign up since Squillaci (That's a lie, you be hard done to find someone worse than Squillaci). 10pm, deal is back ON but this time, both players were gonna sign, not either. Tensions rose, nails bitten, snacks prepared, we were in for the long haul. 11.13pm and confirmed like a virus spreading, Arteta deal was in time and he has signed his 4 year deal, coming before hand was confirmation of Benayouns 1 year loan deal with a view to a permanant deal. And joy befell the Tweeps of this 21st century, all was well, or was it?
Still a concensus that Cesc's shoes won't be filled, that no one can do his role. I agree, no one can replace Cesc imo that would be realistic and within our grasp. Only Xavi and Sneijder could do Cesc's job just as well and we have more chance of me securing a £260k a week contract at Crystal Palace than there is of us signing them two. So where does this leave our team, let's analyse the major in's and out's of this summer first;
(Note: Not all ins/outs will be listed, only ones immediately effecting the first team, so Toral/Bellerin/Campbell etc won't be counted)
INs: Gervinho, Park Chu-Young, Andre Santos, Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun (Loan), Carl Jenkinson, Ryo Miyaichi (Okay signed last season but officially joined this summer after permit), Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain
OUTs: Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Nicklas Bendtner (Loan), Gael Clichy, Jay Emmanuel Thomas, Giles Sunu, Armand Traore, Emmanuel Eboue, Carlos Vela (Loan), Henri Lansbury (Loan, last year of deal, one year loan, assuming he is gone), Denilson (Loan)
First thing you'll notice, we replaced a lot of youth players with players of experience. Big change in policy. We only bought in Jenkinson, Miyaichi and Oxlaide as potential stars, but we lost a bunch of youths whom I can only assume Arsene Wenger believed wouldn't make it, I agree when looking at the list. So does this make us a weaker or stronger XI? This is factoring in injuries at the time, as it reflects team strength of then. Let's see;
Starting XI September 1st 2010/11 - Almunia, Sagna, Djourou, Koscienly, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Fabregas(c), Nasri, Walcott, RvP - Bench players: Chamakh, Squillaci, Eboue, Bendtner, Vela, Rosicky, Fabianski, Sunu, JET, Arshavin, Gibbs, Denilson (Injured: Vermaelen, Frimpong - Season long, Diaby. Ramsey loaned out for fitness)
Starting XI September 2011/12 - Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Santos, Song, Ramsey, Arteta, Gervinho, Walcott, RvP - Bench Players: Fabianski, Almunia, Djourou, Miquel, Koscienly, Squillaci, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Frimpong, Rosicky, Arshavin, Park, Benayoun, Miyaichi, Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Chamakh (Injured: Wilshere - Expected back in 4 weeks, Diaby - expected back late October)
First thing you notice? That's right, a bigger squad. One year ago, we had exactly 25 first team starters, but largely youth, none of which you could rely on and say "Alright, you're on, go make a difference," it'd be unfair on both the club and the player to expect them to pull miracles. This year round, we have 30 first team players, largely experienced players, besides AOC, Miyaichi, Miquel and Jenkinson, everyone else is experienced internationals, many captains from national teams and their former club teams, full of leaders, not more players who've never made a senior debut for a club team.
Secondly, you'll notice, yes, our midfield is weaker by far. Fabregas and Nasri were never gonna be fully replaced, seems a case of Arteta -> Fabregas and Gervinho -> Nasri from early talks about. But we have depth this year round to cover injuries, something we didn't have last season. That was our problem, we put too much pressure on Fabregas, Nasri, RvP to deliver, and they had to, because no one from the bench was actually gonna be able to do what they did. The options we have this year will prove invaluable in the long run, Arteta can rest when Wilshere is fit and rotate in a trio of Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky, Arteta for the 2 midfield creating roles (Feeling Wilshere and Arteta are first choice). Our defence is also significantly better, without a doubt. What a difference one year on makes on our goalkeeping situation, suddenly we find ourselves more than confident Szczesny is the man with 20 years ahead of him as Arsenals #1 and I'm more than satisfied with that. Vermaelen and Mertesacker can combine and make sure set pieces aren't our downfall this season too. Fundamentally our striking position isn't THAT reliant on Robin. Yes his contribution will matter most, especially as captain, but he also has Walcott, who's proving himself to be quite the scorer these days, whilst Gervinho, Arshavin, Benayoun and even Miyaichi can provide wing support.
On the whole, yes our midfield looks weaker. But look deeper and you'll see a vastly experienced side, a midfield with more than enough talent to keep us up in competition through out the season and a defence that shouldn't fear Roy Delaps long throws. So there's more than enough to be happy with and barring some voodoo curse on our team, we should be able to cope with the regular visits to the treatment table too.
As usual, I can be found via Twitter (@AznGooner) if you have anything regarding this to ask me personally.
Mean Lean's Response
It was a mad day wasn't it? I desperately tried not to get sucked into the whole thing, especially as Sky Sports do there very best to hype everything up as much as possible but I just couldn't help myself. In the end I must say I am happy with our business, although I like many others wanted that one super quality as Arsene would put it. Arteta is a very good player but perhaps that one super super player is already at the club.
Sir Jack of Wilshere. How much would it cost any club to buy a player of the caliber of Wilshere? I think Arsene is often misunderstood when he says a player will be killed if another player is brought in and Jack is the perfect example of this. Young players at Jack's age have not finished developing and the only way they develop and reach their potential is if they play every week, even if it is a short term hindrance to the team.
I have said for a few years now and I will continue to stand by my stance that Jack Wilshere is potentially a better player than Cesc and I believe he will prove that if injuries and lack of playing time do not get in the way of his development.
So perhaps the Arteta signing was more to replace Wilshere's previous position and Jack will able to have a more free reign on the midfield, I guess only Wenger know's what is in store for this team. What is rather strange though is not actually knowing what to expect.
I have watched so many Arsenal games so closely that you almost know what every player is going to do when they have the ball so much so that watching other teams play football is a little strange at times.
I like I am sure many fans, will have never been in a position where so much change has happened at the same time. We were just starting to get to grips with the jinking Gervinho until his red card, Frimpong has showed that his bite is just as effective at the top level as it was in pre season last year and now we have so many new partnerships, strengths, weaknesses and probably tactical adjustments to get the best out of the new players.
For example do we see most of our support from full back down our left as Santos is an attacking player, will Sagna sit more as Clichy used to do last season.
Will Arteta instigate many of our attacks from deeper? Who is our set piece taker? How will the balance of the team look now? Does Vermaelen's role in the team change if he partners Mertesacker? So many interesting things to look forward to.
After that bad thing happened at that place (I refuse to say the words) I was thankful that the International break was coming up but I have certainly changed my mind now. Although it might be a good thing for Andre Santos and Mikel Arteta to train and speak with the boss and with the rest of the players who will not be playing away from home.
I am nervously excited to see what we get from this squad. I am not ruling out a race for the title until I see where we are and once these players have developed an understanding together.
Hurry up Internationals, just make sure you give us our players back healthy. *sweats*