Are Arsenal really worse off than last season?

By Avenell Dave

I think it’s fair to say that anyone who suggested that crocked duo Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun should come in to replace Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri would have been laughed all the way down the Seven Sisters Road and it would be easy to look at the rest of the season pessimistically.

I was away last week and so relied on others to provide the transfer updates that keep us Addicts on the edge of our seats transfer window after miserable, tedious transfer window.

We’ve spoken long and hard about the importance of getting our business done quickly, of making prestigious signings that would excite the fans and prove to be superstars.

The way the Nasri and Fabregas moves dragged on has left us all with a bitter taste in our mouths, particularly as we didn’t seem to sign players in advance of them leaving.

From what I understand, there have been doubts that either of them would leave right up until the contracts were signed, which would have potentially left us with an over-burdened squad that we couldn’t service.

The nature of so many deals that have gone on (apart from those for the likes of Jordan Henderson who left Sunderland for Liverpool for at least double his value) suggest that clubs have been bogged down in the increasingly complicated nature of transfers.

While Arsenal were left unable to resist Cesc’s desire to return home or the over-priced deal for Nasri, it left us looking weak and as we saw at Old Trafford, we simply didn’t have the resources to cope.

I read a couple of articles in yesterday’s Sunday papers saying how foolish Arsene Wenger has been resisting bringing in players and leaving the squad so vulnerable.

As I said last week, while he assesses the players who are recommended to him or who he spots himself, the majority of the business is negotiated by a team (Wenger said 20 people) who come under the financial constraints imposed by the board.

Whether it is January or June, I fully expect is to make a marquee signing from France but in the meantime, are we really weaker?

Reputation is everything and while I don’t subscribe to those who say Cesc didn’t try last season, the fact is his hamstrings have been troublesome for some time and he missed great parts of last season.

I’ll argue with anyone that Nasri had a few very exceptional games and way too many indifferent games, particularly when Cesc was injured.

Although he has had a mixed start and who knows what he will turn into, Gervinho has been bought as Nasri's replacement and Wenger seems to think he is the real deal.

Arteta may not be as good a player as Cesc and may suffer with similar injury concerns, but he's been a strong Premier League player and a real competitor for years now and if he can remain fit, he will prove to be a great addition. Takes a mean free kick too, which we've been lacking in recent years.

That leaves Oxlade Chamberlain, a kid, as a prodigy who can hopefully grow into a star, and Banayoun who, subject to fitness, can also provide support when Andrey Arshavin, Theo Walcott or Jack Wilshere is struggling with injury.

At left back, I know little about Santos but if he can provide the attacking capabilities of Silvinho or Ca$hley in their pomp, that has to be an improvement on the dire value I believe we got from Gael Clichy, who made way too many mistakes.

I think everyone agrees that Per Mertesacker is a great signing - so what if he is slow? Do you get 70+ German caps for being crap? The fact is, the Verminator is fast and what we need is someone to take charge at the back from set pieces and that's what Mertesacker will provide.

Yep, we've had a terrible start to the season, but we're still in the Champions League (are you watching Liverpool?) and I truly believe we will compete once again this season.

It's so easy to be disheartened by what has happened and we'll wait and see how the rest of the season pans out, but right now, I'm a lot happier than I was a week ago...and I didn't think I'd say that.