Making sense of Arsenal's transfer window takes some doing. The late purchase of Mesut Ozil sparked scenes of delirium outside the Emirates, among the first team squad and on social networks. Rightly so too, you can make a good argument that Wenger has never signed a player of such a standing in the world game before - rather than becoming top class whilst at Arsenal, he's already there.
It's no secret that Arsenal are a cash-rich club these days. Clever management, planning and some caution have overseen the move from Highbury to the Emirates and put them in a place now where the cash balance will only grow year on year. It therefore maybe wasn't essential to reduce their wage bill but they still did a good job of it and managed to shift out fringe squad players such as Denilson, Arshavin, Eastmond, Santos, Chamakh, Mannone and Squillaci.
It left behind a first team squad of 25 players, at a push. A squad which included kids such as Gnabry and Zelalem; the unfancied trio of Park, Frimpong and Bendtner; as well as Ryo who's not been helped by injuries. Even the most optimistic of Arsenal fans would struggle to deny that it was little more than a skeleton squad and incomings were needed both for the first team in one or two areas, and for the sake of depth.
The free signing of Yaya Sanogo was confirmed around the same time that Luis Suarez quite public became a wanted man. Sanogo is in many ways classic Wenger - young, French, cheap, (and with an interesting injury record). With luck and some nurturing Arsenal may have a useful player there but clearly he wasn't brought in to solve any immediate striking issues. Arsenal predominantly play one up front (Giroud) with support from wingers who'll drift in to support the striker and run beyond him. Among those wingers are Podolski and Walcott, two players who at one point have played up front or wanted to play up front. Neither are particularly convincing back-up for Giroud, especially given their importance elsewhere on the pitch.
The pursuits of Higuain, Suarez and later on, Ba, proved that Wenger recognised the need for at least one striker. Giroud's excellent start to the season is a sign of reassurance but there are no guarantees his form will last. An injury would provide Wenger with a tricky situation and he'll have to choose the right times to rest Giroud so he's kept fresh. Bendtner will have to act as back-up now - not a pretty situation.
What the desire to sign Higuain and Suarez showed though was how prepared Arsenal and Wenger were to finally compete at the top end of the transfer market. The money that had been nicely accumulating was now ready to be spent on transfer fees, wages and all the additional bonuses that come with a signing for both player and agent(s). And yet, neither happened. Higuain opted for Napoli or maybe in the end he wasn't even given a choice to make whilst Liverpool dug their heels in over Suarez and were quick to swipe away Arsenal's ludicrously childish clause meeting bid. If there was a contingency plan it wasn't put into place.
If a striker was the priority for Arsenal then defensive cover was next on the list. For some reason Premier League defenders at the top sides seem to have attracted more injuries than anyone else in recent years and Arsenal's certainly have that bug. Already this season Sagna's had to do a stint as a centre back with Jenkinson in at right back. Genuine links to defenders seemed few and far between with Alderweireld maybe the one who had the most inches written about him. It's a strange oversight and Arsenal now head into the season with just seven first team defenders. Fragile at the front and fragile at the back.
At the very back, Viviano will provide good back-up for Szczesny, a good piece of business it seems. Szczesny, for all his erraticism, has started the season pretty well with some crucial saves at important times in games. If interest in Julio Cesar was real there may have been an interesting dilemma but for now, there's still faith in Szczesny.
Luiz Gustavo was highlighted as the man to bring some steel to the Arsenal midfield, particularly when he surprisingly became available. Arsenal's midfield is and has been full of promise for a while but like a lot of their players, it's subject to staying fit. Still, Arteta needs help and Luiz Gustavo would provide some class in front of the defence, allowing all the creative players to get on with what they do best. When he opted to stay in Germany with Wolfsburg, Wenger turned to Flamini. A completely underwhelming addition given that he was never truly replaced and his own injury status the last couple of years. Underwhelming he may be but potentially he he'll be as important as anyone. It was just one substitute appearance but his experience and calmness against Spurs was vital to Arsenal seeing out that game and getting the win. Yet with Diaby crocked and Wilshere in an increasingly delicate state you can't help but feel more was needed.
This brings us full circle to Ozil. Just where he'll be used remains to be seen but maybe it'll be Rosicky who loses his place to the German magician. His addition has not only raised morale among the fans but seemingly it delighted members of the first team who took to Twitter on Monday night to express their joy. His signing will no doubt benefit Arsenal's forwards and along with Cazorla he gives Arsenal a brilliant creative outlet.
Comparisons to Manchester United signing van Persie are wide of the mark though. Despite losing Berbatov (and Owen) the addition of Kagawa suggested a lone striker might be more common and with Welbeck, Hernandez and Rooney to fill that spot there'd be no issues. Yet Manchester United moved for van Persie somewhat unnecessarily and the rest is history. Van Persie joined a side that already had winners, had experience, and despite a lack of quality central midfielders, had depth across the squad. He certainly made a huge difference but didn't do it alone.
Ozil will improve Arsenal but, and I look forward to this being dug out like an old tweet might be, to suggest he'll propel Arsenal from fourth place challengers to title winners seems too much too soon. Ozil isn't joining a team that has depth or winners. His signing, right at the end of the window feels like it is as much about a statement than anything else - LOOK, ARSENAL ACTUALLY SPENT A LOT OF MONEY. It smacks of an attempt to silence critics and appease doubters. A deal done at the death for a player whose type Arsenal didn't need and hadn't been looking for simply because there was an opportunity to 'make a statement'. That the football world is in shock at the move is not solely down to the fee or that it came from nowhere, rather, that Ozil really should be at a club who will win trophies every year, not a third or fourth best placed team. As fun as it'll be for everyone in the league to watch him, there's a lot more needed at Arsenal still and he shouldn't be used to pull cotton wool over anyone's eyes.Suggest a correction