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The Signings of 2011

By Sam Oliver

A review of the incomers of 18 months ago

In a blog I write which appeared elsewhere on the net in September 2011, I talked about our new signings, at the end of the summer 2011 transfer window. I decided, a season and a half later, to review those opinions and predictions based on what has happened since. A few I have got right, a few I have not.

Arteta: Badly missed

Gervinho
“I really like what I have seen from this Cote D’Ivoire international. Most of Arsenal’s attacking wide men prefer a more tip-tap approach, with the ball being meaninglessly played around the opposition’s area, often leading to nothing. Gervinho, however, is a very different style of player. He is much more direct, often looking to beat his marker and get a cross in. Gervinho has looked promising in his very early Arsenal days, with a deft finish against Blackburn showing that he may be just what we are looking for.”
Ok, my bad. He clearly hasn’t developed into the player we (I) thought he would, with his dawdling on the ball, bizarre stutter when running at the full back, and seeming inability to consistently cleanly strike a football. He does possess pace which can scare defenders even with a lack of footballing ability when used correctly (look at Theo). I kept the faith with Gervinho for a long time, but I’ve run out of patience; he not only is a bad player, he also has the ability to make everyone around him play badly by slowing it all down. Offers very little to our team, and should be back-up at most.

Carl Jenkinson
“This new nineteen-yea-old will give 100% for the team; that I have no doubt about. He is an Arsenal fan from birth and clearly loves the club. However, passion only gets you so far. He is clearly lacking in positional sense and he has done well considering making his début for Charlton Athletic in February, but I have massive doubts over this right-back. I hope I end up eating my words and see him develop into a great defender, because you can tell how much playing for the Arsenal means to him, but, judging by the way Man United turned him inside out before he was red-carded, I just can’t see him cutting it, although I really hope he does.”
Mmm. At the time I wrote this, I doubt anyone thought he’d cut it at Arsenal. However, his improvement the past season has been nothing short of incredible. He looked like a Championship player when he arrived, and at the start of this season he’s looked like a really, really good player. I was actually quite disheartened when Sagna waltzed back into the side after his recovery from injury, because I think Carl’s performances more than merited him keeping his place until he put in a droppable performance, which he hasn’t all season. I basically f***ing love this man, due to his vast improvement but mainly the way he loves the club, and is a genuine fan of the Gunners; it’s clear to see how much it means to him to play with the cannon on his chest, and I hope he gets a run in the side after Sagna’s recent poor performances, most notably in the recent 2-1 loss to Chelski at the Bridge. Well in, Carl.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
“He was completely anonymous against United, but it wasn't the best conditions to make your Premier League début. But then I saw him destroy Israel for the England under-21s. He instinctively knows when to get forward, and his passing, long or short, is superb. He got three assists and won a penalty with a fantastic dribble which took him past four defenders. Although I have admittedly seen little of AOC, I am very excited for what lies ahead for this £12 million midfielder.”
Who remembers the crowd reaction when he was subbed vs. United at the Emirates? Jesus Christ, there was uproar, which shows the high regard the majority of supporters hold him in. I think we’ve seen he’s a big game player, with sterling performances against United at home and the glorious failure vs. Milan at home (van Persie missed sitters in both games that would have got us a result; just saying). I also hope we see him deployed in the hole in future, with Santi moving wide. The Ox is a great dribbler with a rocket shot, who I believe will cause trouble for any defence (just ask Patrice Evra). Really high hopes for Chambo, as long as the club don’t persist with distracting him from his game with things like the ridiculous Ox TV. Let him concentrate on his bloody game. High hopes.

Joel Campbell
“I have the feeling this Campbell will turn out much like Vela. He’ll go on loan for three years to secure a work permit, but after three years of playing for lower teams abroad, he won’t get any game time when he returns and he’ll end up leaving or spending several more seasons on loan. It’s a shame really, because I have heard great things. He is a Costa Rican striker, who is very strong. He picks his runs well and will get goals, but I can’t really see him breaking into the team. I imagine he’ll end up having a decent career with a mid-table Spanish team, but I doubt, apart from a few Carling Cup appearances, we’ll see much of him.”
Sticking by this; hasn’t featured too much for Real Betis, although apparently he has impressed when he has. Not much to say because I haven’t seen much of him, although I have heard good things. I will say I saw an interview with him, where he did come across well, and as someone who genuinely wanted to do well, but I’m not sure he will. Fingers crossed for the Costa Rican Thierry Henry!

Andre Santos
“From what I’ve seen, a pretty dodgy defender who doesn't look comfortable on a football pitch. I write after the Blackburn game, and for one of Blackburn’s goals he was the furthest defender back by about two yards. It was more of a defensive diagonal than a flat line. He could maybe get away with that in the Turkish league, but the Premier League is a very different ball game. This Brazilian left-back obviously has quality (he has 30-odd Brazil caps) but we can’t afford him to take too long to adapt to the English game. We need him to come out of his shell quickly, and we need big performances from this man.”
Think I hit the nail on the head here; basically, he can’t defend, which isn’t great for someone whose entire job is to defend. Positionally as bad a defender as we’ve had in my lifetime, and despite some hilarious social networking incidents from the Brazilian, he clearly is not good enough. The way he chased after von Stapleton’s shirt was unfortunate but also showed that he doesn’t understand the fans’ mentality, which will always cause a stir. Doesn’t offer the magnificent Kieran Gibbs any competition, so I think Andre needs to be offloaded ASAP, with someone being brought in as back-up for Gibbs. Sorry Andre, but maybe a career behind the wheel awaits?

Per Mertesacker
“In the games against Swansea and Blackburn, two of the weakest attacking forces in the league, he has looked poor. He was often out of position and he has a similar turning circle to a Boeing 707. He has been exposed for pace far too often, but Sammi Hyppia and Carlos Puyol are both very slow and top quality centre-backs. I think this 6 ft. 6 in defender is going to be good in the Premier League, as no bad player will represent Germany 75 times. But he looks like Bambi on ice when strikers run at him. He also loses a surprising amount of headers for a man of his height, which is the last thing we need. But I believe after a few games in the Premier League, he will develop into a superb ball-winning centre-back. I have high hopes for this German, but I don’t know how much patience fans will have at times like these…”
Sorry Per, you’re bloody brilliant. Yes he’s slow, but his positional sense is more than extraordinary, and he’s consistently placing good players in his pocket. Our best centre-back by a long way. I did say he’d turn into a ‘superb ball-winning centre-back’ so I’d say I got this one right, despite being far too critical of our big f’ing German at the start; our most important and best defender.

Park Chu-Young
“I haven’t seen much of this South Korean centre-forward, but I imagine he will provide good back-up for our attack, and I guarantee he will give 100%. However, at his first press conference as an Arsenal player, he announced he was “stunned” we had signed him which surely is an indication as to how the quality of players we are signing is decreasing. And as he is third cousin of Manure’s Park Ji Sung, he will hopefully always score against them, as his cousin ALWAYS scores against us. I don’t think he will get too much game time but I'm looking forward to seeing the South Korea captain in action.”
Jesus Christ.

Yossi Benayoun
“A Premier League proven player and he is similar in how he plays to Gervinho; more direct and not as many crappy little two-yard passes. He will supply back-up to Gervinho and Theo (I would prefer Yossi to Arshavin) and I would quite like to see him signed permanently after his loan deal if he plays well, which I imagine he will, because he’s been a good player in the Premier League for years, and he will create chances like he always has. He’s a good signing, not a great one, but he’ll do. For now.
I think I got this one right. Good to rotate the squad with, scored some good and important goals and was a good short-term option; hindsight is a beautiful thing, and in hindsight it was the right call not to sign him permanently. Always gave 100% despite us being in contention for Champions League places for Chelsea; he was a model professional and I am sure he had a good effect on the rest of the team; deserves to play for a club that will treat him better than Chelsea.

Mikel Arteta
“Great signing! That’s what I would be saying if we had signed him in 2009, but he’s still a good player. True, he’s not the player he was, but he was a class player, and I imagine he’ll fit in well into the hole left by Cesc. Yes, we could have used him two years ago, and he is a little like a Cesc downgrade, but his signing also means Rambo won’t need to be playing every game, which is important at his age. It’s also encouraging to hear that he was willing to take a pay-cut to get to Arsenal. Despite times like these, he was still willing to take less money to play for Arsenal. We need big performances from this man. You have big shoes to fill, Mr.Arteta.”
13%. That’s our win-rate without Mikel. 13% is diabolical, and if you have a 13% win-rate across a season, you get relegated, easily. Now, I’m not suggesting that if we hadn’t signed Mikel we’d be relegated, but without this ‘panic buy’ we would have come around eighth last year. I don’t really think you can overestimate his influence; he did the hugely overrated Alex Song’s job for him, filling in the gaps for him and his passing rate is fantastic. You can highlight his importance by watching the final game of last season vs. West Brom; Mickey was injured, and both West Brom goals came from the ball completely bypassing our midfield and West Brom picking holes in our defence, which probably would not have happened had Arteta been fit; he’s obviously played in a much deeper role then he did at Everton, and some questions have been raised as to whether he’s physically strong enough to play that role; my opinion on that is that if you play Diaby or a Coquelin in there (not particularly strong but has a certain ‘bite’ to his game) then it isn’t an issue. Panic buy or not, Mikel Arteta was a huge success.

28th January 2013

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User Comment and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

The Wenger scale  9:47am 28th Jan 2013

Great to see an honest assessment for a change, rather than the usual 'I always rated him' wise after the event/ backtracking people do. On a separate note, I really think the Wenger must go/AKB camps is very divisive and unhealthy. Victory through harmony, surely. Instead of finger pointing and blaming 'the other lot' people should rate their stance on Wenger according to a scale of 1-10. With 10 being 'Arsene out!' and 0 being Arsene knows best and has to stay. I think we'd find more people are in the middle ground than the polarised groupings suggests. Personally, my numbers have steadily risen over recent years. I'm now a 4. If anyone cares. My point being, is there anyone on 0? - Post No. 33937


Mike Gooner  10:21am 28th Jan 2013

You are having a laugh with your review of Per Mertesacker. Always caught out of position, especially when crosses are coming in and strikers trying to get in behind him. He has no pace and for a giant he cant head the ball further than 6 yards. A back-up CB at best.International record counts for nothing at Club level, just ask David Healy. - Post No. 33942


GG89  10:47am 28th Jan 2013

18 months and I would agree with all siad except Per Mertesacker... quick players get passed him like Bolt passes his peers... Maybe I´m too optimistic but Gervinho still can do it, just maybe not against a top defence.. Great review. - Post No. 33944


billthered  11:30am 28th Jan 2013

Not much to say other than three of those players were in the back four saturday and we conceded two crappy goals says it all really. - Post No. 33945


John  12:11pm 28th Jan 2013

Seams like a fair assessment, can't help but feel that had the manager bought Arteta and Mertesacker a couple of years before he did, we'd have won something, still had Cesc and RVP and in with a real shout of winning the league. If only! - Post No. 33947


Steve 1962er  12:30pm 28th Jan 2013

I always thought Gervinho was crap, and I have not been disappointed as he probably is even not that good. I agree basically with the rest of your comments apart from those about Mertesacker. I cannot believe how many Arsenal fans think this man is good. His performance against Brighton sums him up for me: rubbish! He is the slowest player ever to grace football and I have been watching it for 51 years. He is reputably 6'4", and when he jumps he is 6'5" as he cannot jump whatsoever. When the ball comes into our area, he hardly ever wins a header as he does not seem to me, to anticipate where the ball will land. People talk about his positional sense which I tend to agree with, but think it overstated. He has made a few important interceptions, but that is about it as far as I am concerned. If I am wrong, why are we conceding the same goals as we have been for the past 5 years? Mertesacker is Ian Ure on the deck, but Ure was very dominant in the air. I would love to know what Tony Adams and Martin Keown think about him off the record. - Post No. 33949


exiled&dangerous  12:34pm 28th Jan 2013

A good article Sam - can't wait to read your comments on the signings we've made in this transfer window. Oh, hang on...... - Post No. 33950


John  13:01pm 28th Jan 2013

i can't believe the hate Mertesacker's getting on here, for me he's easily our best defender. Steve 1962er, what would Tony Adams and Martin Keown think about him?! Well i hoped if they were honest they would say it's a lot easier to play behind Vieira, Petit and Parlour, than Arteta, Wilshire and Cazorla because this is here the real problem lies. And it's going to get worse if Diaby and Rosicky start playing more often. - Post No. 33954


Cambridge Gooner  13:03pm 28th Jan 2013

Have we been watching the same Kieran Gibbs? The Kieran Gibbs I've been watching is weak in the tackle, lazy in the pass and always caught out of position. If it wasn't for his pace he would be playing league 2 football. - Post No. 33955


The Fonz  13:46pm 28th Jan 2013

haha, how wrong could you have been on nearly all of these players! This is why you are a fan and not in the game - Post No. 33956


gary  13:53pm 28th Jan 2013

Mertersacker is not that good.His lack of pace is alarming and as others have said Jimmy Krankie could out jump him.A 6ft 7in defender should be dominating balls in the box.Santos and Gervinho are just crap.Wenger should be ashamed for paying good money for them.Park and Campbell was just burning money.Only Arteta can be called a good buy - Post No. 33957


maguiresbridge gooner  14:44pm 28th Jan 2013

Some have improved Sam some haven't, some have got worse,Gervinho will be lauded as a new signing when he returns from the ANC now he's scored,it's doubtful he'll have improved much though.Santos ? what can be said that hasn't already,the cheering at his substitution on Saturday spoke volumes, because of that, and the fact ogl doesn't like to be proved wrong don't be surprised to see him play on Wednesday. - Post No. 33959


Dan h  14:59pm 28th Jan 2013

This juror says guilty of buying badly on most of the defendants.Arteta has done a good job Mertersacker has done o.k slow yes but reads the game well example being Citeh away best performer on the pitch (then dropped or in modern terms rotated for Chelsea!).The Ox & Jenkinson will only improve Jenkinson Arsenal man & for me has the right attitude to play for this club he looks like it hurts when we lose.Santos awful buy for nearly 7m for all my criticsm of OGL how unusual for a buy of his to have no pace no fitness & blatantly overweight oh well that happens when you buy garbage in the sales.Gervinho well he has pace and er....not much else really £8m we spent on him acccording to he who should not be questioned.Truely woefull player loses the ball constantly no vision,poor touch & panics when given time to finish WBA home Citeh away & who can forget his 'attempt' against Bradford as examples.Park what little we saw of him wouldn't of looked out of place playing in one £6m written off already again no place to hide with him & certainly not super quality! - Post No. 33960


Mark  15:19pm 28th Jan 2013

only Arteta is really an Arsenal Quality player in my view - Post No. 33961


Bard  15:31pm 28th Jan 2013

Interesting article. There's bit of a myth about Wenger and transfers. He peddles the idea that he scours the globe for latent talent; that it is a scientific operation, well thought through and planned to the last £. This view is largely based on having signed Anelka and sold him for shedloads plus buying Paddy, Cesc and Henry. This is a distortion of the truth. He has bought players like Pires Overmars,Sol but these were already top draw. He has also bought a shedloads of duffers, Santos, Arshavin, Park, Chamakh,Gervinho Squillaci to name but a few who have cost fortunes in wages and but been surplus to requirements almost as soon as they have arrived. The truth is he is far from the great discover of talent he likes to think he is. On a separate point I think Mertesacker struggles because we have 2 fullbacks who can't defend properly and this leaves him exposed more often than not. - Post No. 33962


Dorset Gonner  16:05pm 28th Jan 2013

How bad is Santos, can't beleive we haven't signed a player who plays LB/CB, if Gibbs gets injured it's Santos/Podolski on the left (worrying times) Gervinho is aweful, watched him play in the ACN yesterday, he scored, but he was so poor! I like Jenkinson, still young and has alot to learn, but I've rather bring through a young english player who supports the club and will give 100% all the time, instead of some French kid Agree with the comments about signing Arteta a few years earlier (when Flamini left), would have been interesting to see Cesc & Arteta playing together (might have actually won something). Mertesacker I agree is probably the slowist CB in the EPL, (in fairness he does block alot of shots) but I think my mum could beat him over 100m no problem! However he is an improvement on the other CBs we have at the club. I've seen abit of Joel Campbell playing for Betis, and I can't believe we lost out on Mata to sign this guy, waste of time and money (he'll probably never play for Arsenal),the transfer guy (can't remember his name) should be fired!! - Post No. 33963


A total Myth  17:09pm 28th Jan 2013

it is a myth that Wenger is some supreme talent spotter. I just odnt buy it. France had the talent in the early mid 90's and he was a french manager. how hard was that ? would those great french players have done so well had Adams Keown Winterburn Cole Campbell Dixon Seaman not been behind them ? and Wright Parlour etc not been around them ??? NO NO NO NO NO - Post No. 33964


Stevearsenal  17:33pm 28th Jan 2013

Per Mertesacker Brilliant? Are you being serious? - Post No. 33966


Peter Wain  18:36pm 28th Jan 2013

I think that all of the signings have been poor. Arteta slows the game down so we do not attack at pace and allow the opposition to get back. As for Wengers performance in the transfer market I think he has lost his bottle. When he first came he spent a lot of money on Overmars when there was a big query regarding Overmars injury. He also spent £10 million on an unproven french men called Henri. Since 2005 he has bought a lot of players in the the 10 to 12 million ppound bracket but has not spent more than £20 million on any one player. As a result we have a lot of also ran footballers of limited ability but so overpaid that we cannot sell them. Gervinho is a case in point. He may have cost only £8 million but when you factor in a five year contract at £50k per week the true cost of this player is over £20 million. And their is no resale value becuase noone else will buy him. So Wenger is operating under a false economy in that if he had spent more on getting a better player (not difficult in Gervinho's case) there would be a resale value if he did not perform as hoped for. - Post No. 33967


Dan h  19:39pm 28th Jan 2013

@Peter Wain valid points & goes along with what i have been saying more often than not it will work out cheaper in the end to buy higher quality.The Gervinho case you are bang on when questioned on his signing recently the journalist quoted £11m OGL corrected him by saying he was £8m but it is the deadwood wages killing this club.Before anyone goes OTT about signing £35m+ players no one i know is saying that but we really can't afford to meet the likes of Fellaini's £22m release clause at Everton?Recession all over Europe & we are awash with available cash there are plenty of opportunities for us to improve our squad no more excuses. - Post No. 33969


n4  21:02pm 28th Jan 2013

My Wenger scale is: 7.5 - Post No. 33971


LJB  22:38pm 28th Jan 2013

God,didn't we spend at least 60 mill on the aforementioned players? WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY.Seriously,Wenger should be sacked for that summers transfer business alone;selling Clichy,Nasri and Cesc and replacing them with 2 unproven kids,a load of dross and mikel Arteta.I thought Wenger was supposed to be a "genius" in the transfer market,another AKB myth.We would have been better off not screwing up the Mata and Cahill deals and just buying those two,supplemented by Jenkinson,The Ox and Arteta;would have been cheaper too. - Post No. 33972


Ciaran Smith  23:41pm 28th Jan 2013

Yes you were doing well until you got to Per Mertesacker. Simply is not quick enough or good enough for The Arsenal saying that he doesn't have much competition with Koscielney (very inconsistant) and Vermaelen who is also always capable of a bad clanger (Man Utd away) and also positionally poor at times . Interesting to see how good the boy Yanga-Nbiwa gets on at Newcastle, knowing our luck he'll be tremendous. I am a firm believer if we get in two average centre backs even it will dramatically improve our squad. Fergie has known it for years, it doesn't matter how bad your team is if you have 2 solid centre backs keeping you a clean sheet it makes everything so much easier for the midfielders and strikers, which has been the different for so many years between the 2 clubs. - Post No. 33974


EZZAT  3:54am 29th Jan 2013

we just need more left footed players... they are always gifted - Post No. 33975


tfSmudge  15:33pm 29th Jan 2013

I have to agree with the first commenter here, you have got to be joking regarding Merteslacker... Arteta too, to say they're both a success is to say passing sideways and backwards is a step forward. Both crap when under any sort of pressure. Although I must admit Merteslacker vaguely resembles our man Adams and Arteta's the poor man's Fabregas – that's where it ends for me. Arsenal panic buys that came on the back of the United result... Let's hope we don't do the same tomorrow night... Finally to cement the point, Usmanov & Dein in, the current board are toilet. Never mind the bollox. - Post No. 33995


allybear  18:36pm 29th Jan 2013

Must say that Mertasacker is very slow and i sgree that he should be commanding in the air. To me he is a very poor cb. It should be quite obvious that Wenger isnt a genius at transfers as stated in earlier articles. He is in fact clueless&hesitant. He has signed loads of duds. He certainly is no genius. - Post No. 33997


Rocky RIP  22:44pm 29th Jan 2013

@Bard - a bit harsh on Wenger, especially in his early days. Plenty of duds in the last few years, no question. His worst in terms of value for money, Jeffers, was a Dein signing. Sorry to quibble but Pires wasn't seen as 'top drawer' when he signed, neither was Henry. (They were on a par with Wiltord in people's estimation.) Many weren't convinced in Pires's first season. (The fools!)If we slaughter the bad signings, let's give credit for: RVP - £2.75m, Vieira - £3.5m, Petit £2.5m, Anelka - £0.5m, Cesc Fabregas - joined academy. Combined total for THOSE LOT - Under £10m! Can anyone seriously argue that those 5 weren't awesome signings? They were no 'myth'. Selling Anelka for £23m paid for our new state of the art training ground. No wonder our greedy board love him. And yes, I'm aware of Squilaci and the many players on our wage bill. - Post No. 34001


Dark Hei  5:21am 30th Jan 2013

My goodness, have you guys been following at least the news at the AFCON? Gervinho, LANS, literally. Must be the air or the water they drink down there. - Post No. 34002


Ron  9:47am 30th Jan 2013

Yes, duds here there and everywhere, but in truth all coaches sign their fair share. Im sure theres a list as long as your leg that Ferguson would draft up himself and provide for us! - Post No. 34004


GaryFootscrayAustralia  10:48am 30th Jan 2013

Wenger Scale: 6 now, 5 if we finish 4th and win the F.A.Cup, 7 if we finish 5th or 6th but win the F.A. Cup, 9 if we fail in both. European Cup: n/a - Post No. 34006


Rocky RIP  11:53am 30th Jan 2013

@GaryFootscrayAustralia - European Cup - surely minus 1 on the Wenger scale?! Gervinho with a screamer from 30 yards in the last minute. ALL would be forgiven. - Post No. 34008


GaryFootscrayAustralia  13:28pm 30th Jan 2013

@RockyRIP, if that actually happened, I'd welcome it with open arms...would be even more glorious and incredulous if it was Rick James who scored the winner... - Post No. 34012


Mertesacker emptiness  14:26pm 30th Jan 2013

Per to rise like a salmon at the back stick and clinch the champions league for Arsenal in May. I'm off to place a bet. - Post No. 34015


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