Upon the 2010/2011 season’s end I wrote this article on the potential change at Arsenal. I stated, in the main, that it was far more a case of minor tweaks rather than mass overhauls, but the transfer window does not appear to have progressed along the lines Arsenal and Arsène Wenger had wished.
What I suggested: Wojciech Szczesny to be handed the number one role, with Lukasz Fabianski to battle with him for it. Vito Mannone as third choice and Manuel Almunia to be sold (or shot out of a canon).
What has happened: they have tried, so far, in vain to rid themselves of Almunia. Pre-season matches and advertisements (he has not even been pictured in the new kit) suggest he will play no part in proceedings.
Potential changes: there was word that Wenger was interested in Craig Gordon, as a challenger for the two Poles, but realistically I don’t see it happening. The only thing that may happen is the departure of Almunia. No other change is needed.
What I suggested: Emmanuel Eboué to be sold, Davide Santon to be brought in. Bacary Sagna to remain as first choice.
What has happened: Eboué looks like being sold to Galatasary very soon, while Carl Jenkinson has been brought in. Young and raw, but impressive at times in pre-season. Barring an injury to Sagna, he will get occasional games in the league and play in the cups. Good chances for him to gain experience. Promising prospect.
Potential changes: Eboué to be sold, nothing else.
What I suggested: no changes.
What has happened: Gaël Clichy has been sold to Manchester City. I think he’s a decent left back but a defensive liability. There are definitely better out there, but it wasn’t a particularly problem-area. The lack of movement on that front suggests Wenger believes Kieran Gibbs can fill the void. The talent is there, but is the fitness? He has a very poor injury record and Armand Traoré didn’t exactly impress in his previous stint in the side.
Potential changes: for peace of mind as much as anything, I think Wenger should invest in a proven left back but that doesn’t seem likely. Realistically, I doubt anything will happen.
What I suggested: Laurent Koscielny-Thomas Vermaelen as first choice pairing and another brought in as a challenger (Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Christopher Samba, Jan Vertongen, Phil Jones or Mamadou Sakho). Johan Djourou as third or fourth choice and Sébastien Squillaci to be shipped off.
What has happened: very little, in reality. Phil Jones, Lancashire born and bred, elected to stay in his home area, despite Arsenal’s meeting Blackburn’s £16,000,000 price tag. A bid has been turned down for Phil Jagielka, but little else has come to the fore.
Potential changes: Wenger has promised investment in the defence. With a large windfall expected to come in soon, a signing cannot be far away. Scott Dann has been mentioned, but if he is to sign I doubt he’ll be the only one. It will make for interesting viewing.
What I suggested: Denilson sold and a new backup defensive midfielder in. Do all possible to keep Cesc Fàbregas and make sure no others leave.
What has happened: Denilson has gone back to Sao Paulo on loan, but it looks as though the task of acting as backup defensive midfielders will fall to Emmanuel Frimpong and Henri Lansbury. And it looks as though Fàbregas is on his way (I was convinced Barcelona would not pay up). It is not finalised yet so he has not been replaced. No others look likely to leave.
Potential changes: a replacement must be brought in for Fàbregas. Juan Mata is a good option, but no signing will happen until the Fàbregas departure is complete. I don’t believe a defensive midfield signing will be made. Two players may be needed to bare the brunt of Fàbregas’s absence, or one superstar, like Wesley Sneijder (to take but one example).
What I suggested: bring in Eden Hazard or another out-and-out winger and keep the rest. Stop using Nicklas Bendtner as a winger.
What has happened: Bendtner is on the verge of leaving. Gervinho has been signed - similar to Hazard, but older and perhaps more ready for the Premier League. He also has a better goal and assist record than his former team mate. I did not forsee Samir Nasri expressing a desire to leave, though. A replacement must be signed for him. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has signed too, but is perhaps one for the future. Ryo Miyachi’s obtaining of a work permit is a huge boost - an out-and-out winger with blistering pace.
Potential changes: Bendtner and Nasri are certain to leave. Gervinho has replaced the Dane, but the money generated by Nasri’s sale must go towards a replacement for him. Mata seems ideal, but if he is signed, a number 10 OR an out an out winger must be signed too, with Fàbregas on the way out.
What I suggested: unless a switch to 4-4-2 was on the cards, no changes were needed, though this was before Bendtner expressed his desire to leave.
What has happened: there was certainly interest in Karim Benzema that was swiftly quashed by José Mourinho. Since then, nothing, really. Gervinho is well capable of filling in up front and is more comfortable there than Bendtner was on the wing. Robin van Persie is the ideal first choice, while Marouane Chamakh is a capable second fiddle.
Potential changes: another central striker is a possibility, but an unlikely one. Not a necessity at this point in time.