Do new recruits prove Arsenal no longer a ‘big club’?

Like any self respecting football fan, I spent most of yesterday sat in my office scouring Twitter for the latest transfer rumour and staring intently at BBC’s sports day live patiently waiting for each auto refreshing nugget of drama to unfold. Not a lot of work was done.

Conversely, those behind the scenes at the Emirates were very busy, something we are not used to from recent deadline days. Overall, Wenger has completed eight new signings this summer with over half of those going right up to the wire. This is the largest intake of fresh blood since 1998 when the likes of Overmars, Petit and Wreh, amongst others, arrived in North London.

That particular group marked a shift in the way we play football and the beginning of our domestic dominance of the late 90’s and early 00’s. And of course we don’t need reminding of the other signings that came during that period and cemented AW’s reputation as a master in the transfer market. So how does this new batch compare?

Obviously only time will tell but my initial reaction was one of relief (yes he’s spent some money, plugged some gaps) followed by excitement and then, this morning, back to reality with a disappointing thud. Let me explain. On the whole I think some good business was this summer, the addition of Mertesacker and Santos means we can finally have a back four that inspires confidence. If Vermaelen can keep fit, he and Mertasacker will provide the Vidic/Ferdinand style centre paring that has been so sorely missed in recent seasons.

Benayoun is a wise, if not underwhelming, loan acquisition and he will bring some much needed Premier League and European experience in the middle. Arteta gives us something to be excited about, I’ve always seen Everton’s former talisman as a natural Arsenal player, he’s creative, quick, and intelligent plus we know he can deliver in the domestic game.

Gervinho looks promising (then again so did Chamakh) and Jenkinson and Chamberlain are young prospects who may need a couple of seasons to mature but could play a valuable part this season, just not in the big games. Good so far but no matter how much I play out the positives I keep on going back to something AW said in a press conference a few weeks ago that has probably haunted him ever since…“(if) you see Fabregas leaving, Nasri leaving…you cannot pretend you are a big club”. Well Fabregas left and Nasri left and the money gained has not been spent on adequate replacements.

All around us big clubs, rightly or wrongly, are spending big, offering big wages and big prospects of silverware. The summer transfer saga has demonstrated that Arsenal cannot compete with this, if we cannot keep our star players, how can we expect to attract new ones?

This season will be make or break for AW and Arsenal FC, we must win a trophy and qualify for the Champions League otherwise the allure of the Man City’s and the Barca’s will be too great for the likes of Wilshere and RVP and we may even struggle to sign someone like Arteta, let alone Kaka’s and Messi’s of this world.

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