Just like last season, Arsenal’s squad has been stung by two big name departures in the closing weeks of the transfer window.
Alex Song becomes the latest to jump ship for a deal worth around £16 million, joining former team-mate Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona whilst the shock transfer of Robin van Persie to arch rivals Manchester United will seem all the more real today when he debuts for the Red Devils against Everton.
But it is not all doom and gloom. Admittedly drawing the first home game of the season against Sunderland didn’t help the cause of winning the fans round (again) but, as Wenger has said, some top quality replacements have already been brought in up front. Last season’s top scorer in Ligue 1, Olivier Giroud, and experienced German international Lukas Podolski were added to by potentially the best signing of a the lot with exciting Santi Cazorla making the big money (by Arsenal’s standards) switch from La Liga’s Malaga.
This does all mean that Wenger won’t have to be scrabbling around on deadline day to gamble on the likes of Chu-Young Park to solve the lack of squad numbers. Alex Song will take some replacing and is probably a bigger loss to the Gunners than Robin van Persie. He was far from your average defensive midfielder, contributing with killer passes and energetic runs from deep. But, on the plus side, this could make Arsenal more solid defensively. Yann M’Vila and Lucas Biglia are names being bandied around with the vacant post in Arsenal’s midfield, both of whom are likely to be happier sitting in front of the back four than Song ever was, plus Nuri Sahin’s imminent arrival from Real Madrid will provide good competition in the centre of the park.
Add to that the return of Abou Diaby plus Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky all edging closer to a first team return, the future may not be quite so bleak for the Gunners. No, they won’t win the league, but third place tucked in behind the two Manchester clubs plus success in a cup competition is a very realistic possibility.