As final preparations for the 2012/13 ramp up and the Premier League gets set to kick-off, news outlets, blogs and pundits are dissecting from top to bottom. But what do the fans think?
We asked a panel of supporters in the USA and Canada their views on Arsenal's summer moves, their thoughts on the current squad and their hopes and predictions for upcoming season. Each day this week, we'll delve into a different topic and see what our panel thinks.
This time our panel discusses which of our new new signings will prove to be the biggest coup -- and if there are any other ares the Club needs to address before the transfer window closes.
All three ought to make massive contributions for Arsenal next season, but the crown jewel here is Santi Cazorla. He was a player Arsène tried to sign last summer, presumably as a replacement for Cesc Fabregas, before Malaga trumped us with petrodollars (petroeuros?), so he's been on Arsenal's radar for some time.
He's widely regarded as the best player in La Liga not on Barca or Madrid. He has good quickness, great balance, and is superb with the ball at his feet. He has great versatility and can play anywhere in midfield effectively (although his primary position is on the right wing). He has a great eye for picking out teammates in the final third to set up scoring chances; According to Opta Sports, he created 84 goalscoring chances in La Liga last season, and only 3 players created more (Ozil, Messi & Navas).
Additionally, he had more tackles last season than all of Arsenal's wing players combined, so he doesn't shirk his defensive duties, which ought to comfort our fullbacks a great deal. And if the quoted prices are correct (I hear £12m-£16m), it's an absolute steal.
I actually feel bad asking for more after the club have spent so much, however I would feel much more comfortable with another midfield signing, preferably someone who can break up play. Right now we seem to be counting on large contributions from Jack Wilshere (after missing a calendar year to injury) and Abou Diaby (his injury record speaks for itself), which is a real gamble.
Without Wilshere, we only have two proven players who can effectively play deep in midfield (Song and Arteta), and as the current midfield structure requires two players in that role, we're a bit thin (Coquelin & Frimpong notwithstanding).
Although I do think Cazorla will prove himself to be one of the best midfielders in England next season like Brett, I am also interested in seeing how Giroud will make his presence in England. Like our other signings, he has not played outside of his home country and is considered a late bloomer like former Tours teammate Laurent Koscielny.
The new additions have definitely improved our squad depth going into the new season although it is something I feel we can always work on considering the almost ridiculous number of injuries our players seem to have throughout the season. Like Brett mentioned, I think it would be unfair to place too much pressure on Wilshere and Diaby (both who have suffered long term injuries) and another addition in the midfield would be ideal.
I don't know if we can say for sure at this point -- nine months from now Giroud could be picking up the golden boot with a runaway 40 goals (fingers crossed) -- but I would agree that on paper Cazorla looks to be the biggest steal if you take into account his past accolades and the relatively cheap price we poached him for from Malaga. As a highly creative player he also addresses what is currently the biggest need in Arsenal's midfield, so I think that could very well provide him with the best platform to succeed out of all the new signings.
As Brett mentioned, really the only area that still needs to be addressed is one that was unfortunately responsible for several of Arsenal's conceded goals last season. Defensive midfield was a gateway for many goals conceded on the counter attack and while Alex Song's offensive contributions were admirable last season, you can't help but wonder what a more positionally-disciplined player could do to protect a back four that was too often left totally exposed by the midfield.
I will say I have always been of the opinion that buying someone to directly compete with Song for his position could do the team nothing but good: either Song would improve his positional play in his holding role, or he'd establish himself further up the midfield. Lack of competition for his position has definitely affected his concentration at times, in my opinion.
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