Arsenal headed into the New Year with injury after injury and a back line severely struggling. The main issues were defensively and we needed reinforcements at centre half and defensive midfield. With the signings of Krystian Bielik and Gabriel confirmed before deadline day, can we judge this winter window a success?
Bielik’s signing was a little underwhelming due to the fact that he’s just 17, made a handful of appearances for Legia Warsaw and was our first deal. We all couldn’t help but feel a little nervous with the lack of centre halves available and not many would have predicted the acquisition of Gabriel from Villarreal.
The lack of fuss in signing the Brazilian was extraordinary by Arsenal’s standards. We got him less than his £15.1m buy out clause, and even secured a work permit relatively easy. He is a developing player with a lot of potential and is almost the perfect signing for us.
He is someone who can learn and develop from both Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny but also push them for a start as he becomes more comfortable in England. But let’s hope his transition is smooth and he picks up English fast.
Bielik is a good signing for the future. He was available and we did what was necessary to bring in someone who look to push on. He was recognised in his homeland by our Polish scout and we managed to fend off interest from Hamburg this January to secure his services. The thought of training under Arsene Wenger sealed the deal for the youngster.
It’s incredibly cliché but Francis Coquelin really has been ‘like a new signing’. The Frenchman has easily atoned for the lack of reinforcing in the senior defensive midfield department and has confidently made the position his own for the time being. Recalled from his loan spell with Charlton, Coquelin has taken his rather fortuitous opportunity with both hands and feet.
Some superb all-action displays against the likes of West Ham United and Manchester City have seen Wenger retract from spending big in the window to entice Morgan Schneiderlin or William Carvalho to north London if you believe the paper talk.
A special mention goes out to 19-year-old Hector Bellerin who has made the right back spot his own in Mathieu Debuchy’s absence, which has lessened the need to bring in another full back. With Calum Chambers and new boy Gabriel able to provide more cover, we’ve been able to avoid requiring to do more business there.
A quick mention to the departures also. The Gunners farmed out Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell on loan due to the myriad of attacking options at Wenger’s disposal.
This first appeared on AllArsenal on February 3
Certainly it was a shame to lose someone of Podolski’s calibre but the German will only struggle for more game time with the return of several first-team stars, he clearly had lost the faith of the manager plus his wages were better spent elsewhere.
Sanogo will gain valuable experience at Crystal Palace and Campbell, who signed a fresh deal at the club before departing, was a sweetener in the Gabriel deal and will gain further valuable first-team experience with Villarreal.
All in all a good spot of business.