Daily Archives: September 5, 2012
Last season, Arsenal’s early performances in the Premier League halted the club’s chances of gunning for title honors as Arsene Wenger’s side had a lot of ground to make. In the end, a third place finish was labelled as a “success”, as the Gunners fought hard to shove off the threat of Tottenham and Newcastle while Chelsea was far off the mark.
Other competitions didn’t bring much joy for the Arsenal faithful as well. The Carling Cup adventure ended in the quarterfinal stage in the hands of Manchester City courtesy of a Sergio Aguero finish. Arsenal was also knocked out in the FA Cup Fifth Round, after an embarrassing 2-0 loss to a rejuvenated Sunderland side under Martin O’ Neill. The club was a goal short of a Champions League fairytale finish but the moment never arrived as the Gunners bowed out of Europe’s elite competition despite a resounding 3-0 victory over their illustrious opponents, AC Milan. For once, defeat never tasted so good.
At the end of it all, it was yet another fruitless campaign by the Arsenal, taking its trophy-less tally to seven years. Arsene Wenger had acknowledged that the club was over-reliant on its skipper, Robin van Persie, and plans where in place to mitigate the situation. The fans saw the encouraging signs in the club and believed that with the right signings, Arsenal would become a force to be reckoned with yet again.
Shortly after the Premier League’s curtain dropper in the Hawthorns, football fans turned their focus to the European Championships, as it served as the perfect platform to get away from the countless transfer shenanigans. As expected, some clubs used the tourney as a scouting competition, as a host of players found new employers after the competition.
With the transfer window slammed shut, it’s fair to say that Arsenal did its business with transactions made for playing personnel in and out of the Emirates.
Here’s my take of the analysis of Arsenal’s transfer activity this summer with an in-depth look on arrivals and departures.
Manuel Almunia (moved to Watford: Free transfer)
After spending eight seasons on a nomadic spree with six different Spanish sides, Manuel Almunia joined Arsenal for £2.6m in 2004. In his early years at Arsenal, he played the role of second fiddle to Mad Jens Lehmann. He was termed as Arsenal’s “cup” keeper because he got his chances in the Carling and FA Cups.
His only major piece of silverware with the club is currently the last piece of silverware Arsenal has won, the 2005 FA Cup. His breakthrough season was undoubtedly the 2007/08 campaign were he notched up 38 appearances in all competitions and that was the last campaign Arsenal were serious contenders for Premier League honors.
Almunia had his fair share of good games but he was very poor in other games, that ultimately cost him his place in the team. He dropped down the pecking order and became a liability to the club. After amassing 175 appearances and 53 clean sheets in eight seasons, Almunia waved his goodbyes to Arsenal.
Transfer Rating – 10/10 (He was regarded as ‘deadwood’ and he had to go to free up the club’s massive wage bill. Thanks for the memories though.)
Gavin Hoyte (moved to Dagenham and Redbridge: Free transfer)
Errrr…A little help here.
This bloke played like errr, four games or so for Arsenal and never failed to blossom like his elder brother, Justin Timberlake…Hoyte. After successive loan spells in second-tier clubs, Arsenal decided to pull the plug on the bloke.
Transfer Rating – 10/10 (At just 22, he has a bright future ahead of him. Shame he couldn’t achieve it with Arsenal.)
Carlos Vela (sold to Real Sociedad: £4m)
The Golden Boot at the 2005 Under-17 World Cup in Peru, his hugely anticipated arrival at Arsenal, the work permit issues, the loan moves to Salamanca and Osasuna…Up stepped Vela to make his full debut in the Carling Cup fixture against Sheffield United in September 2008 which was capped by a scintillating display that saw the young Mexican bag a hat-trick.
The prospect of watching Vela play made Arsenal fans drool more than canines, but his steep learning curve hit a decline as injuries and limited playing time started creeping into the life of Arsenal’s chipper-in-chief. He was loaned to West Brom before finding a new lease of life in Real Sociedad. After 62 games and 11 goals for Arsenal, Vela chose the sunlight of Spain.
Transfer Rating – 7/10 (If he had gotten more playing chances, Vela would have been an immense player for the club, but his frame was not “built” for the Premier League.)
Denilson (loaned to Sao Paulo)
This lad arrived at Arsenal in 2006 as the next best thing but he couldn’t stand up and be counted when he was needed instead he chose to raise the white flag and has been sent across the Atlantic to play for his previous employers.
Denilson was ever-present in the 2008/09 campaign and averaged over 50 games for Arsenal that season but Wilshere’s emergence limited his chances last season. Instead of stepping his game up any time he was on the pitch, he became more disappointing leaving Wenger with no choice.
He probably feels at home in Brazil so I doubt if he’ll ever wear the Red and White again. Besides, his shirt has been taken by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Transfer Rating – 9/10 (He couldn’t stick around to fight for his place. He preferred to whine and chicken out in the end. Good riddance to bad rubbish)
Joel Campbell (loaned to Real Betis)
True confession: I only see this guy on YouTube and he’s one hell of a player.
I tried to watch him a few times when he was loaned out to FC Lorient but I’m not a fan of Ligue 1 as well. I prefer to watch France’s finest in the Champions League, because that’s where their true colors are exposed.
With Arsenal failing to secure a work permit for a young bloke that has amassed 15 caps and 6 goals for his country, we’ll have to watch his progress in Spain to see if he won’t be another Carlos Vela.
Transfer Rating – 9/10 (Even though he’s still unearthed at 20, Campbell still needs match experience out there before he can come and challenge for a place in Arsenal’s squad. His versatility is an asset though)
Benik Afobe (loaned to Bolton)
For those that don’t know, Afobe is a goalscoring machine…on a youth level though. Since joining Arsenal’s academy in 2001, he scored 40 goals for the Under-16s in the 2007/08 season, 11 goals in 13 appearances in the 2008/09 season, and 21 goals in 24 appearances for Arsenal Under-18s in the 2009/10 campaign, earning the award of Arsenal’s U-18 player of the season that year.
He hasn’t featured yet for Arsenal on a senior level but he has made a few loan moves for npower Championship sides.
Transfer Rating – 10/10 (Owen Coyle, a great man manager, has done splendid works on youngsters like Jack Wilshere, Danny Sturridge and Ryo Miyaichi. Let’s hope that Afobe will follow suit)
Ryo Miyaichi (loaned to Wigan)
Ryodinho as he’s fondly called was signed after a successful trail but work permit issues forced Arsenal to loan him out to gain valuable match experience. Feyenoord offer the young Jap a chance to strut his stuff, and was instrumental for the Dutch outfit, scoring five goals and making three assists in just 12 games.
Feyenoord failed to secure his services for another loan spell but the youngster was shipped to Bolton to undergo some alchemy from Owen Coyle. He made 14 apps for the Trotters, and he scored one wonder goal against Millwall in the FA Cup. Arsenal has sent Ryo on loan to Wigan, in his bid to gain some match fitness and invaluable Premier League experience.
Transfer Rating – 9/10 (Miyaichi stands a chance of playing at the very top level in Wigan, but his chances are a bit limited though)
Kyle Bartley (sold to Swansea: £1m)
Hugely tipped to be the next Rio Ferdinand, Kyle Bartley failed to impose himself in an Arsenal shirt. His only appearance for Arsenal was in that dead-rubber Champions League fixture against Olympiakos in December 2009. He has also secured loan moves to Sheffield United and Rangers before he was flushed out to Swansea.
Transfer Rating – 6/10 (In my honest opinion, I still feel that £1m was a bit minute for a player of Bartley’s calibre. Let’s not forget the fact that he’s young and English, you know how English folks command astronomical prices.)
Nicklas Bendtner (loaned to Juventus (Buyout clause:£5m))
Without any doubt, we all know that Nicklas Bendtner is the greatest striker that ever lived. The pink boots and chewing gum are some trademarks of a striker that took his chances when they came. Van Persie was out injured nursing his ruptured ankle ligaments with a horse placenta, Bendtner was out there scoring vital late goals for the club.
NB52 offered Arsenal dynamism in attack but drifting him to the right wing didn’t go down well with the forward. Meager right wing appearances changed to more bench time, and as expected, a cocky striker like Bendtner wasn’t content with just a place in the dugout. A loan move to Sunderland followed and Bendtner did well to score eight goals for the Black Cats.
He was flushed on transfer deadline day to Juventus, but it seems as if he’s not welcome there. Like we care.
Transfer Rating – 10/10 (Bendtner was tipped for great things at the Emirates, but he started acting like a brat and the club did the right thing to let him go despite the fact that he’s the world’s best striker)
Alex Song (sold to Barcelona: £15m)
Song joined Arsenal in 2006 from SC Bastia but he was loaned to Charlton shortly afterwards to get some playing time. With the likes of Gilberto Silva, Mathieu Flamini, Denilson and Lassana Diarra ahead of him, the chances of Song getting playing time were slim to none.
In Arsenal’s impressive 2007/08 Premier League campaign, Song watched from the sidelines as Fabregas and Flamini forged a telepathic understanding on the pitch. However, the Flanimal’s exit to AC Milan paved the way for the young Cameroonian, and he became Arsenal’s chief enforcer, amassing 48 appearances in his breakthrough season.
Song went on to become synonymous with a starting berth in subsequent seasons and his star shone the brightest in the 2011/12 season were he became a creative force for Arsenal, notching up 14 assists in the process. In somewhat surprising circumstances, Song was sold to Barcelona for £15m, and his exit has brought divided opinions among the Arsenal faithful.
Transfer Rating – 2/10 (Song was a key component of Arsene Wenger’s tactical setup formation but he was sold to Barcelona and no replacement was purchased. Arsenal has done pretty well since his exit, but we can only hope for the holding midfielders to be consistent all season long)
Robin van Persie (sold to Manchester United: £24m)
132 goals in 277 games. These were the figures of a player that was tipped to be a legend in the shores of North London. A player that has had his fair share of history with the club, from that obnoxious winger from Feyenoord to an exemplary leader on the pitch.
However, he questioned the club’s ambition and spat on his manager’s face. A man that has been more than a father to him, sticking with him through his darkest moments. All that didn’t matter as van Persie walked out of the Emirates without thinking twice to move to Arsenal’s eternal rivals, Manchester United.
Transfer Rating – 0/10 (Judas Iscariot had one more year on his deal and the club would have played hardball with him, but with Arsenal being a selling club, Ivan Gazidis the Terrible jumped at the chance to receive £24m rather than letting him go free, despite stating the latter. Arsenal has moved on….but what a shame)
That’s my take on the departures. Feel free to give your transfer ratings for each player.
I’ll focus on the new arrivals in tomorrow’s post.
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