Arsenal bought Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla last summer followed by Nacho Monreal in January but who has been their best signing overall?
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is not particularly known for his preference to throw money at problems. He did however bring in four players of quality this season, totaling £52.4 million.
Lukas Podolski transferred from FC Koln in the Budesliga for £11 million – quite a bargain in relation to some of the sums spent on players far less productive on the pitch.
At 27 the German international came along with more than 100 caps for his country and his best attribute: the deadliest left foot since Robin van Persie.
He’s spent majority of his season on the left flank where he has not only contributed fantastically well with crosses and precision passing but he has worked hard to chase back and help out the left-back behind him. He’s proven his worth from free-kicks here and there as well.
Olivier Giroud transferred from Montpellier for £13 million and was then Ligue 1 joint top scorer. The 26-year-old Frenchman took quite a while to adapt his game to the Premier League and, in many ways, he is still in the process of find his comfort zone.
He’s made 41 appearances, scored 15 goals and made 11 assists which, like his German teammate is not bad at all.
Where he has struggled is in building an understanding with his teammates – too often he misreads the pass or makes the wrong decision at the crucial moment. You can’t fault his work ethic however, he has been getting into all the right positions and that bodes well for his future in North London.
He still needs to build on his confidence and master the art of controlling the ball with his back to goal – too often the opposing defender is all over him and the ball bounces off him. He needs to find an alternative strategy of dealing with the physicality of English football.
Santi Cazorla arrived from Malaga for £20 million and took to Arsenal like a duck to water. His flair and creativity immediately caught the eye and his technique on the ball went some way to fill the void left the previous season by Cesc Fabregas.
His vision and passing is exquisite and he is at his most dangerous when he drifts into the penalty area – his shot is, on its day, on a par with any other midfielder in the league.
He’s played 40 games, scored 11 goals and made 9 assists but his contribution to Arsenal’s overall season has been immense. Without him they would have struggled a lot worse than they have.
He seemed to become a little jaded around Christmas time and that is not surprising given the number of games he has been asked to not only play but orchestrate – he is the nucleus of the Gunners’ midfield trio and he is the source of almost all their creativity.
Nacho Monreal arrived in January also from Malaga for £8.3 million. He has made a relatively solid start and has kept his head down, worked hard and done his utmost to find his bearings.
He’s only made 5 appearances, yet he’s manage to score one goal and make one assist – if he keeps up that ratio Wenger will be very pleased.
He did make a slight mistake in Arsenal defeat at Tottenham but I think it would be unfair to criticize the player who just arrived for what was defensively a despicable display from the team collectively.
Winner: Santi Cazorla
image: © Ronnie Macdonald