Arsene Wenger was under tremendous pressure to make signings last summer, following the scenes of last season which saw Arsenal’s stars celebrating a fourth place finish like they’d won the title.
Wenger did break a trend when he bought Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid for £42.5 million and the free transfer of Mathieu Flamini has turned out to be a masterstroke after it was initially criticised.
Add to that the exciting young talent of Yaya Sanogo and although the Gunners didn’t sign many players in terms of numbers, they have advanced in terms of squad quality.
Here are our ratings for the summer batch of arrivals.
Mathieu Flamini – A+
Flamini has been superb since he joined the club for a second spell.
He left AC Milan and when Arsenal picked him up for nothing the move was initially criticised as another example of Wenger not spending any money.
However, Flamini has become one of the most important players at the club making seven starts and one sub appearance in the Premier League to go with two starts in the Champions League.
He’s become the sort of midfielder Arsenal have been lacking in recent seasons, the player who gets aggressive in the holding role, doing anything to win back possession before offloading it to other players.
Yaya Sanogo – D-
Sanogo is another free transfer that Arsenal managed to pick up over the summer and he’s not had quite as big an impact as Flamini.
Sanogo was picked up as a free agent after he left Auxerre and he’s not really made any impact on the first team with just one appearance off the bench this season.
However, he has been a little unlucky, currently suffering from a back injury that he picked up while on international duty with the French under-21 side.
Don’t be surprised if he gets a loan deal away from the club over the second half of the season if he returns to fitness by the time the January transfer window kicks in.
With the Gunners likely to draft in additional attacking support to Olivier Giroud up front, that would push Sanogo down the pecking order, which is no good for his development.
Mesut Ozil – A+
Ozil has been outstanding since he arrived from Real Madrid in a deal worth £42.5 million.
He’s at his best when he’s allowed to roam in behind the main striker, looking to get on the ball and then create chances for his teammates.
His stats this season have been decent in the Premier League; two goals and four assists from eight games and he’s also weighed in with a goal and an assist from four Champions League matches.
If Arsenal push on to win silverware by the end of the season then a large part of the success is going to be down to their German maestro who sits in the middle of the pitch or top of the attack and pulls the strings.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald