A new day has dawned and the sun is shining a little bit brighter in north London. For the first time in a good few years we can be reasonably pleased with the business that Arsene Wenger has conducted in the transfer window.
After a thoroughly unimpressive start to the season and a summer in which it looked as though we’d never fill the gaping holes in the team, things are on the up. Wenger has brought in strong cover in the three problem areas of last season – defence, defensive midfield, and attack.
The 3-1 annihilation of Watford before going into the international break signifies the beginning of our onslaught on the title. As of early September, we are at 10/1 in the Premier League betting to lift the trophy, but those odds could be significantly shortened over the coming months.
Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, and Santi Cazorla are already purring, and now we have some solid additions to add to the mix and a kind run of fixtures leading up to October. So let’s discuss our two latest signings and what they can bring.
Lucas may seem like an anti-climax for a lot of fans after Wenger had tried and failed to lure Jamie Vardy and Alexandre Lacazette to the Emirates, but for a reported fee of £17.1million, he could actually be a shrewd acquisition.
There is no doubt that the Spanish striker has been a late bloomer, and his standout campaign only came last year for Deportivo La Coruna. The 27-year-old scored an impressive 18 goals in 37 league appearances (see above) for the club that finished 15th in La Liga in the 2015/16 season.
Lucas is a versatile forward with an exceptional work rate, who can play as the lone striker or on the wing. This certainly gives Wenger a wealth of new options in the final third, as the deadline day signing could lead the attack. This could mean that Olivier Giroud may only be used as an impact sub to muscle through tired defences in the dying stages of games.
There is certainly strong potential for the man who has never been capped for the Spanish national team to flourish, with much higher quality players around him for support. Let’s just hope that in Lucas we finally have a man who can turn in the 20-plus goals required from the striker of a title challenging team.
Extra defensive cover became an urgent priority after Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista were ruled out for at least the first month of the new season. Wenger left it late but managed to secure a £35million deal for Mustafi, who should bolster the back-four considerably. This will give the manager licence to play a more creative player alongside Granit Xhaka in central midfield without said player having to take care of too many defensive duties himself.
Mustafi, who was part of Germany’s World Cup winning squad, made 133 interceptions (see above) for Valencia last season, which was more than any other defender in the Premier League. Laurent Koscielny managed 127. We kept 16 clean sheets last term and with these new reinforcements may be able to improve on that statistic.
It is fair to say that we call all breathe a collective sigh of relief. We have the cover in key areas now and there is no longer any need to fret over transfers. It’s time to focus on the season ahead.