Cazorla and Sahin, Wenger finally fills the gaps
The departures of both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were a blow that in the 2011-2012 campaign Arsenal never fully recovered from, not only did they lose their inspirational captain whom had aided the development of young prospect Jack Wilshere tremendously but also in the form of Samir Nasri, their clutch performer, the man who made them tick providing much of the creativity that saw Arsenal finish the Barclays Premier League season with seventy two goals scored, second only to the eventual champions Manchester United. It is plainly obvious to all who follow English football and in particular Arsenal that the circumstances surrounding the loss of both Fabregas and Nasri left Arsene Wenger with very little room to manoeuvre in the transfer market last summer, now some would argue that Wenger would have known Fabregas would leave for a significant amount of time and contingency plans should have been in place for when the Catalan born midfielder eventually left the club however Fabregas had just signed a new five year contract the previous summer therefore leaving Wenger well within his rights to have confidence in keeping his player. The departure of Nasri also left Arsene Wenger with very few options to replace the Frenchman suitably with the transfer coming as somewhat of a surprise although with only a year left of Nasri’s contract it shouldn’t have. Wenger as a result of these two departures left much of his summer business to the closing hours of the transfer window with Park Chu-Young being brought in as the man to potentially reproduce the creativity of Nasri and Mikel Arteta whose transfer paper work only just made the deadline being brought in to try and replace Fabregas in an almost like for like manner. To a certain degree it was successful with Arteta having a noticeably impressive debut season at the Emirates with a string of impressive performances which culminated in his late winner against Manchester City, however the same cannot be said for Park who failed to make an impact in London at all with the South Korean international only managing to play one Premier League game throughout his whole first season.
Arsenal despite the adversity the summer months brought to the club still under the guidance of the Wenger managed to qualify automatically for the European Cup due to their third place finish in the Premier League which due to the fact at times during the campaign it looked almost impossible is a fantastic achievement. Wenger however has recognized that despite the impressive form of Arteta his midfield is still weak and lacking a creative spark, with this situation being made worse by the recurring injury problems that have plagued Jack Wilshere’s career over the past twelve months. This summer it has been abundantly clear from the outset that Wenger is unwilling to have another summer of panic in the transfer market with Arsenal agreeing deals for Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud from FC Koln and French champions Montpellier respectively, very early on in the transfer window. Whilst these signings have significantly bolstered Arsenal’s forward line there is still the highly likely possibility that last term’s top goalscorer Robin Van Persie will leave the club after declaring he would not be signing a new contract with the Gunners. Wenger however has surprised Arsenal fans by continuing to conduct his transfer business as the summer has progressed with the signing of Santi Cazorla from the financially troubled Andalusian outfit Malaga, all but completed with the Spanish midfielders signature expected to be made official either today or at some point this coming weekend.
Following Wenger stating “We will still bring players in” The rumours have not stopped with the Spanish media carrying the story that Real Madrid’s Turkish play maker Nuri Sahin was on his way to the Emirates on loan with considerable vigour. These two signings of Cazorla and Sahin would in my mind be the perfect purchases from Wenger with Cazorla able to fill the gap left by Nasri in terms of creativity and energy with the former Villarreal winger contributing nine goals and six assists in his debut season at La Rosaleda. Cazorla’s pace would prove to be an invaluable quality in the Premier League with potential link up play between him and Theo Walcott having the ability to strike fear within any defence. The deal for Sahin whilst still in relative infancy in comparison to the Cazorla transfer has the potential to be one of Arsene Wenger’s greatest moves as manager of Arsenal with the deep lying Turkish midfielder having the ability to play in the exact manner that Cesc Fabregas did during his time in London, Sahin having proven just what he can do during his title winning time at Dortmund has seemingly struggled to settle in at Real Madrid with manager Jose Mourinho using him only sparingly throughout the campaign with Sahin making just four appearances in La Liga in an injury disrupted season. Wenger still unsure over the short term fitness of Wilshere will be able to utilise Sahin in a midfield partnership with either Alex Song or Abou Diaby should Wenger want to choose a balanced central midfield partnership of one destroyer and one playmaker, with Cazorla playing further forward on the wing or possibly even just behind Podolski/Giroud in a ‘false nine’ position. Sahin’s outstanding ability to dictate the tempo of a match through his exquisite range of passing would bring a huge breath of fresh air to Arsenal with fans often complaining ab0ut a midfield lacking in both creativity and strength in depth, two things which will be significantly improved should Arsenal secure the signings of both Cazorla and Sahin.
With Sahin providing the creativity and controlled play in the midfield that was lost with Fabregas and Cazorla reintroducing the pace and willingness to take on and go past a defence lost when Samir Nasri moved to Manchester City, it appears as if Wenger has gotten the business done this summer that he desperately wanted to do twelve months ago with both time and circumstance was not for allowing him to do that last year. You cannot help but feel that with the addition of Cazorla and Sahin, Arsenal will be in arguably a better position than they were two years ago, with a solid number one goalkeeper now established in the form of Szczesny and the defence bolstered with the addition of Per Mertesacker last summer, it appears as though the creativity of Arsenal has been re-established with the signings made so far this summer and there is little evidence to suggest that Arsenal can’t challenge for honours in the upcoming campaign and finally end their seven year long baron spell without a competitive trophy. The deal for Sahin which at this point in time is believed to be a loan deal presents very little risk with Wenger having the option to not take up the option of a permanent signing should Sahin not have the greatest of seasons, and in addition to this, these midfield strengthening deals will take off the huge pressure that is on the shoulders of Jack Wilshere whom at just twenty years of age has been dubbed Arsenal’s saviour. The strain of this tag of responsibility has visibly taken its toll on Wilshere with the England international missing just over a year of football now due to recurring injuries and has appeared to have suffered another setback just yesterday which has cast doubt upon Wenger’s claims last week that he was on the road to recovery when the Frenchman stated “Hopefully, we will get Wilshere back playing for October.”
The signings made by Arsenal thus far this summer have shown a tremendous leap forward and a contrast with Arsenal’s shall we say reserved transfer policy of recent years, as previously mentioned the gaps left by Fabregas and Nasri appear to have been filled and strikers have been brought in to ensure Arsenal have more than adequate forward firepower should their captain Van Persie as expected leaves the club this summer. Whilst the deals for Sahin and Cazorla are still not officially completed it would come as a great surprise to me if they were not both Arsenal players before the start of the Premier League season on August 18th. Many have questioned Wenger’s frugal strategy regarding transfers in recent years however he has at the first real chance he has been given tried to replace the players whom have left the club and that is a credit to him and it will undoubtedly illustrate itself next season that it was worth the wait to replace both Fabregas and Nasri with Cazorla and Sahin.
Written by Chris Winterburn