Thursday, 1 September 2011


In a reversal of policy
many observers have
been demanding for a
while, Arsenal manager
Arsene Wenger
abandoned his infatuation
with youth in favour of
signing experienced
players in a last-ditch bid
to bolster his ailing squad
on transfer deadline day.
Wenger has built his
reputation on spotting
potential and bringing
young players through
the ranks.
But with the French coach
under pressure at Arsenal
like never before, he was
forced to change his ways
in a frenzied series of late
trading on Wednesday.
In signing Spanish
midfielder Mikel Arteta (29)
from Everton, Germany
defender Per Mertesacker
(26) from Werder Bremen
and Israel captain Yossi
Benayoun (31) on loan
from Chelsea, Wenger
has plumped for
established players to help
lift the club out of a rut.
Arteta and Benayoun may
not be in the class of
playmakers Cesc Fabregas
and Samir Nasri, who
departed this summer to
Barcelona and Manchester
City for a combined
reported fee of around 50
million pounds ($81
million), but at least they
know their way around
the Premier League and
won't need a bedding-in
The classy Arteta, who is
reported to have cost
Arsenal 10 million pounds
($16.2 million), could well
be a shrewd purchase if
he manages to avoid the
injuries that affected him
last season.
"It is a big opportunity for
me and my family and I
think it is the right time for
me to take it," he told
Everton's in-house
television channel. "It is a
big challenge, a different
challenge, fresh for me
and I want to see myself
on the biggest stage, the
Champions League."
Reaching the Champions
League group stage, after
beating Udinese in the final
qualifying round, is the
sole chink of light in an
otherwise sorry start to
the season for Wenger's
In the league, Arsenal has
picked up just one point in
three games and was
routed 8-2 by Manchester
United on Sunday - the
worst defeat in Wenger's
15-year reign.
The Gunners have also
been hit by injury and
suspensions, leaving
Wenger's squad looking
threadbare and arguably
in its weakest state since
he took over. This coming
at a time when title rivals
United, Manchester City
and Liverpool have all
spent big - and early -
over the past two
months, while Chelsea
has added two creative
international midfielders in
Juan Mata and Raul
Wenger also signed Brazil
left back Andre Santos on
Wednesday, adding to
earlier signings of South
Korea striker Park Chu-
young, winger Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain, right
back Carl Jenkinson and
Ivory Coast forward
"I arrive here with one
aim - being a champion,"
Santos said.
Achieving that this season
may be a step too far for
Wenger, who now needs
to rebuild confidence in
his squad ahead of the
resumption of Premier
League action after the
international break.
In particular, Wenger
needs to sort out a
defense that is lacking
leadership and experience.
The arrival of Mertesacker,
a rugged centre back who
has played in two World
Cups and won 75 caps
for Germany, will help in
that regard, although
Santos is renowned for
his attacking prowess
rather than his defensive
The question remains
why Wenger, who has
failed to win a major
trophy in six years, left his
spending spree so late.

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