At the end of a summer transfer window where Premier League teams spent in excess of £1billion, it would be natural to expect the club that splashed out the most in that timeframe will look a lot different now the market has closed.
That club was Arsenal, with the deadline day acquisition of Takehiro Tomiyasu taking their spending to circa £148million.
Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Odegaard, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares came through the Emirates Stadium door earlier in the window, adding depth in some crucial areas to manager Mikel Arteta’s squad.
However, as Gunners fans pore over their purchases, it doesn’t feel like the team’s best XI will be getting too much of a facelift.
That’s to say the starting XI fielded by Arteta in the coming weeks for Premier League matches may not be too different from the XI the manager finished last season with despite a league-high outlay.
Of course, there will be the odd change. White, a £50million transfer from Brighton, is expected to make an immediate difference to the defensive fortunes of the team and at 23 years old he can be a pillar around which solid foundations can be established.
Tomiyasu may also be plugged in to play at right-back, albeit Arsenal do have options in the position in the form of Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who was convinced to stay in the capital after talks with the manager.
But elsewhere? It doesn’t feel as though there will be seismic shifts.
Odegaard is at Arsenal to stay this time, although he was in the team on loan last season, while the likes of Lokonga and Tavares – while showing glimpses of promise during Arsenal’s torrid start to the new season – are players seemingly signed with the future in mind.
As for Ramsdale? The early indications are that he will be the cup ‘keeper, but perhaps it wouldn’t take too many bad performances from Bernd Leno in the Premier League for that to change.
The signings made by Arsenal do point towards a long-term strategy and that may mean some short-term pain, like they are experiencing now, for future gain.
Additionally, Arteta may also be pleased if he can get a similar XI to the second half of last season on the field consistently the other side of the international break. Arsenal did pick up the second-most points of any team in the Premier League during the final 24 games of the previous season after all and they had the third-best defensive record in the division over the entire campaign.
Given the sense of angst that’s lingering around the Emirates at the moment, slipping into a groove like that may be difficult in the coming weeks, as the players are evidently lacking in confidence and the fanbase is anxious. That’s natural when the team is bottom of the league.
But a settled XI supported by some vibrant young signings, who can be rotated in for Premier League games and ease the physical burdens of a long season in cup matches, could be Arsenal’s roadmap out of their current mire.
Months and years down the line, the new acquisitions may benefit from this period, even if they aren’t playing Premier League matches week on week. They can be drip-fed minutes in the most challenging league in the world and feature without any real pressure, which can only aid their development.
Whoever is in charge of the team when they blossom will be the beneficiary. But results in the immediacy will need to improve for that man to be Arteta.
Source by Football London