With a late twist that is fast becoming the norm for Arsenal these days, the transfer window slammed shut with the acquisitions of Radamel Falcao and Danny Blind for Manchester United while seeing the shock move of Danny Welbeck to Arsenal. A move that initially underwhelmed Gooners around the world, the England man’s signing represents the capture of what appears to be a player hungry for the chance and trust to make his mark on world football.
What kind of a player is Danny Welbeck? From physical appearance alone, the tall Mancunian seems like an out and out striker, a target man who could possibly do the job that Olivier Giroud does so well for Arsenal, holding up the ball and shielding it while more mobile players around him get into dangerous positions. And yet, we see that the Manchester United youth academy product is a bit more and a bit less than that. Perhaps not blessed with the vision and the broad physique of the Frenchman, Welbeck seems to still be a good physical presence up front with the key attributes of pace and power. If Arsenal fans last year were crying out for pace in the absence of Theo Walcott, they most certainly have it now in the form of Alexis Sanchez and now Danny Welbeck. The lanky forward also seems to like the variations of link up play that Arsenal often enjoy with their plethora of attacking midfielders.
The formation Arsene Wenger employs has changed during the last few matches into a sort of 4-1-4-1 which is ideal to field as many of his midfield gems as possible with a lone holding midfielder helped out by the lung bursting running of Aaron Ramsey from box to box. Though Mikel Arteta cuts a worrying figure against some of the more physical sides such as Chelsea and Stoke, the key difference this season will be his ability to distribute from deep. Where last season Arsenal struggled to break free of the chokehold some teams put on their midfield, this year they have Sanchez, Welbeck and a fit again Walcott for Arteta, Ozil and co to spot and set free when teams press too high. Indeed, in Sanchez and Welbeck Arsenal also have two of the hardest working players in the premier league with high stamina and work rates.
A potential benefactor of this sudden abundance of pace is Mesut Ozil. The German maestro is fresh off a world cup winning campaign with his national team having featured in every match after a slightly underwhelming season with the Gunners for his hefty price tag. With the pace and power ahead of him, odds are he will have a much more influential role in Arsenal’s quests for more trophies. While a possible solution for bringing out the best of him was to secure the services of a physically imposing defensive midfielder to protect and supply him with passes, Arsene Wenger has stuck to his philosophy of attacking football by simply ensuring that he has dangerous options to pass to when in trouble. It is this kind of strategy that could potentially bring out the best of Ozil as the playmaker has an eye for a pass like no other, conjuring mesmerizing through balls at will.
On a tactical level, the acquisitions of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez represent Wenger’s take away’s from the embarrassing defeats at Stamford Bridge, Anfield and the Etihad last season where his team was overrun with opposition forwards hounding Mikel Arteta and midfields double marking Mesut Ozil. This season they will be a bit more wary of doing the same, especially because of the raw pace that Arsenal have out wide, a kind of security or insurance for a break away in a split second.
Aaron Ramsey will also find himself a marked man after the stellar season he enjoyed last year with teams now wary of his well timed runs into the opposition penalty box. Whether Arsene Wenger will take this philosophy and put it into practice in the big away games or if he will employ a more conservative strategy by securing his midfield with a two man pivot will be exciting to see from a tactical point of view.
Still, with a very well stocked midfield, Gooners worldwide will be hoping for two key things viz. a lack of injuries at the back so as to not disrupt the excellent Mertesacker-Koscielny partnership and for Danny Welbeck to step up and rack up the goals he is certainly hungry for.
All in all, an exciting season awaits and this writer for one, is glad that the window has closed and silly transfer rumours (Hello, Nikola Zigic!) will be held at bay, at least until January!