Friday, August 12, 2022

Can the German and the Spanish be the missing link for Arsenal to win the title?

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After a long time, Arsenal fans are felling content at the end of a transfer window. The club has finally done some shopping that they can brag about but the question with Arsenal and Arsene Wenger is never about the shopping itself. It was always about the items needed which required to be bought. The manager has shown in the previous transfer windows that he is not afraid to splash the cash once the right player is up for grabs. The general frustration of the fans was more about the fact that there were areas of weaknesses which had cost the team in the past but the manager never seemed to address them. The more educated view of Arsene Wenger was based on the mere fact that the options available weren’t the type the club was looking for. There are a lot of things that goes into consideration when a player is bought by the clubs (at least some of them) in the modern day. Data Analytics and situational simulations have shown that they do predict the outcome with a far greater degree of accuracy and in doing so now managers and club managements are able to select players with lesser reputation than a superstar, based on the unique specifications applicable, who in the past would have been the underwhelming choice.

This summer Arsenal signed Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach and the transfer fee made the midfielder the third most expensive signing in the club’s history. Xhaka’s capture showed us how Wenger worked behind the curtains on the particular transfer initiating the process as early as last season when he personally called the player and made him aware of his visions about the future of Arsenal’s midfield. Then there were many other targets as the club searched for a striker and the sudden injury crisis at the back made the need for a defender an absolute necessity. After a long and anxious wait, with the arrivals of Takuma Asano and Rob Holding in between, The Gunners finally secured two signings in Lucas Perez and Shokdran Mustafi as a solution to their problems.

Perez is not the player a the traditional ‘big four’ of England would identify as their primary target mainly because he has quietly been under the radar with the huge superstars of La Liga in Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Benzema, Neymar and Griezmann, taking the center stage of the Spanish La Liga. The Spanish striker nevertheless is one who perfectly fits the bill for the need of the fans and the specifications that Arsenal’s gameplay demands in areas like pace, finishing, link up play, versatility, workrate, selfless attitude and experience. At £17.1m it was a piece of great business by the London club.

Germany's midfielder Shkodran Mustafi (L) and Germany's striker Mario Goetze vie for the ball during a training session at the training grounds in Duesseldorf, Germany on September 2, 2016 prior to the WC 2018 football qualification match between Norway and Germany in Oslo on September 4. / AFP / PATRIK STOLLARZ (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Germany’s midfielder Shkodran Mustafi (L) and Germany’s striker Mario Goetze vie for the ball during a training session at the training grounds in Duesseldorf, Germany on September 2, 2016 prior to the WC 2018 football qualification match between Norway and Germany in Oslo on September 4. / AFP / PATRIK STOLLARZ (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

 

As for their defence, Shokdran Mustafi was the chosen one, a player who commanded a huge transfer fee as well, of £35m. It can be argued that the club has paid more than what they should have for the defender, but then considering the present market it is still an excellent deal as Mustafi is a full-fledged international with great quality and pedigree. A player, who during his time at Spain, has made the highest number of interceptions in the Spanish league whilst being the stand out player playing for a team which conceded 48 goals in their 38 games and finished 12th last year is a testament of his ability to perform consistently amidst the untoward defensive settings of a team. Having spent 3 years in England is an extra advantage for the player who won’t be needing much time to settle down. All these factors make the fee more than justifiable and the player a much better choice to shoulder the responsibilities.

With the challenges up ahead, this time around it finally feels that Arsene Wenger has been able to find appropriate solutions for the problems which held the team back from crossing the final hurdle for some time now. It thus feels like the two new signings can really be the missing links which would help the Gunners get their hands on the long awaited Premier League title.

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