Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports


Better Welbeck Than Nothing, But Where’s the Defender?

A year ago today, Arsenal surprised everyone and brought in Mesut Özil on the last day of the transfer window. This time, there was a whole lot of worrying that nothing would get done. Absolutely nothing was happening for a long time. The only confirmed news was that seldom used Ignasi Miquel had left on a permanent deal to Norwich City and the even more seldom used Ryo Miyaichi was going on loan to FC Twente. But then, news emerged that Danny Welbeck was signing with Arsenal. It took until nearly two hours after the deadline had passed for the news to be officially confirmed, but much to many supporters’ relief, Manchester United’s Welbeck was officially added to the front line.

Between forwards, center backs and defensive midfielders, it seemed Arsene Wenger had a lot of work to do on the final day. But instead, we all woke to the news that he was off refereeing a charity match in Italy. Say what you want about Jose Mourinho, but he never would have done that. Had Wenger not added a single player today, the criticism for his whereabouts on such an important day would have been through the roof.

Welbeck is certainly a welcome addition to the squad in my opinion. All throughout the day, I read a lot of Arsenal fans saying he isn’t good enough, or that they don’t want him. But I disagree. He is an experienced international, one who will be comfortable playing with the other English players immediately, and he can score goals. He is no Luis Suarez. But he is no Yaya Sanogo either.

But what most people don’t immediately think about with Welbeck is that he remains a young talent. He is only 23 years old. He has not yet reached the years when he should play his best soccer, and hopefully that will come at Arsenal. I am a fan of the long term deal he signed rather than the loan move that was reported for much of the day. A loan move would have just created the same problems next summer. But this permanent deal gives Arsenal another international up top for the foreseeable future.

His style of play differs from Oliver Giroud, as he isn’t the big physical number nine. At United, he rarely played as a lone striker due to their system and plethora of attacking talent. But he is no slight figure, and should be able to adapt to  the target role. His best attribute is his propensity for poaching goals in the box. Unlike Sanogo and Giroud, Welbeck’s touch actually improves in front of goal, and he can be relied upon for goals.

Welbeck was a key component of the United team that won the Premier League two seasons ago, so he certainly has experience winning big matches. Acclimating to the stresses of The Emirates Stadium shouldn’t be a problem for him either. He will be ready to step into the side right away, and will be counted on to score goals immediately, as the month of September will be a real challenge for Arsenal.

I know many people wanted another superstar addition today, but Welbeck will have to do. It was a necessary move that should pay dividends quickly, even if he isn’t a player of Mesut Özil’s stature. And let’s not forget that Arsenal got their superstar earlier this summer. Remember how excited we all were when Alexis Sanchez signed? Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina and Calum Chambers are no slouches either.

I am a little surprised that both Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell are still Arsenal players. They haven’t got much of a chance thus far, and don’t seem to have Wenger’s trust. I hope they get a chance to prove themselves, because they could be wasting important years of their respective careers on the bench this season. But their continued presence in the squad does give Wenger more options in the final third.

So as a whole, this transfer window has to be one of Arsenal’s best in recent memory. There weren’t any high profile departures, and Wenger brought in five great players. The only problem is that he failed to address the obvious needs at center back and in defensive midfield. It’s asking a lot of his squad to go through an entire campaign with only three center backs, but that’s what is going to have to happen. Maybe Wenger will come to his senses in January and strengthen the side then, but for now, we need to pray there aren’t any injuries on the back line. And I’m sure we’ll hear plenty every time Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini mess up.

On a lighter note, by far the most enjoyable part of today’s transfer activity was following the interactions between CNN pundit and Arsenal fan Piers Morgan and the Manchester Airport. I find it incredibly funny that someone running the airport’s Twitter feed decided to troll Arsenal fans. If airports can now have online personalities, we’ve created an entertaining world.

Now that the transfer window is over, we can all stop reading The Mirror, The Daily Mail, and all those other awful British tabloids that rarely report the truth. At least until January, we can focus on the players we have rather than those we don’t. Let’s hope this squad is good enough.