Where are the gaps? All 7 of Arsenal’s summer arrivals assessed

Our window assessed by Gurjit

On conclusion of the transfer window I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the business we have done so far. The gaps in the squad have been fairly apparent for some time so let’s assess how well we have plugged them, what has been missed, and a few words about how they might fit in.

What I would add is that It’s important to remember that this is the real world and not FIFA (or Chelsea it seems), so if we are realistic we were always going to be left short in some areas of the squad, as it would be better to not recruit at all than recruit badly. I’m also very much a fan of signing choice older players, as experience is something that appears to be underappreciated in the modern era – this is however another area where we have to be careful and really consider what league the player is coming from, and how long they will be able to help the team.

Elneny – not a transfer but given his time out on loan and his re-establishment into the first team, I thought it worthwhile to bring him up. Elneny gets a lot of stick for his style of play from fans, but we ought to remember what he is and that is not a creative midfielder. Whilst I don’t think he will add loads of value to the team this season, as a player who can come on, recycle the ball and have a tidy game he is a useful option to have in the middle of the park depending on opposition.

Ceballos – Loan. This is a good move from Arsenal especially when we consider his form at the end of last season and what he can bring to the team. It is still a concern for me how consistent he is and I’m hoping to be proved wrong and I’m especially interested to see how he will fit into our midfield (on which there will be some words later).

Gabriel – Transfer. I didn’t really know too much about this guy before he came in and I wouldn’t trust any supporter who said he did. I read a little story about him and how he struggled to establish himself as a first choice centre back in his previous teams, and how this meant hard work and taking his chance when he got it. This says to me that we have brought in a very committed player and after watching his first few games I have to say that so far I’m fairly content so far. He had a wobble at the start of the Fulham game and I was in an almost “here we go again” mind-set, but since then I’ve not had cause to complain and I’m looking forward to seeing him in the side.

Saliba – Transfer. He has finally arrived after his loan last season and there was talk of him going out again. As things stand he is staying (domestic window still open) and that could well be a good thing. I’d urge fans not to get carried away and be expecting him to be starting in the league – he is a young player from the French league and will not be able to cope if thrown straight in. I’m looking forward to seeing his development but I suspect that this season, unless something drastic happens, we will mostly see him feature in cup games. This is not a bad thing however and given the amount of CB’s we have, I don’t see the need to rush him and risk stunting his development.

Partey – Transfer. The big one that we’ve all been waiting for. Atletico are an extremely disciplined, defensive and tough to break down team, and Partey was at the heart of the midfield. Sounds like something we need, right? We’ve been lacking a Defensive Midfielder for a long time and although I’ve not seen a lot of him, what I can say is given the team he is from and the type of player he is, he is going to add something to this squad that is very much needed.

Willian – Free Transfer. This has been one to divide fans and rightly so, given he is an ageing player who we have signed on a contract which can easily been seen as too long. I think Willian is a great addition to the squad as he brings creativity, experience in the league and competition to the wings – but only for one season. I could be proved wrong but this feels like a mistake as I can’t see him being an important player for more than a season.

Runarsson – Transfer. I can’t say too much about this guy, but hopefully we will get to see a bit of him in our cup games. After the departure of Martinez we did not need to spend our funds on an expensive well known goalkeeper, so this should be a wise move providing our scouts know what they are doing.

Centre back gap – this depends on formation, however I think that in realistic terms we have plugged this gap as well as we could considering our budget. I am expecting for most games we will expect to see a choice from (or all of) Gabriel, Holding and Luiz. With our teams defensive performances improving towards the end of last season, and with our improvement at the base of midfield I am expecting much better from our back line this season.

Midfield gap – defensively we should be sorted, creatively we still have a gap and this has dwelled on me a little – this is because I can’t figure out how we will be lining up to give us the best balance. My best guess at this point is that, form allowing, both Partey and Xhaka will start at the base to give the attacking midfielder more freedom to run the game and advance up the pitch. Who that will be is somewhat questionable as Ceballos did not perform well there last season and has done much better when playing deep. I strongly suspect that we will see Ozil feature there at least a little this season, and I don’t see why he shouldn’t be given the opportunity. What has been said repeatedly is that Ozil is a luxury in a team that is well set up to do the defensive work around him – so now I am more than a little curious about our midfield as we should have that safethy net now. Plenty may complain about my mention of him, however one of the biggest gaps in our side is creativity and it has to come from the current squad.

Winger gap – I wouldn’t have called this a significant problem but we do not have quite the level of quality out wide as we need. Saka is great but young, Nelson has been underwhelming and Pepe has struggled to find his feet. Some experience and quality will not go amiss – though again, not for more than one season! Personally I would have liked us to do something a little different and pick up Benrahma as he should provide a different kind of goal threat and attitude.

With the above in mind, and not putting too much on not getting Aouar I would say that as we have made good acquisitions at CB and DM (Partey is a hugely significant signing) this has been a good window overall. 8/10.

What do you think of our transfer business?



  1. Well said by admin.. For me one thing arsenal must adapt to, and that is chasing the opponent and disallow them spaces to shoot. They should also adapt to the collective defending if they want to do anything better or competing for any trophy. Arteta is trying but he needs to commit the players to play aggressive football.

  2. The article is fine, but honestly, i don’t think you actually see how good Elneny is, he shields the back 4 extremely well, and I’m certain he’ll be 1st choice with Partey deep midfield, and if you are keen, he would have been the main DM with Xhaka and Ceballos playing on rotation, with partey in, ceballos n xhaka will play more advanced roles freely, Elneny’s style of play is like gilberto silva, invincible wall, you cover angles and therefore force the opponent to recycle the ball, e.g the league game against liverpool, if it wasn’t for his presence, we would have been scored more goals, fact! reason why he was not! subbed but xhaka was, and reason why ceballos was subbed in the sheffield game and he wasn’t, he is key! and i even highly doubt partey got the same stamina or any arsenal player has than him, reason why too Arteta loves him and reason too, if he isn’t in the lineup e.g the west ham game you can feel his loss in the game, that’s the kind of impact! he’s made, please analyze his game and take his stats in his role, you’ll appreciate him more, otherwise, not a bad transfer window for us gooners 💪

    1. Exactly my thought…too many have cemented the image of old elneny thus failing to accept his improvements.

  3. Good Article, I just so eager to see Saliba play. I know he has had some personal issues which Eddie mentioned and maybe some physical readiness issues as well. But boy oh boy this kid is a talent. When he is fit and plays regularly Arsenal fans will realise he is next Varane. With him and Gabi as our CBs we will have even better pairing then Rio and Vidic. I don’t know why but the all the defenders we have signed in last few windows Saliba, Gabi and Tierney just make me so excited. Tierney is already proving he is worth every single penny we spent on him and Gabi looks like an excellent buy as well. Attack wins you matches but defence wins you titles.

    1. Saliba, losing his mother recently, leaving family and friends, moving to another country with a different language and culture and joining a high profile club with high expectations is a lot for a young man.
      As you state Mohsan, handled correctly he, Gabriel, Mari, Marapopolous and Holding make the future Arsenal CB situation look strong.

  4. The season is looking brighter, particularly when first Mari and then Martinelli return. All players bought have improved the squad, with Thomas Partey a potential game changer.
    Thomas Partey is a box to box midfielder in the Patrick Viera mould, not a DM. Therefore Arsenal still needs a specialist DM similar to Gilberto Silva. Soumare may be worth tracking in the future, because of his age and potential.
    The Championship window is still open and a solid DM may be available in that competitive league. Matt Grimes of Swansea City comes to mind.
    In the meantime Elneny and Xhaka will have to suffice and may flourish along side Partey. Also on return from injury Calum Chambers is an option, given his good performances at DM when on loan at Fulham.
    I am disappointed Arsenal didn’t go for Doucoure or Marc Roca, who went for £20M and €20M respectively.
    Arteta has various options as CAM and it will be interesting to see how the midfield unfolds
    Max Aarons from Norwich City a young fullback, who can play left or right side is still available and would strengthen defense and wide attacking options, as he is an excellent crosser.

    1. Elneny will not merely suffice in my opinion, he will be the DM with Partey as B2B. As someone who has only watched Arsenal for around 10 years, I can say that Elneny at DM and Partey at B2B is a great prospect. If we had prime Santi now, this would be a midfield which would destroy and strike fear in the hearts of other teams.

      1. 👍 👍 Grandad, agree it will be interesting to see how Arteta now sets up.
        I am greedy and believe that Carlos Ancellotti has done great business in getting three midfielders for £65 million. As much as Gabriel looks a steal at £24 million, what does that make Doucoure for £20 million, a player I would have loved to see at Arsenal?

  5. What do you think of our transfer business?
    What we do with it will determine the grade. For now give it a 10 because Gabriel was a steal.
    I hope MA realizes that attack is the best form of defense .

  6. Decent transfer window. The obvious gap is the creative midfield gap we have left. Partey will be able to bring our attackers into the game more though, but he’s definitely not a playmaker. Ceballos can push up a bit more but not quite sure he’s the solution. Maybe if ESR can get fit he can get a shot in a midfield position. The squad’s looking good at the moment and I feel confident for the months ahead. Hopefully we can find another player available in Jan to help this squad become more complete.

  7. A good article Gurjit.You have covered the angles very well ,the only area where I disagree with you is your suggestion that we need another winger.To me Nelson has not been underwhelming , indeed he has impressed me in his limited opportunities which is more than I can say for Willian, despite me being a fan of his. Hopefully the very talented Martinelli will be fully fit in January to add another string to Arteta’s bow.

    1. Yes, Grandad. His Leicester showing portrayed a confident player who has got his mojo back. I back him to show Arteta that Saka and Martinelli are not the only attacking talents hat he should focus on.

    2. 👍 👍 Grandad, agree it will be interesting to see how Arteta now sets up.
      I am greedy and believe that Carlos Ancellotti has done great business in getting three midfielders for £65 million. As much as Gabriel looks a steal at £24 million, what does that make Doucoure for £20 million, a player I would have loved to see at Arsenal?

  8. Regarding Saliba. I know people are saying he’s young, moved to a new country and sadly lost his mother in May but Arteta has stated he didn’t have an ideal transition year. It’s the 1st time I have heard of any player needing to transition before moving club. Pepe came to us and went straight into the 1st team, as did Martinelli and Ceballos. All 3 are young and moved to a new country. Every transfer windows players move countries and go straight into the positions they were bought for.
    As for him losing his mother and loaning him back out to France (Rennes, St Etienne) so he can be closer to his family. There was talk of him going to Fulham or is talk of him going to a Championship club. How is that letting him be closer to his family!
    There’s something else going on. He wasn’t a Arteta signing. Someone mentioned in an other post Arteta is getting rid of the Emery signings although I don’t think that is the case. As Arteta said everyone starts with a clear slate.
    I think it could be one of 4 reasons. 1. Arteta doesn’t rate him and doesn’t see a future for him at Arsenal. 2. He’s having trouble adapting to Arteta’s style of play and tactics (playing out from the back). 3. He has confidence issues and beeds to go somewhere where the pressure (fans expectations that he’s the next VVD) is not so great. 4. He’s homesick but then how will loaning him to an English team help with that.
    Whatever the reason It’s nothing to do with transition.
    We now have (or will have) 7 CB’s at Arsenal. Luiz, Holding, Gabriel, Saliba, Chambers, Mari and Mavropanos out on loan. It was announced this morning we have signed Omar Rekik from Hertha Berlin. I right footed CB who will be joining in January. Saliba just happens to be a Right footed CB. Did we need to sign a 7th?
    Something is going on with Saliba. I just hope he gets his head down and works hard to get himself in the squad.

    1. NWL Dan, Emery didn’t have any “signings”, as he was supposed to coach those who the gang of three bought for him.
      There are too many conspiracy theories doing the rounds. Does anyone believe Arteta is the only one, who doesn’t believe that William Saliba isn’t a fine CB prospect. He is only 19 years old, still developing physical and emotionally!
      Omar Rekik is younger and has been bought for the Academy.

  9. I’m 80% happy with our transfer business. The signings we have made are quality signings and have strengthened the team. Gabriel and Partey (hopefully as we haven’t seen him play yet) are the rocks we needed.
    I would of liked to see a creative midfielder come in. He who shall not be named has not been included in the 25 man premier league list. Cellabos is inconsistent but above all is a RM player and I don’t know the terms of his loan contract but guessing RM can recall him back if they wished. Saka and Willian can play that role but they would be stand in’s. Willock, ESR and Nelson are not ready at the moment and need easing in.
    Maybe when Martinelli is fit he will be that player or he plays on the wing and Saka will be moved to the center. That being said at the present time we have no one cemented there.

    I would of liked a RB come in as well. Bellerin is again inconsistent. He also likes to press forward and is slow getting back into position and is inclined to make poor decision when tracking back. His final balls are ineffective also. I feel he is too comfortable and needs some serious competition. Cedric is competent but lacks pace and is susceptible with balls over the top.

    Aouar or Soumare should of been brought in as well but lack of funds and the inability to offload fringe players put a stop to that.
    I know Rome wasn’t built in a day so looking forward to the next windows to address what we couldn’t get in this one.

    Onwards and upwards. COYG!

      1. No. It’s released on 20th Oct I think. We have 2 many non homegrown players and need to leave 2 players off the list. The rumours are it will be him and Socraties.

        1. NWL Dan, rumours only, it could be Socrates and Kolasinac?
          Also Lacazette is another option in midfield, given how often he has had to drop deep in midfield to receive the ball.

  10. Gurjit: Great article. Your comment about Ozil is right on the money. Neither Ceballos (as he demonstrated) last year nor Willian who is more of a one on one player can replace Ozil. As a provider he plays best when he does not have to fetch the ball. When Santi was healthy Ozil excelled and now Parley should link the offense and defense to free up Ozil to be creative. I doubt though that he will be given that opportunity. If not, they should try saka in that position.

  11. I believe arsenal had a great transfer window.
    Since arsenal failed to bring in aour to fill the creativity void, don’t you guys think emi buendia is a good alternative and would be cheaper and have premiere league experience, like seriously the through balls he sends to teemu pukki imagine him behind auba. Just a thought guys if yoll think otherwise hit me up

  12. A great article. A good window, but I dont agree on the winger deficiency that is being mentioned. We have Pepe, Willian,Saka, Nelson, and Auba to play on the wings and Nelson is certainly a good prospect given his performances. On the part of creative midfielder, I feel Ozil should be given one final chance because there is no one presently in the Arsenal squad talented enough to take up that position. If Ozil fails, MA should train Saka for that position or play Ceballos/Laca in that position. Laca can also play in attacking midfield just behind Auba. All in all a good transfer window.

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