After two turbulent summers Arsène Wenger must have been hoping for his new signings to find their feet rapidly. Even considering the loss of star performer Van Persie, and Alex Song, an everpresent in the midfield of the past few seasons, Arsenal have emerged from this period looking rather more balanced and refined than previously.
All but the most die-hard Arsenal fans had doubts when Wenger allowed both players to go without returning to market to add to his three early signings of Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla. Indeed, as is commonplace for the club, Wenger again balanced the books this summer rather than freely spending the income earned from the sales of Van Persie and Song.
However, Arsenal are performing well, and Cazorla and Podolski in particular have required minimal time to fit into Wenger’s style and pick up the rhythm. Both are key players in the squad already, and Cazorla works the playmaker role to perfection. In today’s draw against Manchester City he was almost untouchable in the first half, and was a focal point for attacking play throughout the game.
Alongside Diaby and Arteta or Ramsey he looks impressive, and the return of Jack Wilshere promises another tantalising partnership. His style and skills have allowed Arteta to move backwards into a holding role, screening the defence and holding onto the ball, distributing acrrurately. This has provided the team with a metronomic pace, and is another key reason for the improved balance in the starting line-up.
In the meantime Cazorla has consistently provided an excellent connection with the attack, in particular Lukasz Podolski.
Podolski himself has played fantastically well for the club since opening his scoring record with a well taken goal against Liverpool. Wenger has preferred him on the left wing where he provides balance and works the Arsenal way – cutting inside on the attack, whilst linking up with the full-back.
Both have a bright future at the club, and are a key reason for the improved balance in attack, rather than a reliance on one striker, such as Robin Van Persie.
Giroud is the obvious replacement for Van Persie, a strong centre forward who was the top scorer for Ligue 1 title winners Montpellier last season. So far he has struggled to get off the mark, and the pressure is mounting for this promising player. It is clear that he can deliver goals, however, there is a worrying precedent in the shape of Marouane Chamakh, another centre forward signed from France, who played with strength and could lead the line, but failed to perform consistently when his opportunities came.
For the moment Giroud still has time and his potential is evident, as long as his current effort is maintained he should be able to make an impact at Arsenal, but he will need to take his chances.
Overall, though the team is arguably not stronger in terms of superstar players, these three have added balance and flair to the unit, allowing the team to improve as a group. Hence the more refined and consistent performances from the Arsenal this season.
Time will tell how great their successes will be, but the current situation is positive.