The summer of 2011 saw more significant departures than arrivals at Arsenal, namely in the transfers of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, and Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy to Manchester City. By the final day of the transfer window the club had only strengthened modestly, bringing in Gervinho early on followed by the inexperienced Carl Jenkinson on a free transfer, and the young talent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton at the beginning of August.
Cue the 8-2 collapse at Old Trafford on 28th August, when a stretched squad and inexperienced team crumbled on the pitch after a difficult midweek Champions League qualifier at Udinese. Arsenal had managed to regain entry to the Champions League, but their league form was disastrous, finishing in the top four an unlikely hope.
Wenger and the club had to take action as the team entered some of the darkest days of his 16 year reign. Fans were calling for change, and Arsenal, not known for excessive transfer activity, went into overdrive.
Five new signings arrived in less than 24 hours, and the mission to save the season commenced. Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun, Per Mertesacker, Ju Young Park and Andre Santos were all brought in rapid succession, to the shock of Arsenal fans. However, successful were each of these last-minute signings? What was the impact of this last, frantic set of negotiations, and how has this shaped the club? I now aim to investigate their contribution to the club’s eventual recovery and third place finish and the meaning for Arsenal overall of this marked change in policy…
This is an excerpt from my latest article, continue reading the full piece here.