As we approach the business end of the Premier League season, Arsenal fans must be pinching themselves wondering whether or not they are still dreaming. Mikel Arteta’s side, after squandering their chances of Champions League football last season with capitulation in the final matches, set about righting the wrongs of the previous campaign by securing a top-four finish for the first time since Arsene Wenger departed the Emirates.
However, a run of good performances and some consistency away from home have them leading the Premier League table beyond the World Cup break and past the January transfer window, a month that could prove make or break for their title ambitions. Yes, the Premiership betting odds still favour Manchester City, and after dispatching the Gunners in the FA Cup last month Pep Guardiola’s side are starting to purr, and have the depth to make it a third successive title. But this group of Arsenal players feels different to the one from years gone by, and some smart recruitment has only made them stronger for the final stretch of games.
Balancing both Europa League football and a domestic title race is no easy feat, especially with the wafer-thin squad Arteta possesses. The Spaniard was quick to bolster a number of positions, and that could prove decisive come the end of the season. Read on, as we assess their transfer activity and see if any of the new additions at the Emirates will be worth their weight in gold.
Arsenal’s sporting director Edu Gaspar deserves big credit for this deal, with Leandro Trossard swapping the South coast of Brighton for north London in a £20 million steal. The Belgian is perhaps at the peak of his powers after impressing for the Seagulls this season, and joins with the versatility to challenge any of the front three, but primarily playing out on the wing, where he has impressed in the sporadic glimpses we’ve seen from the bench so far at the time of writing. Agile, direct and finally adding the end product to his game that was missing before, Trossard is what the fans had been screaming out for after moves for Raphinha and Mykhailo Mudryk fell through, and the attack finally looks bolstered enough to challenge on all fronts.
Although some fans might not be familiar with Jakub Kiwior, the young Polish defender looks to be a smart long-term investment for Arsenal, especially in line with Arteta’s transfer model. Arriving from Serie A side Spezia, Kiwior cost the Gunners £21 million and while he is not the finished article, he is capable of slotting in the current back four and adding cover and stability across both centre-back and left-back. Gabriel and William Saliba have solidified themselves as first-choice, but with both Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu struggling with injuries since their arrivals, there will be plenty of opportunities for the 22-year-old to announce himself to the Emirates fans.
While it seemed a strange move to sign another ex-Chelsea man given how Petr Cech and David Luiz worked out at Arsenal, Jorginho was a low-risk, high-reward move from Arteta, with the Italian making the move across the capital for just £12 million. Just 18 months ago there were talks of the 29-year-old winning the Ballon d'Or and having picked up the Champions League and won the Euros with his country, Jorginho brings a wealth of experience to a dressing room starved of major silverware. With just a year left on his deal at Stamford Bridge, he cost a lot less than some of Arsenal’s previous targets, but the space he takes from the injured Mohamed Elneny could be invaluable when Arteta needs to rest one of Granit Xhaka or Thomas Partey.