Search

Why Arsenal should resist temptation to sign any more players this January

07:10 22 January 2016

Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny

Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Fuelled by certain media outlets and the new breed of fans, there is now an insatiable appetite for transfer activity at this time of year.

Clubs and managers are expected to devote all their energy to the pursuit of a frenzied recruitment drive until the very last seconds of January (or, on this occasion, the first day of February) as proof of their ‘ambition’.

And there is no limit to the demand for new faces, certainly at Premier League level. No sooner has a manager announced an addition to his squad than he is asked what others he plans to make.

The questionable implication is that signing more players is always a good thing. And so it was with Arsene Wenger last week.

The Arsenal boss confirmed the expected arrival of Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny, only to be bombarded with questions about who would be next through the Emirates entrance.

Wenger, fortunately, is too shrewd and experienced, as well as stubborn, to be swayed by that kind of simple, populist outlook. The Frenchman has long since worked out his approach to the January transfer window – and it has largely been successful.

For the last decade, Wenger has taken a ‘needs must’ view in the winter, preferring to do most of his squad-building outside the football season.

That usually translates into a single signing at most, always a player who is needed to plug an obvious gap and develop into a valuable member of the squad long-term.

Nacho Monreal, signed from Malaga in 2013 and now established as the Gunners’ first choice left-back, is a good example, while Gabriel – who cost £13.5m from Villarreal a year ago – shows signs of following suit.

Sometimes there have been low-risk investments with mixed success – the re-signing of free agent Sol Campbell in 2010, for instance, or the small fees paid for the likes of Nacer Barazite and Thomas Eisfeld.

Ultimately, the £15m invested in Andrey Arshavin in 2009 – then a club record fee – could not be recouped, although Arsenal did get three good years out of the Russian before his form declined so alarmingly.

Perhaps Wenger’s most bizarre January signing came two years ago, when he opted to take Kim Kallstrom on loan from Spartak Moscow as cover for injured players – even though the Sweden midfielder was also injured at that time and could not play for another two months.

Although the Kallstrom episode was puzzling, it could hardly be said that it was a major factor in the collapse of Arsenal’s title hopes that season.

This time, there can be little doubt that Wenger needed to strengthen his midfield options – ideally with a player who was not injured – given the absences of Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Jack Wilshere.

We have yet to see what Elneny can do, but his record suggests the Egypt international has the pedigree to become a useful member of the Arsenal squad.

And that should be sufficient. There are no glaring deficiencies elsewhere in the group, no need for Wenger to try and complete another hurried purchase just because others think he should be seen to be more active in the market.

Let’s not forget, the manager was heavily criticised last summer for failing to bring any outfield players to the club, with £10m goalkeeper Petr Cech the sole arrival in north London – yet Arsenal are top of the table.

There is a great deal to be said for continuity. The fact that the squad remains largely unchanged from last season has worked to the Gunners’ advantage because so many players are so familiar with their team-mates’ game.

That has helped Wenger’s side to survive such a spate of injuries and to maintain their challenge at the summit.

Incidentally, it is also worth noting that their two main challengers at the moment – Manchester City and Leicester – have both made just a single signing so far this month, in each case a player for the future rather than a big name.

The message is a simple one: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington Sports News

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A visibly delighted Arsene Wenger praised hattrick hero Alexis Sanchez or his ‘killer instinct’ after his treble routed West Ham United 5-1 at their new home the London Stadium.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Arsenal sent a message to the rest of the Premier League after an impressive display of power and glory at the West Ham United’s London Stadium this evening by winning 5-1.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Islington cruiserweight Joe Seabrook has vowed to raise his game this weekend when he makes his second appearance in the Queensbury Boxing League.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Following another Alexis Sanchez-inspired win over Bournemouth at the weekend, Arsenal maintained their pursuit of the top three – and they will fancy their chances of moving a little closer to the leading trio when they face West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Two heads are better than one, the saying goes – and that’s certainly been the guiding principle behind the establishment of Blacksmiths FC.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Amy Andrew overcame a bout of flu – and some controversial judging – to clinch victory for Islington BC in their team match in Jersey.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mark Stephenson grabbed his second goal in as many games but Islington & Camden Under-14s had to settle for a share of the points as they drew 2-2 at Haringey.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Adam Saci led the way for Sobell Karate Club with a double gold medal success in the annual Portsmouth Open tournament.

PROMOTED CONTENT

If your favourite pair of shoes are on their way out, you might be thinking of throwing them away.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now