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

Yesterday, 08:57

Middlesex hat-trick hero Toby Roland-Jones says the squad were always confident in their ability to become county champions this year.

Fri, 18:46

Middlesex dethroned Yorkshire in a thrilling finish at Lord’s to win their first County Championship title since 1993.

Fri, 07:35

Islington middleweight John Ryder believes a strong performance against Jack Arnfield this weekend could yet earn him a third shot at the British title.

Fri, 07:17

Following their encouraging 4-1 victory at Hull, which prompted Betway to lengthen Arsenal’s price to win the league title to 14/1, the Gunners and Chelsea go head to head on Saturday evening in what promises to be another fast and furious contest.

Thu, 18:33

Tim Bresnan’s unbeaten century kept Yorkshire on course for a hat-trick of County Championship titles – and all but ended Middlesex’s hopes of snatching their crown.

Thu, 15:17

As the dual meaning of the club’s name would suggest, Soccerscool FC is based around twin objectives – developing football skills and having fun.

Thu, 09:00

Islington BC’s Borys Feldman maintained his useful habit of edging close contests to seal a place in the London Development Championship semi-finals.

Thu, 08:00

Olympic bronze medallist Cassandra Patten was in Islington this week to encourage more residents to take the plunge at Ironmonger Row Baths.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

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