Arsenal: No Replacement for Alex Song Will Hamper Gunners' Title Challenge
The transfer window is officially closed and Arsenal fans will have a variety of emotions in the coming hours.
Arsenal's transfer window was okay, but not great, and the club is unlikely to be a significant title-challenger with its current squad. If getting a Champions League spot is the ambition then Arsenal will do fine but winning the Premier League is another thing.
Getting far in the Champions League will be just as tough but the club could grab silverware domestically through cup competitions.
The transfer deadline day came and went with the Gunners only dealing in the departures department where transfers are concerned. As reported on Arsenal.com, both Nicklas Bendtner and Ju Young Park went on loan to Juventus and Celta Vigo respectively while no new players came in.
Though Arsene Wenger and his superiors can't be completely bashed for the club's transfer movement this summer—they did sign some good replacements for Robin Van Persie and held onto Theo Walcott after all—there is still the feeling that what they did wasn't enough.
The Gunners' offensive depth and quality is among the best in the league and, for the most part, the midfield is solid as well. Where Arsenal is weakest is in the defensive midfield position and the defense.
The big problem moving forward will be the club's failure to replace Alex Song. The Cameroonian's departure leaves the club without an experienced defensive midfielder and that will be a significant factor against some of the attacking talent the team has yet to face.
Song may not have been the most disciplined defensive midfielder but he was the most physical presence for the club in the midfield. The Gunners would have done well to sign a naturally defensive-minded midfielder to allow the attack to flourish and secure the defense in the process.
Arsenal's defense looked solid against the likes of Stoke and Sunderland but those teams were set up defensively and the duo of Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta weren't tested too much in open play.
Arteta is disciplined, and players like Francis Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong and so forth can do a job, but when teams like Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester United and so forth come to town they will face a much tougher task.
Was Arsene Wenger right not to replace Alex Song?
Though I'm generally not a fan of statistics, one look at some statistics presented by WhoScored.com shows that some of Arteta's defensive statistics aren't far off Song's.
In terms of tackles per game Song had 2.9 and Arteta 2.5; and in relation to interceptions both players had 1.9 interceptions per game. That leaves the players among the top 50 in the league in each category and no other players in the team outside of natural defenders had similar statistics.(h/t WhoScored.com)
With those figures in mind the Spaniard could be the ideal replacement for the Cameroonian—but who, then, would replace him? The physical presence would still be missing and Arsenal will need it when the big games come.
Considering the club let in 49 goals, more than teams like Sunderland, Everton and Tottenham, those statistics still don't mean a lot. Can Abou Diaby or any other players provide similar cover? They will have to do that and better if Arsenal wants to really mount a challenge.
With the transfer deadline gone the Gunners' season can get on in earnest but they really should have signed a defensive midfielder. The club did show some ambition with signings but the departures, namely Song, have left the club almost in the same position as it was at the beginning of last season.
Defense will continue to be the main worry for the club, especially if the likes of Thomas Vermaelen and/or Laurent Koscielny are out for long periods.
Arsenal's transfer window is over and the club made some positive moves, but lack of movement in one area could still cost them during the season.
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