Arteta: Proven Player
And so it is confirmed, Arsene Wenger has finally lifted the meat slices from his eyes and seen sense.
It's taken five years and counting without silverware, numerous footballing lessons taught by Barcelona and a humiliation at Old Trafford, but the Gunners boss has managed to give up on his clearly flawed philosophy and bought some proper players.
It comes as a stark contrast to recent seasons which saw Wenger too stubborn for his own good as he attempted to replicate the total football of Barcelona with players that simply weren't good enough.
Young players with potential, for the future, is what he placed hope in. And as I do admire his attempts to achieve beautiful football with young, technical players, it was always clear to me that it simply wasn't, and still isn't possible, anywhere other than Barca.
Moreover, the signing of Mikel Arteta is a fantastic bit of business. The Spaniard offers Wenger exactly what he wants—good football. However, the difference between Arteta and Aaron Ramsey, for example, is age and experience.
The play maker is a proven Premier League player and has had years to perfect his game. He's an established midfield schemer. Looking around Europe, the biggest teams playing the best football all have one; Xavi at Barca, Schweinsteiger at Bayern or Sneijder at Inter.
They are the engines, the guys making the cogs turn.
So why then, despite admiring a good signing, am I questioning whether it is enough?
Because Fabregas and Nasri have left.
Wenger has left it too late to change.
It must surely send Gunners fans nuts—why has Arsene waited until his best players leave to buy more world class players!? No matter how good a signing Arteta may be, he is only effectively replacing Fabregas.
Arsenal may have just bought themselves a top six finish. But they won't get in the top four.
Look at it another way, imagine an Arsenal midfield three comprising Arteta at the heart with Farbregas and Nasri in more advanced positions.
It's no Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets, but that in my opinion is a better midfield than 95 percent of the teams in Europe.
With that, I honestly believe they could have guaranteed a top four finish ahead of Liverpool.
Top players want to be at top clubs who buy other top players. Fabregas and Nasri left for their own reasons, but the knowledge surely played on their minds that no world class players were going to be signed in the summer.
Truth is, Arteta wouldn't have been bought if they had both stayed. He's only been bought due to the mess Arsenal finds itself in.
If Wenger had signed this type of top quality player two or three seasons ago, players like Cesc and Samir would have had reason to stay.
So what now for Arsenal?
They must do what they can with the players they have. Stop the rot and achieve an acceptable finish in the league. Make it out of the group stages in Europe if possible.
Then, they must reinforce in the same manner as they have now. Purchase proven, talented players that fit the bill for the club, mixed with some young talent, instead of a full team of 'potentials.'
And dare I say it, but they need to consider the wisdom of keeping the Frenchman at the helm. Yes, he's overseen some of the greatest years at Arsenal, and yes, he's still a world class coach, but it's getting a little boring, a little too predictable.
The freshen up of a new manager and back-room staff would surely ignite a new sense of urgency into the club, which at the moment I believe is hugely necessary. The fear factor just isn't there. Teams that step onto the pitch against Manchester United, against Barcelona, against Real Madrid—they respect and fear them.
It used to be so at Arsenal. Not anymore.
It's time for change.