Arsenal: Arteta’s summer signings proving a lot of people wrong

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal celebrate after the Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal celebrate after the Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /

The summer transfer window was deemed critical for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal. Coming off an second successive eighth-placed finish in the league, the pressure was on the Spaniard to remodel the squad and fire the club back up the table.

It was clear that the defense needed serious improvement firstly and Nuno Tavares was the first cab off the rank in an £6.8m deal. It was expected that he would play mostly as a backup to captain-in-the-making Kieran Tierney.

However, since Tierney’s injury, Tavares has started the last two Premier League matches and been excellent, to say the least. The transfer looks like being an absolute steal, and it is not a forgone conclusion that Tierney gets his spot back (we know he probably will) as Tavares is putting forth some seriously impressive performances.

Then there was Albert Sambi Lokonga. The Belgian central midfielder, like Tavares, was seen as a bit-part player and more of a cover in case someone gets injured. Well, the man in question, Granit Xhaka has got injured and Sambi has been putting in increasingly improved displays in his several games this season.

Mikel Arteta’s summer signings at Arsenal proving a lot of people wrong with Aaron Ramsdale and Nuno Tavares among the surprise transfer successes

Similar to Thomas Partey, Sambi is technically sound with the ball at his feet, physical, progressive and positive in possession. Against Leicester, the 21-year-old was defensively assured in the midfield along with Partey, with Arsenal playing Leicester off their pitch in the opening 25 minutes. Costing just £15m, he, like Tavares, is looking like a great piece of business again for Arteta.

Benjamin White was a curious signing. Arteta knew that he wanted/needed a ball-playing centre back to pair with Gabriel. For £50m from Brighton, it looked like a steep price for a defender. However, aside from his first-ever game against Brentford, White has not put a foot wrong.

Strong in the tackle and a great communicator, he has developed a fabulous partnership with Gabriel, and loves playing an integral role in building attacks. A fine addition to the team and one that has turned one of the club’s biggest weaknesses into one of its strengths. White is great positionally and is taking huge strides to justify his enormous price tag – and is looking more and more like the supreme defender Arteta knew he was getting.

Perhaps the best signing Arteta has made was with Aaron Ramsdale. Met with ferocious backlash, primarily because of his successive relegations with Bournemouth and Sheffield United respectively, and the £24m (£30m) price tag, it was seen at the time of an utter disaster of a signing.

Boy how millions of people were wrong. Since arriving, Ramsdale has been one of the best keepers in the Premier League. While he is a great shot-stopper, it is his distribution with his feet that has caught the eye. It’s Ederson-esque.

His ability to spray passes 30-40 yards to player’s feet was on show against Leicester, even though his saves got the most attention, and his distribution is something that Arteta values as he wants to add variety in how Arsenal play out from the back. Arteta clearly knew was he was doing when he signed Ramsdale, and since he got his first start, he hasn’t looked back.

His energy and commitment to the Arsenal cause has made him a fan favourite already. A real willingness to give everything he has for the shirt and show character along the way, something that quite a few players of previous years couldn’t say, has fast-tracked his almost cult status.

Takehiro Tomiyasu has been another signing that has hit the ground running for Arsenal. Signed from the Italian side Bologna, the Japanese international has been a rock at right-back. His physicality, aggression in the duels, and steadily improving ball-playing ability have seen him cement his spot.

While he did have his problems against Brighton and Crystal Palace, overall his play has been deserving of the plaudits he has received. Not a household name when he came to the club, Tomiyasu has been an under-the-radar signing perfectly tailored to what the manager wants.

Lastly is Martin Odegaard. Although he was on loan last year, the quality was there for all to see. So much so that Arteta sanctioned a £30m (£34m) deal for the Norway captain. His ability to pick a pass and drift in between the lines are a feature, but it is his energy levels and willingness to press the opposition which are something that we are not used to seeing from Arsenal’s previous creators.

Brought on to help Arsenal get a foothold in the game against Leicester and get on the ball, he has drifted out of the first team of late, but his talent is undeniable. For his price tag, ceiling and silky quality, he is a bargain. Arteta has hit the nail on every signing so far this season.

All have played incredibly well so far and with all featuring more than anticipated, Arsenal is somehow up to sixth and is just three points behind Manchester City in third. Arteta, and Edu, were ridiculed by many for these signings, but they have, so far, been justified with the selections as they have transformed this team and are improving every week. Since having his (near) full complement of players available the team is yet to lose.

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Credit where it is due, Arteta knew what he was doing all along, even if many of us didn’t believe it. Trust the process? After a shaky start and seeing where this team is now, you can’t not.