Everyone and there football obsessed dog (who cheers for Wolves, naturally) is having their say and one phrase seems to pop up when it comes to Arsenal's last day transaction: panic buying. Wenger was so spooked by the 8-2 "tie you up, bend you over, the secret word is 'banana'... not" thrashing at the hands of Manchester United, he finally opened his wallet and bought every warm body available to him who wasn't teen. Seriously, little breakdown on the quality of players, the strengths and weaknesses addressed and whether or not anyone, other than fans, truly agree with his moves.
Instead it is the death of the Wenger policy - buy cheap and young, build for the future - and a final omission from Le Professor that the media was correct all along. You need to buy and buy big. Well, I'm not buying it any more than I bought the idea that the dark day in Manchester put Wenger anywhere near the exit door.
First off, I'll agree to one point - Wenger firmly put youth policy on the back burner this deadline. From Mersacker and Young, who are 26, to the loaned Benayoun, who is 31, these are older, established players with a lot left to give. And given the crop that was loaned or shipped out, the oldest being Bendtner at 23, it does suggest Wenger knew he needed experience and quality to move the team forward in the battle for 4th+ this season is going to be. However, it isn't the death nail in his philosophy either when you take into account signings, such as Joel Campbell and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the sheer volume of loans Arsenal are a part of (Vela, Bendtner, Lansbury, Sunu, Campbell, Pedro, Bartley). The youth depth is alive and well. The older signings, to me, appear an adjustment by Wenger that the youth isn't ready this time around (unlike when Fabregas came through after Vieirra and the whole team responded after the departure of Henry).
But what about that word, panic. Are these truly panic buys? Well, one couldn't say he splashed the cash, truly, spending roughly 30 million on five players, which wouldn't have gotten the team two Narsi's by Manchester City pricing, which dominates the market. Some may question 10mil for Arteta, who surely has seen his greatest days already, but for a creative midfielder on deadline day, you aren't going to do much better.
Wenger also addressed most of the teams concerns in the last two days. He strengthened the weakest of defenses the team has seen in a long time with Mersacker and, maybe more importantly, Santos; plugged the gaping hole in the creative midfield with Benayoun and (wonderfully) Arteta to help the Ramsey, Wilshire, Song connection along and even gave us one more option up front to go with RvP, Walcott, Gervinho and (yes) Chamakh. All the deficiencies highlighted by Man Utd were impoved upon with probably some of the better players available. Is this panicking?
Many ask if Arsenal were able to sign five players in two days, why did they wait until now? While it is easy to point to 8-2 as a driving force, how could anyone think that the 2-0 loss to Liverpool or even the dour 0-0 at Newcastle were equally as panic inducing? When you look at it, Newcastle is a team Arsenal need to beat and Liverpool main competition for CL and better. A visit to Old Trafford is always the next thing to a loss in any season, could the manner truly impact of the actual result Wenger's head?
I disagree. Humiliating as it is, it truly cannot drive one man (well, group, really) to change overnight. These deals had to be in discussion for a while. We've been on Mersacker for months and after the sale of Clichy, one considers it mind-boggling that Wenger couldn't have been pursuing someone to strengthen the position. I suspect it is more likely that the deadline deals were just the price of doing business - teams holding out to the final days to get the best price or convince players to stay. While I am generally surprised by the speed the Arteta deal came about, particularly with it not being in the media a lot, overall, these deals were made when they could. While none were the big name replacements fans wanted, there is no indication that those deals were even available and until I hear they were, I am inclined to believe that what we ended up with were the best options without offering to buy a new team for Lille in exchange for Hazard. Teams may have been able to squeeze some extra coin from Wenger, but the prices don't suggest it was much.
Or maybe I'm wrong; I'm certainly no insider. But when I look at the quality of players, many would make most teams in the premiership, and when I look at the price paid, I can't help but wonder if the real question is not whether or not Wenger "panicked" but why didn't teams take the "panicking" Wenger to the cleaners?