After the Window: Arsenal

Volumes and volumes have been written about Arsenal and their travails from February of 2011 through the close of the transfer window.  Since we're pretty sure you've read quite enough about "contending in 4 competitions to nothing in the blink of an eye" and "Nasri/Cesc/Clichy out" and "will anyone arrive?" that we won't cover that ground again.  Instead, we'll spend some time focusing on what we have learned from the first three matches of the season plus the final touches from the transfer window.

Early Season Analysis: Despite all the moaning late last season and into this season about Arsenal needing a "proven #1" in the net, Szczesny looks pretty darn good.  I'm not sure if it is possible to come out of an 8-2 loss with your reputation intact as a keeper but I didn't see much that he did wrong.  With defensive reinforcements coming, he should be a solid option and whose price is rock bottom after a big fat -14 last Sunday.

Hard to make many definitive statements on Gervinho based on his limited play in the league but my sense is that he'll be very good once he has 3 or 4 full matches to calm his nerves and get used to playing in a better league.  Frimpong and Coquelin look solid for younger players but any prolonged absence on the part of Song looks like it will lead to a major hole in the Arsenal midfield.

The other major question is Wilshere's health.  I've seen plenty of worry out there in the social ether about Wilshere being this season's Vermaelen (a seemingly innocuous injury that ends up hanging on all season).  If that ends up being true that would be a huge loss.  Otherwise, the roster veterans are likely to be similar to the players they have been in recent seasons which means the big question(s) come down to the impact of the new signings.

 The New New Arrivals: Gervinho and Jenkinson arrived early in the summer and have been covered elsewhere but the deadline day signings of Park, Santos, Mertesacker, Benayoun, and Arteta will doubtlessly have an impact in both real life and in fantasy.  I'm not going to spend a lot of time evaluating any of them (especially Arteta and Benayoun) from a strategic standpoint as statements about Arsenal's place as a "big team" or not.  We'll just spend time here talking about their likely production in fantasy this season:

Arteta: With Wilshere theoretically on the shelf the Spaniard should go straight into the line-up after the break is over.  His price is pretty high (13.50) for production that has tailed off in recent seasons.  A great deal of that historical production has also been due to his status as a no-doubt-about-it starter and his dominance of Everton's set pieces and PKs.  At Arsenal, my guess is that he'll start regularly but not all the time given the presence of Wilshere and Ramsey who are tabbed for similar roles.  The presence of RvP will also cut into Arteta's set piece points to some extent.  The question is whether his contribution from open play to an attack that will score more goals than Everton ever did will compensate for the shortfall in set pieces.  My guess is that Arteta will be slightly less valuable as a cog in the machine at Arsenal than he was as the big fish at Everton but still worth a price of 12 or so and even more on weekends like next weekend when he'll be at home against weak competition (plus, we always like a good debut).

Benayoun: What a perfect player for Arsene Wenger.  My sense is that he will be what Wenger pictured Alex Hleb being when he bought Hleb which is a classy utility attacking midfielder happy to come off the bench and make the incisive pass but not out of his depth if forced to start for a month consecutively.  This is ideal because we really don't know much about Ramsey at this point.  His own injuries have seen him play few matches and Arsenal's other injuries have meant that when he has started this season, he hasn't had a strong midfield engine (Cesc/Wilshere) to orchestrate the possession game that is Arsenal's bread and butter. With Wilshere (theoretically) getting back to health and Arteta arriving, we should know more about where Ramsey is.  If Ramsey is up to the task then Benayoun will revert to the role we have gotten used to him in as quality depth at a big club.  If it turns out that Ramsey isn't quite ready then Benayoun could well find himself as that greatest of things, a cheap attacking starter on a "big" team.

Mertesacker: I'm constantly amazed at the media's desire to question every move Wenger makes.  For years they've been calling out for Arsene to buy that towering player who can dominate balls in the air and anchor all of those shorter, more mobile defenders that Wenger tends to favor.  Well, now that such a player has arrived in the form of Mertesacker (who wins an incredible percentage of aerial ball as well as having 70+ caps for Germany while only being 26 years old) the media is looking for nits to pick.  He isn't the most nimble guy on Earth (at his height, who is compared to the Agueros and Messis of the world?).  He isn't a physical beast like Samba.  Perhaps not but couldn't Arsenal use another defender who is at least a little bit cerebral? I think that for the price, he's a great buy in comparison to guys like Cahill or Jagielka who are fringe players on a less successful national team than the one Mertesacker is a regular starter for.  That he cost half of those other guys price signals a return to Wenger's ability to find young talent at reasonable prices.  From a fantasy standpoint, he's a good buy at his entry level Yahoo price once he makes it into the system.  He'll start regularly and probably score between 5 and 8 points per match depending on the extent to which he can be successful getting attacking points on set pieces.  He has typically scored 1 goal per 10 matches for Werder Bremen.

Santos: I think of Gibbs vs. Santos as the poor man's version of Kolarov vs. Clichy (and yes, the pun was very much intended).  By all reports, Santos is an all-attack left back in the mode of Kolarov, Bale, or Roberto Carlos.  He has traditionally scored at a rate of about once every five matches in weaker leagues in Brazil and Turkey so he is likely to be a fantasy favorite when he plays and that's the big question.  How frequently will he play?  Is he a back-up starter/late-game attacking option in Wenger's eyes or is he meant to be the starter given that Gibbs is fragile and inexperienced.  Based on what I've seen and heard, if it is the former and Santos starts then Arsenal's formation likely tilts to the left a bit with Santos playing fairly high and Sagna being given less freedom to dash forward.  This would make Santos essentially a midfielder listed as a defender which we always like.  We'll have to watch and see what happens but if Santos is going to start regularly you have to like him as much as if not more than a player like Riise from Fulham.

Park: I'm sure I saw him play at the World Cup but I can't say he stood out for me enough to remember having seen him.  With Bendtner gone and Chamakh's early success seemingly a mirage, Park will be the next one thrown into the "late-game instant offense"/potential RvP injury replacement role.  Not likely to be a fantasy factor unless/until RvP is out for a stretch of matches.  We'll just have to monitor his substitute/Cup appearances until then to see what we think of him in that role.

Existing Squad Downsides:  Obviously Koscielny will see less time and will be worth less to fantasy owners.  Gibbs' status as a great bargain is in question with competition for his spot but the outcome there remains to be seen.  Finally, we'll have to see where the value lies in the middle of Arsenal's midfield between Wilshere, Arteta, Ramsey, and Benayoun - other than Arteta there wasn't a ton of proven fantasy value there to start with so it is hard to say that any long term value has been lost in the Arsenal midfield, just that there are now questions about two potential value buys (Ramsey and Wilshere).


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  2. andre santos is the only corinthians player i have ever liked which includes ronaldo, roberto carlos, tevez and mascherano

    he played really average in the copa america, but so did the whole brasilian team. even daniel alves was pulled after two games because they kept scoring on alves and santos's sides, but when maicon came in, they scored on him too. so it is a system malfunction not andre santos and dani alves. andre santos is a great dead ball taker and great crosser of the ball. chamakh should be starting these games next to van persie to take advantage of the balls in the air. during the copa america neymar took all of the kicks for brasil and produced zero chances, let alone goals in 5 games and andre santos took two kicks which resulted in pato hitting the post and a miraculous save kept out the second one. he is ten times better than neymar but the coach is too enamored with the mohawked striker.

    if andre santos takes all of the left sided kicks, arsenal will have many more chances.

    i think mertesacker will come in and pull a vermaelen and get 4 goals right away. with van persie's corner kicks, mertesacker will be great.

    arteta and benayoun are not exciting fantasy picks for me.

  3. Anonymous6:44 PM

    Yes am interested in Santos and ..serker straight awayYes am interested in Santos and ..serker straight away

  4. Park played really good in South Koreas match today. hattrick and some really good goals. first one was great technique

  5. Anonymous3:01 AM

    More of the same for other teams! That was a good bit of fantasy-relevant analysis.



  6. don't forget their most expensive signing Oxblade

  7. Daniel4:46 PM

    Nice analysis; it be interesting to read a similar one to other clubs -- especially the clubs which have made significant progress (QPR, Liverpool, Bolton). I would have added Fulham if they had secured Gignac (I would LOVE to see him play in the EPL -- as a Spurs fan I wouldn't mind him there in place of Pav, for example).

    As far as fantasy options go any advice on the following:

    I have just under 7 points (yahoo format) for a defender and was wondering between Santos, Coates, and Riise.
    The first two seem more interesting and the latter will probably play more consistently. Anyone I'm forgetting? Thoughts?

  8. Redfordio9:58 PM

    I am not sure why you see ramsey as a competition to Arteta. The guy is really mediocre and I don't think he belongs to the starting XI of a team like arsenal

  9. Anonymous1:55 AM

    @Daniel, i believe Liverpool has coped well defensively, so i'd leave Coates alone for now, Agger has been good.

  10. Anonymous6:50 AM

    Replying to the ramsey not as good as arteta comment.

    Personally i feel the whole article really overrates Arsenal. From February onward they have been the 14th best team in the EPL. Appalling record.

    Worst Arsenal team for 25 years in these past 6 months.

  11. Anonymous9:45 AM

    I agree @Anon 6:50AM

    I too find everybody overating arsenal. as soon as new players come in, almost all went for mertesacker and santos. Mertesacker might score with his tall figure and santos would be a good left attacker but both could be failures on their debuts despite the easy matchup. I think we should go for more consistent players who rack up reasonable points on average like dzeko, bfay.

    my team
    santos brown briggs
    silva bfay walcott nasri
    kun dzeko mata

    no rooney didnt get barndoor and too expensive for retail price. I have 2.06 left in bank. Do comment on my team

  12. Daniel10:11 AM

    As an aside, does it seem like Yahoo is placing a lot of players as forwards that could arguably be midfielders?
    The way it's going, if they were to be added now I wouldn't be surprised if Bale, BYAF, Dempsey, Malouda, etc, were listed up front.

    There seem to be a dozen or so forwards this season that I wouldn't mind using but have trouble digging up a fourth mid (for a reasonable price). Last season was the opposite where I would've gone 3-6-1 if it had been allowed...

  13. Anonymous5:48 AM

    What do you think about Walcott. In Fantasy EPL he's a midfielder worth 9.0. Isn't he guaranteed to score some points if he stays fit?

  14. Anonymous10:54 PM

    Why cannot the Arsenal medical team keep a player fit for anything longer than a week ?

    Now, all we need is for Van Persie to injure himself and that it is it, curtains for Arsenal before September