The January transfer window is done, the dust is settling, and now it is time to try to figure out what it all means.
Arsenal brought in 2 players, but with both coming in at a later date. Arsenal had 6 players leave, 3 permanent, and 3 on loan.
For the players that came in, both are American and I really don't know much about them because I am a bad American and don't watch MLS. Matt Turner looks like a very good shot-stopper, maybe not the most aggressive sweeper, and with questions about his passing.
I like the move as a backup to Aaron Ramsdale. Sure he isn't a pure copy but if he had to play you wouldn't freak out. That is pretty much the perfect backup when you are happy with your number one, and I think Arsenal are because they made a big bet on Ramsdale.
Auston Trusty is another one that I have no idea about and sort of looks like a do a favor for another KSE team the Colorado Rapids and the player who wants to try his luck in Europe. On American Soccer Analysis g+ stat he looks very average ranking 83rd among 121 Center Backs in MLS. His radar looks better but also radars for center backs don't always tell you a ton about the quality of the player.
I will hold back judgment until we see how this one plays out but my gut right now is that he never plays a minute in the Premier League with Arsenal.
Sead Kolasinac to Marseille (contract termination)
Kolasinac's time with Arsenal didn't turn out like we would have wanted. His time in the Bundseliga made him look like a perfect attacking fullback and while he showed that at times he could be that, he was never able to do both attacking and defending at the same time. This season he played just 91 minutes in the Premier League and he wasn't really in the plans beyond deep emergency left-back or center back. I wish him the best in France.
Calum Chambers to Aston Villa (minimal fee)
I am not sure where things went wrong for Chambers as being the hybrid backup for Arsenal this season at right-back, center-back, and emergency midfield but it did. He seemed like the most obvious like for like Takehiro Tomiyasu replacement in the team but he never was able to be that. He was coming to the end of his contract (had an option that Arsenal declined) so getting a minimal fee makes some sense, even if my preference would have to see him over Cedric as right-back cover.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona (contract termination)
This is going to be the big one for Arsenal.
On one hand, it was pretty obvious that the bridges were burned and that there was no coming back from the stripping of the captaincy. On the other hand in the fantasy world where it was possible for it to happen he looked like a source of goals and that probably means a few precious points in the fight for top 4.
It will be a pretty big salary savings and a clean break to an issue that would have hung over the team had he not left. The team is going to miss his potential goals and this is going to put big pressure on the manager and the remaining players.
I think that even with him gone, this will be a stick to beat the club with the rest of the year. I am going to do my best to not do it, the decision is made, my opinion on how this was handled was already written and I want to move on.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles to Roma (Loan)
I don't have a problem with Maitland-Niles going on loan, maybe there are some questions on when this deal needed to happen at the beginning of the month instead of the end to help cover AFCON but that is done. Maybe that helps with the League and FA Cup runs but I don't know for sure that he helps all that much. He probably wouldn't have played much February forward had he stayed.
When this is loan is done, he will be in the final year of his deal and this probably means he is leaving in the summer. It will very likely be at a much lower fee than the ones that were rumored in previous windows, another issue with Arsenal and selling squad players.
Pablo Mari to Udinese (Loan)
Mari became the 4th choice center back (maybe even 5th as he got pushed to the bench against Man City by Kolasinac) and was obviously surplus to requirements. I think that his signing highlights the problems with buying an older player strictly as a backup. He has never looked good enough and there was no reason to believe that would ever change because he was in his "peak" years.
He will have two years left (holy crap what a bad signing) after this loan and I don't know if he will be able to be transferred anywhere else (outside paying to leave). He will likely be that 4th or 5th choice again next year and one that we hope to never see in matches that matter.
Folarin Balogun to Middlesbrough (loan)
He wasn't getting enough minutes with the first team, the Premier League 2 was not enough of a challenge for him. This is a move that makes a ton of sense compared to him maybe getting a handful of desperation sub minutes over the last 17 matches of the year.
It will be interesting if his stint will be enough for him to be deemed ready to be the number two guy next season or if he will need another loan stint to get him regular minutes (it probably depends on what European competition Arsenal end up in).
I didn't expect Arsenal to bring in no one in this window but that is what happened. I really thought that at a minimum Arsenal would get a loan for an attacking player to give some depth and options off the bench. If there is one thing that we are going to call a mistake it is probably this but it is really hard to say what was really available here (I would have been happy with Alvaro Morato or Luka Jovic but who knows how those work out and with all the parties involved maybe it was too hard).
Looking at the depth chart, I feel like I am at a 6 out of 10 comfort level.
Goalkeeper: totally fine 10/1o comfort.
Fullback: mostly fine 8/10, I hope to never see Cedric and Ben White might be the actual backup here.
Center back: mostly fine 7/10, only 3 senior players but given that no one seems like an obvious injury risk and that we are basically at one match a week this is probably enough.
Midfield: fine 9/10, Arsenal started the season with these guys as pretty much the first four choices and that will be how we finish the second half of the season. Arsenal's midfield of Xhaka and Partey is probably better than the other top four competitors even if Xhaka drives me nuts. Sambi and Elneny are fine backups and shouldn't play much.
Attacking Midfield: mostly fine 7/10, Arsenal have just five guys for three spots but I feel pretty good about the five guys. It would have been great to have an extra player but going into most matches with two good options on the bench will feel pretty good.
Striker: not great 5/10. This is the area that has the red flags all over it. Lacazette does a lot of good things to help make the Arsenal attack work, except for taking shots.
Eddie Nketiah is okay for his age but I would be nervous if he was starting and I don't feel like it is a massive threat when he is thrown on when Arsenal are chasing a goal.
Overall Arsenal are still in the fight for top four. I don't think that any team has the right to say that they are in a good position compared to the others, with the odds in the 25-40 percent range for each of Manchester United, Spurs, and Arsenal. It is easy to say but I think that this is going to come down to how each team does when they face each other because each looks flawed and will drop points along the way.