For Manchester United, the result was merely a confirmation of what we already knew; that you shouldn't doubt Sir Alex Ferguson's team building and his ability to recast a side. Even so, his young team had a bit to answer and they did, in utterly ruthless fashion destroying Arsenal by 8-2. For Arsenal, the defeat is seen by some as a watershed. It's not the end of Arséne Wenger - and it's not the moment the club loses it's grip on the top four places - because he's the one keeping them afloat. But it could signal an end to some of the "Wengerisms" that fans have recently began to question. In the lead up to the last days of Tony Blair's reign, dissatisfaction was becoming increasing vocal and people tired of the "Blairisms"; the spin, the overwhelming focus on style over substance and while it's not the same with Wenger, it's obvious some changes need to be made to win back fans and not an upheaval at the top which happened with Blair replaced by Gordon Brown.
Arséne Wenger is already splurging out the cash although not necessarily in reaction to the loss; the intention was always to buy although perhaps not of the quantity he is in the last days of the window but deals dragged on while deadline day also loomed (as Alexej Behnisch confirms on twitter, the Per Mertesacker transfer has been in negotiations all summer). The Manchester United defeat did, however, confirm the disparity of quality between the two clubs despite the injuries (another area which must be quickly addressed) and it looks like Wenger is quickly trying to cover those deficiencies exposed at Old Trafford.
On the other hand, Wenger has a lot of faith in his key players returning. Alex Song, Gervinho, Bakary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere were the certain starters who missed the encounter and without the presence of those players, it's no surprise that the Arsenal performance was more than a bit disjointed (a severe understatement given the result). Indeed, the style of football this season from Arsenal have almost been atypical of Wenger's sides. The manager has transplanted a more direct approach, focusing on getting the ball forward quickly, decreasing the reliance on the centre to create and shifting it to the flanks. That may in part be forced upon by the move of Cesc Fabregas and later Samir Nasri. The Gunners have no such replacement for their departed captain while by losing Nasri, it means all wide men currently at the club are strikers. Wenger has in the past preferred to balance out the flanks with one creative midfielder but he hasn't one this year. The signs are he will try and bid for one this transfer window but if he doesn't succeed, it indicates an increased faith in Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey to create.
While an increased emphasis on dynamic football may appease fans, on it's own it's unlikely to be much effective. The style needs a technical accuracy and players that can link the midfield to the attack; the two have looked disconnected in the early matches. The return of Wilshere cannot come soon enough as here is a player genuinely talented to take over the reigns of Fábregas although the burden must still be shared.
The trio of Wilshere, Ramsey and Song looked good in pre-season but the squad is still seriously in need of creativity. Yann M'Vila has been linked on the last day and he should provide a good foil for Song and the attacking players to flourish. The Frenchman is not technically a creative player nor a defensive one - rather a box-to-box midfielder - but he keeps the ball well giving Arsenal security. He will surely be Arsenal's biggest target over the next few hours.
One signing that has already been confirmed is centre-back Per Mertesacker and the German should be a good fit for Arsenal. At 6'6, he's not particularly quick but he reads the game well so despite the high-line Arsenal play, he can compensate by clever positioning. He should dovetail Vermaelen well and although it's not expected he will start regularly yet, he will surely rotate with Laurent Koscielny in the typical "English" encounters. Arsenal won't defend deep; it's not their style so that puts a great emphasis on Arsenal pressing well to squeeze space.
Putting aside the severely inexperienced squad against Manchester United, The Gunners just haven't pressed well, often allowing the opposition to get at them. It's part of the side's more cautious approach to defending, paying more attention to shape. For a ball playing side, it's not necessarily the best fit - they must close down higher up the pitch. Indeed, that will be the key once the transfer window closes; the signings may give a clearer indication just where Arsenal's direction may be and how they will shape.
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