Frantic deadline day should make for an exciting season

Arsenal, Tottenham, Stoke and Blackburn were amongst the most active in finding last day bargains.

Arsenal’s first signing, of Park Chu Young, may have been a sound short term move, bringing in an experienced international who has skill and work rate, as well as an eye for goal, but it could cost them long term. So angered are Lille that their fans have petitioned the club to cancel playing Arsenal in the opening game of their new stadium next year. Chances of Arsenal signing long term target Eden Hazard now seem smaller than ever, with Liverpool rumoured to have secured a first refusal on the talented Belgian as part of the Joe Cole deal. But Hazard is thought to admire Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, so it may be a redundant issue anyway.

Away from Park, Arsenal made good signings on deadline day. No one can argue that Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun are the equals of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas but the point being missed is that they don’t need to be. Arsenal’s midfield has been the one area which has been exceptionally strong in recent years – the sale of Nasri and Fabregas and untimely suspensions of Emmanuel Frimpong and Alex Song, allied to Jack Wilshere’s injury, have meant they have been weak in this area at the start of the season. In Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Park Arsenal have experience and quality at the back and up front that they have missed in recent times. It is the defence which has been weak for Arsenal in recent years, whilst Robin van Persie’s frequent injuries have left them light up front. And in Gervinho, they have a player who will take a more direct route to goal than some of his predecessors.

Stoke City proved the masters as ever of playing over inflated fees for decent, six foot plus strikers. A squad with Kenwyne Jones, Ricardo Fuller, Jonathan Walters has been complemented with a fourth forward, Peter Crouch, and they also added Wilson Palacios to their squad, making a mockery of the patently false notion that they are trying to develop their style of football.

For Tottenham, Palacios and Crouch were just two of a number of departures, with Alan Hutton and Jermaine Jenas heading to Aston Villa, to satiate the Midlands side and Alex McLeish’s desire to sign perpetually average British talent. Villa will likely finish comfortably mid table this year, but their signings continue to underwhelm and betray a desire to stay in the league rather than compete for Europe.

Spurs meanwhile, brought in just Scott Parker, a predictable but astute addition to a talented squad which now has Emmanuel Adebayor up front. The Togolese has proven that he is one of the best players a team can want in his first season for a new side, but it is likely that at the end of the season the club will look elsewhere for a long term replacement, probably Leandro Damiao from Internacional.

But Parker will give them added solidity in central midfield, to complement the attacking talents of the like of Luka Modric and Rafa van der Vaart. Spurs may have had a poor start to the season, and though they missed out on Gary Cahill, Redknapp has a squad capable of challenging for the title.

Elsewhere, dealings were scarce. Manchester City completed the signing of Owen Hargreaves, though a bigger shock than this move would be the midfielder actually playing a game. And Liverpool brought in Craig Bellamy to bolster their forward line. Chelsea captured Raul Mereiles at the death of the window, a major coup and a blow to Liverpool, though Kenny Dalglish underrates the Portuguese. Meanwhile Blackburn brought in Scott Dann, a good signing for the club to give them added solidity in their fight against the drop, and Everton let Yakubu leave for the Lancashire side.

It makes for a fascinating few weeks to see how these players fit into their new sides, in particular Arsenal and Stoke. For now, we can only guess what impact these players may have; as ever, systems, tactics and managers are more important than the players on the pitch.