For all the controversy and uncertainty surrounding the off-field leadership of Arsenal, there is encouragement to be taken from the club’s January business.
The Gunners have made truly world-class signings in the shape of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Attacking midfielder Mkhitaryan was the best player in the Bundesliga as recently as 2015-16 and will bring bags of quality, as will striker Aubameyang, who scored 141 goals in 213 appearances for Borussia Dortmund.
Both will be important additions on the pitch, where the duo produced fine performances in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Everton, but they also bear symbolic significance in the post-Alexis Sanchez era.
Fans who had grown disgruntled by the club’s lack of ambition might have been partially swayed by the two new boys, who may have also convinced Arsenal’s better players that this was the right place for them.
Mesut Ozil, who also stood out on Saturday, had looked destined to exit the Emirates with just six-months left on his deal, but following the eye-catching signings, he penned a new contract until 2021. To the German’s credit, he had never once let his then uncertain future affect his commitment to the cause.
Ozil is a better leader than sometimes given credit for: his experience, drive and winning mentality, which came to the fore in Germany’s 2014 World Cup win, is key to any success we desire.
With all the new players finally settling to life in north London – and if a few more quality additions can be lured – Arsenal could be set for something special next term.
The first task though will be to secure Champions League football, which can be achieved either by bridging the five-point gap to fourth-placed Chelsea, or beating Osterlunds FK this month en route to a Europa League victory.
The signings of Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan were vital, as was Ozil’s decision to stay – this could be the appetizer to the main course.