Last summer:

30th April – Podolski signing announced
26th June – Giroud signing announced
7th August – Cazorla signing announced

Looking back at our main activity last summer, Podolski’s deal was sorted almost ludicrously early (very un-Arsenal-like), Giroud’s in good time and Cazorla’s as the season was about to begin. July was a total wasteland, just as this July has been a vision of transfer apocalypse.

Now, we know that we nabbed Cazorla because Malaga were skint, and we got him for a good price, and on that basis he fitted in well with Wenger’s ethos. Top quality player, very reasonable price. Merci beaucoup, bonnet de douche, Chateauneuf du Pape and all that (not that Wenger is Del Boy, because he couldn’t be further from that, really). But we got him quite late, and I think you can see where I’m attempting to go with all this.

I cling to this like a limpet to the hull of a ship: in a constipated transfer market, August can sometimes be the prunes (needs more work – Ed).

Intransigence can give way to necessity, prices can drop, just like in any auction – or go up, true – but my point is that in July some players are on holiday, the managers can be on holiday, the teams are off around the globe making money and in August, they’re not. Things heat up.

“But what about Man City”, I hear you say, and even our chums up the road for that matter, who have broken their own transfer record, and I have no answer to that. I merely grasp at the coat-tails of optimism.

And as long as there’s time – almost five weeks remain – there has to be optimism, right? It just makes no sense to me for Arsenal to a) announce they have money, very publicly, b) for everyone in positions of power to admit we want to strengthen, c) to offload players we no longer need in order to free up space in the squad and the balance sheet and then not do anything. If that happens, it makes no sense to me.

I’m not preaching patience, because we’re past that. I’m just saying that I can’t envisage Arsenal not strengthening. I can’t see a sensible reason why we can’t or won’t. And Cazorla is the perfect example to give that deals – and not just any deal, but world class deals – can be done as the season is about to begin. Arteta and Mertesacker are other examples of excellent players being bought pretty much as the transfer’s fat lady is reaching her crescendo.

There’s a fabric for success in what we have already. Some players have grown visibly over the last season, others will improve now they’ve settled in, some are back from injury. Our defence underwent something of a metamorphosis in the tail end of the season. Why would you not build on that?

I might look like a mug on 1st September, or whenever the window closes, but applying logic to this I think we’ll see some substantial incomings. It makes no sense not to.

*makes rod for own back*

For those who’ve not yet seen it, there was a good chinwag on Google Hangout with Arseblog, Gunnerblog, Arse2Mouse, Goonerholic and myself. Here it is. A bit of gloom, but not 100% gloom…

No big sales. Let’s start with that.

We have arrived at the breathless finale, and it could go anywhere. Same as last year, then.

The Wigan game was no doubt fantastic for the neutral – ebbing and flowing like the tides – but it was hard work for the partisan until the triple-goal salvo. But here we are again and I have no idea what I think, if I’m honest. It’s desperately close.

What I do believe though – and it’s worth saying before fourth (or fifth, or third) is decided – is that irrespective of where we come this year, we are in as strong a position as we have been for several years to keep our pivotal players. We have been a selling club for a while now and as well as sending out the wrong signals, weakening our squad every summer has clearly also weakened the effect of buying new players, and has led to a lot of treading water. Last year we lost two key players, the year before two, in 2009 we lost two. Only in 2010 did we not shed too much.

If you look at who Wenger brought in last summer – Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud – all three have had very decent first seasons (and in the case of Cazorla, an outstanding first season). But their additions were mitigated by sales. The year before, we bought Mertesacker, Arteta, Jenkinson and Gervinho (plus others of limited impact, though perhaps I am being harsh on Benayoun) but we lost Fabregas and Nasri. Always fighting fires.

Now though, with perhaps fewer vultures circling, more money from TV and from Emirates and potentially also from a better shirt deal, we ought to hold a stronger hand.

Sagna, Vermaelen? Perhaps the former will go, and that would be a shame. But given his form and age, would that be as hard an exit as others have been? Jenkinson has done well.

Vermaelen we need to keep, frankly. You can’t prosper with anything less than three top-draw centre-halves.

Build on what we have, rather than react to departures – which is how it has sometimes felt – and we might end up with the stability and growth we crave. But another drawn-out summer exit saga – no thanks.