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Like A Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse, Arsenal’s Transfer Deadline Day Was A Perfect Confluence Of Events

Like a super blue blood moon eclipse, everything lined up just perfectly for Arsenal at the end of the transfer window on Wednesday. The club signed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, one of the most fearsome strikers in the world, nailed down Mesut Ozil to a contract extension and shipped off the now-superfluous Olivier Giroud to ensure the former deal went down. The Arsenal Aubameyang deal came at just the right time for the struggling Gunners. Now if they could just beat Swansea.

A super blue blood moon lunar eclipse was visible across much of the planet on Wednesday. It’s the type of event that occurs every 150 years or so — or basically about as long as Arsene Wenger has been around at Arsenal. The astronomical event combined a super moon (magnified because the moon orbits at its closest point to Earth), a blue moon (a second full moon in a month), a blood moon (tinted red as the sun shifts around Earth to reach it) and a lunar eclipse. It was totally baller and if you missed it, don’t worry, you only have to wait until around the time the U.S. finally wins a World Cup in a century and a half to see another one. 

Similarly, the Arsenal transfer window combined a number of rare events: The Gunners got something valuable for an expiring contract (trading Alexis Sanchez for Henrikh Mkhitaryan), signed a big-name striker for a huge fee (Aubameyang) and locked down a star player who could have left for free at the end of the season (Ozil). In the past decade, it wasn’t unusual to see Arsenal do the complete opposite every couple years.

Arsenal Aubameyang

Pondering life after the Arsenal Aubameyang deal. Photo: @ESPNFC | Twitter

The Arsenal Aubameyang deal itself saw the Gabon striker come to North London for $79 million (€63.75 million). To make the deal happen, Dortmund needed a replacement, and got Michy Bathshuayi on loan from Chelsea. But to let Bathshuayi go, Antonio Conte wanted a replacement, so Arsenal sold Giroud to the Blues for $25.54 million. 

Chelsea clearly got the best of the deals if you’re going by meaty French foreheads attached to sexy strikers, but really everyone came out with a positive result. Although Bayern Munich might be most excited by how the moves went down.

Arsenal gets what they were hoping to get from Alexandre Lacazette: a world-class forward who can combine pace, power and finishing in a manner not seen since Thierry Henry roamed North London. (Auba will wear Henry’s No. 14.) Aubameyang has scored 163 goals in 309 appearances as a professional, including 13 during the 2017-18 season, four better than Lacazette’s team-leading total. (Sanchez and Giroud were Nos. 2 and 3 on Arsenal’s scoring list.)

By getting Ozil to re-sign, the hope is the German playmaker can combine with Aubameyang (and maybe Lacazette if he can rediscover his scoring form) for the next few years to create a consistent threat. The team also has Mkhitaryan, Alex Iwobi, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and, if he’s ever healthy, the brilliant Santi Cazorla. Defensive midfield is a question after Wenger sold Francis Coquelin, but defensive midfield has always been a question for Wenger since Patrick Vieira left. 

But it’s not all roses for Arsenal. They were forced to give two proven goal scorers to direct rivals (direct if you still consider the Gunners a top five team). Trading Sanchez to Manchester United reminds Gooners of the time Robin van Persie left for the Red Devils, one of the worst transfer deals in Wenger’s tenure. Sure Arsenal got a decent attacking midfielder in return, but Mkhitaryan wasn’t exactly playing much for Jose Mourinho, so United didn’t give up much to get an indefatigable forward. 

Giroud was relegated to the role of super sub with Arsenal, but it was a role he was damn good at. While he would have struggled even more for minutes with Aubameyang’s arrival, he’s good at what he does: hold up play and link up with others. Chelsea will probably get more out of him than Arsenal could given the differing styles of play — Giroud holding up the ball for Eden Hazard to run onto could create deadly counterattacks. 

Dortmund, meanwhile, gets a temporary replacement for Aubameyang while they mull over options for their next striker. The club has a history of finding some of the top talents in the world, like Robert Lewandowski and some kid named Christian Pulisic. And with $79 million at their disposal (plus what’s left from the $125 million from the Ousmane Dembele deal), Dortmund will be able to surround Pulisic with some quality sooner or later.

How exactly all these players fit with their new clubs remains to be seen. All are cup-tied and will not be able to play in the Champions League or Europa League, but for Arsenal Aubameyang is all clear to give the Gunners their best chance at silverware in the Carabao Cup. 

But the confluence of events on transfer deadline day was a rare good moment for Arsenal, like looking into the sky to see a super blue blood moon eclipse. Aubameyang, the self-described “crazy boy,” just needs to score more than once every blue moon.

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