Arsenal spent the past few days the way many supporters wanted the club to spend the entire summer.
At a frantic pace, Arsenal took action to fill the holes of a club that were hoping to resurrect themselves after a painful summer where more players were on their way out, and few were on their way in.
Wednesday turned out to be one of the busiest days in Arsenal's history. Manager Arsene Wenger was looking to silence a lot of critics who felt the 8-2 drumming at Old Trafford was the last straw, and to prove that Arsenal were still an elite club despite high-profile players departing. Names were flying from all over the place, and it was difficult to keep track of whether Gary Cahill and Clint Dempsey were on their way to Emirates, or if Nicklas Bendtner was about to be swapped.
When the dust cleared, Arsenal added a collection of players that are likely to make an immediate impact.
The lack of a hard-nosed centre back was addressed with the signing of Per Mertesacker. The towering 26-year-old German arrived from Werder Bremen on what is believed to be an £8 million transfer and has signed a long-term deal with Arsenal.
Left back was the most urgent need. Arsenal added Andre Santos, 28, on £6.2 million deal with Turkish club Fenerbahce, as the Brazilian replaces Gael Clichy.
The attack was bolstered this week, as well. At midfield, Mikel Arteta of Everton joins the Gunners on a four-year deal for a reported transfer fee in the region of £10 million. Meanwhile, Yossi Benayoun of Chelsea arrives at Emirates on a nominal loan fee, as the Gunners are reportedly paying his £70,000-a-week wages.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown described Arteta and Benayoun as solid signings.
Though Wenger made inroads at forward this summer with the additions of Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, it didn't stop him from bringing in another striker. South Korean captain Chu-Young Park, 26, joined the Gunners on a transfer reportedly worth between £3 million and £5 million.
So let's recap who is in and who is out for Arsenal this summer.
Arsenal lost Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona, £35 million), Samir Nasri (Manchester City, £24m), Clichy (Manchester City, £7 million), Emmanuel Eboue (Galatasaray, £3 million), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Ipswich, £1.1 million), Gilles Sunu (FC Lorient, undisclosed), and Armand Traore (Queens Park Rangers, undisclosed), and loaned Bendtner (Sunderland), Denilson (Sao Paulo), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad), Henri Lansbury (West Ham), Pedro Botelho (Rayo Vallecano) and Joel Campbell (FC Lorient, short-term loan).
The Gunners added Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton, £12 million), Gervinho (Lille, £10.5 million), Arteta (Everton, £10 million), Mertesacker (Werder Bremen, £8 million), Santos (Fenerbahce, £6 million), Park (Monaco, £5 million), Carl Jenkinson (Charlton, £1 million), Benayoun (Chelsea, £70,000-a-week loan), and Campbell (Deportivo Saprissa, £930,000).
That means Arsenal came out of the summer transfer period with a surplus of roughly £16.5 million. Wenger entered the summer with a £40 million budget, so that combined figured amounts to £56.5 million, which is a huge sum available for January, or for next summer. However, after losing Fabregas and Nasri, Arsenal failed to acquire superstar replacements at a time where many prominent names were on the market.
The good news for Arsenal is that the club is much improved in September. Central defense should be better than last season with a healthy Thomas Vermaelen, and Mertesacker by his side. Left back might be a minor upgrade with Santos over Clichy. The defensive reserves are better as Jenkinson is probably an improvement over Eboue, who was responsible for some absurd plays last season.
At goalkeeper, young Wojciech Szczesny proved to be a capable netminder and has an extra year of experience under his belt, so Arsenal are likely to be stronger at the position. Also, the Gunners were the victims of some bad luck last season as goalkeepers were dropping like flies, and the chances of that happening again are slim.
Wenger upgraded his forwards from last season, as well. Robin van Persie gained some much-needed help in Gervinho and Park. There is a strong chance that Park will receive a substantial amount of playing time this season, and the speedy striker could be the answer the Gunners have been looking for off the bench.
Where Arsenal are weaker is in the midfield. Arteta and Benayoun, along with a healthy Aaron Ramsey, are not enough to compensate for the loss of Fabregas and Nasri. However, the Gunners were in need of some new faces to inject some extra energy into a sometimes stagnant midfield. Though Fabregas and Nasri are proven stars, they had their drawbacks, which include Fabregas's constant hamstring injuries, and Nasri's late-season fatigue.
Also, Wenger has nothing but praise for 18-year-old Ryo Miyaichi, a Japanese phenom who has the potential to be a Premier League star. When 19-year-old Jack Wilshere returns from injury, he should be an improved player from last season.
So that's the good news. Now the bad news: Arsenal, for all of their improvements, will likely still fall short of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and perhaps Liverpool.
The way Manchester United have looked recently, the Red Devils probably would have defeated Arsenal at Old Trafford last week even if the Gunners were at full strength. Aside from goalkeeper, United look better than they have in years, and their additions appear extremely comfortable in Sir Alex Ferguson's system.
Manchester City are so stacked with talent, that their problem might be that Roberto Mancini may not know how to juggle all of these excellent players to play well together. The Citizens have a decent chance of overtaking the Red Devils this season thanks to the addition of Nasri, and a crowded collection of elite forwards.
Chelsea have some players who are showing their age, but young additions Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku should strengthen the club, and Raul Meireles is expected to give the midfield a boost, as well. The Blues should be active players in January's transfer period with a wealthy owner who is not afraid to throw money around to land world-class talent. Meanwhile, new manager Andre Villas-Boas is determined to make a name for himself in his first season at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool made some much-needed additions over the summer, and have looked sharp so far. Kenny Dalglish's squad seem to understand their roles, and the club appear eager to improve on last season's fifth-place finish.
What this all means to Arsenal is that though the club made some vital changes, it will be difficult to compete with the powerhouses of the Premier League without the presence of superstar talent. The Gunners are strong, and could go deep in Champions League, but the Premier League's top clubs are simply more stocked with both stars and depth.
Where Arsenal seemed to have done self-inflicting damage is the procrastination to add players. After three games, Arsenal have one point. Wenger was aware of the August schedule, yet waited until the last day of the transfer deadline to make moves that could have been made weeks ago. Perhaps if Arsenal had upgraded their squad in July they would have had wins against Newcastle and Liverpool, and a tie against Manchester United, for a total of seven points.
Instead, Arsenal have dug themselves a hole, and desperately need things to go right to climb their way out of it. The EPL landscape has changed where owners like Roman Abramovich and Mansour bin Yayed Al Nahyan have no problem stockpiling their clubs with over-priced players.
Arsenal's best strategy might to do more grooming of young and promising players like Miyaichi to compete in futures seasons, and for Wenger to start spending more on emerging talent in other leagues like Eden Hazard, Mario Gotze, and Stevan Jovetic.
Otherwise, Arsenal could be resigned to consistently finish in fourth place.