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As to be expected of seasoned players, Cazorla and forward Lukas Podolski look as if they have been playing with Arsenal for years, not weeks. By hiring the Spain and German internationals, and Arteta and defender Per Mertesacker in 2011, Wenger sent reassuring signals that he recognizes the value of experience, even though he also prides himself on identifying and nurturing young players, in part to keep down transfer costs. Because of Cazorla’s cleverness and passing from midfield, the departures of Cesc Fabregas and then Alex Song to Barcelona no longer seem like such damaging losses to Arsenal.

In short, the vibes from Arsenal so far look good.

Or, as Wenger put it, they are “interesting.”

City and Chelsea will tell us if they’re more than that.


John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at) or follow him at