It would seem that with just one game into the new Premier League Season Arsenal are a club in crisis. A 3-1 home defeat to a team that struggled last season, Aston Villa was worsened by a deepening injury crisis which has followed a summer of inability to finalise any transfers despite being strongly linked to a number of players.
After defeat to Villa Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger stated that it was not the fault of a lack of transfer activity that Arsenal lost the game and that the team he put out was good enough to have won that game. I’ll agree with him on the latter although they did not perform well enough to win the game that team on paper at least was more than capable of winning that particular fixture. However that team would have been even better had Wenger added to the squad like he needed to with players such as Gonzalo Higuain or Luiz Gastavo.
This is not the first time and probably won’t be the last that Arsenal’s transfer activity or lack of it has come into question but since this is the first Summer that Arsenal have not had their best players leaving the club (no one left to sell?) and with an estimated war chest of £70 Million, the highest ever, Arsenal fans thought that this time it would really be different have again been left disappointed.
With an off-season of change at the top clubs in the Premier League this season presented a great opportunity for Arsenal to realistically challenge for the title. Had Arsenal brought in some top quality signings in July or as early as possible then the injury crisis wouldn’t be a crisis and Arsenal wouldn’t be sweating on the up coming tricky Champions League qualifier against Fenerbache.
So why have Arsenal not signed anyone yet and with the transfer window closing on September 2nd time is running out. They started off back in July being linked to Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain with a £23 Million fee rumoured to have been agreed between the two clubs until Madrid demanded £30 amid interest from Italian club Napoli where he eventually signed for the inflated price. In this instance Arsenal were right to walk away from this deal, although the price in today’s over inflated market is not the problem Madrid’s behaviour in the whole affair was appalling and Arsenal, at the time were better off out of it.
Then came the Luis Suarez transfer saga in which Arsenal have wasted almost their whole Summer while forgetting that it is not just a forward that they need but other positions too. The pursuit of Suarez was surprising given his shall we say, character issues?
Back in the late 90′s Wenger pursued and was close to signing Ronald DeBoer from Ajax, DeBoer like Suarez now was desperate for the move and threatened to strike in order to push it through. Wenger did not agree with the players stance and walked away from the transfer, so I ask what is different this time around? Suarez has shown no loyalty to Liverpool and will just simply do the same to Arsenal in a couple of years time. Any cynical Arsenal fan may suggest that the Arsenal manager had no real intention of completing this deal and may have been done to appease supporters by saying, ‘look we are trying to sign top players’.
The £40 Million (not forgetting that extra £1) would be much better spent on Robert Lewandoski or Karem Benzema instead Arsenal fans are now hoping that Swansea’s Michu is brought in although this would have not been any where near as popular had it been mooted at the beginning of the transfer window and the £25 Million price tag is again over the odds but Arsenal are getting desperate.
After an early bid for Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender was rejected Arsenal have seemingly forgotten that they also need recruits in other area’s. The perfect signing for Arsenal in a position that they have lacked the most in recent years, a holding midfield player would have been Yann M’Villa but Arsenal passed (as they like to do on and off the pitch it seems) due to alleged ‘character issues’ hmm?!
Bender would be an excellent signing especially at this late stage and only really bettered by getting Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan but since he is currently injured this is probably a no go but we can expect an improved offer for Bender in the coming days?
Arsene Wenger cannot blame anyone but himself for going into the season with only two available Centre Back’s and only three when Thomas Vermaelen returns from injury. This in itself is a risk given Vermaelen’s poor form and injury record last season.
Although Arsenal were at least morally right to walk away from the Higuain deal in the end sometimes paying over the odds for a player you really need is worth it. For example paying £20 Million for Everton’s Phil Jagielka right now would be a fantastic bit of business. It is certainly more appealing than paying £10 Million for Swansea’s Ashley Williams.
It seems Arsenal’s desperation has reached new heights as they are being reported to be considering paying £25 Million for another Swansea player, Michu, which is at least £10 Million more than he is worth and bidding £10 Million for Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye is so un-realistic its just plain pointless.
It looks like the most exciting part of Arsenal’s season will be the final few hours of the transfer window and one that has again thrown up more questions than answers.