With chants of “spend” and ‘boos’ erupting just one game into Arsenal’s 2013/14 Barclays Premier League campaign it appears the pressure is mounting on Arsene Wenger. With a squad clearly lacking the ability to challenge for the Premier League title, there are suggestions that it could be another disappointing season and quite possibly too late to turn it around.
On the surface, this may seem a ridiculous claim, but with only the Auxerre youngster Sanogo brought in this window and the list of signings that Wenger has missed out on ever-growing, there is true grounds for Arsenal fans to be concerned. Especially as despite claims Wenger has millions to spend he has missed out on the Spanish forward David Villa, Luiz Gustavo and who could forget the Suarez saga, all players that would have drastically strengthened the squad.
Therefore, I believe that it is now no longer possible to compete this season, as Wenger has now left it too late. The same panic that followed Arsenal’s 8-2 defeat to Man U has set in, with players being brought for elevated prices that don’t match their quality. This will now be especially emphasised as clubs are aware that Wenger is desperate and now have the power to hold out for high prices, aware he has no choice but to oblige.
In turn, the rumours regarding Cabaye don’t feel me with optimism, as he joins the ranks of similar players at the club, the Arteta’s and Cazorla’s for example. Furthermore, he doesn’t have the quality that similar teams have in their midfields, for example Chelsea, with players like Mata, Lampard and Oscar, who are leagues ahead of the Arsenal squad. Michu may also be a risky purchase, as despite being the signing of the season last year following his £2 million move from Rayo Vallecano, he may fall victim to “second season syndrome”. He certainly wouldn’t be the first player to get off to a blistering start and then struggle to replicate that form in future seasons, especially when expectations are higher.
Wenger’s previous buys also suggest that even if he does spend, it may not have the desired effect. Obvious examples of this include Andre Santos, who was brought in to replace Gael Clichy and never reached top gear (except for in his sports car). His departure this summer along with other flops Chamakh and Squillaci don’t make good reading for Wenger and add further pressure to his scouting endeavours.
When you then add into the mix that Arsenal face a tough battle to enter the Champions League, their quest for players could be further hampered, as the Champions League sides hold far more purchasing power than those who aren’t included in the top level of European Competition.
You may ask then what it is that Arsenal need to do and paying attention to their North London neighbours could be one of these, as their spending this summer has, I believe, pushed them far ahead of Arsenal’s squad and in a position to challenge City, Chelsea and United for the title. A key signing for Wenger would be the recapture of Alex Song, whose midfield presence strengthened the defence and would plug holes exposed by Agbonlahor and Benteke last weekend. Another strong addition would be Micah Richards who Arsenal are rumoured to be pursuing, as their defence still plagues any real chance of progression, however, his loyalty to City does make the transfer highly unlikely. A striker too is crucial, as Arsenal lack a true replacement for RVP, as Giroud will never be the prolific talisman that Arsenal have lacked since his departure.
Where does this leave Arsenal then? Well, outside the top four, competing with Liverpool and Newcastle for the Europa League places. A “don’t worry” from Wenger in his Press Conference today is no longer the reassurance it once was, as the invincible leader appears to be incapable. Without signings it will be another disappointing season for Arsenal, as the long wait for trophies continues and the luck of previous seasons seems it may be swiftly running out, as the level of competition for Champions League places has increased.
It seems there is only one way forward for Arsenal and that doesn’t include Wenger, the clubs persistence with him may just be the biggest obstacle between Arsenal and the return of the success of the days of Viera, Henry and Adams. The influence of a fresh leader with fresh ideas may just be the rejuvenation that Arsenal need to once again become a force in English football, far from the laughing stock they are rapidly becoming.
By Alex Knight (theknightlyblog)