Is Arsenal's transfer policy the one thing that hinders them as serious contenders?
It was a transfer window that promised so much , but ended up like so many previous ones, it flattered to deceive leaving some of the Arsenal faithful disillusioned and frustrated. It was yet another lackluster and uneventful attempt at the Emirates, this preceded a reported protest outside the aforementioned stadium (where no-one turned up), it has been far from harmonious at the Emirates so far this season.
Following the much highlighted signing of Petr Cech from rivals Chelsea for £10 million- much to Jose Mourinho’s disgust, it was expected that “this would be Arsenal’s year”. Rumours of various big names as targets such as; Arturo Vidal, Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani, Morgan Schneiderlin, Mario Gotze, Thomas Muller and Grzegorz Krychowiak to just name a few, however the much needed additions of a holding midfielder and striker to support Francis Coquelin and Olivier Giroud were not addressed and this now leaves Arsenal short until at least the new year.
This has opened a new debate about Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy, gone are the days where Arsenal and Wenger had the excuses of being hampered financially by the stadium development, by their own admission they “can now compete with the likes of Bayern Munich”, so why haven’t they gone that extra yard to make a signal of intent to their rivals?
One argument is that “there was no-one good enough available” this is one I do not buy into at all, Schneiderlin was holding out for a move to Arsenal before his £25 million switch to Old Trafford but got bored with waiting, Sevilla’s Krychowiak shot down any rumours of leaving La Liga this summer with a twitter entry, the holding midfielder had previous shown interest in coming to the premier league and could have been Arsenal’s for £22 million, this would have been a bargain for a vastly experienced international.
It is no secret that agents have become weary in dealing with Arsenal, they are known to keep parties waiting until they are ready to do business which is never ideal in a market that has succumb to a panic-buying culture, this could also explain why Arsenal seem to struggle to conclude much business.
Giroud to plow a lone furrow for another season at the Emirates
The biggest concern for Arsenal fans – almost ironically is the Central Striker situation. After several weeks of countless Karim Benzema speculation the French striker refuted any possibility of leaving the Santiago Bernabeu with a tweet that ridiculed any talk of him leaving his “home”. Many were zoning in on the need for a “world class” striker to help this Arsenal squad find what is perceived to be the final piece of the jigsaw. It is true that there is a definite shortage of top class strikers in the game globally but Arsenal’s problem could well be a lot bigger than that.
Prior to the Tuesday 2nd September deadline, Arsenal’s 2nd choice striker Danny Welbeck underwent knee surgery, the outcome is that he will miss the rest of the year, this now leaves Arsenal with Olivier Giroud as the only recognised centre forward at the club following a bit of an exodus at the Emirates and the annual loanee departures. Back-up to Giroud comes in the shape of Theo Walcott who scored twice as a substitute in England’s 6-0 thrashing of San Marino on Saturday evening, notably he was played on the right side of a front three which is arguably his most effective position.
In addition to Walcott you are then looking at playing Alexis Sanchez with his back to goal which would not be advisable as you lose his energy coming from deep, lastly there is Joel Campbell who is yet to get a real chance in the Arsenal first team. Campbell was expected to excel at the Emirates following an impressive showing in World Cup 2014 for Costa Rica, but since a good performance in last summer’s Emirates cup against Benfica, where he scored in a 5-1 win. Since then he has spent time in La Liga with Villareal, from January 2015 until May where he only managed a solitary goal in 15 games for the Spanish club.
An injury to the reliable Coquelin in midfield or Olivier Giroud and Arsenal’s season would be in real danger of blowing up before it has really begun, it is the same problems that have reared their ugly head once more, there is an overwhelming lack of desire to do the business and do it early. Last season they were crying out for a new central defender following the departure of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona in the summer transfer window, this was not addressed until the following January window and in this run Wenger’s side dropped some clangers early on, this is something that could have been avoided by developing a good transfer strategy.
Wenger’s lack of spending will cost the fans what they deserve, a serious title charge
Arsenal’s reluctance to spend has been brought into question and rightly so, with many pundits before a ball was kicked this season stating “Arsenal are close” to being title contenders, their transfer policy would have appeared to once more hindered their chances. The old phrase of “you must speculate to accumulate” is one that Wenger and Ivan Gazidis would do well to remember. Their rivals have all added quality to their squads while once again the Gunners have almost settled for what they had last season.
Arsene Wenger has an Achilles heal that is bordered on arrogance, he has faith in his players that has got to the stage where it has become blind loyalty. There were instances last season where Arsenal’s football was up there with the best played in Europe, but that always occurred when the pressure was off. They have developed a reputation of perennial bottlers, that is a stigma that is difficult to shake. For the last two seasons we have seen the statistic published that shows Arsenal had the best premier league “year”, but they have fallen short of the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. There have been countless statements of “only if they can put a season together”, this does not come from thin air and what is needed is a change in mentality and a desire to win at all costs, something that needs to come from the top of the club and filter down to the pitch.
There is also a danger of not having a sense of motivation to “give it a go” ,when it comes to taking on the premier league financial powerhouses of ; Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, what is required is serious investment within the squad, this does not mean that Arsenal simply join the status quo and just throw money at the problem, but they will only match the quality and consistency of the big two (Chelsea and Manchester City) when they show a desire to go toe-to-toe with the premier league bankrolled elite.
Undoubtedly Wenger wants his current crop of players to succeed, however it still remains to be seen as to what length he will go to see his squad transform into title contenders from premier league pretenders.
Featured Image – All rights reserved by Philip Hartland
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