While Arsenal had only signed Petr Cech from Chelsea this summer with deadline day approaching, a section of the Arsenal fans were still not giving up on a big signing. After all, Arsene Wenger is notorious – at least in recent seasons – for starting his transfer window later on in the summer and pulling out one surprise signing. But this year was different. Arsenal were the only club in Europe’s top five leagues to have not signed a single outfield player.
If anything, this was the season for Arsenal if they realistically wanted a proper title challenge, especially with the right additions and Chelsea faltering early on. Instead, Arsenal are just a goalkeeper stronger and, while Cech is a world class addition, fans can’t help but be disappointed about the approach of the club.
Everyone has been calling out for an elite striker, an upgrade on Olivier Giroud. Wenger himself has seen the need for this given his past and present pursuits of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Karim Benzema. However, a world class striker just wasn’t available. This was emphasized on deadline day as Manchester United, who also needed a striker, were left spending £36 million on a teenager from Ligue 1, so fair enough.
But why wasn’t a defensive midfielder signed? There was a host of players that fit the bill that moved on this summer or could have been bought out with their release clauses. When Francis Coquelin is your only able defensive midfielder, why would you risk being an injury away from playing one of the aging and declining duo of Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta?
Names like Grzegorz Krychowiak, Giannelli Imbula and Morgan Schneiderlin were all available this summer. Granted, Coquelin has improved massively and could go on to develop further, but some actual competition would have taken him to the next level while providing formidable depth in that position.
At least with one crucial position strengthened in midfield, Arsenal could have relied on the likes of Giroud, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and even Alexis Sanchez up top for a title challenge. Instead, Arsenal are left with the same outfield players with Joel Campbell virtually taking Lukas Podolski’s place in the team. While no first team players have departed the club like in the past, it is amazing how dreadful this window has been for Arsenal regardless.
To add to all this, with the window now closed, Arsenal have revealed that Welbeck will be out until Christmas after he underwent a knee surgery. So despite knowing that one of his two natural strikers would be out for a good portion of the season, Wenger still decided not to bring in a striker, not even one on loan. Chuba Akpom is a promising talent out on loan now but is Wenger banking on him to pull a Coquelin if Giroud gets injured in the next game?
Another question that has to be asked – why weren’t Arsenal more active in the early stages of the transfer window? There was a point in the window where Arsenal had virtually no transfer links to any player. Surely putting the right amount of cash in front of Dortmund’s doors for example, could have tempted them to part ways with Marco Reus, especially with no Champions League football? Was Jackson Martinez a bigger risk than having Giroud as Arsenal’s only striker?
Even if players weren’t for sale, offering the right amount of money has its way of changing a player’s transfer status. Just look at Manchester City and their pursuit of Kevin de Bruyne. A saga that had lasted for months, Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs initially said that the Belgian wasn’t for sale at all. But City kept bidding until they got their man for quite a fee.
That’s not to say that Arsenal should have spent bucketloads of cash on an Anthony Martial – but given how Lord Harris was bragging about Arsenal being able to afford anyone but Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, it is odd how the club didn’t really seem heavily linked with any proven star following Cech’s arrival.
Regardless, the transfer window is now over and the season will continue after the international break. But one thing is for sure – Wenger has no excuses if Arsenal fail to perform this year. They didn’t lose any key players, they weren’t strapped for cash, they didn’t actively pursue their targets and players that were available, were passed on by Wenger.
The Gunners may yet finish top three this season and win another FA Cup, but what’s the point anymore? Is that the height of their ambition?