Tuesday’s transfer window came and went for Arsenal fans but there were to be no more new faces coming to the Emirates. This season has seen Arsene let go of a number of experienced players while only bringing in three players to replace those that have left. Gunners fans have long had trust in Wenger’s transfer policy and no doubt his financial prudence is to be heralded but in letting a wealth of experience leave the club without replacing them, has Arsene Wenger threatened Arsenal’s title challenge?
I believe that he has. Wenger has allowed a slew of experienced players to leave the club at important positions, letting centre-backs William Gallas, Mikael Silvestre, Philippe Senderos and Sol Campbell move on to pastures new while bringing in French defenders Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci as replacements. With all those players gone, there is a definite lack of experience at centre-back with Thomas Vermaelen and the injury-prone Johan Djourou the only two with Premier League experience. And only a season each at that.
New signing Laurent Koscielny has had a mixed start in his first few games for the Gunners. He looked assured against Liverpool in Arsenal’s opening game of the season but off the pace against Blackburn where he was passed easily by El-Hadji Diouf to set up Blackburn’s equalising goal. To take some of the burden off young Koscielny, Arsenal have signed experienced French international Sebastien Squillaci from Sevilla but like Koscielny, he too will have to make a rapid adjustment to the physical demands of the Premier League if he is to be a success in England.
You can make a case that Wenger knows the right time to let certain players leave when they are past their best. He allowed Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira to leave Arsenal and he has since been vindicated in his decision to do so. But his decision to let so many experienced players go has left the Arsenal boss with few options and a thin squad which threatens to be stretched even more by fitness concerns and injuries to key players that seem to be mounting up.
With Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner suffering a fresh setback in his recovery from a groin injury and Robin van Persie out for up to a month with an ankle injury suffered against Blackburn on the weekend, Wenger has been forced to start new signing Marouane Chamakh maybe a little earlier than he would have wanted.
Goalkeeper has long been a concern for Arsenal fans and the club’s failure to land Mark Schwarzer this transfer window will not have filled those fans with a great deal of confidence. Manuel Almunia and Lukascz Fabianski have failed to consistently prove that they are good enough to keep goal for a club of Arsenal’s standing.
Arsenal’s results so far in the league have been encouraging and the Gunners sit in 2nd place in the Premier League table. However, as the season wears on, the failure to strengthen the squad could be a huge problem for Arsenal as they look to sustain their title challenge.
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