Tomorrow marks the very last day of this year’s summer and the only souvenir you will have are the memories, the tan and the Facebook photos you took at Zante with your mates. Some of you didn’t have a good summer for various reasons; some got caught up on work, others had to retake a university course, others got dumped by their girlfriends and some others got a second degree burn at their holiday at Magaluf.
If you belong in the second category then don’t despair our dear reader because we know a very well known person who also had a bad summer and that is Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger.
The 63-year-old has been facing countless complaints from all sides because of the lack of signings and the poor image the squad showed last season. Arsenal seem to be pulling it together lately with two wins against Fenerbahce for the Champions League qualifiers and an impressive victory against Fulham at the Cottage. However, yesterday Luis Figo’s touch drew the Gunners alongside last year’s Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund, old foe Marseille and Rafa Benitez’s Napoli.
Besides the difficult upcoming Champions League matches, the North London club has only managed to sign Yaya Sanogo and former Gooner Mathieu Flamini both on free transfer. Arsenal missed out on all of their big targets such as Gonzalo Higuain, David Villa and Stevan Jovetic and the transfer window slams shut in just three days. Wenger will have to rely on his current talent but unfortunately Lukas Podolski, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta are all suffering from injuries.
The Gunners don’t seem to be able to convince anyone but there is one thing that can turn all that contempt around and that is a win this Sunday against the North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
A triumph against Spurs would bring Arsenal back on the map as the best club in North London and, as a result, one of the best Premier League teams. This turn of events would restore serenity at the Emirates and would give an enormous morale boost to the manager, the players and the supporters.
Even if the Gunners don’t manage to advance to the Round of 16 in Europe they will still have the upper hand when it comes to the top four places of the Premier League. During his 17-year-reign at Arsenal, Wenger has never failed to advance in the Champions League and with that win the streak can definitely continue.
In addition, Spurs have improved drastically this season, even though they are losing Gareth Bale, as they have signed top quality players such as Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela. If the Gunners overcome a squad as greatly as improved as Tottenham then they can definitely pose a threat to all the other big clubs and possibly return to the title picture as serious contenders.
Numerous parties around Europe are not expecting much from Wenger’s team but after a good Sunday all their opponents might be alarmed and lose a lot of their confidence ahead of their clash with the North London team. Every European team are expected to be extra careful when they play an English club, especially at the away matches, but some get too tight in their game and thus are prone to mistakes on the back and midfield.
All sounds good but the best thing that will happen after an Emirates triumph is that the media will finally calm down. Wenger is no stranger to press conference outbursts but his latest in Constantinople shows that he has really had enough. But if his squad gets the better out of the North London derby and vanquishes their rivals then the media will have no other choice but to praise the Frenchman and his team.
For the sake of argument though we need to admit that it is still too early in the Premier League, as proven by last week’s bore between Manchester United and Chelsea. Spurs have not yet reached their absolute potential which is shown by their two penalty wins against Crystal Palace and Swansea. The arrival of former Roma forward Erik Lamela is also expected to strengthen the front line, assist Soldado and offer some extra solutions to manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Other sceptics might debate Spurs’ quality and start comparing them to Arsenal’s Champions League opponents. Not sure about Marseille or Napoli, even though the latter have been reinforced greatly albeit Edinson Cavani’s departure, but Dortmund seem to impose the same threat as last year. Jurgen Klopp’s squad didn’t lose any key players and have instead strengthened greatly with the acquisitions of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
If Wenger wants to erase all that moaning then he will have to work extra hard for a win that could give his club the bragging rights of the best North London squad. If Arsenal win on Sunday then it is safe to say that from then on things will be looking up and the Frenchman will at least get to have a happy end to this summer.