A summer that started with the announcement of Arsenal’s arrival as a financial heavyweight and ended with the club smashing their transfer record. Someone who missed the intermediary few months may have been forgiven for imagining them full of ambitious transfer activity, but in reality, they couldn’t have been further from the truth.
The Premier League club failed to spend anywhere near the riches that Gazidis prophesised about, and come May will this be what ultimately costs them?
It may be difficult for Arsenal fans to look back on the window all that rationally at this stage. I don’t blame them for enjoying their moment basking in the glory of capturing in my view the best advanced playmaker in world football. In reality though the deal to bring in Ozil has merely masked a summer of disappointment and financial prudence from the gunners.
Arsenal may well have just beaten their near neighbours to North London honours, but in truth neither side exhibited the kind of quality that will be necessary to challenge for titles this season. Maybe Spurs will benefit from their recent influx of players, only time will tell, but for Arsenal their only player to come in now is Ozil and for me that leaves them at least 3 players short.
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The capture of Flamini seems to polarize opinion; with people suggesting the free transfer tag is a lazy argument for undermining his importance. Injury prone and pretty mediocre at Milan, the fact no one else seemed particularly keen on his signature speaks volumes for me. I am ready to be proven wrong in this regard but surely a deal for Luiz Gustavo would have been a sure fire way of screening the back four? Will Wenger’s aversion to big spending bite him here?
It doesn’t stop there for me. Giroud may well have the potential to be a top striker in the future, but he just isn’t at that level yet. Yaya Sanogo is another promising wonderkid, but if you look at the teams that Arsenal are supposedly competing with they all have much stronger assets in the forward department. No wonder Arsenal made a late bid to sign Demba Ba in my opinion.
Arsenal may have boasted an impressive defensive record last term, but this again masks a pretty mediocre back line for me. Koscielny was a stand out player last season, but aside from that the rest would struggle to break into any of the top 6 sides. Vermaelen has been blighted by injury and loss of form, whilst Mertersacker is a player who will never convince me. The inexperience in wide positions was also telling, Gibbs looking particularly vulnerable during the recent North London Derby.
So yes Arsenal had a great defensive record, but really that just spoke volumes of their strength in the middle of the park and ability to stifle the opposition of any meaningful possession. It is a massive oversight therefore to say the defensive line is capable enough to match the ambitions of the club going forward.
This may all sound harsh on a team who have started the season pretty well, but my expectation is that the shortcomings will be exposed as we enter into the bulk of fixtures.
Arsenal fans have been quick to assert that January will be where this war chest will be spent, and maybe it will. However when you look at recent windows very little meaningful business happens during the Christmas period, and for Arsenal the problems are much greater than one more marquee deal.
Does the Ozil deal really represent a Wenger U-turn? Not for me sadly. Ozil embodies the exact qualities he dreams of in a footballer, and that coupled with the pressure from press and fans to spend has seen him finally enter into a big money deal. This is not a pattern I expect to continue readily under the Frenchman’s rule.
So Arsenal fans are welcome to celebrate the back end of the window as much as they like, but really this could be a summer that sees them fall behind their rivals yet again. Financial prudence ahead of targetive aggression in the market has been a pattern of a lifetime for Wenger.
Fans may have switched from Wenger out to Wenger in, during the space of a few days. But has anything really changed? The failure to spend the Arsenal war chest just suggests that the financial aversion has continued, and will so for the foreseeable future.
Will the inability to spend the full transfer war chest cost Arsenal this season?
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