With Arsenal making only one signing in the summer transfer window, clearly Arsene Wenger has a lot of faith in his squad – but is it actually justified?
The early optimism that followed the signing of Petr Cech from Chelsea will seem like an eternity ago for Gunners fans. They waited patiently for more signings but to no avail, as Wenger’s side remained the only side in the top five European divisions not to sign a single outfield player, and the only Premier League side to not sign at least five new players.
Cech’s arrival was supposed to be the first of two or three signings that would significantly strengthen the spine of Wenger’s team. Instead it turned out to be the beginning and the end of Wenger’s summer transfer activity.
Karim Benzema was heavily linked with a move to north London, but even the most staunch of fans would have realised a deal for the Real Madrid star was always extremely unlikely. Edison Cavani could’ve been a good deal but at his age, 28, he issurely too old for Arsenal to part with big cash now.
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Many fans will still say that Olvier Giroud is good enough to lead the line, though many more will disagree. And perhaps someone with more authority on the matter – Theirry Henry – is more important? The Frenchman still believes Wenger’s side need a “top quality striker” to replace Giroud.
Wenger disagrees with his former star striker, saying: “I think he is wrong.
“I can accept that is an opinion, but the comment on Giroud was a bit more wrong. Especially because I heard the same thing being said about [Nicolas] Anelka, about Thierry Henry himself and about Robin van Persie, and they all became world-class players themselves.”
You would have to agree with Wenger there, but the key difference is age. The players he mentioned were in their early twenties and had much more time to develop, whereas Giroud is already 29 and he isn’t going to get much better. Players reach their peak in their late twenties and at the moment his world class potential is highly debatable.
But that policy of keeping faith has proved costly when looking at Arsenal’s forward options. The Gunners created 66 clear cut chances last season, an identical amount as Chelsea and Man City, but the big difference was they struggled to convert them.
This season, Arsenal have missed eight clear cut chances, which highlights how it isn’t a case of not making chances, it’s just the finishing that isn’t. No team has missed more clear cut chances than the Gunners, and the identity of the culprits hints at the problem.
There are just seven players in the Premier League to have missed more than one clear cut chances this season and three of those play for Arsenal – Giroud, Sanchez and Walcott.
Arsenal remain a potent side peppered with quality and that target of 20 seasons in the top four is still very attainable, however.
But the fans hoping that this would have been the summer that world class players were signed to help close the gap, will have to keep on dreaming as Wenger keeps his faith in his team.
Ultimately Arsenal’s season rests on the question whether that faith was indeed justified?