With the close of the European transfer window now firmly in sight after the Premier League’s deadline slammed shut nearly three weeks ago, it’s time to reflect on how English clubs have performed during the summer.
Ushering in a new era lead by Unai Emery that should hopefully bring Arsenal back to being Champions League regulars at a bare minimum, the Gunners made five signings during the summer at a cost of £71.1million while parting with the likes of Jack Wilshere and Lucas Perez.
But was it shrewd business or have the north Londoners fallen a little short of what’s required to cement themselves in the top four? We’ve got one simple question for Football FanCast’s expert writers – what will prove to be Arsenal’s biggest mistake of the summer transfer window? Read their thoughts below…
“Whilst Arsenal’s defence has looked shaky so far this season, they have only come up against immensely talented attacks at this point. Also, in the likes of Rob Holding, Konstantinos Mavropanos and (the currently injured) Laurent Koscielny, Emery does at least have some options beyond the current partnership of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis.
“On the flanks however, the Gunners boss isn’t so lucky. Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi and Reiss Nelson currently provide the side’s most natural wide options, and none of them get into a best Arsenal starting XI. Shifting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out to the wing is wasteful of the club-record signing’s predatory goalscoring talents, and neither Mesut Ozil nor Henrikh Mkhitaryan possess the physical capabilities required to operate within Emery’s preferred hard pressing system.
“The failure to bring in another reliable, proven and capable winger this summer could prevent Emery fully implementing his favoured style of play at the Emirates this season.”
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“After seeing how Arsenal have been torn apart down their right-hand side in the opening two games, perhaps their biggest mistake this summer was signing 34-year-old Stephan Lichtsteiner instead of a right-back in their prime who could challenge Hector Bellerin.
“The Spaniard failed to make the squad for this summer’s World Cup and has been caught out of position on more than one occasion already this season in the games against City and Chelsea, with four of the five goals that Arsenal have conceded so far coming from down that flank. Lichtsteiner on the other hand did make Switzerland’s World Cup squad, but he looked sluggish and isn’t the man Emery needs to push Bellerin for a starting spot.”
“For me, Arsenal’s biggest mistake during the summer transfer window was not significantly strengthening their centre-back options – something it was clear they desperately needed to do after last season. While Emery and Sven Mislintat only had a limited budget to work with, I still believe they could have signed a far superior centre-half to Sokratis, who doesn’t appear to be a significant improvement on what they already have.
“They needed a really dominant leader who is vocal and can organise them defensively, and in hindsight their biggest mistake probably actually dates back to January, when they should have tried to match Liverpool’s world-record offer for Virgil van Dijk instead of splashing out a club-record fee on Aubameyang.”
“Arsenal’s biggest mistake was not resolving Aaron Ramsey’s future. Even though the midfielder may not carry the same gravitas that Alexis Sanchez and Ozil did during their respective contract sagas, having an air of uncertainty around a first-team player is always a distraction. If Ramsey is still undecided on where his future lies, then it gives Emery a problem with regards to team selection.
“When the Wales international failed to make the cut against Chelsea, instantly attention turned to his long-term future and fans began questioning what is going on behind the scenes. It may not severely affect Arsenal’s season as the campaign goes on, but any sense of doubt around a player can never be beneficial.”