What a difference a transfer window makes.
Arsenal’s players ventured off on their well-earned summer excursions following their successful dismantling of Aston Villa at Wembley to earn FA Cup silverware for the second consecutive season.
An impressive resurgence during the second half of the season offered Arsenal supporters renewed optimism, with many expecting a stronger title tilt coming into the 2015/2016 campaign.
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Expectations were heightened further following Petr Cech’s signing from city rivals Chelsea as Arsenal made spectacular early inroads in the summer window. With rumours rife that Arturo Vidal was to arrive at the Emirates from Champions League finalists Juventus, it started to appear that this could be the year where Arsenal were about to end their 12-year wait for League success.
Further speculation was flying around that Wenger wanted to bring in a world-class striker. Star names such as Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski and Alexandre Lazacette were banded around the press as Arsenal supporters appetites whettening further.
However, no marquee signings were made. In fact, no more players were to arrive in North London.
Manchester City’s total net spend was well in excess of £100 million, while fellow heavyweights Manchester United and Chelsea spend was in excess of £30 million.
Of the £850 million spent on recruiting players in the Premier League, the Gunners contribution of £10 million to that figure looks rather meagre.
Although I appreciate that transfer figures are ridiculously inflated and seldom are players bought for their actual worth, you just can’t help but feel that Arsenal missed the transfer boat completely this summer.
Olivier Giroud’s inauspicious start to the season has served as a vindication that Arsenal’s decision not bring in a top quality striker to bolster their attack to be injudicious.
Now it seems to me that Wenger’s reasoning for not summoning funds from the Arsenal hierarchy is that the current crop he has at his disposal are capable of challenging for the league without the need of a lending hand from new signings.
However, the Frenchman’s justification has already been rendered void on reflection of his side’s discouraging start.
The Gunners have only two recognised forwards in their entire squad, with one of those being an out of sorts Giroud.
Theo Walcott has shown glimpses of quality, but signs of naivety are still there to be seen. Although Walcott netted in the victory over Stoke, he was guilty of missing a string of chances which fortunately for Arsenal, came at no significant cost.
It would be unfair to single out Walcott and Giroud as Arsenal’s wastefulness in front of goal doesn’t simply boil down to their off-form forwards. Their shortcomings in front of goal are highlighted by the fact they have only scored five goals out of an astonishing 121 efforts on goal in their six Premier League matches to date.
With two of those Gunners goals coming courtesy of the opposition, it means that the three goals scored by Arsenal players have come at a conversion rate of 2.4%, a damning indictment of Wenger’s failure in the window.
Meanwhile in Bavaria, reported summer target Lewandowski came off the bench for Bayern Munich on Tuesday against Wolfsburg and terrorised them in clinical fashion, scoring five goals in 15 second half minutes to show why he is one of the most coveted striker’s across Europe.
With a five-point gap already separating Arsenal and Manchester City at the summit, there is serious concern that Arsenal could be left in a similar situation to last season, where any chance of a Premier League challenge is precluded by Christmas.
Arsenal welcome Manchester United to the Emirates a week on Saturday, who possess arguably the biggest gamble of the transfer window in their ranks in French teenage prodigy Anthony Martial.
A player whose transfer fee was heavily scrutinised before he even got a kick, has already demonstrated that he is fast becoming one of the world’s most clinical finishers. Having scored three goals in 100 minutes of Premier League football showcases just why it is sometimes worth abandoning a conservative approach in the transfer market in order to unearth a gem.
Arsenal’s frugality in the window may look healthy from a financial perspective, but it certainly looks detrimental from a footballing one.
I’m not entirely sure an FA Cup and a fourth place finish will cut the mustard with Arsenal supporters this time around.
Over to you Arsene.