As many will know, Arsenal’s quest to win a trophy came to a dramatic end last season, beating Hull City 3-2 in the FA Cup final at Wembley thanks to a winning strike from midfielder Aaron Ramsey. Now, Arsene Wenger and his players have turned their attention on claiming back the Premier League title for the first time since 2004. The Gunners quest to add to their 13 Premier League titles has resulted in Wenger dipping his hands into the transfer market, and finally, much to the relief of most Arsenal fans, splashed the cash on supposedly world class talent.
Over the years, Wenger faith in the Academy set up in North London is one of the fundamental reasons why they have underachieved, consistently only scraping into the top four. Now he has finally decided to splash the cash on the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but it seems that Wenger has paid very little attention on the defensive side of his team. Selling captain Thomas Vermaelen to FC Barcelona could prove to be a fatal move from the Frenchman, considering the North Londoners have experienced a plethora of absentees thus far, especially defensively.
The question on everybody’s lips is why did Arsene Wenger not fork out some money on a world class defender? The formula to winning a football match is simple, if you don’t concede goals, you don’t lose games. Scoring isn’t a problem for Arsenal and hasn’t been since Wenger took the reins at the club in 1996. However, Arsenal tend to leak goals, especially when they face top opposition.
So far, the Gunners have had an incredible 16 players that have been deemed injured or unfit to play this season, with first choice defensive pairing Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker included. This is an incredible stat considering we are only eight games into the new season and it’s only likely to get worse. This has resulted in Wenger having to put huge faith in young and inexperienced right back Hector Bellerin. Being forced too fast-track players into the first team could destroy a player’s career in a matter of a few games.
Wenger did acquire Calum Chambers from Southampton in the summer, but the full back, who can also operate as a makeweight centre half, is popular in the referee’s notebook and already found himself with a suspension. This has resulted in the likes of left back Nacho Monreal and defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini shifting into the heart of the Arsenal backline, which made the Gunners vulnerable from corners and set pieces. Also, arguably Arsenal’s best defender Laurent Koscielny’s fitness has been questioned and wheter he can last a whole season remains to be seen. The Gunners are a formidable side when the French international is playing, winning 63.2% of their games when he was included in the starting line-up last season, compared to winning just 28.6% of their games without him.
Wenger’s desire not improve at the back could come back to haunt him. Currently sitting 7th in the table, Arsenal have drawn five games already, along with Sunderland, which is the most in the league. Conceding 11 goals in eight games, Arsenal have conceded more goals than the likes of Southampton and Swansea City. When the January transfer window comes, Wenger will have to admit to his mistake and strengthen his team’s defence.