Sometimes, when you look at it too much, all football starts to look the same. It’s only natural that after over 120 years, things start to repeat themselves.
For Arsenal, though, this summer isn’t reminiscent of some summer in the distant past, forgotten by all but the club historians. This summer is reminiscent of a much more recent summer: last one.
Last summer, Arsene Wenger perked-up early. He plucked Petr Cech from the Chelsea bench, but his squad status at Stamford Bridge was always a bit of a misnomer. Cech is one of the best in the world.
But if Arsenal fans thought that their manager was righting the wrongs of previous summer transfer windows, caving in on his stubbornness and signing the kind of ready-made Premier League player that would fire the Gunners to a genuine title tilt, they were proven wrong over the course of a tortuous, drawn-out summer of waiting by their phone for a lover who will not call back.
Arsenal started the summer with such optimism, and ended it as the only club in Europe’s ‘top five leagues’ not to sign an outfield player in that window.
This year Arsenal have been fooled again. Granit Xhaka arrived and the same old guff was wheeled out: Arsene Wenger has finally signed a top quality midfielder who is capable of getting stuck in, the baddest bastard to wear an Arsenal shirt since the days of Martin Keown and, more importantly, Patrick Vieira.
But after a tortuous summer of derisory bids for the kinds of players who can actually upgrade their team, Arsenal find themselves in an eerily similar position to last summer.
This time, after the signing of Granit Xhaka it’s all gone quiet for Arsenal. A couple of low-ebb signings won’t be enough to meet expectations, but nor will it be enough to win Arsenal a first title since 2004.
Rejected bids for Alexandre Lacazette and Shkodran Mustafi represent failures in exactly the areas where Arsenal need to be strengthened, and with injuries to Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel, this weekend’s game against Liverpool is looking more and more daunting.
The good news is that Arsene Wenger signed a defender who can cover for the injuries. The bad news is, that defender is Rob Holding from Bolton who will be in for a baptism of fire.
But it’s not just last season that looms large for Arsenal.
It’s also 2011/12 when Arsenal went into the the third game of the season at Old Trafford depleted and demoralised from a summer much worse than this one. Yet missing some huge defenders – and in the case of one Big German, literally so – means a makeshift defence will play against a team that you would expect will not be in the mood for giving young defenders time on the ball to gain their composure.
Luckily for Arsenal, Liverpool too have big injury worries. Last season’s centre back pairing of Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho are unlikely to feature against Arsenal.
This could be an interesting game of depleted defences up against pacey attacks. Alexis Sanchez supplied by Mesut Ozil. Sadio Mane and Divock Origi supplied by Philippe Coutinho.
Neither side feels ready for this game, but for Arsenal, this summer is beginning to feel like many others before it, waiting by the phone in the desperate hope of a come-and-get-me-call. This summer is beginning to feel like another Summer of no Love for Arsenal.