Win, lose or draw, there was never going to be a positive outcome for Arsenal after round 1. Despite heavy investment by the rivals, Arsenal inactivity in the transfer market looks set to cost them dearly. Forget mounting a title challenge, the gunners now face an uphill battle to make it into the top 4. Will this be the end of Arsene Wenger?
After defeat to Liverpool in the opening round of the premiership, fans gave in to their bitter frustrations, hurling abuse at their team, as the seemingly inevitable became reality. Trailing 4-1 at half-time at home, they did manage to reduce the deficit but the damage was already done – and if we’re being truthful it most likely for the best. Had Arsenal scraped a draw against a Liverpool side who aren’t expected to achieve anything great (though they have improved significantly under Klopp), would only have served to mask the real issues facing the club. The question remains however: Will Arsene finally heed the warning and sign players? Whether he does or he doesn’t, by this stage the battle is already lost.
Arsenal’s summer window had run its course exactly as everyone expected it to – linked with every high-profile player available and signing very few squad players, none of whom are expected to be difference makers. Their rivals on the other hand have improved significantly, none more so than Manchester United having broken the bank, splurging out on Pogba, Mykhitarian and Ibrahimovic. With many teams having made significant improvements and Arsenal stagnant nature, their top-4 credentials are now surely in question and it’s hard to find an Arsenal fan that disagrees.
After opening defeat, Wenger has admitted that new players are required before the transfer window closes. With the first team decimated by injuries and fitness concerns – a flow on effect from Euro 2016 which should have been anticipated, Arsenal are now in the unsavory position of being forced into panic-buys, which by the way almost exclusively never work out well. Arsenal fans reading this wont like to be reminded of the 8-2 drumming at the hands of Manchester United in 2011 which prompted the impulse buys of Arteta and Andre Santos. Sadly for Arsenal fans, history look set to repeat itself.
Year after year of underachievement for a club of Arsenal’s stature, Wenger’s only saving grace is that he was the man who “paved the way” for the club’s Emirates Stadium, through inspired buys with low-price tags. The issue now is that he is no longer bound by those financial constraints and now as has all the funds to build a team in his vision. Why hasn’t he especially after being considered a genius after inspired signings such as Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira for small fees?
There are 2 scales – Business and Football that measure success of a transfer. The key difference is that the Business scale is based on the player’s performance v his transfer fee, whereas the Footballing scale only takes into consideration a players performance irrelevant of his price tag. Wenger was hailed as a genius after Henry’s performances took Arsenal to new heights following his £11 million transfer. Did Wenger know Henry was going to prove to be a revelation, or did he simply get lucky with it? In a hypothetical scenario, if Wenger was certain about this exact player being exactly who he needed, would he still have made signed him if Juventus demanded £20 million at the time? If Arsenal had of signed Thierry Henry for £50 million in 1999, looking back the transfer would still have been considered a success. With that being said, there is nothing wrong with spending large sums on a player just as long as you’re certain it would be a successful move. Thus, Arsene’s desire to spend little is now beginning to highlight a lack of confidence in his ability to judge the ability and potential of players.
Juventus turned a lot of heads when they signed 29 year old Higuain for €90 million. In terms of business it makes no sense – after 4 years how much could they receive for a player who would be 33? But that hasn’t occurred to them because they know he will be a success in the football aspect. Despite being in incredibly bad shape, in his debut he scored a winning goal after only being on the field for 8 minutes. Regardless of the fee, he was signed because he is a finished article and a proven player, and that is what Arsenal needs right now. Not necessarily Higuain, or Lacazette, or any of the countless names they were linked with. They don’t even need to spend big, they need to sign proven players. Liverpool have brought in Matip, Everton have brought in Ashley Williams, Watford have landed Pereyra, Crystal Palace signed Benteke, and even Middlesborough have brought in Negredo; how can a club like Arsenal not find anyone and choose to begin the season with a skeleton squad?
Latest reports emerging are that Wenger has approached Juventus regarding the signing of Mario Lemina. Firstly; what is Wenger’s fascination with signing midfielders when they clearly need forwards and defenders? Fans have accused the manager of penny-pinching – hardly groundbreaking stuff here. However, it does raise the question of what is going on in his mind. We here are big fans of Lemina and feel he will actually be an excellent signing for Arsenal – that much is true, but let’s assess the scenario – Juventus have already sold Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio is still on a long road to recovery after rupturing his ACL last season, and whilst both are still assets to the squad, Khedira and Asamoah each have a history of fitness issues. Why would Juventus, with a slight midfield crisis, sell Mario Lemina who is not only an excellent prospect but hasn’t even put a foot wrong when fielded? Despite that; what is €18m to a club that just received a sum that broke transfer fee record?
But again even if they were successful with a bid, they still haven't stopped to consider that the player is taking part in the African Cup of Nations, likely to be absent for all of January and early Febuary, it will be some miracle that he isn't exhausted by the end of the tournament just like Arsenal's players who have struggled for to make the pitch following Euro 2016.
It no secret that Wenger has been a massive part of Arsenal’s history and at the helm for some of their greatest accomplishments, however in latter years he has shown a distinct lack of direction and sadly for him we believe his time is soon up.