After a summer full of talk of Wenger looking to sign at least one centre-back, it was somewhat ironic that the main positive to take from Saturday’s match was the performance of the defence, Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny looked assured in the centre and Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs were lively going forward and solid at the back. The importance of the return to fitness of Vermaelen cannot be understated, he was outstanding in his first season and a huge loss last term – it could be said that the probable departures of Fabregas and Nasri will prove less of a problem this season than the loss of Vermaelen last time round.
Selling Fabregas and Nasri will undoubtedly weaken Arsenal, but playing somebody who doesn’t want to be at the club will inevitably lead to a lower level of performance, a criticism that could definitely be levelled at the club captain last season. Arsenal have recovered from the losses of many talented players in the past and they will surely recover again, but Arsene Wenger will have to dip into his transfer kitty and sign a player or two.
The charge of lacking creativity is a short-sighted view from sensationalist pundits, when your starting XI includes Robin Van Persie, Gervinho, Andrei Arshavin, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey, a lack of creativity really shouldn’t be an issue. Add in Jack Wilshere to that side and the team is positively overflowing with creativity.
The manner in which Arsenal’s season collapsed last term and the troubles over the summer are hard to view positively and there is a justified pressure on Wenger to show that this team are moving forward. But for all of those problems, Arsenal still possess some excellent players, Gervinho showed bags of potential on his full debut and the youth players coming through the ranks are exceptionally talented. Watch out for the likes of Emmanuel Frimpong and Ryo Miyaichi as they are both on the way to becoming more involved in first team affairs. Miyaichi in particular looks to be an outstanding talent and it will be very interesting to see if he can continue the progress he made on loan at Feyenoord last season.
All in all then, plenty of reasons to be optimistic but it is crucial for Wenger that he can negotiate a tricky first month of the season successfully to help appease some worried fans.