There is not much to say about Arsenal’s transfer window activity, or should that be inactivity, that has not already been said in the wake of the club’s demoralising opening-day reverse at home to Aston Villa.
A squad already alarmingly thin and in need of strengthening both in terms of numbers and quality took an even bigger hit, with reported injuries suffered by Kieran Gibbs, Bacary Sagna, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, as well as the suspension picked up by Laurent Koscielny after his controversial red card at the Emirates.
With the Gunners in action on Wednesday for the opening leg of their crucial Champions League qualification play-off with Fenerbahce, as well as league encounters against London rivals Fulham and Tottenham to come before the end of the transfer window, even the ever-conservative Arsene Wenger must surely realise the need to enter the market has never been greater.
Two years ago, following a similar summer of inertia and impotence, an 8-2 mauling at Old Trafford sparked a late dash into the market, where a clearly panicked Wenger eventually secured five signings in the last two days of the window. Only two of those, the often-maligned Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta remain in the first-team picture, with the hapless Andre Santos back in Brazil, Park Chu Young barely training with the first-team and Yossi Benayoun currently a free agent after being released by parent club Chelsea.
It was a torrid situation that Arsenal fans were promised by both the board and the manager would never be allowed to happen again. Fast forward 24 months however and the club once again appears on the brink. The fear is having again allowed the summer and the majority of realistically available transfer targets, such as Gonzalo Higuain and Luiz Gustavo to slip away, that the alternatives left on the market will fail to sufficiently improve the squad.
However, such is the toxicity around Arsenal at the moment, and Saturday’s defeat saw home fans come to blows with each other at the Emirates, that the desperation for a signing, any signing, has become overwhelming.
Having fought so hard to finish in fourth place ahead of Tottenham last season Wenger’s side run the risk of failing to even reach the group stage of the Champions League. Can a team that were comprehensively turned over on their home patch by a side that just about stayed in the Premier League last season truly head to Turkey in midweek confident of a positive result?
The pursuit of Luis Suarez will of course continue but Wenger must realise what many of the club’s supporters have come to see, that the signing of the Uruguayan, though certainly a big upgrade on the admirable but limited Olivier Giroud, is not enough to even secure Arsenal’s place in the top four again this season, let alone challenge for the honours Wenger promises his squad are capable of winning.
The time for excuses is done. The evidence of what needs to be done has now been seen on the pitch as well as off it. Over to you, Mr. Wenger.
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