Arsenal have had nearly three months to improve and strengthen the squad, something that was promised by chief executive Gazidis and manager Arsene Wenger. The players have also frequently made noises about the club bringing in new signings and it is time that this finally happened.
It has been clear for some time what Arsenal require: a new striker to help Olivier Giroud, a defensive midfielder to share the workload with Arteta, another creative player to add another option alongside Cazorla and Rosicky, a centre back to offer cover and depth in that position and a new goalkeeper to provide competition for the largely unchallenged Szczesny. As well as the Arsenal squad requiring these specific improvements it is now a squad seriously lacking depth after the club released 17 players and brought in only French under-20 striker Yaya Sanogo who remains unproven at the top level.
The match against last year’s relegation candidates Aston Villa showcased both the lack of depth and quality in this current Arsenal squad. The game started well for Arsenal, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud combining before the latter swept home the opening goal in the fifth minute.
Soon after things turned for the worse for the Gunners, with Agbonlahor being allowed to run through the midfield unchallenged to earn a penalty – would a defensive midfielder such as Luis Gustavo helped here? – which was duly dispatched at the second attempt by Benteke after he saw his first effort saved.
Without Mikel Arteta adding authority and calmness to the midfield Arsenal looked lost, seemingly lacking any organisation or shape. A club in the top four cannot have only one experienced midfielder able to provide leadership, there should be several leaders in all positions of the pitch. This is something that can be added to the squad and should have been before the first match of the Premier League season.
Coupled with the humiliating, morale sapping 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa, Arsenal lost Kieran Gibbs, Bacary Sagna and Oxlade-Chamberlain to injury with the latter reportedly out for three months (Source: The Mirror). The Gunners also lost Laurent Koscielny to a dubious red card and he will now have to sit out next weeks match against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
The Arsenal squad is currently injury hit, but if reinforcements had been signed this would not be nearly as big an issue as it is now. The fact that Aaron Ramsey was playing at centre back in the first Premier League game of the season is symptomatic of how poor the transfer window has been for Arsenal so far.
It must be stated that Arsenal were unlucky with injuries yesterday, for example losing your first choice left back after your second was already injured is just plain bad luck and cannot be accounted for. The thinness of the squad as a whole though is unacceptable.
There is a very real possibility that Arsenal’s heroic efforts to achieve a position in the top four last season could be wasted by crashing out before even reaching the group stage.
If Arsenal do successfully get past the qualification stage, they simply must make some moves in the transfer market. The squad is wafer thin right now, after one game of the season, it must be asked how will it look come Christmas?
If Arsenal fail to spend the cash reserves they clearly have then the blames lies solely at the feet of chief executive Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger who have openly stated they are ready to buy players – something clearly required. Arsene Wenger must make a statement in the remaining days of this transfer window, for his legacy as much as anything.
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