After yesterday’s debacle, it is time to take a step back and see where we are, how did we get he and what the future holds. There is no point in analysing yesterday’s match, it is certified XXX in the minds of all Arsenal fans.
We all knew it was not going to be an easy match but the roots of the result go back, probably two or three seasons ago. Namely in our continued transfer policy of selling top players and not replacing them or when we do bring players in we offer them a four year contract which means we either offer a new contract after one year or we are left on tenderhooks as to whether they will stay or not.
Four years ago we had Gilberto, Flamini and Diarra all competing to play alongside Fabregas, things looked promising, then we managed to lose all three players in the same season. The replacement was a young Welsh midfielder, Ramsey who was not ready at the time for first team football.
The scenario was to continue the two season when we sold Adebayor and Toure for a combined fee of £40M, and we brought in Veramelen.
Last summer Arsenal were active, no players left but bough Koscielny, Squillaci and Chamakh joined on a free transfer.
This summer saw a summer exodus, though no Arsenal fans were surprised, the squad had gone stale, the same errors were happening, the same inability to compete for trophies were re-occuring. Out went Eboue, Clichy, Denilson (loan), Vela (loan), Fabregas, Nasri, with Almunia, Bendtner and Squillaci all expected to follow.
This summer window was one I was looking forward to, because the noises coming out of Arsenal was that it would be an active window, Wenger “knew” what went wrong and was determined to put it right, the dead wood was going to be cleared and new faces were going to arrive.
All Arsenal fans expected Cesc to leave this summer, the only person in denial was Arsene Wenger, why? When it also emerged that both Clichy and Nasri were not going to sign new contracts, the Arsenal board and Wenger should have planned for life without them straight away. These three departures, were big players leaving Arsenal and we need to ask the question who was responsible for allowing Nasri and Clichy to reach the final year of their contracts? Someone in the Arsenal hierarchy needs to answer some questions to ensure that we are not faced with the same situation next summer with van Persie and Walcott.
With so many players leaving what were Arsenal doing in the transfer market? We secured Carl Jenkinsson, but was he an able replacement for Eboue, was he ready step into the first team so early? Wenger insisted, when Clichy left, that Gibbs, Traore and Vermaelen were all capable of playing left-back. Whilst Gibbs is an able left-back, his tendancy to get injured meant we needed a second left-back and Traore was not that player. Jose Enrique was available for £6M from Newcastle, but Arsene dithered and Dalglish stepped in and we are now left scouring Ligue 1 for a replacement as we could be selling Traore!
Wenger knew we were short of strikers. Bendtner is going to leave and Wenger has decided that Vela is not ready and probably will never be ready for Premier League football, this left us with van Persie whom we know will play 50% of the games at best and Chamakh who has disappeared as a striker. So the club waits until the last moment to bring in a striker, expected to be Park the South Korea captain, not Benzema that all Arsenal fans wanted. Once again we shopo at Lidl whilst others shop at Harrods!
Our search for midfielders has been a farce. Ricardo Alvarez was to be our first signing, yet we lost out because of a £1.7M difference in valuation, this is pathetic, Arsenal made around £5M from the Asia Tour. Juan Mata a quality player was available for around £13M due to a clause in his contract that expired on 31 July, so the incompetence and dithering of Arsenal meant we made a bid for him on 1 August! These two signings, plus Gervinho would have compensated for the loss of Nasri and probably allowed Arshavin and Rosicky to leave the club.
Our search for a centre back continues, with four candidate, Samba, Dann, Cahill and Jagielka all the prime candidates, but once again Arsenal are arguing over £3m-£4m. We do not need one centre-half, but two and Samba or Dann should be bought in addition to Cahill.
Our summer transfer window has been a disaster, a non-starter. Everyone knew we needed players, yet we dithered, we were incompetent. We were faced with our hardest start to a season, a tough Champions League qualifier, yet as a club we were prepared to wait until the last minute to buy players. The end result has been the worse start, players suspended and injured and squad so decimated that our bench yesterday was made up entirely of kids.
The situation is not reversible. We have three days to bring in not 3 players, but 5 players and we need to pay the money to ensure this happens. If we bring in the right players, Wenger can turn things around, but he needs to buy. Failure to bring in the right players, failure to bolster the squad and turn things around will result in the worse season in Arsenal’s EPL history. We will fail to qualify for Europe next season, we will be humiliated in the Champions League, we will lose more vital players next season and Wenger will leave Arsenal and be remembered as the stubborn, intransigent manager who led Arsenal to their worse season in the EPL.
The next three days will define our season and our immediate future, the sake of the club Arsene spend the money to bring in the right players.
It’s now or never for Wenger. The squad is the weakest since Arsene’s reign started that there is no doubt. Suspensions and injuries are mounting and we have only played three games. Our squad for today included two players who are outward bound and contained 8 youngsters.
Whilst we could see the potential in both Frimpong and Miguel today, trophies are not won with potential, but as Wenger told us in May with experience.
Our attack was blunt today with the only Nasri showing any inventiveness. The defence was on the whole solid but Jenkinson looked exposed on several occasions.
Arsene has insisted that the players he has brought in Gervinho, Jenkinson, Ryo and Oxlade-Chamberlain are good quality players and by implication adequate replacements for Febregas, Nasri, Denilson, Vela, Eboue and Clichy. I think Wenger is either deluded or lying to the fans. Defence is the main area to strengthen, yet Arsene has refused to move for any of our “targets”, why? Is it that he thinks they are not good enough for Arsenal or does he think they are too expensive? We have had bids turned down for both Samba and Jagielka within the last 12 months, so they must be good enough, but Wenger appears to refuse to spend. Arsene needs to spend money and strengthen our defence there is no other option.
Midfield is devoid of players with invention. We were missing Gervinho and Wilshere, but that is no excuse. Wenger is culpable allowing this situation to develop. Everyone know that Cesc was leaving, Denilson wanted out and Nasri was not prepared to sign a new contract, so why were so indecisive in the transfer market? If we go back to Ricardo Alvarez, how did we let this one slip away over a reported £1.5M difference in valuation? At the end of July we were about to sign Mata for £13M, but failed to lodge the bid before his buyout clause expired and now Chelsea are favourites to sign him for £28M.
In attack we have let Carlos Vela go out on loan and Niklas Bendtner is due to leave, this leaves us with van Persie who only plays 50% of our games and Marouane Chamakh who looks like he’ll never score again.
Frankly our squad is too weak to compete this season, not to challenge for the title but too weak to even try and make a fourth place finish.
Why has this happened? The board needs to accept some of the responsibility. They have, since David Dein’s departure allowed Wenger to dictate and conduct transfer negotiations. This adds pressure on Wenger in terms of spending, he is fearful of spending say £17M on Cahill and then the player not producing the goods. The situation at Arsenal is calling for a Director of Football who is responsible for transfer and contract negotiations. Wenger hands this person a list of players in priority order and he then goes out and buys the player within the transfer budget.
Arsenal now have two vital games, away to Udinese and Manchester United. Defeat in these games will be disaster; we will have Europa League football at Arsenal and potentially out of the title race by the end of August.
Unless Arsene brings in a minimum of three players this week, Arsenal fans are going to have a very long and frustrating season.
Today saw swarms of fans leave the ground once Liverpool took the lead, there was dissent from fans calling for Arsene to spend the money and for the second game in a row there were hundreds of empty seats. The latter has prompted the club to stop announcing the attendance during the games.
What have we done to deserve so many injuries? Is there a curse at The Emirates? Since moving to the Emirates we have lost too many players for too long, Henry and van Persie ins season one, Rosicky and Eduardo in our second year and last year’s injury list would have been too many to fit into either ER or Casualty.
This season started with Nasri out injured before pre-season, Vela soon followed him and Walcott, who is becoming Arsenal’s Mr Sicknote, joined the list. Eduardo has not been able to stay fit for more than two games, whilst Rosicky cannot last 90 minutes yet. This was not enough for the injury jinx, because Almunia has been out for several weeks with a chest infection but to make matters worse our second goalkeeper was also out injured.
Add to these injuries are the perennial one or two week injuries and you can imagine the headaches that Arsene has had to contend with.
Just as players start to come back, Walcott gets clattered by Ridgewell and is out for three or four weeks!
There is some good news as both Nasri and Fabianski are due to play for the Reserves tonight against Wolves.
All teams suffer injuries and that is why we have large squads, but how many teams can cope with their number one and two goalkeepers out as well as a host of attacking talent.
That is why what we have done so far is a great achievement and no doubt once Wenger has Nasri, Walcott, Eduardo, Bendtner and Vela all back and fit, it will give him a great problem.
The Carling Cup game against West Brom the long awaited season debut of Carlos Vela. Vela was injured whilst away with Mexico missing most of the pre-season. Wenger obviously though that Carlos was not 100% and waited until midway through the second half before allowing the Mexican striker to make his season’s bow in front of an admiring audience at the Emirates.
It was in the same competition last season that Vela scored a hat-trick and announced himself to Arsenal fans and England.
We did not see much of Vela last season despite injuries to other strikers. When he did play Wenger used him on the wing, urging him to cut-inside. Vela made 29 appearances scoring 6 goals, though most of them were as a substitute and he only started two Premier League games.
Against West Brom he showed that injury had not slowed him down or diminished he trickery. Once he arrived he was the catalyst for Arsenal’s victory scoring one and making the other.
Vela needs to transfer his international and Carling Cup form to the Premier League; he needs to show Wenger that he can produce the goods week-in week-out. Vela must prove to Wenger that he does not need to go out and buy Chamakh as he is a better player.
There has been so much hype over Vela, well now it is time for him to deliver.