As an Arsenal fan, I can rely on three things in life; Death, Taxes, and Arsene Wenger treating the Club’s transfer ‘war chest’ like his daughter’s inheritance. Yes, Arsenal’s Groundhog Day Summer came around again...and as it has been since 2005, Arsene Wenger has kept his hands firmly in his pocket at the time of writing...despite all the talk (pre-season-ticket-renewal) of some serious spending being lined up...
Here are my six fears for the forthcoming new season:
Failing to capitalise:
The football planets have aligned this season; Manchester United have changed manager, with David Moyes - famously a manager who hasn’t won away against any of the ‘top four’ teams – taking over Sir Alex Ferguson’s battered old armchair in the dug-out (one suspects that there are decade’s worth of Werther’s Originals secreted down those cushioned sides), Manuel Pellegrini taking on Manchester City’s poisoned chalice and Jose Mourinho arriving at Chelsea for a second coming (in both his eyes and those of his adoring press hacks), chastened by having his reputation and character sullied by a catalogue of disgraceful behaviours during his combustible tenure in Madrid. All of these changes should, in theory, benefit a managerially stable (of sorts) Arsenal; the team who of course, narrowly brought up the rear of the top four. Add to that Tottenham almost inevitably selling their best player since Jurgen Klinsmann (or Sol Campbell, tee-hee!) to Real Madrid and it really could be Arsenal’s season to finally push on and mount a serious challenge that lasts past February. Ifs...buts...maybes...Arsenal cannot capitalise as they are...
Failing to spend:
As mentioned, and you may have seen this on Twitter, Arsenal have yet to sign the superstars that Gooners have craved to see since Vieira, Henry, Fabregas and van Persie left N5 for greener pitches. I am adamant that Arsenal need a solid, international class goalkeeper; one of Begovic, Andujar or Rui Patricio would suit me, as the two Polish ‘keepers are good, but not they’re not in Lehmann or Seaman’s class. Having watched Jenkinson being taken out by the sun like a rookie pilot in the Battle of Britain against Napoli, I would also say right-back is a position that needs reinforcing, especially since Sagna is stalling on a new deal. Again, one of Corchia or van der Wiel would be great. Arsenal’s soft defensive and midfield centre was brutally exposed by Napoli in The Emirates Cup (I was there...) and the team are a Koscielny, Arteta or Wilshere injury from being horribly exposed. If Ginter arrives from Freiburg (as is being suggested) then these three outfield positions are nominally covered...but he is no Bender, Felliani, Luiz Gustavo or Khedira. I’d love another dedicated centre-back added too, so if Wenger could prise one of Sakho, Mangala or Alderweireld from their clubs (or in fact, any central defender who isn’t going to be savaged, tricked and fooled by a 35 year old striker currently playing in football’s equivalent of a Saga holiday league, eh Per?!). And of course, a class act up front is needed. A player who isn’t afraid to shoot...Higuain would’ve been great, but faffing, penny-pinching and cheeky Spanish Presidents put paid to that dream...I am not convinced, nor excited by the prospect of Suarez signing, especially for a crazy price, so I’d like to see a player every Gooner can get behind (Huntelaar or Leandro Damiao perhaps?!) and importantly, can help fire the team to glory. I don’t think Sanogo alone will help bolster that frontline.
As mentioned above, an injury to one of Arsenal’s key players, as it stands, is far too awful for Gooners to contemplate. I winced every time Wilshere was tackled this weekend and Koscielny was pretty much the only player stopping Napoli run riot in a chaotic first half. Diaby is spent, sadly, tragically, and the club do not (and should not) need to rely on another player’s permanent ‘only six week’s out’ spell on the sidelines.
Failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League proper:
The prospect of Arsenal failing to negotiate the qualifiers for the group stage is enough to send me into hysterics. So I won’t think about it. Damn it, I have. That is my sleep shot then. Obviously, Arsenal need to get the quality core of players in to help them scrap their way through what is bound to be a tough qualifying draw. There is a promising young team being built at Arsenal, it just needs to be added to. Thank goodness the driftwood has been cast away this summer...
Fan unrest. The ‘Arsene Knows Best’ brigade versus the ‘Arsene Out!’ gang; infighting, Twitter spats and general discontent have marred being Gooner of late. I hope that the club can, for the good of the fans (you know, the people who sustain the festooned riches of the luscious mahogany boardroom) unite them through shrewd purchases, open and truthful PR and communication that doesn’t treat us as gullible sheep. Although, I fear, we’re too late on that one.
Maybe a return of one D. Dein could help alleviate my fears..?!
Thanks for reading,