Something weird is happening in North London.Arsenal actually seem to be doing things. Like actually signing really good players and stuff.
After the blockbuster signing of Alexis Sanchez for around £32 million, Arsene Wenger has delved into the transfer market again in the last couple of days, with Southampton right back Calum Chambers making the permanent trip to London in a deal worth £16 million.
Given that the Gunners desperately needed to strengthen their forward options and were left without a quality right back after Bacary Sagna’s departure, it appears for once as if the North London side are buying the players they need.
Of course, Arsenal’s reticence to spend in the past has – at least in part – been down to financial constraints. But even after the blockbuster signing of Mesut Ozil last summer, it still seemed very much like Wenger was unwilling to spend big money; most notably in his refusal during the January transfer window to buy the second striker that could well have been the difference between winning the league and coming up short once again.
But such reticence appears to have evaporated, and with it a number of the barriers that were in place between Arsenal and the Premier League title.
In Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal can boast a truly startling talent, and ably supplemented by the class of Ozil, Ramsey and Walcott. The Gunners’ forward line is looking extremely dangerous.
With the promising Chambers now on Arsenal’s books, the Englishman will line up alongside a formidable defence, with Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs looking every inch the sort of players that win Premier League titles.
What Wenger needs to do now is ensure depth.
As we all know, Arsenal have one of the worst injury records in the division, and should they get some key injuries, their opportunity of upsetting the apple cart will go up in smoke at quite some speed. In order to reduce the impact that the inevitable injuries will have, Wenger must spend again – at least a couple of times – to ensure that he has the squad depth to compete on several fronts. And by compete, I mean go the distance.
Because of course, this is another one Arsenal’s Achilles Heels – the all-too-familiar post January collapse. It is not uncommon for Arsenal fans to be wildly optimistic during August, September – sometimes even October – but it is quite another thing for them to still be optimistic as they head into the business end of the season.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Arsenal no longer have any excuses. They are no longer constrained by the fact that they need to pay back the stadium money. They can no longer make the excuse that they don’t have the funds to compete with the big boys. With Sanchez, Ozil and Chambers all arriving on big money deals, the time has come for Arsenal to deliver.
Arsene Wenger has been a crucial cog in the Arsenal machine for a considerable amount of time now, but the 2014/2015 season promises to be a watershed moment for the Frenchman. After the considerable success of the early 2000s, Arsenal have been in the (relative) doldrums for too long. For a club that once went a season unbeaten (and boasted one of the very best teams in the world at that time) to be scrabbling about for fourth simply isn’t good enough. Okay, so it hasn’t been necessary in the last few years, but it is no longer acceptable. And Wenger knows it. It’s time for the crunch.
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