Hardly anyone remembers seeing a Gunner lift a major trophy. It has indeed been seven long years since Arsenal won silverware – the FA cup victory in 2005 being the last of them. Every season they flattered to deceive and the promises remained unfulfilled. Critics had written off the club last season after they failed to hold on to two of their top players – Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas. For a moment, it seemed that the doomsday predictions would come true when the Gunners received a 2-8 drubbing from Manchester United and were defeated 3-4 by Blackburn Rovers. After seven games, they were in the 17th position in the league.Finally, Wenger and his boys got their act together and thus began a remarkable turnaround in fortunes that saw them finish third in the league and automatically qualify for the lucrative Champions league.
With their star players wanting to leave, Arsenal face a similar predicament this season.While Robin van Persie has clearly stated that he won’t be extending his contract, Theo Walcott is said to be holding out for a better offer. However, this time around, the North Londoners are better prepared for their campaign. Wenger has been quick to make his moves in the transfer market, already securing the services of French striker Olivier Giroud and German winger Lukas Podolski. While the Frenchman is being seen as a direct replacement for van Persie, Podolski adds a new dimension in the wings and he could also be used as a false striker.
Rumours are flying thick about two more impending arrivals. Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla is expected to move to London from Malaga in a few days. Malaga are looking to ease their financial troubles and their 16 million pound asking price for Cazorla is said to be matched by Arsenal. If the move materialises, it would be a bargain to get such a talented player for dirt cheap price. A member of the victorious Spain Euro squad, Santi is very versatile and can operate in the central midfield and in the wings. Nuri Sahin, the Turkish midfielder is also expected to join the team on a season-long loan deal. The Real Madrid man has struggled for first team chances under Mourinho and would be another interesting addition at the Emirates.
The club management has been active not only in buying but also in selling. A massive clear-out is rumored to take place over the coming weeks. Already eight fringe players, including out-of-favor goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, have been released by the club and Carlos Vela has moved to Real Sociedad. Talks with various clubs about loan deals or permanent transfers of Andrei Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner are also in progress. These departures would not only reduce the huge wage bill but also pave the way for new arrivals.
On the defense front, Arsenal still look vulnerable. Bacary Sagna is out injured for the first two months of the season which leaves young Carl Jenkinson as the only recognized right-back. Their defence leaked 49 goals in the league last season,a number that is unacceptable for a team aiming for pole position. The promotion of Steve Bould as Assistant manager should help tighten the back four. The former Arsenal defender recently replaced Pat Rice,who retired due to a chronic knee problem, as Arsenal’s number two.
Among the top clubs, Arsenal are in a better position to tackle the imminent Financial fair play rules. The club’s policy of not going overboard in purchasing players has come in handy as they have posted healthy profits over the years. While other clubs are selling players and cutting down on their wage bills to comply with the regulations, the Gunners are on a buying spree.
Will the players settle quickly and the squad bond in time for the new season? Or will the Gooners have to wait longer for their dream to see the light of the day? With as many as four top quality players arriving at the Emirates, the men in red and white probably have the best squad since the Invincibles of 2003-04.Given the exacting standard set by the Premier league, an EPL title might be just out of reach. But, Wenger’s team definitely has the ammunition to mount a tougher challenge in the Champions league. Who knows,this might really be the season that would end their trophy drought.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.