While Arsenal’s title rivals are splashing out millions in search of players with world-class potential – players that make a difference to their title credentials – it’s all quite quiet at The Emirates Stadium where a biting silence looks set to last longer and deep into the season. Granit Xhaka’s £30M signing appeared to be a welcome gesture, a sign of the things to come, but so far, not much has turned out as expected with Takuma Asano and Rob Holding being the only two arrivals to follow Xhaka’s.
What’s more sickening? Both of them are unheard of and have been bought for the future (again). Judging by the current situation, they may as well be featuring against Liverpool on the opening day of the 2016/17 season, possibly a few other teams too if the Gunners’ freefall continues as it is currently.
The Premier League hasn’t even begun yet and Arsene Wenger is staring at a number of problems that Arsenal may very well be resigned to bow down to a few months later. To begin with, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck (out for a year) and Per Mertesacker are all set to possibly miss the start of the season.
Even if they do manage to be back in time – and it’s a big if – how do the North-Londoners cope with their troubles up front and at the back still remains a riddle that no one at the club wants to solve.
In contradistinction, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have all been highly active in the transfer market trying to address their weaknesses irrespective of the funds that cause requires, which signals the intent to win the league next season, not just finish in the top four.
What have Arsenal done to make such a statement? Apart from signing Granit Xhaka as well as failing to sign Jamie Vardy and Alexandre Lacazette, not much. For a club that has the highest matchday revenue, if they can’t spend a decent amount on the right players, the money is better donated than paid to watch a game at The Emirates Stadium so it can actually reap some kind of reward, if not a trophy.
Problem at Arsenal is that whereas there is a manager whose reluctance to spend is second to none, Stan Kroenke – the majority shareholder – doesn’t want to release a lot of funds either which makes it all more complicated. When there’s no pressure from the man in-charge, why would Kroenke bother either? After all, the Russian apparently begrudges every single penny he has to spend on the club he earns a lot from.
Simply put, unless and until Arsene Wenger decides against sticking to his philosophies, he could be digging a deep-deep hole for himself and for whatever he has done all these years.
He must realise the urgency of the moment and the fact that major additions to what is still the best overall squad in the league is the only way he can lift the silverware, or else, even a top four could be finish may not be guaranteed.