The Gunners humiliating 3-1 defeat at home in which they conceded two penalties, lost three players through injury and had one of their two fit centre-backs sent off leaves them with just 9 fully fit and available first-team players ahead of their crucial Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahce in Istanbul on Wednesday.
To make matters worse, the fans could be heard chanting ‘spend some f***ing money’ at the final whistle this weekend in an attempt to pressurize manager Arsene Wenger to bring in new additions after the North Londoners disposed of 17 players from their first and reserve squads and brought in only 20-year-old Yaya Sanogo on a free transfer.
With the list of failed deals mounting – Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney, Stevan Jovetic, Gonzalo Higuain, Bernard, Luiz Gustavo and Lars Bender among them – the fans’ frustration at the lack of preparation and ambition at the club was palpable this weekend as Arsenal assigned themselves as a ‘crisis club’ on the opening day of the season.
A summer of despair and frustration turned to anger as Antonio Luna’s goal, Villa’s third, flew past Wojceich Szczesny who was left utterly defenseless by a depleted ten-man Arsenal following Laurent Koscielny’s dismissal by referee Anthony Taylor.
On Monday, reports emerged that Arsenal had bid £35 million for a ‘double swoop’ for Williams and Michu as well as a flatly rejected ‘derisory’ £10 million bid for Newcastle playmaker Yohan Cabaye.
With time running out and patience wearing thin, the Gunners cannot afford to get stuck in another Suarez-style deadlock with Swansea as they did with Liverpool over the wantaway Uruguayan.
At present Wenger has only Olivier Giroud and youngster Sanogo as recognized centre forwards but the bulk of their injuries are in their back line. A horrific fall on Saturday makes Bacary Sagna a doubt, a head injury likely rules out Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal and captain Thomas Vermaelen are injured, as well as their only capable holding midfielder Mikel Arteta.
Koscielny’s suspension in the league will mean only Per Mertesacker and youngster Carl Jenkinson remain fit and available for selection in defense and both Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky are doubts for their midweek trip to Turkey.
Whilst the fans have been crying out for world-class quality up front, it’s clear that they desperately and urgently require the services of a centre-back ahead of their next league fixture next weekend.
In the unlikely event of a singing before Wednesday, it’ll make no difference to the team sheet as the squad for the Champions League playoff has already been submitted to UEFA and is not subject to change.
Looking at their threadbare squad on paper, it’s clear that a defender is of paramount importance – at least more so than a forward, for now. A knee injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could see the England youngster miss between three and six months and the club’s sale of Gervinho leaves them light in attacking areas.
Arsenal are looking down the barrel of a gun in terms of Wednesday – the boss may have to be creative with his selection even just to field a starting XI, never mind fill a subs bench but things could get a whole lot worse if they don’t bring in reinforcements at the back before Saturday’s London derby clash at Fulham.
As things stand, Arsenal can only hope to make it through Wednesday evening without any further casualties or suspensions and push through a move for Ashley Williams – at this point, Michu would be a luxury compared to Williams’ absolute necessity. The Swans captain must be the priority, above all else but the reality is it's going to take a lot more than one signing to appease the fans.
image: © wonker