After the impressive 3-0 away victory in the intimidating Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, memories of the opening day mauling at the hands of Aston Villa were temporarily put aside as Arsenal put one foot firmly in the hat for the Champions League proper draw.
This result, however impressive and morale boosting, highlights what most right minded observers already know. Arsenal have some quality players, and when they are on the front foot, they are great to watch. Unfortunately, also as most know, they don’t have anywhere near enough quality, enough strength in depth and enough of a plan B when things aren’t going their way.
There aren’t many clubs run, and indeed managed the way Arsenal have been over the years, and despite the lack of a trophy in the last seven or eight seasons, the club has become a model of how a modern day football club should be run, off the pitch at least.
On the pitch and in the stands things haven’t been as smooth, and Arsene Wenger has done well to stay as cool and as calm as he has. There is no doubt that “Le Boss” has fallen behind some of his counterparts when it has come to securing talent, and his famed network of scouts has come up short when trying to unearth the next Nicolas Anelka, Robin Van Persie, or Cesc Fabregas.
The changes in the boardroom have changed the way The Gunners have gone about their business, and the crass remarks about having so many millions to spend during this window has not done anyone connected with the club any favours.
Prices have been hiked, targets been named and have gone elsewhere and with 17 players and counting leaving the Emirates, the squad has in comparison to other Champions League sides, does look bare.
The quality is certainly there, and their first eleven will give the best sides in Europe a game, but that first eleven won’t take the field as often as Wenger would like. Injuries are already piling up, and this is where Arsenal will suffer.
There is no doubt that players will come in, but the real question is the quality of those that do. Wenger has gone public in his chase for some of the biggest names out there, but these chases have all ended in humiliation.
They have been left looking like they do not know what they are doing in the chase for Luis Suarez, and Napoli blowing them out of the water with their bid for Gonzalo Higuain when it was odds on he would sign for Arsenal was nothing short of embarrassing.
With targets starting to run out, especially of the marquee quality which Stan Kroenke was promising, Arsenal will have to settle for second choice, and in doing so will have missed a great window of opportunity to really re-establish themselves as title challengers, especially with the managerial changes at their nearest top four rivals.
A top goalkeeper, and a class striker are desperately in need, and defensive reinforcements required. There is also the Alex Song shaped hole which still needs filling, as while there is great talent in the midfield, a ball winner and enforcer would not go amiss.
The good news is that Aaron Ramsey has started the season well, and could become a big player if his improvement continues. The same can be said of Carl Jenkinson and a fully fit Jack Wilshire will have a massive impact on how The Gunners go this season.
It is certainly not all doom and gloom, but it has been, without doubt a disappointing window so far. Between now and September 2nd, Arsenal Wenger will be judged more harshly than ever before in his 16 year reign. If he gets it wrong again, his legacy will be forever tainted. He does prove people wrong, time and time again so it is possible that his legacy will live on and his new contract will be forthcoming.
For this to happen though, it will require, including today, 11 days of transfer activity to rival what Manchester City and Tottenham have done since the window opened. The odds seem stacked against him, and it will be a battle for fourth again if he can not produce some quality signings.
Can Arsenal answer the criticism with blockbuster signings? Who?
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