Ahoy hoy there Gooners. After Wednesday’s capers, I trust all of your backsides have returned to what passes as normal and the prospect of scraps against a not-as-formidable-as-they-once-were Borussia Dortmund, the less than worrying Belgian side Anderlecht and Turkish fear-mongers Galatasaray, makes the tension against Besiktas now seem worthwhile.
For me, Marco Reus, Steven Defour and Wesley Sneijder are the standout dangermen who’ll face those rip-roaring Gunners. How glorious it was for Alexis Sanchez to break his duck after his mis-fire and early exit at Goodison Park last weekend. Certainly off of the mark in his debut season quicker than Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Olivier Giroud were in theirs.
So, on this last August weekend, as Autumn pushes itself in through Summer’s ajar door, Arsenal take on newly promoted Leicester City and their newly signed Argentine double act Leo Ulloa and Esteban Cambiaso. Oh, and ex-England goalscorer extraordinaire David Nugent…who had a shocker against Chelsea, so you know he’ll net against Arsenal…
And then it is f**king international’s.
But before the dreary dross of an England game, the annual summer transfer deadline window slams shut, yes, that wonderful day when miracles – and Kim Kallstrom – can arrive at N7 and perk up a Gooner quicker than the sight of Kate Garroway in a cold studio.
What Arsenal clearly need to have added to their squad will almost certainly be entirely different to who will rock up in London to join Arsene Wenger’s final (you would think) incarnation of Arsenal FC.
In the last week, Nikola Zigic (!!!), Marco Reus, Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani and Alessio Cerci have been linked to supplement the forward line, with Adrien Rabiot and William Carvalho touted to be signed for midfield cover. With Wenger himself saying that he is unlikely to buy a forward – utter folly if Giroud is out until 2015 – then Arsenal fans may wish to write Monday off as an abject failure now and save the bother.
I’ve thought, since at least 2009, that Arsenal have been 2/3 players away from a proper big title challenge. Every summer I hope this gap is filled, or that gap is filled. In 2011, Cesc Fabregas left, sparking a ludicrous last minute shopping spree and leaving an unattended gap that Santi Cazorla filled a whole season later; in 2012…which by then was far too late as another gap had appeared with Robin van Persie’s ugly departure.
In 2013, Van Persie’s goals still hadn’t been replaced and a summer spent chasing first Gonzalo Higuain, then Luis Suarez, then, as desperation kicked in, Demba Ba, resulted without a meaningful striker actually signing – sorry Yaya Sanogo – but instead the glorious arrival of Mesut Özil papered over this yawning chasm.
It could be argued that Cazorla actually only replaced Samir Nasri from the 2011 summer and in fact it was Özil who replaced Cesc a whole two years later. And now, with 60 hours to go, and with a January window (which Wenger largely ignores) four months away, Arsenal find themselves awaiting an unlikely deal or two in order to catch up on Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, who have all purchased several new players to ADD to their squads, rather than REPLACE, which I’d argue is what Wenger has done after Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson, Lukasz Fabianski, Nicklas Bendtner and Chu Young Park packed off in the summer. No Thomas Vermaelen replacement and still no Van Persie ’25 goals a season’ striker in either. And if Giroud was he…well…oh dear.
Let us hope my fears are quashed by Monday night. I do hope so. A summer that started with such promise appears to have stalled.