Arsenal bounce back after Villa defeat with style
Crisis? What crisis? In the past four days Arsenal have crushed Fenerbahce in Turkey to virtually guarantee their usual place at the Champions League table and then put Fulham to the sword at Craven Cottage to open their 2013-14 Premier League account.
But of course there is a crisis. A good result or two is all very well, but Gunners fans, starved of silverware since 2005 and told that there is cash to spend, are now demanding a lot more than occasional easy-on-the-eye purple patches and a late-season surge into fourth place.
They want to be back where they feel they belong; challenging for top spot in the Premiership rather than battling with Spurs for minor honours – and as far as they’re concerned that will only happen when Wenger and his Arsenal paymasters pull their fingers out and bring in some top quality players before the transfer window slams shut on Monday week.
Arsenal were happy to tell everybody how much money they had to spend at the start of the summer and they have subsequently talked about signing some of the biggest names in world football, including Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney and Gonzalo Higuain, But so far, that’s all it has been – just talk.
It seems from the outside that Arsenal have fallen even further behind their main rivals as effective players in the transfer market than they have in the Premiership table itself. Long gone are the days when Wenger could conjure talents like Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry out of the hat; now it seems that if the deal isn’t perfect – exactly the right player for exactly the right price – he won’t play.
And though the Arsenal faithful will be encouraged by the interest now being shown in players of the calibre of Real Madrid stars Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria, they will also be wondering when Wenger will address what appear to be more pressing matters in defence.
Why for instance, is there serious interest being shown in Newcastle’s Johan Cabaye, good player though he is, when if there is one area Arsenal are eminently well served, it is in the attacking and creative midfield department (Jack Wilshire, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla).
Surely it is at the back where Arsenal need to strengthen; that embarrassing third goal conceded against Aston Villa last weekend yet another reminder of how badly they compare in that area to, say, Manchester United, who have four or five centre backs in their squad who would walk into the north London side.
One cannot help but sympathise with Wenger’s view that the transfer market has gone crazy and admire his reluctance to pay silly money. But surely this is a case of adapt or die. The message from the Emirates terraces after that opening home defeat to Villa could not have been clearer: ‘Spend, Spend, Spend.’ And quickly.
Written by Jon Freeman