Amidst the furore surrounding Robin van Persie’s "ultimate betrayal," constant aspersions have been thrown as to the imminent demise of the once great Arsenal FC.
It is déjà vu.
Over the past three or so seasons, doom-mongers have long since foretold the end for Arsenal after a procession of key players became disillusioned with the club's restrictive transfer policy. For me, last year epitomises the folly of writing of Arsenal. As someone with no allegiance to the club that goes beyond a grudging respect, I could see nothing but Europa League mediocrity for the once-invincible Gunners. The crushing 8-2 loss at Old Trafford simply served to validate my opinion.
Yet Arsenal recovered, like Arsenal always do, and finished in the top four, again. It was an escape of which Houdini would have been proud, but quite honestly, it shouldn't have been unexpected. Now we stand on the precipice once more. Arsenal have lost their figurehead, the vultures are circling, the curtain call is nigh?
Rewind 12 months and Arsenal were in a far more precarious position. The signings they eventually made on deadline day were reactionary deals after the proverbial horse had bolted. Arsene Wenger has learned from his mistakes, as today his signing exudes an all-together pre-emptive air. He has brought in top-class proven talent at a competitive price.
Two strikers—Lukas Podolski, a player with over 100 caps for Germany, and the exciting Olivier Giroud—had been signed before the ink in van Persie’s pen had even dried. Add to that the phenomenal acquisition of the Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla for an incredibly astute fee of £15 million, and you have to assume Arsenal are fairly well covered.
In addition, Jack Wilshere—quite possibly England’s finest young talent—missed almost the entirety of 2012/13. His imminent return will be akin to another £20 million signing. You also have to factor in the inevitable reinvestment of at least of a portion of the £20 million raised from the sale of van Persie (a masterstroke for a disillusioned player in the last year of his contract).
One signing rumoured by Metro is that of the loan deal to bring former Dortmund player Nuri Sahin to Arsenal from Real Madrid. Sahin, a victim of the Galactico culture of Madrid, is a quintessential Wenger signing. Precociously talented and with a penchant for the sublime, the Turkish playmaker is simply unlucky to be competing against the finest midfield in world football.
A signing such as Sahin would be an excellent acquisition, especially on the low-risk loan contract that has been muted. Given the potential to flourish amidst a system that is conducive to flair and expression, Sahin would be afforded the opportunity to re-find the form that convinced Real to court his signature last year.
Over the coming weeks, the doors of Arsenal’s Shenley Training Centre will move as new faces join the dynasty. Whether one of those is Nuri Sahin or not, however, talk of the end of the Wenger era is premature.
Admittedly, they will have to shuffle and refocus after the loss of last season’s talisman, but Wenger knows that; he has done it all before.