The January winter transfer window is officially closed, and with it Arsenal's chance for success this year is seemingly shut down as well.
The Gunners failed to make any real impact this winter—despite the pleas for reform—and will reap the rewards of their inadequacies throughout 2013.
That might sound harsh, but it's the truth.
Arsenal needed to make some big changes and additions this winter, or at least one big change and an addition, but all they got was another left-back.
Granted they needed one—at least for the next few weeks anyway—but even then, Wenger's workings should still be viewed as somewhat of a failure.
Getting rid of the unneeded players on loan is fine, and the right move from the Gunners' boss, but few will praise him for getting a loan deal for someone like Marouane Chamakh. Many will in fact ask why the hapless striker wasn't sent out earlier by the club.
Wenger should not and will not be judged over the transfer window for how he went in organizing loan deals for the players he doesn't really need this season.
What he should and will be judged on is how he went in strengthening his first team—the players that are actually playing week in and week out.
And the answer to that is not very well.
Arsenal did not do a good job over the winter transfer window.
The Gunners had set themselves up with a recipe for disaster once Wenger stated that he felt this club was "perfect" and in no need of transfers.
He was quoted via The Independent as saying:
In January, it is very difficult to find players who strengthen your team when you're in our position. I don't see it as a problem.
When you speak about "anyone" coming in, I could go out and buy someone just to give people hope. What is important is that you bring in players who can strengthen your team, or you do nothing and are strong enough to do nothing.
That is what is important for us, to bring in a player who can strengthen the squad. "Anyone" to me means exactly what the modern game has become. As numbers we have enough. We have plenty of quality...
We know now that he clearly was wrong.
We know now that this squad clearly isn't strong enough; it isn't deep enough and cannot mix it with the best in the English Premier League, let alone against the great teams throughout Europe and world football.
Wenger was far more correct when he said "we want to strengthen our squad everywhere" at the start of the transfer season than his more recent comments.
For we know that this squad is not perfect this season.
In fact, it's not even that close.
Their only action all summer was to bring in a left-back—Spanish international Nacho Monreal from Malaga for around £8.5 million (per The Telegraph).
The recent injury to England international Kieran Gibbs and the all-round incompetence of Andre Santos left the Gunners scrambling, so they did need to bring in a left-back. And as The Daily Mirror's John Cross points out, if you're going to bring in a left back, then bringing in a Spanish international for under £10 million is not that bad of a place to start.
John Cross @johncrossmirror
Don't get some of the negativity sometimes. #afc need a left back. They go out and sign a Spanish international. Can't be bad.1/31/2013, 11:25:53 PM
It is hard to fault Wenger at all for that move.
But the transfer does highlight some issues for concern at the North London club—the least of which being that they are nowhere near the "perfect squad."
What if the injury had not happened to Gibbs but to Jack Wilshere? Or Olivier Giroud? Theo Walcott? What if it was Santi Cazorla?
They have players capable of filling those roles—Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Lukas Podolski to name a few—but the point remains the same. Just like how Santos couldn't cover Gibbs as effectively, Ramsey and Coquelin cannot cover Wilshere or Cazorla as effectively.
Arsenal just aren't strong enough to account for those losses.
Especially if they came to one of their two attackers—Giroud or Walcott—who are starting to gel this season, but still don't possess the consistency required of them just yet.
They were brilliant for five minutes against Liverpool, but rather than praising those five minutes, the real question needs to be asked as to where they were for the other 85-odd minutes of the match, and why weren't they succeeding as well.
The pair have shown they possess the quality throughout their time this season, and have both proven, individually and collectively, that they can succeed. But until they do it on a regular basis against the best teams in England, then Arsenal should not have complete confidence in the duo.
Wenger should have realized this and made a move for someone—heck, anyone—over the now closed winter transfer window.
He should have known that the pair would not be strong enough to carry the Gunners for the next six months of competition; he should have seen that changes needed to be made to ensure future success for the North London club in 2013.
He should have bought a striker, but he didn't.
He signed a left-back who can't play in the Champions League to cover an England international who will be fit again in four weeks' time.
He left Andre Santos to mark Thomas Müller and Ajern Robben and left Giroud and Walcott to try topple a Bayern Munich defense that has conceded just seven goals and one loss so far in the German Bundesliga this season.
He left Arsenal on the brink of elimination in the Champions League and in a really tough spot to push through for that top-four finish in the Premier League.
All because he failed to act when his club truly needed him to.
Some might be quick to point out here that the top-four finish for Arsenal isn't out of the question this season, and mathematically speaking they would be right.
The Gunners are only four points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur and could work their way up the table with a run of good form and consistency.
But who are they going to beat to get there?
They already nearly dropped to Liverpool and have Swansea City snapping at their heels behind that—how are they then going to finish in the top four?
Ask yourself: are Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott good enough to haul Arsenal back into the top four of the English Premier League?
If the answer is yes, ask yourself how then they allowed the club to get as far back in the title race as they did and down in sixth position. If the answer is no, then ask yourself what can be done to ensure that the Gunners will finish in that top four.
The answer should have been action in the transfer window.
And we all know how that one finished up.
At the end of the day, Arsenal consolidating their current squad by adding a capable Spanish international at left-back isn't a bad transfer window.
It isn't a bad transfer window, providing that there are no other more immediate needs and that the club are simply in cruise control at the moment.
Buying one left-back and no strikers is fine if you're in no real danger of being eliminated from the Champions League or dropping out of the top four domestically.
But buying one left-back and no strikers when you're 21 points off the lead in the Premier League, no guarantee of a top-four spot and have high-flying German giants Bayern Munich awaiting you in a fortnight's time with no real answers—that is not fine at all.
It can be considered as nothing but a failure from Wenger, and something that the Gunners will have to deal with for the remainder of the 2012/13 season.
But that's okay, they're perfect.
Who should Arsenal have bought in the winter transfer window?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: @DanTalintyre
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