With the 2013-14 Premier League season just five days away, Arsenal are gearing up to the big kickoff in a somewhat depressive fashion.
Fans are becoming increasingly petrified that this is the squad that will once again contend for a place in the top four—and the very fact that it's a top-four challenge—not a title challenge—tells the entire story of frustration.
The club have signed just a single player this summer, Yaya Sanogo, but even he cannot make an impact on the first team this season given he remains a project and a prospect at most.
Every Gooner entered the summer in full knowledge of the fact that Arsene Wenger needed to spend money to ensure the club isn't left trailing in the wake of its competitors.
Julio Cesar seemed a certainty to join Arsenal's ranks earlier in the summer, but so far, no progress has been made in a deal for him.
Luiz Gustavo is favoured by The Daily Mail's John Drayton to join for £14 million, but Gunners fans know not to get excited until the man is holding a shirt outside the training ground.
Too many false dawns, too many hopes dashed.
There is great irony in the fact that, at any other club, the work Wenger has done to clear out the deadwood in the squad this summer would be viewed as a real achievement.
Aston Villa, as one example of a club who are desperately trying to flog five players, would be delighted if their books showed the efficiency of Arsenal's in this respect.
Denilson, Andrey Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh, Andre Santos, Vito Mannone and Gervinho have departed, freeing up a large slice of the wage bill. "Signings must be arriving," the fans understandably presumed, but still, no progress has been made.
As it stands, Arsenal will enter the 2013-14 season with 19 senior professionals on the books, three centre-backs, question marks at right-back, holding midfield, centre-forward and in goal.
Left-back and attacking midfield, perhaps, are the only positions you can consider sealed—both on a qualitative and quantitative basis.
Mirror Football's John Cross has suggested Theo Walcott may miss the season opener at the Emirates on Saturday due to an injury sustained during England's training camp, and should this ring true, you can make that 18 senior professionals.
The capacity to spend is there—this excellent Swiss Ramble feature proves as much—but has Wenger been found guilty of prioritising targets and ignoring the bigger picture?
The Frenchman despises spending sprees, labelling them a sign of weakness in a team, but it's easy to see another 2011-esque trolley dash coming. This time, let's hope there are no Andre Santos' in stock.
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