Only the most deranged and masochistic Arsenal fan would say that this summer has been a pleasant one.
In early June, chief executive Ivan Gazidis predicted a "big summer" was about to unfold, according to The Independent. Unless the free acquisition of raw French youngster Yaya Sanogo is regarded with exponentially more regard among football men than among fans, Gazidis' words were utterly hollow.
Few would deny that these are desperate times for Arsenal. Guillem Balague recently wrote for Bleacher Report that his biggest concern about the Gunners is "their lack of transfer activity." Few would disagree.
Transfer speculation is undoubtedly on the mind of every emotionally invested Arsenal fan in the world. Let's look at some that supporters hope is proven false.
Liverpool’s owner, John W. Henry, chastised and mocked Arsenal in the most public way possible, but Gunners fans thought that after Suarez’s overt plea to be let go, something meaningful would finally occur.
What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) July 24, 2013
Alas, nothing has. In fact, Suarez rather stunningly reversed his position recently, telling El Observador (h/t The Guardian) that the adoration of the Reds fans convinced him to stay.
With no obvious substitute for Suarez in Arsenal’s sights, the Gunners should be very worried about procuring the striker that they so sorely need.
Despite all the posturing, blustering, rumor mongering and perpetual anxiety within Arsenal’s diverse fanbase, Arsene Wenger’s squad is essentially no different than it was at the end of last season
That is to say that there is only one pure central striker at the club, and anyone that replaces him necessarily leaves a void somewhere else on the pitch. And Wenger has very little tactical flexibility during matches.
Because Arsenal have dithered and waited for so long in their pursuit of an additional striker, all ostensible options have already found new homes. Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic are at Manchester City, Roberto Soldado calls the blue half of North London home, and Gonzalo Higuain’s plane turned from London to Napoli.
Gunners fans hope that all options are not exhausted so that the club may yet purchase the reinforcement it needs.
As Mikel Arteta’s recent injury demonstrates, Arsenal are inexplicably threadbare in more than just one area. The Spaniard is not a true defensive midfielder, but he is the best that the Gunners have. When he is gone, there is no one to anchor the midfield.
Then, of course, there are the injury crises at left back and center back, where there is absolutely no cover in the event of an injury or suspension.
How convenient that Luiz Gustavo can play all those positions effectively. He would appear to be a natural tactical and financial fit for Arsenal, but recent rumors, like this one in the Daily Mail, suggest that a move to VfL Wolfsburg is imminent.
A summer that initially promised so much, that could have transformed Arsenal into a true title contender, has thus far borne no fruit, save poor young Yaya Sanogo.
It’s not as though no players of “top, top, top quality” have been available, and certainly not as though Arsenal do not possess the funds to pursue premier targets.
Yet, through a malignant cocktail of poor luck, indecision and ineptitude, the club is starting the season with a weaker squad than that which so nearly failed to qualify for the Champions League last season.
That should obviously not be the goal of a club with Arsenal’s historical prominence in English football.
Arsene Wenger cannot possibly be oblivious to the transparent inadequacies in his squad. But, with so many ostensibly good choices off the market and desperation undoubtedly multiplying as the transfer window begins to shut, Arsenal fans would not be unjustified in worrying that not a single new face will arrive before September 3rd.
And that would be an unforgivable disaster.