Or blame the real culprit—a quiet summer that has seen Arsenal add one player on a free transfer, Yaya Sanogo, in a summer when the club was supposed to be flush with cash.
But no, Arsenal has added no reinforcements. With the club's depth decimated by injuries, loan deals and player sales, Arsenal came into Saturday's game incredibly thin. With Laurent Koscielny on a red and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain potentially out for months—joining Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen on the sidelines—that depth has already been further questioned.
And then, as though the loss itself wasn't difficult enough to swallow, Arsene Wenger reminded fans that the club was trying to sign players, but only of a certain caliber, as if doing so was some sort of rocket science or took ornate craftsmanship, like whittling the Statue of David out of kindling.
And frankly, his postgame remarks should raise the ire of Gooners everywhere. From Dan Silver of the Mirror:
You got what you wanted, you should be happy. Before the start the season that was all you write in the papers so what do you expect?
Could we have won the game with the players we had on the pitch? I say yes.
If we don't spend the money, it is because we don't find the players. I am not the only one to work on that, we are a team that works on that and we are ready to buy the players if we find the players good enough for us. My job is to make the fans happy, but we haven't lost a game because of that (not spending).
We take our work seriously and we analyse every player in the world and spend 24 hours a day doing that. We are ready to spend, but until we buy players we have to win football games and it is not an excuse not to win the game today.
Manchester City managed to "find the players." Tottenham managed to "find the players." Chelsea managed to "find the players" (though many of its best additions were players returning from loan). Liverpool managed to "find the players."
So why can't Arsenal "find the players?"
There was Gonzalo Higuain, whom Arsenal reportedly agreed to personal terms with, then lost when it got distracted by the futile Luis Suarez chase. Perhaps they will now turn to Wayne Rooney, who is probably as unlikely to be sold to a rival as Suarez always was.
But hey, at least it looks like the Gunners are going after big-time players, right?
There was Luiz Gustavo, but he decided to remain in Germany. Was that because Arsenal didn't value him highly enough? Or has Arsenal simply lost the cachet to convince a player to join it instead of remaining in Germany to sign with Wolfsburg.
Wolfsburg, which hasn't played in the Champions League since the 2009-10 season, its first appearance in the European tournament. C'mon.
What should we believe? Should we now believe Arsenal isn't a destination team for the top players in the world? Should we believe that there is simply a dearth of players available that meets Arsenal's standards? (Oh please.) Or should we believe that Wenger continues to refuse to pay market value for players because he doesn't like that prices are always a bit inflated during the transfer window?
Because it sure feels like the latter. It sure feels like the money is there, as Ivan Gazidis said it was—and boy, isn't he looking silly right about now?—but Wenger refuses to spend it because he can't get a great deal. You get good deals by selling players you've developed or mining for gems by signing young or underrated players.
You win championships by occasionally overpaying to land elite players. That's how the market works now. That's how United won last year—Robin van Persie didn't come cheap, remember, though he looks like a bargain after United won the title—and City won the year before.
Arsenal is a club that should be competing for titles, not celebrating fourth-place finishes.
But you know what?
This drum has been beaten a thousand times before. Heck, this article has been written a thousand times before, surely. Letters have been sent on behalf of the supporters.
And what's so frustrating is that Arsenal fans aren't asking for Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to walk through the door, they just want an upgrade at striker and keeper, an actual defensive midfielder and a bit of depth on defense.
Is that such a crazy shopping list? Is that such an unreasonable request? Is it really that hard to find players capable of filling those positions at a high level on the transfer market, especially when between £70 million to £100 million is available to the club to make such moves?
No, it isn't, and that's why Wenger's recent comments should infuriate fans. He stubbornly and arrogantly refuses to acknowledge that his transfer approach has become outdated. Nobody should be calling for his head just yet—the window isn't over, after all, and he's led Arsenal to a remarkable period of sustained success—but demanding he revise his transfer policy is a fair request.
No more excuses from Wenger—Arsenal needs additions, and what's worse is that every team in Europe knows it after Saturday's showing. That's one more bit of leverage down the drain. Now, Arsenal will have to overpay simply because teams know the club is desperate to improve.
And desperate it should be. As constructed—and if Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez remain with Tottenham and Liverpool, respectively—this team is in danger of dropping out of the top four. In fact, as currently constructed, Arsenal is probably the fifth-best team in the Premier League, with Liverpool nipping at its heels.
And that, we can all agree, is simply unacceptable. There is an excellent core in place here, sure, one that should keep Arsenal in a prominent place among the Premier League elite behind players like Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Koscielny
But those players won't win hardware if they aren't given some help. Not if Wenger continues to act as though he can't "find the players" and instead acknowledges that he needs to change his approach to ensure those players are not only found, but signed.
And in the next two weeks, at that.
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