The club have learned valuable lessons about how to operate at the top level of the transfer market from the experience of signing Mesut Ozil 12 months ago. But, despite multiple recent signings and ongoing transfer speculation, the Gunner's still have plenty to do.
Ozil's arrival signalled a new willingness at boardroom level to utilize the considerable financial firepower that the club has at its disposal since paying down the stadium debt and renegotiating a series of high-profile sponsorship deals.
The Gunners have already added the Barcelona and Chile striker, Alexis Sanchez, for a fee in excess of £30 million. And the France international right-back, Mathieu Debuchy, and Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina have followed from Newcastle and Nice, respectively.
Southampton’s England Under-19 full-back, Calum Chambers, meanwhile, is also set to complete a move to the Emirates in the coming days for a fee of £16 million. And speculation persists that Sami Khedira of Real Madrid could be on the verge of swapping the Bernabeu for Arsenal in the coming weeks.
The Arsenal manager is also thought to retain an interest in Southampton’s 24-year-old holding midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, should his efforts to lure Khedira to London prove unsuccessful, according to David Hynter of the Guardian.
This proactiveness in the transfer market has been far from characteristic of Arsenal and Wenger over the eight years since leaving Highbury.
Finances were tight after the construction of the Emirates, and Wenger was forced to pursue a transfer strategy predicated on buying young, talented footballers from smaller clubs around Europe and developing them into first-team players at Arsenal.
The difficulty was that these players never intended to hang around too long once they had made their name at the Emirates. The cases of Ashely Cole, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Robin van Persie demonstrate this truth well.
The rise of the petro-dollar-rich Chelsea and Manchester City, meanwhile (what Wenger futilely railed against as “financial doping” in a 2010 press conference), served to set in even sharper relief from Arsenal’s financial impotence, relative to that of the leading clubs around Europe with whom they were supposed to be competing.
What chaffed at and unsettled Gunners fans most during these eight barren, trophyless years, was the fact that, although one could legitimately brand players such as Nasri, Adebayor and Van Persie as “mercenaries” for abandoning the club that made them the stars whom they are in the interests of financial gain, the reality was that these footballers left Arsenal in order to win trophies, too.
Nasri stated this in no uncertain terms earlier this year when he told The Daily Star's Nick Lustig, “I spent three seasons at Arsenal without any title, and at the end of the season we sold our best player that was Cesc Fabregas.”
“I preferred to join City,” Nasri added, “and I won titles and I earn a better living.”
There was a widespread belief at this time that Arsenal was a club in an immutable phase of decline, and that Wenger was no longer the man best placed to revive their fortunes.
The Özil signing, though, seemed to halt this narrative in its tracks.
Nevertheless, there remain imbalances in Arsenal’s squad that Wenger must address in order to make the Gunners a genuine force to be reckoned with ahead of the new season.
The move for Chambers, for example, has come as a surprise to some Gunners, owing to the fact that Debuchy was seen as the direct (and arguably superior) replacement for the departed Bacary Sagna in the same way that Ospina has joined as an upgrade on Lukas Fabianski in goals.
Furthermore, Carl Jenkinson would seem to have already established his credentials as a competent replacement right-back at Premier League level.
The 22-year-old has become a real fan-favourite at the Emirates, owing to the fact that he has supported the club from childhood and undergone a steep learning curve since joining Arsenal as a 19-year-old from Charlton Athletic in 2011.
Wenger, though, views Chambers as possessing a potential for improvement and level of versatility far superior to that of Jenkinson.
At 19, Chambers has already featured 25 times in the Southampton senior team. And he has demonstrated both his positional adaptability and two-footedness by impressively deputizing for Luke Shaw at left-back last season.
Wenger may also see Chambers as an alternative option at centre-half where the Gunners are short on options, particularly if Thomas Vermaelen’s move to Manchester United or Barcelona comes to pass, as reported by the Daily Star's Colin Harvey.
If “Chambers as centre-half” is a part of Wenger’s thinking in signing the England youth international, Arsenal fans can be legitimately unsettled. The Gunners skated on thin ice by playing the entirety of the last campaign with just three recognized centre-backs.
To allow Vermaelen to leave, and to proceed with Mertesacker, Koscielny and Chambers alone is almost suicidal.
A proper replacement centre-half has to be a priority for Arsenal, and one can legitimately question whether the Chambers money might have been more prudently invested elsewhere in the squad.
The emphasis Wenger has placed on adding Khedira, too, seems strange.
The German international, though wonderfully gifted, is far from the same style of holding player as Bender and Schneiderlin. His presence in the squad would provide little more defensive balance than that which Mikel Arteta brings to the first XI and would surely stymie Ramsey and Wilshire’s progression.
Thus, while the transfer window has been hugely promising from an Arsenal point of view, fatal deficiencies in terms of squad depth remain in a defensive sense.
One struggles to see a squad relying on Chambers as a centre-back lasting the distance with Chelsea and Manchester City over the course of a nine-month season.