Last season ended with a bitter taste for Arsenal fans. Having been in the title chase for much of the season, it was harsh when late season slip ups against Wigan, Tottenham, and Blackburn left many wondering about what could have been if only a few results went differently.
Now this summer, Arsenal look to build after a promising campaign last season, and try to end their every extending trophy drought. Wenger would finally be given cash to spend to bring in new blood, and Arsenal would finally mount a serious title challenge, after falling short the past season.
However, now with only less than a month left in the transfer window, fans again have an all too familiar bitter taste in their mouth because in a summer that promised much, delivered far less. With rumors that Wenger had up to £45 million in his coffer to spend, many fans expected at least one big signing this summer, with a flurry of other players coming in as well.
So far Arsenal have watched as Eduardo, Merida, Senderos, Silvestre, Gallas, and most recently Campbell have all moved on from the club, and in return, only new boys Chamakh and Koscielny have come in as reinforcements. In truth, many, if not all those transfers were expected as the season ended, and Arsenal have yet to truly open their bank account this season.
For those that believe Arsenal are still in need of more changes, whether if be transfers, player's attitudes, or even coaches, here are 5 things that need to happen this summer, in order for Arsenal to mount a title challenge and end this summer on a high note.
Each summer has its transfer sagas, true- but never has one go so far as the love affair between Barcelona and Fabregas. Every week that goes by sees Barcelona continue to talk to the media and continue to unsettle Fabregas. They must draw out of a hat, who is next speak in their "Fabregas To Barcelona Campaign."
Just to put it in perspective, here is a list of people associated with Barcelona who have publicly stated they want Fabregas to come to Barcelona: Txiki Begiristain, Xavi, Gerard Pique, Sandro Rosell, Francesc Fabregas Senior (Dad), Carles Puyol, Marc Ingla, Joan Laporta, Victor Valdes, Joan Oliver, Josep Maria Bartomeu, Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Toni Freixa.
I mean, seriously, 16 different people came out, many of them on multiple occasions, and tried to persuade Arsenal to sell Fabregas!
Sadly, despite all these statements, rumors, and talk in the newspaper, the solution is quite simple. And although for most Arsenal Fans, it is easy to hate Barcelona for their immature tactics at trying to unsettle Arsenal's captain, it is actually Fabregas who is partially, if not more so at fault during this never-ending saga.
Fabregas should have long ago declared his decision, whether it be good or bad for Arsenal Fans, it would have made this summer a lot smoother, and given us far less to worry about. In fact, Arsenal could have concentrated on the upcoming season a bit more this way as well. Either way it is quite simple now, with Fabregas seemingly all but resigned to staying at Emirates for anther year, it is time he publicly declares he is staying at Arsenal this season.
It is a decision that will officially let Arsenal move past this ongoing problem, and begin to prepare for the season. Ideally, Fabregas should have stated this shortly after the World Cup, so fans might forgive him for causing such a worrisome summer.
All we are asking for is a simple statement, "Arsenal are my club, and I will be staying with them to help bring a trophy to this wonderful club this season," or even a simple "Gunner for life!" would do (one could only hope he would say that).
There is a saying that a good keeper can save you up to 15 points a season. Unfortunately, Manuel Almunia must have heard it wrong, because he cost Arsenal about 15 points last season.
Arsene Wenger recently revealed that most of Almunia's keeping problems come for weak nerves, and that he gets over excited for big games. Well, for a team striving to win the EPL and the Champions League, it isn't the best thing that their keeper has weak nerves now is it?
Over the past two seasons, of which Almunia has been Arsenal's out and out No. 1, they have suffered more goal keep blunders than the in the previous decade. It has been a near embarrassment putting Almunia in goal these days. I can't speak for all fans, but as long as Almunia is in goal, I can never feel relaxed or confident in Arsenal's defense. It has become a glorious occasion when Almunia can keep a clean sheet these days.
It is time for him to go, and if Arsenal cannot sell him, because well frankly, are you really surprised that no one is interested him? Release him, or loan him out, just as long as he stays out of the Arsenal goal.
Recent reports suggested that Almunia was only playing in the preseason games because he is in the shop window, and trying to play well so a team will cough up a mere £2 mill to sign him.
Whatever ends up happening with Almunia, even if Arsenal keep him, they should still be in the market for an experienced shot stopper. Fabianski is a long way from being an EPL keeper, as are the rest of the young Arsenal goalies. Fabianski is not Arsenal's longterm answer, and personally, he could be sold as well.
Most commonly Arsenal have been linked with any of Mark Schwarzer, Maarten Stekelenburg, Federico Marchetti, and Joe Hart to become the new No. 1 for the Gunners. Looking at those names, any of them would serve as a nice upgrade to Almunia, or any other keeper currently on Arsenal's roster.
The ideal buy would be Joe Hart for various reasons. He is young, only 23, and can only get better at Arsenal. He is English too, which helps under the new squad limit rules requiring every team to have at least 8 "home grown" players. As well, Man City have well over 30 players on their team, and only a 25 player list can be submitted for this up coming EPL season- meaning Man City are desperate to off load a number of players, which could help Arsenal when negotiating a price. A loan option has been mentioned, which could do better for Arsenal, giving them a whole year to assess their options, and wait for prices to drop after an inflated transfer marker during a World Cup summer.
Federico Marchetti looks like another good option, but for £12.5 million, Arsenal can do a lot better, and a lot cheaper if they want. Both Schwarzer and Stekelenburg have been rumored to be able to more for around £4 mill, however the latter's price would probably rise after an impressive World Cup.
All in all, one of any of these keepers would be a solid option for Arsenal, and most definitely an upgrade to their current situation. A solid investment in any of these keepers could quickly pay dividends, maybe even with silverware at the end of the season.
Realistically speaking Arsenal only have 3 first-team center backs on their squad- Vermaelen, Koscielny, and Djourou. Nordviedt is a year away still form having and impact on the first team, and Song is Arsenal's only true defensive midfielder, it would be unfair to ask him to fill in at CB as well.
Of the three center backs, Koscielny and Djourou are both relatively inexperienced in the top level, such as the EPL. The latter of which is coming off a knee surgery, and how well he will do after his recovery is still to be fully seen. Either way, Djourou is not ready to start for Arsenal, and one can only hope that he can stay fully fit this season.
As for Koscielny, it is hard not to place high expectations on him after what Vermaelen did in his first season. Fans must allow him time to adapt. Vermaelen came from a much better club in Ajax, than Koscielny (Lorient), and Vermaelen also has international experience, which made it much easier to adapt to the Premier League style. Not to mention that he is physically much more built than Koscielny. However, good things are still to be expected from Arsenal's most recent signing, but with only one proven center back, Arsenal should desperately be in the market for at least one center back, if not two.
Names such as Phil Jagielka, Per Mertesacker, Gary Cahill, and most recently Emir Shapic has been linked with a move to North London.
Arsenal have suffered the losses of Sol Campbell and William Gallas leaving this season already (note that I didn't include Senderos or Silvestre in there for a reason, because Arsenal's defense immediately improved once they were gone). And a vastly experienced and proven player would do wonders for a relatively young group of Arsenal defenders.
As of now Arsenal are on thin ice with center backs, and going off recent history, injuries are always around the corner. If one of them were to pull up injured, Arsenal would be running a thin line. Depth a must for a striving club like Arsenal, who play near, if not more than 60 games a season. I feel the loss of Sol Campbell was more valuable than some people think. He was an extremely cheap and good option to play once every other week. He would have been there to give players a rest. He was capable of filling in when needed, and wouldn't demand playing time every week.
You should see Arsenal claim at least one more defender before the end of the transfer market, with the hope that they don't concede 41 goals again this season.
Arsenal's season kicks off against at Anfield on August 15 and nothing would delight fans better than opening the season off with not only a victory, but against such a rival as Liverpool as well.
Last season, Arsenal managed the sweep against Liverpool, beating them on both occasions.
The downside, Fabregas and Van Persie are doubtful to return to fitness in time for the clash, as is Bendtner, who has been already ruled out for this game. However, Torres is sure to miss the game as well, due to an injury he picked up during his World Cup campaign.
This game could be a telling fixture early on for Arsene Wenger about how far along his squad is, and if any more reinforcements are needed before the window closes.
An early season win against a rival could help set the tone for the start of a new season, and show how much fight they are going to put up this season.