As the 2011 January transfer window came to a close at 11 pm GMT, fans all over the world witnessed some of the most drastic yet entertaining last-minute trade deals being pulled off.
I'm sure Arsenal followers around the world including myself have kept a close eye on the tabloids and pried the Internet for any deadline day drama. It seemed inevitable this time that Arsene Wenger would unzip his purse to bolster the team's fragile defensive core, or at least dismiss the perpetual speculations by cashing in on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
However, as most of us probably expected, another transfer window shuts and while Arsenal fans continue to stare at the blank curtains, other title challengers—namely Chelsea and Liverpool—welcome game-changing new faces to their stadiums.
But has Wenger made the right choice by signing no one? Will Chelsea and Liverpool's spending sprees pose a threat to Arsenal's stand on the EPL hierarchy this year?
First of all, let's briefly examine some of the recent voids and mishaps at the club.
During Arsenal's fourth round FA Cup win over Huddersfield Town, one of the few regular team members named to the starting squad, Samir Nasri, came off before half-time with a worrying hamstring injury that could force the midfield maestro out for two to three weeks. Fellow player Denilson suffered similar fate but has confirmed earlier he would be back in training in a few days.
Arguably the team's most in-form player this term, Nasri's injury could potentially harm Arsenal's chances of getting a result at the Emirates for "that game" against Barcelona. Nasri's misfortunes may not prove to be a fatal blow, however, as Andrei Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner have both recently found the form required at Arsenal. Both players could effectively fill in Nasri's shoes on the left.
Let's shift our focus to the defensive end. Ever since Thomas Vermaelen suffered that seemingly endless injury last August, the issue of Arsenal's defensive woes was raised once again.
Although the void has recently been rectified with the gradual rise to prominence of centre back pairing Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou, it does not signal the end of our worries as the Swiss international himself has just recovered from a long-term layoff and would need to regain full fitness.
EPL newcomer Sebastien Squillaci has lately compounded the injury list with one of his own but has made a swift return. In his first game back, he promptly made his presence felt as a professional foul before halftime had Arsenal reduced to 10 men. His ban coincidentally aligned with the most likely day of all for Wenger to spend, but as usual, the manager habitually ignored the setback.
When asked whether Wenger would be tempted to sign on Monday, he replied, "No. I leave these headlines to all the other clubs, but at the moment no."
Squillaci's suspension would pile up the burden, especially if Djourou's form inevitably dips and TV5 deteriorates unexpectedly. As technically gifted as our defenders might be, the intangible factors are crucial too. Remember, your greatest ability sometimes is your availability. Their struggle to stay fit and available simultaneously severely undermines our title hopes as attack wins you games, defence wins you championships.
Meanwhile across to other side of London, Chelsea along with Liverpool have both launched kamikaze spending sprees to bring in the potential differences between a contender and a winner.
Fernando Torres and David Luiz were brought in to Chelsea for around 70 million in total while Liverpool secured the services of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll for extraordinary prices as well. These signings could cause a drastic U-turn for both clubs and shift the hierarchy at top of the table.
With no more Chelsea clashes and only one game at home against Liverpool's Suarez-Carroll strike force, Wenger might have good reasons to stay unfazed. But did he really make the right choice by not bringing in defensive reinforcements?
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!