So here we are again, speaking about another preseason for Arsenal FC where Arsene Wenger has appeared very reluctant to spend money to reinforce his back line. It appears to be a trend over the last few seasons.
The ongoing soap opera of trying to figure out if Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will be a part of the 2011/12 Arsenal squad looks to continue through August. Will Arsenal be able to bounce back if they are to lose the two midfielders?
For the past few seasons Arsenal fans have been haunted with the story of Cesc Fabregas wanting to go back to his childhood club, Barcelona. As the season came to an end last year, Gunners faithful sat and waited patiently to see the rumors resurface in the media once again. This time around Barcelona has actually shown real interest, or so it seems, but have yet to come close to the asking price of £40 million that the Arsenal front office has requested.
With the deal for the Arsenal captain still in limbo, Arsene is in some ways unable to really plan out his upcoming season, which kicks off this coming weekend with a visit to St. James Park to take on Newcastle United. Fabregas has not taken part in any preseason matches and has barely practiced with the squad due to what Wenger is calling a muscle injury.
Adding to the Arsenal's worries is the fresh news regarding French international Samir Nasri. The Frenchman has come out publicly stating that he wants to play for a team that will allow him to challenge for titles and that he is not just focused on money. Arsenal has reportedly offered him a new deal but he does not appear to be willing to sign as Manchester City has offered him double the salary that Arsenal had put on the table.
In the last few days it appears that Arsenal have said they would consider selling Nasri if the offer was right, as they face the possibility of losing Nasri next summer on a free move, something Wenger is familiar with as Flamini did the same thing last season when he moved to AC Milan.
After having another "almost" season last year, Arsenal fans were hopeful that Arsene Wenger would finally crumble under the pressure and actually make some big pickups in the transfer window. Unfortunately, that hasn't really happened with the exception of one significant signing.
After a few weeks of speculation and rumors, Arsenal FC announced the signing of former Lille striker Gervinho. The Ivory Coast international won the French Ligue 1 last season and along the way added 10 assists and 15 goals for the French side. His pace and ability to play centrally as well as out wide will give Wenger some options.
Wenger continued with his confidence in youth and has brought in 19-year-old Carl Jenkinson from Charlton Athletic. Although lacking experience, the young right-back has shown some good signs this preseason as a good backup for Bacary Sagna.
Just this week, Arsenal also signed 17-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton. The mixed reactions from the Arsenal fans have been expected as they see this transfer as being a more futuristic option and not a right now option.
With the departure of Gael Clichy to Manchester City, it would appear that Wenger's options for the left-back position are going to Kieran Gibbs and Armand Traore. Will these two young and inexperienced left-backs be able to cope with the pressure every week?
Arsenal failed to pick up an experienced goalie as of yet, and they don't appear to be too interested in doing so. Wojciech Szczęsny appears to be the No. 1 candidate to take the starting role, while Lukasz Fabianski will be his backup. That leaves no place for Manual Almunia who Wenger has already stated will be on his way out, but a destination has not yet been decided.
Brazilian midfielder Denilson has also moved on loan to Sao Paulo in Brazil, while Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Eboué will be on their way out as well after Wenger made it clear that they will not be a part of the plans for the 2011/12 season.
Thomas Vermaelen is back after suffering a prolonged injury last season and is ready to take on the commanding role in a very inconsistent Arsenal back line. Wenger has yet to bring in a credible and experienced center-back to the Emirates this offseason and that could prove to be costly once again. Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny will be battling for that starting spot in the center of the defense for the Gunners.
The one guarantee for Arsenal is that they have a lot of firepower going forward, but what good is it to score two goals when you concede three? With a healthy Robin Van Persie, Arsenal are sure to get on the score sheet, but will they continue to give up leads late in games? With Theo Walcott and a hopefully in-shape Arshavin on the wings complimented by a midfield of Jack Wilshere, Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey, the Gunners clearly lack experience. This is of course if Nasri and Fabregas do depart.
Arsene also looks to bring in Emmanuel Frimpong and Ryo Miyaichi into the squad. Miyaichi had a great loan spell with Feyenoord last season, while Frimpong suffered a season-ending injury not allowing him to take part in the 2010/11 campaign.
One thing that we can always count on from Arsenal is the fact that no matter what players come in or out, they will continue to play the same style, but as we've seen, that doesn't win trophies. The way the Fabregas and Nasri deals play out will be critical for Arsenal. Wenger had promised this past weekend that he would bring in a very big name at some point this week, which has not yet happened, unless he considers Chamberlain a big name.
Will Arsene be able to bring in an experienced center-back, as he so critically needs? Will he be able to replace Fabregas and Nasri with a big-name signing before the transfer window closes if the two Arsenal midfielders are to depart from the Emirates?
With so many decisions up in the air, all signs point for Arsenal to have a not so great season, but Arsene Wenger has been able to prove his critics wrong at times by having his teams always compete. But when is competing going to be considered not good enough at the Emirates?