Arsenal fans have always seemed to remain 50-50 on their chances of winning trophies over the past five or so years. However, in looking forward to this season, fans of the Gunners have an entirely new outlook on the club, which falls on the side of extremely pessimistic.
It suffices to say, if Arsenal don’t make any significant signings or improve their performances on the field, it could be too late for Arsenal to challenge for a top four position, let alone challenge for a Premier League.
Yes, it’s still very early in the season. But reigning champions Manchester United have added several big-name signings in Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David De Gea; Chelsea will have a full season of Fernando Torres, who has looked like the Torres of old so far; Liverpool look much stronger than last season, with Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez up front and Steven Gerrard still to return from injury after missing the majority of last season; Manchester City are genuine title contenders with their ultra-strong line-up that consists of Kun Aguero, David Silva and ex-Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri, who will complete his move before the end of the week; arch-rival Tottenham Hotspur and Harry Redknapp are also an ever-present danger.
With all those factors to consider, it may not surprise many to see Arsenal playing Europa League football next season. Here are a few reasons why.
Injurues have plagued Arsenal for the past several years: Season-long injuries have affected the likes of Tomas Rosicky, Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen. Abou Diaby, Eduardo, Samir Nasri and Aaron Ramsey have all suffered horrific broken leg injuries.
Whether it’s a curse or a team training problem, Arsenal have always had major injury problems throughout the years, and lost Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri to long-term injuries last year for key stretches of the season.
Already this season, the Arsenal injury list consists of Johan Djourou, Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere.
If Arsenal are to contend this season, they will have to avoid key long-term injuries to their core first-team players.
It’s safe to say so far Arsenal have lost more than they have gained, as Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri have all found the Emirates exit.
With former Lille standout Gervinho and ex-Charlton right-back Carl Jenkinson the only signings of note so far this season, Arsenal have spent a grand total of £25 million so far in this transfer window. The Gunners most expensive signing was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton. Much like the Theo Walcott transfer, Arsenal have very high expectations for the 18-year-old.
An interesting signing to take note of that went under the radar was that of Joel Campbell, a 19-year-old Costa Rican striker. It is yet to be determined how much of a role he will play for Arsenal this season.
Gary Cahill is still in transfer limbo, as the Bolton centre-back still waits to see if Arsenal will come calling for him. His position is a major concern for Arsenal. Thomas Vermaelen, Sebastien Squillaci and 19-year-old Ignasi Miquel are the only centre-backs currently healthy for Arsenal.
Arsenal have also been linked with the likes of Eden Hazard, Jadson and Yann M'Vila. It has also been speculated that Arsenal will look to Real Madrid and enquire about the availability of Kaka on a season-long loan.
The Gunners management undoubtedly has the funds to spend, yet many fans wonder what is stopping them from making any significant moves.
Already this season, Arsenal have three players under suspension.
Alex Song was suspended for three games for stamping on Joey Barton’s leg against Newcastle, Gervinho is also serving a three-match ban for his tussle with the aforementioned Barton in the same game.
Emmanuel Frimpong will serve a one match ban for his red card against Liverpool on his Arsenal full debut after a badly mistimed tackle.
Gunners fans, who will no doubt know of Arsenal’s frankly awful disciplinary record under Arsene Wenger, have reason to be concerned already. Wenger incidentally has received a two-game touchline ban after relaying messages to Pat Rice illegally during their first-leg Champions League qualifier against Udinese.
Are these all signs of things to come for a young and relatively inexperienced team?
From a team that supposedly had very good cover last season, depth of the squad has become a major issue for Arsenal.
With the losses of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, the midfield position seems as thin as it has ever been. With Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey projected as starters, the only depth behind the two young midfielders are the experienced yet unreliable Thomas Rosicky and England under-21 international Henri Lansbury.
Defensively, a lack of depth wasn’t an issue a week ago, with Vermaelen and Koscielny starters and Djourou serving as a solid back-up. However, injury problems in the back four have caused depth to become a major issue. Left-back has also become an issue with both Kieran Gibbs and Armand Traore out of action.
Depth at striker behind Robin van Persie is also somewhat of an issue, with only Gervinho serving as a serious No. 2 option. Nicklas Bentdner looks to be on his way out, Marouane Chamakh continues to struggle for form and Carlos Vela has been sent out on loan. The Gunners don’t really have a solid backup to fill in should van Persie fall to injury.
This is undoubtedly the most important season for Arsenal FC in years, having not won a trophy in six years.
Arsene Wenger is under tremendous pressure to finally deliver a trophy to the Emirates Stadium, a ground that has yet to see a trophy in its existence.
The pressure is not only on the club, but also on the players, many of whom are incredibly young. Players such as Wojciech Szczęsny, 21, Jack Wilshere, 19, Aaron Ramsey, 20, and Theo Walcott, 22, are expected to make major contributions this season. A lack of experience may prove costly at the business end of the season.
As both the board and owners Alisher Usmanov and Stan Kroenke will seek success in the form of silverware this season, we could well see a new manager pacing the Arsenal sidelines next season at the Emirates.