Arsenal suffered their fourth Premier League defeat of the 2011/2012 season with a 2-1 loss to arch-rivals Tottenham in the North London derby at White Hart Lane. It ensured Arsene Wenger's men remain in 16th place with a mere two wins from the opening seven encounters, which includes an 8-2 humiliation by Manchester United.
It had been a tumultuous summer for the Gunners, losing key playmakers Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to transfers whilst Wenger's squad has continually endured decimation through injury and suspension. However, the North London giants have remained competitive.
In all of their defeats, bar the 8-2 humiliation, Arsenal have controlled possession, created numerous chances and looked the better side but have endured defensive lapses which ultimately cost them. Performing with under-strength lineups yet narrowly lacking a clinical edge has been the key feature in the Gunners' inability to prosper.
However, despite the documented panic that has engulfed the Emirates, it is still early days in the English Premier League. There are 31 matches still to arise in the 2011/2012 season which amounts to 93 points, more than enough to secure the Premier League title.
Although Arsenal's title hopes appear futile, their chances of securing a UEFA Champions League place by finishing in the top four are still well within reach—particularly as a number of factors will return in Wenger's favour which will greatly strengthen the young squad and reignite Arsenal's burnt season.
There is no denying that Wenger has one of the best eyes in world football for talented teenagers. The Frenchman unearthed the likes of Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and an exciting array of others.
Currently in his young squad, the Arsenal manager has two of the most exciting wingers in Europe who are inches away from first-team action. Ryo Miyaichi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have both already acquired quite the reputation, particularly the latter, and as the season ages the duo are expected to become integral parts of the Arsenal attack.
Japanese dynamo Miyaichi was signed in January and immediately sent on loan to the Dutch Eredivisie, where the 18-year-old thrived with Feyenoord. Miyaichi recorded 12 appearances, three goals and five assists alongside acquiring the nickname "Ryodinho" and the "Japanese Messi." The teenager has drawn comparisons to La Liga stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi due to his immense pace, balance and his vicious strike.
Chamberlain on the other hand was one of the most desired targets in England last season while with Southampton. The Englishman enjoyed a superb first full season in English football with 41 appearances, 10 goals and eight assists alongside selection in the 2010/2011 PFA League One Team of the Year.
The 18-year-old has already made his mark on the Arsenal first team. Chamberlain has scored in his last two starts for the Gunners and shown phenomenal flair, skill and sheer speed. The teenager also possesses great composure and maturity.
Miyaichi and Chamberlain will help implement lacking pressure on the more experienced wingers in the Arsenal squad. Gervinho, Theo Walcott and Andrei Arshavin will be required to consistently perform in order for Arsenal to have success due to the wing role having such an impact to Wenger's squad.
If the more experienced players cannot perform they will risk losing their first-team place to young stars.
It may have been a horror start to 2011/2012 but Arsenal fans can certainly smile about one thing. For the first time in what appears like a decade, the Gunners boast a reliable, quality, safe 'keeper. Polish youngster Wojciech Szczesny has been a shinning light in the dark start to the season with constant performances of security and brilliance—better yet, Szczesny is just 21 years of age.
The Poland international had long been highly touted by Arsenal officials within the renowned academy and upon injuries to Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone and Manuel Almunia by December 2010, Szczesny was given an opportunity and has ceased to look back since.
The youngster has quickly acquired 22 league appearances for the Gunners and showed superb maturity and composure alongside impressive leadership. There may be problems in almost every other facet of Arsenal but one thing that no one has to worry about is the goalkeeper position.
Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were not the only big-name departures during Arsenal's horrid summer. French left-back Gael Clichy transferred to Manchester City for £7 million after eight years and 264 appearances for the Gunners.
However, the 26-year-old's departure has had little relevance on Arsenal proceedings with England international Kieran Gibbs and Brazilian Andre Santos, who signed from Turkish giants Fenerbahce this summer for £6.2 million, considered more than capable of emulating Clichy.
The duo are both fast, aggressive full-backs with impressive attacking prowess. The fight for the No. 1 left-back role is still well up for contention, however Gibbs has impressed in recent performances whilst Santos scored on his UEFA Champions League debut.
Clichy had become increasingly fragile in the latter stages of his Arsenal career but failed to endure demotion as there was insufficient competition with Gibbs considered too young for the role. However, now Wenger has two strong players competing for one role, ensuring that only the highest can be accepted by the Arsenal manager.
Thomas Vermaelen is easily one of the best defenders in the English Premier League when fit. The Belgian's debut season for Arsenal in 2009/2010, following Vermaelen's £10 million signing from Dutch giants Ajax, amassed 45 appearances and eight goals alongside selection in the PFA Team of the Year. However since then, just nine appearances have arisen following persistent Achilles and ankle injuries.
Vermaelen has featured four times in 2011/2012 before ankle surgery ruled him out indefinitely and during his appearances the Belgium international provided strength and composure to the Arsenal back line. Scheduled to return by November at the latest, Vermaelen's renewed presence will secure the defensive line alongside sparking a tantalizing potential partnership with German giant Per Mertesacker.
Furthermore, the former Ajax man is a natural leader, hence the Arsenal vice captaincy, and with his presence, the Gunners will vastly improve.
Despite what the media and even some fans may portray during the current Arsenal demise, Wenger actually possesses a strong squad at his disposal that when boasting relative fitness, has adequate depth. In all positions there is enough depth that can ensure Arsenal can achieve the aim of a top-four finish.
Fitness aside, the midfield boasts the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong, Alexandre Song, Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Yossi Benayoun and Tomas Rosicky. All players capable of performing at a necessary level to achieve success alongside ensuring there is pressurized depth to ensure below-par performances will be punished.
It is the same in both the defensive and forward lines and surprisingly the goalkeeper ranks. As fitness returns, so will the pressure of individuals needing to perform sufficiently.
Arsene Wenger has always ensured the Gunners are in a safe financial position through smart buys, relatively low wages and beneficial sponsorships. However, with the current state of the global financial market, which will inevitably engulf football alongside with the potential giant wage increase for Arsenal, it is vital the North London giants maintain their presence in Europe for the sheer financial bonus it offers.
The other giant clubs are relaxed by their mass investments and sponsorships and if Arsenal fail to secure a UEFA Champions League place, it will become harder to regain their presence and reputation due to the distinct lack of funds due to the financial. losses recorded.
The Arsenal squad was considerably altered during the summer. By September 1st, Wenger had acquired nine players whilst 14 departed on either a loan, retirement or transfer. The Frenchman's first team has a completely different outlook from the previous campaign and it has only been a month, including international breaks, in which Wenger's squad have had time to adapt.
Partnerships have barely been established whilst the likes of new signings Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun are all still unfamiliar with Arsenal's fast, incisive attack and high defensive line. Patience is greatly required because in truth there is still a long way to go in the 2011/2012 season and as the squad adapts, good things will occur.
Imposing French midfielder Abou Diaby is yet to feature this season following a persistent ankle complaint, however the 25-year-old is expected to return in November and it is evident Diaby's presence will have great effect.
For the first time in his Arsenal career, the France international will be considered a senior player and leader in the Arsenal squad. With lacking a playmaker in the Arsenal side, Diaby can emerge as the key midfield man, particularly as Aaron Ramsey is struggling for form and Mikel Arteta lacks consistency.
There is no denying Diaby's ability. Strong, agile, powerful and quick, the former Auxerre midfielder has long held comparisons to former Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira but has failed to fulfill the claims due to injuries.
However, with an opportunity to play consistent first-team football and run the Arsenal midfield, Abou Diaby will become a big part of Arsenal's 2011/2012 season.
It has been seven games for the Gunners and in that time there have been mass injuries, untimely suspensions, tough oppositions and transfers. The international break has emerged as the Gunners will welcome back players before recognising that success is the only answer.
There is more than enough time to sufficiently challenge for the Premier League title, let alone a UEFA Champions League place. Arsenal have the time and the squad to achieve what needs to be achieved.
There may be mass calls for Arsene Wenger to leave his role as Arsenal manager but in truth the Frenchman is one of the best in world football and recently achieved 15 years with Arsenal. Never in his tenure at the Gunners would times be as tough as they are now, and there is no denying the former Monaco manager will be relishing the challenge.
With most of England giving Arsenal little chance to return to the Premier League's elite, Wenger has the experience, ability and desire to find the way to ensure the Gunners remain a force in European football. The Frenchman has simply worked too hard for things to unravel at the Emirates.