It’s been a considerable while since I gave my opinion on anything Arsenal (I’ve been incredibly busy), but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been keen on the happenings of the football world. In fact, after watching Barca and Real Madrid get annihilated by the Germans, I became uneasy. Not because I have a soft spot for either but these two defeats brought to my attention a looming eventuality that quite honestly made my stomach turn. This is what I’m going to discuss in this post.
I have to say, the Germans have taken the world by storm. The Bavarians dispatched Barca in a manner that would make a total stranger to football believe that the Catalans were a small town team. A side that, mind you, has been the bench mark for success in the last half decade. Same goes for Dortmund and Real Madrid. On top of that, despite their dominance, Bayern have already secured the services of Guardiola, Gotze and Lewandowski and counting. Scary!
I would also like to point out how PSG have come to birth. Some may argue that it is because of their billionaire backing, but however you look at it, they are now among the elite in European football, and from the looks of it, they’re here to stay whether we like it or not. Juventus and AC Milan are two very curious teams. They may only be dominant in Italy but you get the feeling that with a few top signings here and there they will join the aforementioned lot. Gleaning from all indications, they probably will sign top players this summer which means next year will be absolutely cut-throat.
So what does all this have to do with our beloved Arsenal? I will get there shortly.
Let me turn my attention to the Premier League. United were recently crowned champions with a whooping 15 point lead against local rivals, ManchesterCity. This kind of dominance, however, is a one off. I can attribute it to inconsistency and bad luck on the part of City and Chelsea, who over the season have dropped some unnecessary points. Credit to united where it is due, though; they have shown fantastic consistency throughout the season. My point here is, City and Chelsea will be angered by the manner of United’s triumph and will be looking to take revenge.
Even Fergie and Wenger have voiced concerns about the spending spree being planned by the two: not only for players, but managers too. And with Mourinho, Klopp and Heynckes future in their respective teams in doubt, there is no shortage of top class managers.
The teams in battle for the top 4 tell the same tale. Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham can no longer be termed as ‘mid table’. In fact, depending on what moves they make in the summer (Liverpool and Tottenham more so) they have an outside chance of becoming title contenders.
Which brings me to my whole bottom line for this article: Arsenal are facing a future defining crossroad this summer in various ways.
First of all, in terms of stature. Despite eight barren years, we are still widely regarded as a European giant and are even seeded top in the UCL draws. This can be attributed to our past success and tendency to finish in the top 4 every year. That said, you get the feeling that the goodwill that Thierry Henry and company afforded us with their victories have ran their course. In fact, even among our own fans, we are slowly realizing that Arsenal isn’t the powerhouse it once was. This can be typified by Luca Toni’s remarks to Jovetic, telling him not to join Arsenal as we aren’t a top club. Naturally, as a die hard fan I was outraged by those comments, but you have to admit, he has a point. We are no longer in the league of Barca, Bayern, United, PSG, City, Real and Chelsea.
And this is my second point: our attractiveness as a club – ability to attract top players. There are two things top class players chase and that is money and glory. Currently we can offer neither. Like I said earlier, in the past we’ve been skating on the efforts and reputation of our former stars to attract talent. You can clearly see (with Toni’s remarks) that that door is firmly shut now. With Arsenal notorious for their financial prudence in terms of player wages, you realize that we are in real trouble.
When there were rumours that we were chasing Gotze a few weeks ago, he quickly quashed them saying that he was angling for a move to one of Europe’s finest, stating Barca, Real, Man U and City as examples. You can disagree with me all you want, but these are the facts on the ground. All we have going for us now is Wenger’s reputation to make good players great and with some of his recent purchases (Arshavin, Sylvestre, Chamakh, Gervinho, Squillaci, Santos etc) even that isn’t iron clad.
Wenger is facing a monumental task to remain relevant in European football. This is a summer when his moves in the market will either push us back into that elite category, or banish us into a mediocre mid table dominion. Due to the developments I’ve pointed out above, he no longer has the luxury to gamble on players who will pay off later. If he allows these teams to strengthen while he watches, he will end up having a much tougher task in restoring our status which will take many seasons, just ask Liverpool.
He has no choice but to grit his teeth and spend big money on big players. It’s not all doom and gloom though as for the first time in a long time there is an abundance of talent in the market. There is Falcao, Cavani, Jovetic, Benzema, Hummels, Wanyama, Capoue, Begovic, Mignolet, Isco, Michu, James Rodriguez, Sanchez, Higuain: all on the market.
I hear talks for Jovetic are on going and that is a good start. However, Arsene can’t stop there. We need a DM, a top, top striker (or two) like say Jovetic and Michu; a top CB; and a top Goal keeper. For depth purposes, I also recommend a left winger. We also need to deal with the underachievers in our squad like Gervinho. Let’s face it, a team like Bayern often has Robben and Gomez on the bench, while we sometimes are forced to make due with Gervinho as a starter. City have players like Dzeko, Nasri on the bench. I think you get my point.
We need to assemble a squad with 15-17 top quality players so that with injuries, fatigue and loss of form, it remains business as usual. That kind of consistency is what will win us trophies.
COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!
Written by: Marcus.