The Premier League season kicks off on Friday night and yet Arsenal seem woefully unprepared for it. It’s very quiet on all fronts and the chaotic, all hands to the pump window we were expecting has gone very silent indeed. Relics of bygone squads and managers still linger at London Colney like specters waiting to move on to the next world. Kolasinac, Eleney, Xhaka and a whole host of others who were expected to be moved on are still here. And whatever happened to Lucas Torreira for that matter?
Intrinsically linked to the lack of departures is the lack of arrivals. A right back, attacking midfielder, striker and back up keeper have all failed to materialise. Not through a lack of trying I will say. But with Edu in another luxury resort every other week, questions will be asked. There are of course three weeks left of this window and the message from the club has been consistent: “judge us at the end of the window”. Well if they expect to come out of it with and credibility there is a lot of work to be done yet. The season kicks off in a mere three days and a center back and central midfielder aren’t going to be enough to appease an ever growing restlessness in the fan base.
It’s all starting to feel a bit jittery and when you see that we face Man City and Chelsea in our opening three matches Arteta needs the players he does have at his disposal to hit the ground running and based on pre-season that looks far from guaranteed. We already know he’ll be without Partey, Nketiah and Gabriel and with our ongoing problems up front it’s all starting to look a bit daunting.
The season upshot?
It is, of course, not all bad news. There are signs that Arsenal are finally starting to put a long term plan in place. When you look at our transfers and all the players we’re being linked with they all have one common factor: age. All are 21-23ish and all have plenty of football left in them, which means that even should Arteta fail, the next manager will have players to work with and mould. That mid/long term vision has been an absent factor at Arsenal since well before Wenger left the helm. And when you factor in that Klopp at Liverpool was never expected to achieve success for three seasons then it gives you an idea of how far behind the trend we are.
The other bright spark of course is the emergence of the Hale End boys and crucially them both signing new long term deals. Combine that with Tierney, Martinelli and the impending emergence of the likes of Folarin Balogun, it suddenly looks like this team is finally taking some sort of shape. At 26, Pepe isn’t quite in that crop but with his prime approaching this feels like this needs to be his moment and after finishing last season well I have a sneaky feeling he could have a really good year.
The Bottom Line
Yes this team has flaws and yes in some areas we are perilously light but for all the worry there has to be some cause for optimism. We finished just six points off the top four and if we’d avoided that horrendous run just before Christmas I think we’d have been right in the mix. On the eve of the new season it’s time to buckle up and get behind the boys because after all this is football. Anything can happen! For those lucky enough to be going I’ll see you at Brentford on Friday. Till then,