It is the start of another English Premier League season, the beginning of another European Champions League campaign and the Arsenal Football Club is in a familiar spot woefully undermanned and bereft of ideas how to solve problems.
Chelsea and especially the two Manchester clubs have replenished and rejuvenated their teams. The only thing those clubs are doing in the summer transfer market, if anything, is to find complementing pieces to round out their squads.
Chelsea Football Club resolutely recruited Michy Batshuayi and now can be seen in a two-striker set with Diego Costa. N’Golo Kanté has been poached from last season’s EPL champion Leicester City FC to add steel to their midfield.
Manchester City F.C. added German speedster Leroy Sané, Nolito from Spain and another German İlkay Gündoğan. And, any day now, Claudio Bravo will be in City colors.
Don’t even get me started with Manchester United FC. Zlatan Ibrahimović, arguably the best striker in the world, sturdy defencer Eric Bertrand Bailly, and midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan were added. Then, for good measure, Man U added the world’s most talented midfield player in Paul Pogba.
I haven’t mentioned Tottenham Hotspurs and Liverpool who also have designs on wresting the title from Leicester or, at least, finish in the top four.
All these teams compete in the same league as Arsenal and never seem to have trouble finding players to supplement their squads. Only Arsenal.
The summer transfer season closes on Tuesday and Arsenal, beset by injuries and mediocrities in central defense, are still unable to find capable defenders. The problem at striker has plagued this team for as long as I can remember but, again, we are unable to find a striker.
Where most of the aforementioned teams find the very best strikers in the world, Arsenal is not able to get even Lucas Perez from Deportivo de La Coruña, a player no one has ever accused of being an elite striker. The latest hang-up, apparently is that Arsenal would prefer to pay the transfer in two installments.
I wonder how many installments Man. U is paying Pogba’s world-record fee.
The public face of the squad is Arsène Wenger, manager of the team for the past two decades.
Wenger’s reign has been a glorious one and the soccer is always bright, imaginative and exciting and in 2004 and undefeated title-winning season. But since, the club has contented itself with finishing in the top four.
In recent years, Wenger signed Mesut Özil for major money, Alexis Sanchez for quite considerable amount of money and, at the beginning of summer, Granit Xhaka joined the midfield from Germany. But Rob Holding and Takuma Asano, if he could even get a work permit, are talented but untested players, not who you get when your club needs refreshing to tackle the biggest, baddest teams out there.
But Wenger has also said he’s leery of spending money in the transfer market because he does not want to make mistakes.
Juventures F.C. (recruiting last season’s Serie A golden-boot winner Gonzalo Higuaín, plus defender Dani Alves from Barcelona), F.C. Bayern Munich (with the Portuguese Renato Sanches, one of the most exciting young players in the world), Real Madrid C.F. (prodigal son Álvaro Morata is back in from Juventus at forward) and F.C. Barcelona (Samuel Umtiti in defense) will all be lying in wait in the Champions League to knock Arsenal out in the round of 16 as they customarily do year in, year out.
American Stan Kroenke owns the controlling shares in Arsenal and he has told Arsenal fans he is not in it to win trophies. The club is making money, what are the fans complaining about, he wanted to know.
Meanwhile, Arsenal fans resented Alisher Usmanov, the Russian billionaire who sought controlling shares of the team. Usmanov wanted Arsenal to spend so they could win. There’s no doubt what the faceless consortiums that run the two Manchester clubs want to do. Chelsea F.C. owner Roman Abramovich would not abide anything less than excellence. Abramovich fired coaches who won because they did not win the way he wants them to win.
Meanwhile, at Arsenal, Kroenke simply wants to make money and he can continue to do so with the status quo so why spend money?