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Arduous Arsenal face yet another taxing season

Wednesday 24th August 2016
There's real trouble at Arsenal as the team have made a slumped start to the season. The fans seem to be crying for change at the top, yet Wenger is still the man in charge. Very few signings this summer and one of them hasn't been granted a work permit. Amidst all of that the season has started, they've played two games and won neither.

Arsenal fans are often quick to have moods damped as they sense doom and gloom quicker than most. This season it has taken less than two weeks for the Gooners to become saddened. Although analysis of the current situation reveals credible reasons why.

The Wenger debate roars on but never seems to end. The out camp has very rational reasons to want to give the Frenchman the boot, e.g. he's not won a league title in many years, or really challenged for it, the European qualification and round of sixteen statuses seems to be an accomplishment, x-y-z, we could be here all day. The Wenger-In side will remind you of his tenure and that does present a real issue. Arsenal is the last of a generation, the only top-status club in Europe to not subscribe to the “sacking culture” which seems to come with clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City and more recently Manchester United. Arsenal is proud to be different, to honour their manager and their communal legacy. Yet is it that decision to preserve the Arsene-Arsenal status holding the club back? You can't bite the hand that feeds if you don't like food, yet want another course.
This summer's transfer policy and business have left a lot to be desired. Wenger has become synonymous with saying he is “open to spending” and apparently spend big, yet nothing has transpired to backup his claims. The three incoming players to the club's first team ranks leave Arsenal fans scratching their heads. Wenger clearly sees creative midfielders/attacking midfielders, as bars of gold considering the club's collection, Alexis, Özil, Ramsey and Cazorla (amidst even more). Most would see the role sorted at this point, yet not for Wenger. Swiss International, Granit Xhaka joined the club in the summer despite the position being largely covered. Yes, Xhaka is a little more defensive minded but this is a variation on a theme.

Whilst Xhaka's position wasn't needed the team have however been in need of a striker for some time now, not to entirely reshape the wheel but provide Giroud with support. After all, he looked a different player at the Euros when coupled with Greizmann. Arsene, to the fans delight, actually signed a striker this summer, little-known Japanese player from Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Takuma Asano. Before formally joining the club he represented Japan in the Summer Olympics and was very impressive throughout the campaign. Arsenal fans had a genuine interest in the Asian player making a difference at the top for the Gunners. Alas, it was not to be – as the player was denied a UK work permit. The club now has a player on their hands that cannot participate in their competitive season. A woeful affair, when management of a major European club cannot secure sound transfers. The club will now have to loan the player out and fans will hope this is not a repeat of the Ryo Miyaichi situation, where a young Japanese prospect arrived at the club, was loaned out several times and was moved on before making an impact on the Premier League.
Rob Holding has been forced straight into the first team due to a lack of defensive options at the club and for the most part has been the club's most fruitful signing of the summer transfer window. In his friendly and competitive appearances for the club, the former Bolton Wanderers player has been nothing but productive. Inexperience is present but forgivable for a twenty-year-old who was playing Championship football last campaign.

Arsenal's outgoings also raise some suspicion as well. Wojciech Szczęsny has been re-loaned out to AS Roma at a point where Petr Čech is the club's only convincing goalkeeper. David Ospina looks dicey at the very best and most opposing forward players have sussed out his “rush out” tactic he employs with seemingly every game. Joel Campbell has also left the club on loan a fifth time, having joined Sporting CP. Campbell had started to find a groove of form, starting games and scoring goals for the club. It seems an aberration to the player to send him out again after he's been a loyal, yet unwanted servant to the club especially at a time where he can useful to the first team.
Arsenal has been here before, though, early season despair and the transfer business only got worse. In 2011/12 led to Wenger uncharacteristically made four deadline day signings. This included Park Chu-Young and André Santos both of which are now regarded as two of the worst-ever Arsenal signings. Gooners are now left glued to their phones hoping for sound precision transfers, although may be in for the seemingly inevitable Jonny Evans deadline day deal.

All of the above would be forgiven, should the team actually perform and win football matches. Two games into the Premier League and the squad already look jaded. The crazy 4-3 loss to Liverpool was a freak result as the Merseyside Reds enjoyed a purple patch scoring at will against a make-shift defence. Their true colours shun as they lost to Burnley the week after. So the ability to score three can be seen favourably, in hindsight. Alas, whatever positives Arsenal should have taken from that game to the King Power were sadly left in London. Whilst they probably had the balance of play in the first half, the whole game lacked quality. The Arsenal performance, on the whole, looked uncreative (a rarity considering the personnel) and slightly disinterested.

It's not the end of the season, but if Arsenal continues to fall behind expectations they could find themselves out of the title picture and European contention really fast.
Warren Smith

A British and J.League soccer enthusiast, now local to Yokohama, Japan. A keen Arsenal supporter. Has been known to play the game every once in awhile, once likened to Xherdan Shaqiri. 


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