With the departure of two key performers this summer and having shipped off a lot of the squad’s dead weight too, questions were always going to be asked about the outcome Arsenal were headed for this season.
The demand from fans and further financial gain from these sales provided Arsene Wenger with greater determination in terms of bringing players in however, and the additions of Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud have strengthened things up immensely.
After an inconceivably great defensive start and attacking form really kicking in against Liverpool, things at Arsenal are already looking improved. The most obvious note is the creative flair that Santi Cazorla now offers the team. Playing ahead of the rest of midfield, the sharp Spaniard provides options through his dribbling, passing and shooting abilities. Bacary Sagna’s injury has allowed Carl Jenkinson the opportunity to step in and has shown great signs of improvement already, whilst Lukas Podolski has instantly impressed. It’s also been encouraging to see existing squad players return. A quality performance from Abou Diaby against Liverpool firmly springs to mind.
Championship winning teams simply can’t rely on players who don’t consistently perform though. With the likes of Gervinho failing to shine and Arshavin and Chamakh still looking adrift, the manager still has a slight tactical headache in terms of strength in depth. Providing the top performers can keep fit, there’s no reason Arsenal can’t and won’t push for higher than fourth.
As is often the case, plenty of the club’s title challenging potential remains off the pitch too. Potential injuries are always a concern, but it’s the same predicament for every club. On the positive side, Jack Wilshere’s return is rapidly closing in and will provide a great morale boost for the squad, let alone eager supporters. Also, rumoured future arrivals featuring the likes of Fernando Llorente and Falcao indicate further positive intent that Arsenal fans want to see.
In terms of winning it this season, I just can’t see it. Chelsea have come out firing and already look the most realistic threat in clinching it away from either Mancunian club. For Arsenal, I think it’s fair to say that this season provides the timeliest opportunity to now fully develop this promising and improving squad. The potential that this new team is showing highlights how Wenger has done everything right so far in order to become certified contenders, it’s just not time yet.