Personally I have a fairly optimistic view of the world so I believe that in spite of Arsene Wenger’s dithering in the transfer market Arsenal will have a much better season than last year. You can read that one here.
However there is some pretty compelling evidence that I have chosen to ignore. In some ways we might be in for a re-run of 2011 – calamitous starts, last minute signings, embarrassing defeats to our rivals. Hope not, but for the more pessimistic – or some would argue realistic – here are five reasons why things could go very badly wrong.
1 The season is about to begin and Wenger hasn’t strengthened the squad – This would not be the end of the world as the team finished last season strongly, but with a very tough season defining game in Turkey imminent, to say nothing of a game against Tottenham the club arguably needed their key players already embedded in the squad. Were Arsenal to lose badly in Turkey and maybe even get knocked out it would probably be very hard for the club to attract a marquee signing anyhow. There are still plenty of Arsenal fans who subscribe to the AKB Arsene Knows Best theory, but the Frenchman’s most loyal lieutenants must be harbouring doubts about the club’s lack of transfer action.
2 The team seems as injury prone as ever – Is it just Arsenal? Probably not, but the club does have a lot of injury prone players on its books. It even bought a new one in the guise of Sanogo. A serious injury to Wilshere could be disastrous, and if Giroud got a knock the club would be very short of firepower. Does anyone also believe that Diaby, and maybe even Rosicky, are capable of little more than cameos. Throw in injuries to Vermaelen, Sagna and Arteta even before the season starts and that squad looks a little skinny.
3 The gulf between Arsenal and the big three has grown wider – They may all have issues with new managers, but Chelsea and Man City have seriously strengthened their squads and Man United look pretty solid again. Beating City in an exhibition match in Finland is one thing, but when the action gets serious will the Gunners have it so easy?
4 Tottenham have bought well – Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue and maybe more to come – if I had a quid for every Arsenal fan who has tweeted that they wouldn’t be too upset had we signed those players I’d be a rich man. There remains a very good chance that Bale will stay too and even if Real do break the bank for him Spurs could finish the transfer widow on a spree that could compensate for his departure.
5 The atmosphere at The Emirates this season could be poisonous – Picture the worst case scenario. No major signings, an early CL exit and defeat to Spurs. It would take a lot to convince Arsenal fans not to blame Arsene Wenger personally for not addressing issues that everyone else is convinced needs resolving. Chants of ‘Wenger out’ could seriously undermine not just the manager but the players too. In that instance fifth place would look like a trophy!