I had no doubts ahead of last season that Chelsea would win the league. The main reason was their clever transfer policy to address all the problems in their squad and fill the gaps by signing Diego Costa, Loic Remy, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis before mounting a title challenge. On the other hand, we entered the season short on numbers in defence and with a lack of quality in defensive midfield. Hence the early lead for Jose Mourinho’s side, and it was over by Christmas.
Fast forward to this campaign, and we haven’t had the most impressive start either as we have already lost three and two points at home to West Ham and Liverpool respectively. None of our strikers have shown world-class quality so far, and we have consequently struggled for goals. According to Squawka.com, we created 34 chances in the two opening league matches but only two of those chances have actually ended with a goal. That’s totally unacceptable for prospective title challengers. Manchester City have already scored eight goals that were well-spread over three games and they have needed just 44 chances to do it (via Squawka.com). According to the same source, Chelsea – who may have had an unconvincing start – have needed just 28 chances to score five goals.
Of course, statistics don’t speak the truth if they are just torn out of context. The thing is, if you have a place in your team that requires strengthening and funds to finance it, you have to do it in order to succeed. Manchester City had lacked width and pace in the attack so they have paid £49 million pounds to get Raheem Sterling from Liverpool (via bbc.com). Chelsea had needed a right winger who would relieve the burden from Hazard on the left wing so they have signed Pedro Rodriguez from Barcelona.
Arsenal have needed a world-class striker ever since Robin van Persie left for Manchester United but we are yet to buy one. We also need proper cover for Francis Coquelin but we haven’t signed anyone even though the excellent ball-playing French defensive midfielders like Morgan Schneiderlin and Yohan Cabaye were available prior to their respective transfers to Manchester United and Crystal Palace.
The thing is, there is a pattern of behaviour. It’s not the first time Arsene Wenger has spent the best part of a transfer window waiting for…something. Remember that transfer window when we got Mesut Özil? We signed the German on transfer deadline day. The same thing happened with Mikel Arteta in 2011. And, there was an unforgettable fiasco in January 2014 when we signed Kim Kallstrom on loan as a replacement for injured Aaron Ramsey only to find out that the Swedish midfielder was crocked as well (via bbc.com).
Those who criticize Wenger usually label the French manager as a reactive manager. They may have a point – Wenger didn’t re-sign Mathieu Flamini before we had lost to Aston Villa at home on the opening day of 2013-14. He didn’t add Per Mertesacker’s aerial presence and Mikel Arteta’s calmness to our team before we had been thrashed at Old Trafford 8:2. Hell, even Francis Coquelin’s return from loan last season took place only after Mikel Arteta’s long-term injury!
On the other hand, Wenger hasn’t made expensive errors like most of his rivals. He hasn’t splashed £26 million pounds to get a striker who can score only from the penalty spot (Roberto Soldado – via telegraph.co.uk), £23.3 million pounds on a winger only to seek a replacement for him six months later (Juan Cuadrado – via bbc.com) or £59.7 million pounds on a world-class winger only to lose £15 million pounds on his sale a year later (Angel Di Maria – via bbc.com).
Yes, we have already signed a world-class goalkeeper but at least one top-drawer outfield player is required if we are about to mount a serious title challenge. Francis Coquelin can’t play 50+ matches this season without suspensions and injuries while neither Olivier Giroud nor Theo Walcott are world-class strikers.
There is still time to do the job but it’s ticking away…