After ending last season’s campaign having retained the FA Cup and finished third in the Premier League, the natural progression for our team is to launch a sustained challenge for the league title this season.
We finished 12 points behind champions Chelsea last term and invariably, the general perception is that Arsene Wenger should delve into the transfer market in order to reduce that deficit this term.
The calls for us to strengthen have been deafening too, and in every discussion regarding our title chances the noises are clear. While many will differ in terms of the quantity and specific positions Wenger should address, there is a common theme appearing and the external belief in our squad to win the title is minimal.
Our record goalscorer Thierry Henry has been leading these calls, and at the backend of last season he called on the manager to sign four new players.
“Arsenal need to buy four players, they need that spine,” Henry said on Sky Sports.
“They need a goalkeeper, they still need a centre-back, they still need a holding midfielder and, I’m afraid, they need a top, top-quality striker in order to win this league again.”
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Since those infamous comments, Wenger has satisfied Henry with one signing having brought in Petr Cech from Chelsea in what was a surprising move.
However, surely if one was to ask the legendary striker if we possessed enough to mount a serious challenge, his answer would mirror the one he gave in May?
It’s at times like these that we should cherish the fact that we have a manager who is heedless to the constant calls about what he should do to strengthen our squad.
There seems to be a culture among Premier League fans and experts alike that spending money directly results in strengthening your squad. That theory cannot be deemed conclusive though, especially when analysing the spending from the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United in recent years.
Instead, those who are attentive when Wenger speaks will notice that he’s used one specific word on a number of occasions which sums up his thinking heading into this season – “cohesion.”
“We have strengthened the squad already and I believe part of the success of the team is down to the level of cohesion,” Wenger said ahead of our pre-season tour of Singapore (via Arsenal Player).
“We have a good level of cohesion and at the moment what is very important to our squad and myself is to see how we can move forward again.”
For Wenger, there are other methods to improving our squad which don’t necessarily equate to the contemporary way of thinking.
Looking back at the Premier League winners over the past few years, one particular squad went through a similar situation to the one we’re currently in and went on to win the title comfortably.
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Ahead of the 2006/07 season, Sir Alex Ferguson was under huge pressure to spend given that he was in the midst of a rare drought in terms of the Premier League – with his previous success coming in 2003.
Despite the pressure, the legendary Man United boss gambled on the cohesion built-up within his side during those lean years and chose to only add one player to his squad.
Michael Carrick came in as Roy Keane’s long-term replacement, and sat alongside Paul Scholes in a 4-4-2. The Red Devils defied all odds to clinch the title ahead of a Chelsea side who had just reinforced by adding Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko, and Ashley Cole.
The similarities between the two sides are interesting. Both teams were questioned in terms of their striking options – with Sir Alex choosing to go into the campaign relying on Louis Saha and Wayne Rooney to carry the fight – as well as their mental toughness to last the distance.
Led by Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals, Man United reached the pinnacle, and Wenger will certainly be expecting Alexis Sanchez to do the same for us.
Admittedly, Wenger’s plan could prove to be fruitless and the calls for him to be replaced may well resurface before the end of the campaign.
However, spending for the sake of spending has never been one of our policies, and should we maintain the belief in our squad while also keeping our best players fit, we may stun the world just like Fergie’s Man United did in 2007.
Follow Mohamuud Jama on Twitter – @Jama_93