We thought that this time would be different.
Even though we had seen it all before.
A fantastic start to business, which put us in a prime position to finally close the gap on the regular challengers for the title.
Then, the inevitable lull in proceedings, which then led to the demise of hope.
In the previous few seasons, we had gone out early and purchased players in June/July. Not just any players, but of the ilk to push us forward.
This season’s incarnation of the annual false dawn was Alexandre Lacazette. On a singular basis, the Frenchman is a fantastic addition to the squad and his talents will benefit our team undoubtedly.
One purchase does not make a team though, only a very glittery band-aid.
Sead Kolasinac was another player who joined, but the lack of monetary fanfare in the form of a blockbuster transfer fee resulted in less hype surrounding the bulky Bosnian. His skills though, are of the highest order, and I think we have all seen from his pre-season and early Premier League displays, that Kolasinac is an absolute bargain.
A defensive addition, allied with the striking purchase we all craved. Sounds like a recipe for success, no?
The stormclouds on the horizon in the last few years refused to dissipate though, and it all stemmed from the inadequacies in our team which have cost us dearly.
If we are all able to spot it, how can Arsene Wenger repeatedly refuse to remedy the situation?
The faith he shows his players can mean an extra 10-15% torque from their engines. Players want to do their utmost for someone who has their back, and Wenger always backs his men. The trouble is, the arm round the shoulder can also be constricting and problematic.
Some get too comfortable, some refuse to push the envelope for progress. We now have a squad that has a capacity for wonderful things, but they rarely find any consistency, they also just as rarely struggle to hit the heights they – and we – know they are capable of.
So, the transfer window enables Wenger to finally rid us of this blight, to use his extensive knowledge of the European game to acquire players that are a perfect fit for the apertures we have in our squad.
Virgil Van Dijk, Jean-Michel Seri, Julian Draxler. Just three names that could replace players that wanted to leave this summer, and not just replace them, but better them.
Van Dijk is sought after by Chelsea, Liverpool, pretty much the whole Premier League hierarchy. The clamour for his signature is evidence enough that the Dutchman is of the required standard. With Shkodran Mustafi angling for a move in nearly plain sight, why did we not move for Southampton’s star man?
Not only this, but with Gabriel sold to Valencia in the same window, this left us with an injury-prone Koscielny, a retiring Mertesacker, an inexperienced Holding and Calum Chambers, where the jury is out.
Of course, the transfer fee would have been gargantuan, but Mustafi would have brought in at least half of the transfer fee, so the price cannot be baulked at.
Then there is Julian Draxler. The German started well at PSG, but the wheels fell off and he is now out of favour in Paris. The fact he was offered to Borussia Dortmund underlines Draxler’s availability. With Alexis practically being photographed shaking hands with Sheikh Mubarak, the left side of our attack was open.
Why didn’t we go for Draxler?
The fee for Alexis would have been pretty close to that of Draxler. This was a no-brainer. Of course, Lemar was our chosen man, but the fact he too slipped through our fingers typifies our transfer policy in the last decade or so.
Our central midfield is an itch that Wenger doesn’t seem to be able to scratch. When bereft of Santi Cazorla, the mixture of defensive duties and attacking instincts is usually the blade that slips under the ribcage of our title credentials.
Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny have all played alongside each other in various combinations, but none seem to stick. Coquelin has the passion, but zero technical ability. Xhaka is a fantastic long-range passer and for making connections, but he is lazy in his defensive tasks. Aaron Ramsey is a fine attacker, but needs a player to sit back when he roves forward. Elneny is a solid 7/10 player, but is simply squad-filler.
Wenger has been sitting in this ticking time-bomb for seasons, and a mixture of belief in his men and apparent beligerence has led to us all suffering the results on the pitch.
We need a midfield destroyer. We need that same destroyer to be able to offload the ball further than three yards without losing it.
Why didn’t this get seen to?
Instead of pushing our team on in this window, we have made a profit. Just what the team needs, a healthier bank balance.
For the first time, we are in September as I write this and I have zero confidence in our team doing anything this season. Treading water with the occasional splash, but until the problems are seen to, we are hindered.
Our squad is strong in terms of numbers, but even the most optimistic of us could see what was needed in this window.
And yet again, we have a window closed on us whilst our faces are pressed on the glass, dribbling over the wares we were promised but are well out of our reach.
Wenger is responsible for this error, and it could cost us dearly as slipping down the ranks means a less desirable place to play for transfer targets.
The players we have, need to repay what Wenger has given them. Hopefully, that will be enough. It has to be.