Arsenal’s summer transfer window epitomised their recent history under Arsene Wenger. The Gunners were able to sign Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac but lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to rivals Liverpool for £35m.
Perhaps the best business Wenger’s men were able to conduct was to keep Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates Stadium. However, the Chilean reportedly expressed his desire to leave and was heavily touted to move to Manchester City on deadline day.
Only Arsenal’s failure to lure Thomas Lemar in a club-record deal prevented Sanchez’s switch to Pep Guardiola’s men. The problem now for the Gunners going forward is to keep the 28-year-old motivated in the final year of his contract.
Sanchez has been outstanding for the club since his move in 2014 from Barcelona. However, the signs of frustration began to kick in last season and were evident in the Gunners’ demolition at the hands of Liverpool.
Not even the high calibre of his performances was good enough to secure Champions League football in the last campaign when the Chilean put his heart and soul into his efforts. A dispirited Sanchez will still be effective on the pitch but his drive and determination covered a lot of holes.
The Gunners’ early-season displays do suggest that success is not on the cards though. Even Sanchez’s return to action against Liverpool could not spark the team into life.
Arsenal’s old fragilities at the back were exposed by the Reds’ pace and clinical edge at Anfield, while Stoke played upon their lack of resilience at the back in their loss at the bet365 Stadium. Even their triumph over Leicester on the opening day of the season needed a late comeback, with Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud inspiring their victory.
Due to the significant spending of their rivals and even the teams below them in the table, Wenger faces a massive challenge even to secure a top-six berth for his side.
Both Manchester clubs look a class apart this term, while Chelsea have put their staggering loss on an opening day behind them. Tottenham will remain a threat at the top of the table, while Liverpool proved their quality by hammering the Gunners on home soil.
Arsenal’s bigger concern is the improvement made by Everton behind them in the table. The Toffees sold Romelu Lukaku but have invested heavily in their squad and now boast an arguably deeper unit than Wenger’s men.
Mesut Ozil has been inconsistent for the North London outfit throughout his career and is going through one of his lean spells once again. Olivier Giroud was linked with an exit but has remained at the club. Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott have talent, but both have struggled for form and have been injury-plagued.
Therefore, the key remains Sanchez and his brilliance on the pitch. Should he maintain his form from last season, then the Gunners should have no concerns about being surpassed by Everton. However, should he take a significant step back, then there is the real cause for concern as the surrounding options have offered very little over the past few seasons.
Arsenal do not have the solid foundation to beat teams without conceding, especially the elite sides in the Premier League. This term could be Wenger’s toughest yet at the Emirates Stadium.