Whether they like it or not, Arsenal's current squad is now set in stone as the one that will be embarking on a testing 2012-13 campaign.
In my opinion, the team can't be judged on performances so far. Most people have prematurely decided that Arsenal are more solid as a defensive unit now, in spite of the fact that they'll have trouble scoring due to Robin van Persie's departure, but I disagree.
Although Arsenal's defense has looked solid, it's only been tested against Sunderland and Stoke, who don't exactly have the most terrific offensive prowess. And as for the "goal-scoring problem," the Santi Cazorla-Lukas Podolski-Olivier Giroud partnership is promising, and once it gels it could definitely be one of the most dynamic attacks in the league.
That said, many fans like myself have doubts on whether or not the current squad is capable of challenging the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea for the title this season. I'm sure the side is perfectly capable of battling with Spurs and Newcastle for a Champions League spot, but how many Gooners are content with another third- or fourth-place finish?
After seven trophy-less seasons, Champions League football just isn't enough—and Arsenal supporters want silverware.
The three summer signings of Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla are definitely shrewd additions, but it's frustrating to see the club then go off and sell arguably their two best players in van Persie and Alex Song.
The way Arsenal handles transfers at the moment is, honestly, worrying. When it comes to this topic, most fans point to "the board," which is probably the right place to blame; although there are plenty of behind-the-scenes things we don't know about.
Nonetheless, the club seems to look at their transfer dealing with the aim of making profit rather than winning trophies. If you look at the amount spent on players this summer, it adds up to roughly £40 million pounds.
So, should we believe it's just a coincidence that the amount made on selling players this summer also adds up to around £40 million?
It's clear that the two numbers just about cancel each other out, and it's something that fans like myself find incredibly frustrating. Arsenal have a transfer budget—a big one—and they should use it rather than stash it away and sell players in order to fund transfers.
I don't want to get into logistics, but the point is that Arsenal had the funds to build a squad capable of challenging for the title this season. Selling key players like van Persie and Song without replacing them isn't something that a successful, ambitious club does.
Even Tottenham Hotspur, our bitter rivals, saw that with the departures of Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart, replacements had to be brought in—hence the signings of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey.
It's true: The return of Jack Wilshere from injury will be like a new £30 million signing, and Abou Diaby hasn't looked bad so far in the holding midfield position, but Song was brilliant for Arsenal. Someone like Yann M'Vila or Nuri Sahin definitely should have been brought in as a replacement.
Overall, Arsenal's transfer business wasn't good enough this summer. With three promising signings, it was one step forward and two steps back when our two best players left shortly after.
Big changes are needed at Arsenal, but for now we can only hope for the best and continue to believe that Arsene knows.
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