This looks like a make-or-break season for Arsenal.
Four years without a trophy have created discontent in North London, and if they were to lose their top four
position, it would be a disaster.
Although the club's
ownership is in a state of flux, the present situation does not allow them to
throw silly money at transfer targets.
They are finding it increasingly hard to attract new
signings, particularly considering the massive wages on offer at clubs like Chelsea, Manchester
City and Real Madrid.
Without the lure of Champions League football they would
have no chance of attracting top players. If they drop out of the top four,
they will face a real struggle getting back up there.
The fans have started to moan about Arsene Wenger, which was
almost unthinkable a couple of years back, and patience is running low.
There was particular annoyance at losing in the semi-finals
of all three cup competitions, and another season of underachievement will not
go down well.
If the critics stopped to consider if any manager could do a
better job than Wenger given the resources available, they might not be so
vocal. But unless the Gunners get their hands on some silverware, those voices
of dissent will only grow louder.
One thing is for sure, though; they are better off without
The Togolese striker got a big new contract after one good
season, and from the moment he filled his wheelbarrow with money Arsenal never
saw him again.
Wenger has gone along the same lines as Alex Ferguson; he
only wants players who want to play for the club.
He has always been happy to use young, untested players, and
I can see an increasing role for left-back Kieran Gibbs this season.
Gibbs is unlucky that he plays in the same position as Gael
Clichy, who is one of Arsenal's best
players, but he has shown the versatility to play on the left wing, and even in
central midfield on occasion for England U21s.
He looks to be well ahead of Ashley Cole's level at the same age, and if he gets a run of
games I wouldn't be surprised to see
him sneak into Fabio Capello's squad
for the World Cup.
from a broken leg was disrupted by a series of further minor injuries - he
should be back to full sharpness this year.
Even the much-maligned Nicklas Bendtner has a chance to
shine following the departure of his nemesis Adebayor.
Plus they have the enigmatic Russian Andrei Arshavin (pictured), who
had moments of brilliance last season and should now get even better.
He has been grumbling about money - specifically the higher
rate of tax in this country. But he must have known what the system was when he
signed in the winter, and if not he has only himself and his agent to blame;
the transfer saga certainly dragged on long enough!
Arsenal need Arshavin to knuckle down and concentrate on
winning games, and if that happens there should be no problem. Most complaints
only surface against a backdrop of poor results.
- Arsene Wenger