Arsenal had a terrible transfer window and an awful start to the season, according to many. But does that bear scrutiny?
The Gunners’ transfer strategy certainly appeared to be a mess, with a late debacle for trying to sell Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City and sign Thomas Lemar from Monaco.
Nobody seemed interested in rescuing Mesut Ozil from the last year of his contract. Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were sold, but were Arsenal’s transfer dealings the disaster they’ve been depicted?
Gibbs barely played in recent seasons once Nacho Monreal impressed and summer signing Sead Kolasinac is a tank. If the Ox had left two years ago for £10m, most Arsenal fans would have been delighted.
The Ox has long divided opinion, was often injured sadly and rarely delivered. To get £40m for him is utterly absurd and the deal of the window. What are Liverpool smoking over there? His Aussie Rules shot way over the bar for England against Slovakia was no surprise.
Keeping Sanchez was not necessarily intended and a failed final day palaver all round, but why are the jilted City upset with Arsenal? They had two months to make an acceptable bid. Why were Arsenal lambasted for retaining Sanchez when Liverpool were lauded for retaining Coutinho?
Arsenal’s problems are more down to play than players. Arsenal don’t have a Plan B? I’m rarely convinced Arsenal have a Plan A. Yet the Gunners added a strong left-sided defender in Kolasinac and a prolific goalscorer in Alex Lacazette, finally gifting Ozil a target for his passes, while shifting players outside the starting XI for strong cash. The window failed to land Arsenal the commanding central midfielder many wanted, but it wasn’t necessarily a disaster.
Results so far have certainly been painful. Arsène Wenger’s side should have lost all three games, to Leicester, Stoke and Liverpool. But have Arsenal simply lost the games they normally lose anyway? Bournemouth at home and Chelsea away are up next. Now that the window and internationals have blown over, those results will tell a clearer story on Arsenal.
Arsenal would normally beat Leicester and Bournemouth at home, at any stage of a season and generally lose at Stoke, Liverpool and Chelsea. Fixture order has merely seen Arsenal get those defeats in early. Leicester were beaten. Bournemouth should be beaten too.
If beating the Cherries allows Arsenal to regain sufficient confidence to avoid defeat at Chelsea, they will perversely have bucked their usual trend. If they lose at Chelsea, well they usually do anyway.
The oil and water of the Premier League table usually begins to settle after ten games, when the balance of tough fixtures and surprises even out. That will be the time to start judging Arsenal more meaningfully. This early-season meltdown might even reboot them for a better campaign than many currently anticipate.