By Richard Popple
Like many Arsenal fans at the end of the season, I had a feeling of relief that the disappointing campaign had come to end. Well disappointing in the fact that we failed to win a trophy after such a strong start. I think it’s universally recognised that Arsenal ran out of steam as the games become tougher and the fixtures piled up. The squad we cried, is not big enough, experienced enough or indeed talented enough?
Having not chosen to recruit in the January transfer window, there is considerable pressure on Wenger for the first time from some Arsenal fans to reinforce heavily in the summer. I am not going to criticise Wenger’s decision not to strengthen in January but certainly allowing Lassana Diarra to leave seemed like a mistake. I understand that the player wanted first team football, but he would have got those opportunities in the second half of the season. Also he was under contract and Arsenal were under no pressure to sell him. I think Wenger took the easy option there and in my opinion the wrong one.
The summer as always has created many fantastical rumours about possible transfer targets. Let’s face it, I would be very surprised if Veloso or Villa were to join Arsenal despite all of the speculation. They unfortunately fall into the category of a ‘big name’ and Wenger is becoming more and more stubborn about buying stars.
However when Arsene spoke out two or three weeks ago about the imminent signing/s that would reassure the fans, my belief returned that Arsene really does know. Unfortunately the saga that is Samir Nasri’s possible transfer is still on-going and it looks as if no conclusion will be reached until after Euro 2008. Is Nasri one of the signings meant to reassure fans? If he is and decides not to come, Arsene would look very silly indeed.
So where do we go from here? Flamini has left and Hleb looks very likely to follow which means two first team regulars need replacing? Replacing? That alarms the hell out of me. We don’t need to replace players. It was very evident from this year’s failings that the squad needs additions. Well now Wenger needs to replace and add otherwise next year could once again prove to be disappointing.
Wenger however, has a great record in the transfer market and has often secured deals from nowhere (Eduardo last summer), but for him to come out publicly and say that the signings will reassure the fans is a tall order. Is this finally the year when Arsenal splash the cash to challenge Chelsea and Manchester United?