So the transfer window has been closed until January and once again we watch the chance to strengthen the squad slip away for another season. I don't count the January window because lets face it, as much as Wenger doesn't like the transfer window extending into the season, he has absolute disdain for the January window and the best we will get out of that is an injured midfielder. I didn't have high hopes that we would sign anybody anyway but I was desperate to be proven wrong.
That being said we did sign Petr Cech from Chelsea, liberating him from that hellhole like a POW out of a prison camp in a World War II movie. Mourinho and his lieutenant John Terry must have been getting worse as Cech seemed all too eager to join our club. With his acquisition, obviously it means that either Ospina or Szczesny must go either on loan or permanently and Szczesny was sent out to Roma on loan. He has played well there and our future number one will get valuable experience in another league while Cech helps us win the Premier League. I can dream, plus I would love to rub it Chelsea fans' faces as their former star keeper hoists the Premier League trophy aloft with our far more classier squad.
A lot has been made of our start to the season and no it has not been stellar. We have a loss, 2 wins and a draw. That doesn't seem so bad but the manner of those results is very disconcerting. We have been playing like we already won the title and are just coasting through he final few games of the season. After the Community Shield win over Chelsea, it would seem that our luck was turning and this was going to be our season to finally get back to winning the title but then the horrid match at home against West Ham that slapped that idea out of our heads. We walked out like West Ham would open a path to the goal and we could line up and score as many goals as needed. That didn't happen and we were made to look like chumps. Follow that by a less than convincing win over Palace followed by a lackluster draw against Liverpool. This past weekend saw us get a classic one-nil win over Newcastle. I lied. It was anything but classic.
With Giroud on the bench and Ozil out, Walcott started up top as the lone striker. Not a horrible prospect but I would have preferred Giroud as he fits our game more than Walcott in that position. At 16 minutes Newcastle dropped to 10 men over a reckless tackle and from there one would think, “finally a break and a chance for us to hammer Newcastle and get a deserved convincing win.” That is not what happened. A shot from the Ox did get deflected and in for an own goal to open the scoring but surely we had more to follow. Not at all. Walcott was often nowhere to be found and if he did get the ball he wasn't in a scoring position. Our only striker never truly got a good sight of goal. What is even more frustrating is that this is the type of situation that Walcott should be excelling at. Down to 10 men, we should have been out passing Newcastle, making them run and chase the ball like chickens with their heads cut off while Walcott makes a run to connect with a pass and slot it home. This never happened. We instead played long balls to a striker who is not known for his heading ability or hold up play. When Giroud finally did make it onto the pitch, he made an immediate impact and I thought we might score but that did not happen either as his support was not great and the few chances he had were not on target.
It is unfair to place all the blame onto just Walcott and Giroud. Frankly the whole team was a mess and has been since the opening kickoff against West Ham. Ox has played brightly as has Coquelin and Bellerin for the most part. But those players cannot do everything. Alexis continues to look like he is not fully ready for the season so his magic touch isn't quite there yet, but I have faith we are about to see him get going again. Our midfield has been a concern as they just don't seem to be gelling like last season. Ramsey continues to do whatever he wants on the pitch and frankly I wish Wenger would bench him once Ozil is fit, while leaving Ox on the right. I know that won't happen because ever since Ramsey had that stellar season a couple years ago, Ramsey has been the golden boy, an untouchable player who must always remain on the pitch. Wenger is hoping that Ramsey will have another great season so he can say his normal “I told you so” speech. Enough. Ramsey hasn't had that kind of performance and he is never where he needs to be on the pitch.
This goes for all of our midfielders minus Coquelin who has to stay back. Wenger gives all of our midfielders far too much freedom during the coarse of the game. I am so sick of seeing Alexis cut from the left and look for our right winger to play a pass too and he is nowhere to be found because he is too busy hanging around in the center of the pitch. We have no width most of the time because all of our players minus the fullbacks are crowding the center trying to replicate that Jack Wilshere-Norwich goal. Counter attacks end up being so much more effective against us because our fullbacks have no support down the wings. To their credit, Monreal and Bellerin are stable in the back line and do what is asked of them. We all know that our defense is shaky, so why are so obsessed with making them as exposed as possible. Coquelin cannot cover the entire pitch by himself and more often than not he has to do everything to stop an attack. If our players would stick to a slightly more rigid structure some of the idiotic goals we concede would go away.
This squad has not changed much since last season. We gained a superb goalkeeper and cut some of the dead weight from the squad who weren't playing anyway. This is the same squad that had an excellent second half of the season to see us win the FA Cup for the second consecutive year. Our young fringe players have established themselves as starters and we have an overall more capable team. We are still light on depth and our injury record is atrocious. An injury to Coquelin, Giroud or Alexis will severely hamper our performance even more and we needed a few players to fill the holes in our depth chart. Wenger's refusal to play ball has left us in a critical position. Just like last year, the pressure is on every player to stay fit and play out of their skins every match for one slip is costly. We have the resources, and the allure, but our stubborn manager and board may have screwed us again.
This squad can do it. We can win the league, but it will require a lot of good fortune and perfect players every week. The top teams all have a plan B. We have plan A and only plan A. No use complaining anymore as the transfer window is closed. Only thing left to do is to keep supporting the Arsenal that we all love and just hope that we won't be snake bitten.
Que Sera, Sera
PS, Thanks to all who showed up for the opening match at Ri Ra's. The turnout was exceptional and the voices were loud. Let's keep that up throughout the season!