New season, same old story

Platinum One’s Andrew Douglas discusses whether it will be a case of déja vu at Arsenal this season.

There are few moments like it, it’s Like Christmas Day to a child, or the eve of a well deserved summer holiday, the first day of the Premier League season approaches and most of us are filled with optimism, hope and belief that this year we’ll sign the right players, this year we’ll see games through to the end and this year we will go on to win things.

Then the whistle blows for the first kick off of the season. By half time the glass has turned from half full to half empty and at the time the final whistle, the metaphorical glass, along with a tirade of abuse is being hurled at the players, staff, opposition, with the bulk of it being reserved for the board and the manager.

The electricity that was present in the air prior to the match beginning has developed into an end of the world electrical storm that will obliterate anything in its path.

The feelings of rage, anger and disbelief which had been locked away since May, resurface and you find yourself wondering why you ever thought this season would be different?

The truth is that for most teams it won’t. Leicester’s feat of last season was an anomaly which, because happened last year, makes it nigh on impossible to happen again – not just for Leicester but for any team outside of Manchester or London.

The same questions are asked:
‘Why haven’t we bought an experienced centre half?’
‘We’ve got the money so why don’t we bring in a 20 goal a season world-class centre forward?’
‘Why doesn’t he get rid of the deadwood blocking up the squad?’
‘Why doesn’t he play players in their best positions?’
‘Why is there always an excuse?’

As much as you might feel that these feel true to your club, the truth is that no one club’s fans can own these musings outright. To some extent, every club will have these questions to answer, to a greater extent Arsenal has them all to answer.

The major frustration is that there is seemingly money burning holes in Mr Wenger’s pockets. You can substitute the image of Scrooge McDuck diving into a pool of money in the opening credits of Duck Tales with that of Wenger. People think that he goes home and does this sort of thing rather than trying to be active in the market and signing players.

Arsenal infamously bid £40m +£1 for Luis Suarez. Imagine the difference to Arsenal’s success over the last 3 years of they had gone in with an opening bid of £50m? They would have secured a winner, one of the best players in the world who would have without question improved the team, squad and its chances of winning the league.

Mid July 2016, West Ham United offer Lyon £32m for Alexandre Lacazette. Lyon rejects the bid. A week later Arsenal bid £29m. The bid being £3m less than West Ham’s is naturally rejected.

Gabriel and Mertesacker, 2 of the 3 first choice centre halves pick up medium to long term injuries in pre-season, the third of which Koscielny is given more recovery time after reaching the Euro 2016 final so is not available for selection.

So Arsenal start with a 21 year old who has played centre half, right back and central midfield and a 20 year old who had never played in the Premier League.

Why not play the fit Koscielny with one of the other less experienced two in the all important season opener, against a front line that cost a total of £71.5m and then rest him for the next couple of games?

The season has just started and it seems that so too have the grumblings of discontent and dissatisfaction that will get louder and louder until the end of August when the transfer window closes.

Will Arsenal buy the players needed? Or will it be another season of going close but ultimately failing? The solutions seem obvious to many but not so to the man who matters most.

Let’s see how the season pans out, but could it be a case of cut, copy and paste when next year when reviewing Arsenal’s start to the 2017-2018 season?