Arsenal Season Preview 2016-17

There are exactly three weeks until Arsenal’s opening game of the season against Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool at the Emirates. Every season, optimistic Arsenal fans expect to see progress, but the reality is we’re going backwards. Last season, Arsenal finished 2nd in the league behind Leicester who got promoted only two seasons ago, after being in the title race up until February. After an abysmal season, all fans, regardless of their stance on Arsène Wenger, agreed on one thing: we need a world class striker and a central defender to come close to challenging next year.

The transfer window started off well, and some fans thought that this one would be different after the signing of 30 million pound midfielder, Granit Xhaka, who is capable of playing in a holding midfield or a box-to-box midfield role. Whilst a central midfielder was not a priority, Arsenal have lacked a leader in midfield ever since Patrick Vieira left in 2005. However, approximately two months after the club announced Xhaka, we have yet to sign a world class striker that can guarantee 25 plus goals, or a quality central defender to help us challenge for the title. Instead, we have signed an unknown Japanese player, Takuma Asano, who scored only 14 goals in 60 appearances in the Japanese league. We’ve also signed Rob Holding, a central defender that made 26 appearances in the Championship last season for a Bolton side that finished bottom of the championship with the worst defensive record in the second division.

We’ve been linked with Mauro Icardi, Jamie Vardy, Gonzalo Higuaín, Riyad Mahrez, Alexandre Lacazette, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Medhi Benatia, Kostas Manolas, Kalidou Koulibaly, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Carlos Bacca this summer, and it appears that we will end up with none of these players when the transfer window closes on the first of September. Over the past few days, we have been linked with Mahrez, who was statistically the best winger in the league last season, but we have reportedly made no official bid for him yet. He also played in Leicester’s pre-season friendly yesterday, which could indicate that he wants to stay at Leicester, because if he wanted to leave he would have probably not made an appearance. We could have signed Lacazette, or Higuaín if we paid the right amount of money, but now Lacazette’s future is undecided. Nevertheless, he will most likely not join Arsenal, and Higuaín is joining Juventus. Icardi has been linked with Atletico Madrid, and Napoli, or he may even stay with Inter Milan. Vardy turned us down to stay with Premier League champions Leicester, and Bacca was linked to us briefly, but he is now looking likely to join Napoli. We were also linked with Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimović who both joined Mourinho at United, despite the fact that United were playing in the Europa League. As for central defenders, we have been linked to Koulibaly, who is most likely going to stay at Napoli or join Chelsea. We have been linked with Manolas, but we’ve made no official bid, and Benatia, who we were linked with early on, has joined Juventus.

Now, we have three weeks until our season starts, and we still lack a quality centre-forward and a quality central defender in our team. If we want to play a strong team against Liverpool, we need to sign a quality centre-forward and a central defender in time for them to train with the team, and potentially start against Liverpool, in order to start our season off with a win against a tough team. As of now, the Liverpool team will likely feature Sadio Mané, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi up front, while we will probably field a team featuring Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi and Yaya Sanogo up front due to players being rested after international duty in the summer. This squad is simply not good enough to start off the season with a win, and we need at least a draw to start off a crucial season with at least a point.

The reality is that if we lose our first game, due to not having a good enough team, it will be very hard after August 14th to get in the world class players that we need and catch up with the other teams in what will be an extremely competitive league next season, with José Mourinho (who Wenger has never beat in a competitive fixture), Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, and Jürgen Klopp all likely to be competing for top four spots and the title. The first few games are crucial, and if we lose any of our first five games, we will be in a bad position. In order to prevent losing any of these games, Wenger must sign world class players immediately, or we will not compete for the title next season and may even finish outside of the top four.

Most fans want Wenger to leave on a high this season, but as it stands there seems to be no chance that we will get close to winning a trophy next season. Even though I have wanted him out of the club for the past few seasons, I wanted him to prove me wrong each season and sign the players that we need to challenge for trophies. Unfortunately, with the season starting in a few weeks, it looks like it will be another season of misery for Arsenal fans and another season of failure from Arsene Wenger as we have yet to sign the players we need to compete.



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