With less than a week to go until Arsenal kick off their 2016-17 Premier League season, has Arsène Wenger left it too late in the transfer window to put a strong team together in time to face Liverpool, and will he even land all of his remaining targets? The Gunners boss has so far signed Granit Xhaka from Borussia Mönchengladbach, young Japanese forward Takuma Asano and England under-21 defender Rob Holding. Wenger was believed to be entering this summer’s transfer window to buy an experienced centre-back, a proven striker and another attacking midfielder, potentially down the right wing. None of which have happened so far.
The long-term injury to Per Mertesacker doesn’t appear to have urged the long-serving manager in acquiring a new centre-back either, unless he believes 20-year-old Rob Holding is ready to jump straight into Premier League action having only got half a season of Championship level experience under his belt. Arsenal continue to be linked with a number of names, but how many will they actually land? And will they be signed in time to face Liverpool on Sunday 14 August? As it stands, Theo Walcott may have to start that game as the lone striker as Olivier Giroud is not match fit and Danny Welbeck is unlikely to play again until 2017.
The inexperienced Chuba Akpom is the only other option up front. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Aaron Ramsey would start on the right wing, which wouldn’t be disastrous, but not as promising as Riyad Mahrez who has been linked to the Emirates all summer. Wenger does have a choice of Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny, protecting the back four. Jack Wilshere could be fit in time too. In defence, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers may be the starting centre-back pairing with Laurent Koscielny lacking fitness right now. Monreal is an option to replace the injured Gabriel and he has played with the centre back pairs during the pre-season games.
However, it’s hardly encouraging when they face a promising Liverpool attack which could consist of anyone from Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mané, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana.
In comparison, their fellow Premier League title contenders have been filling the gaps in their teams to improve on last season. Pep Guardiola has signed İlkay Gündoğan to strengthen the centre of his Manchester City midfield, and forwards Nolito and Leroy Sané along with Everton’s promising John Stones. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach could arguably do with a new right-back though.
José Mourinho’s arrival at Manchester United has seen them sign Eric Bailly as a partner for Chris Smalling in the centre of defence, Henrikh Mkhitaryan as both a playmaker and goalscorer in midfield, and Zlatan Ibrahimović as a target up front. Not to mention their latest blockbuster deal to sign Paul Pogba. However, will the Special One have time to strengthen his defence further before the start of the new season?
New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has certainly added protection to his back four with the addition of N’Golo Kanté to Stamford Bridge. The only other signing by the Italian tactician so far has been striker Michy Batshuayi as Conte is certainly taking his time bringing in a new centre-back. Leonardo Bonucci, Kalidou Koulibaly and Nikola Maksimović have all been strongly linked, but it’s striker Romelu Lukaku who is making the big headlines of late as a Chelsea target. Which leaves us to the question, has Arsène Wenger really given himself the best chance to win the Premier League this season? The bookmakers don’t think so as Arsenal are as long as 13/2 fourth favourites.