The EPL season kicked off in earnest last Saturday evening, but much of the talk has been dominated by Arsenal’s defeat at the hands of a youthful Aston Villa side. A committed Villa deserved their away victory, but the post match commentary has been squarely focused on the Manager and Board of Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger has served the North London club proudly since 1996 and delivered success both on and off the pitch. Patient fans are now pleading with the club to spend the riches they have so prudently saved to help deliver some much-needed silverware to an empty trophy cabinet.
The corporate governance and a healthy balance sheet maybe one thing but ultimately it is pitch success that draws fans through the turnstiles and has young fans begging their parents to invest in a club shirt.
It has been eight years and two months since Arsenal last won a trophy and there are websites and twitter handles dedicated to poking fun of the silverware drought. Following the Villa loss, the Arsenal players were spared of the criticism with it squarely directed towards Wenger. Chants of “Spend the Money” and “You don’t’ know what you’re doing!” echoed the fan’s displeasure around the stadium. The treatment may seem harsh for a team only one week into a nine-month season, but the wave of discontent had been building and finally hit the beach like Hawaiian winter point break.
As the EPL transfer window draws to a close at midnight September 2, the question remains, will Wenger bid for a high profile striker with a proven track record of goal success? The Liverpool club has stated publicly that Luis Suarez is not for sale and Manchester United boss David Moyes has echoed the same intent for Wayne Rooney to stay put at Old Trafford. Rooney is clearly unhappy at his treatment despite his club’s dominant display in disposing of Swansea City 4-1 at wet and windy Liberty Stadium.
Despite the doom and gloom of Arsenal’s early on field woes, they are still the envy of many clubs striving for Champions League qualification and the lucrative economic windfall. With a healthy international talent pool boasting the likes of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the problem does not lie with the “for” column of the stats sheet. Rather than chase the market for a high priced striker, it could be argued that the defensive strength requires the most attention. Assistant-manager Steve Bould replaced the long serving Pat Rice last season and it was thought his presence would add muscle to a defensive spine that underpins the Arsenal core.
Once a proud English club attracting the best European playing talent, Arsenal is in danger of their global brand being tarnished as the balance of financial success outweighs the need for silverware. The shift is evidenced by Bayern Munich’s defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo signing with Wolfsburg in preference to playing Champions League football with Arsenal.
For now the pressure is off the Gunners after an impressive mid-week Champions League 3-0 away win against Turkish Club Fernerbahce. Yesterday they traveled to Craven Cottage and played a spirited outfit in monsoonal type conditions. Giroud and Podolski repelled the notion that Arsenal requires more firepower upfront. Theo Walcott and Santi Cozorla also teamed well together with plenty of damaging forward runs that challenge plenty of sides this season. Podolski’s is displaying plenty of early season promise following on from the German International‘s indifferent first season in the EPL. However if a loss is recorded against North London rival Tottenham next weekend, the intense media scrutiny and insatiable desire of Arsenal fans to see the club lift a trophy will snowball. Sadly to this point in time Arsenal will remain in the social media wilderness, never before having their success broadcast on Facebook or Twitter.