Arsenal’s season so far: The good, the bad and the ugly
Jonathan Spencer reflects on Arsenal's start to the Premier League season after four games
Arsenal have a 100% win record on the road so far this campaign. Yes, they have only played Crystal Palace and Newcastle away, but they have looked commanding in both, whilst not playing at their best. You can argue Newcastle were down to 10 men for 75 minutes of the match but before that, they were in cruise control. Arsenal’s last defeat away from home in all competitions came against their arch-rivals, Tottenham, in early February. Arsene Wenger’s side look much more resilient nowadays and are more than happy to sit back and defend, then try and hit the opposition on the counter-attack, which they can devastatingly do so. This strong away record leaves them in good stead for the season, as they are sure to pick up their worrying home form.
No cutting edge. Worryingly for Arsenal, at The Emirates, they have been on a goal drought that has continued on from last season’s campaign. Out of their last six home matches, Arsenal have failed to score in five of them. At the moment, the club are being questioned about where the goals are going to come from this season. The club’s top goal-scorer this season is Olivier Giroud with one. Even against a 10-man Newcastle, Arsenal failed to penetrate the defence, with their only goal coming from a Fabricio Collocini deflection. It’s all well and good having world-class midfielders, such as Mesut Ozil, but if the strikers don’t deliver, the German’s talent will go to waste. No wonder he is often unfairly criticised.
Failure to sign a world-class striker in the transfer window, coincided with Danny Welbeck now out with a worse than anticipated prognosis. In the last three summers, Arsenal have brought in Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Petr Cech. The one real position that needed strengthening was the centre-forward role. Manchester City have Sergio Aguero and Chelsea have Diego Costa. If Arsenal want to compete for the Premier League title, it was necessary to sign a top striker. Although Wenger states there was no striker available that could strengthen the squad, sometimes you have to pay over the odds. To win the league now, financial power is vital. If Arsenal put in a high money bid for Karim Benzema, they may well have got the man the fans wanted. As Gary Neville said, Wenger is too naïve and it will cost them dearly this campaign.