As the news about Mikel Arteta’s injury filters through the Arsenal ranks, the hope and excitement that awaited the new season among Arsenal supporters is slowly turning into fear and anger before a ball has even been kicked. Arsenal start their campaign in a tricky game against last season’s survivalists Aston Villa, who managed to keep hold of their most prized asset Christian Benteke. Arsenal, for a change, have not sold any key players, but they have failed to make any significant signings, only bringing in talented Frenchman youth player Yaya Sanogo, who will most likely be watching most of the games from the touchline.
Arsenal fans were expecting to enter the new season with a minimum of two new star signings, individuals that were pried away from their previous clubs due to their superior footballing abilities, but no such thing happened. They have tried and tried with Luis Suarez, and agreed personal terms with Gonzalo Higuain, and depending on who you trust, lost out to getting Luiz Gustavo because they weren’t willing to offer enough money. Supporters are already expecting another barren season, but what will irritate them most is that their neighbors and most hated rivals, Tottenham, have been wide awake throwing around their “Bale” money. Given that that they are most likely going to be without the Welshman for this season, they have made sure to compensate for that loss. Arsenal fans have become envious of a Tottenham transfer policy that has seen them bring in Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho and Etienne Capoue.
The news of Arteta’s injury has added fuel to a fire still burning from last season, briefly subdued by a fourth place finish. The loss of Arsenal’s makeshift defensive midfielder, a position they have failed to properly fill since Gilberto Silva’s departure, has left them scrambling. Having sent out Coquelin on loan and missing out on players like Gustavo and Capoue, who were heavily linked with Arsenal for the better part of last season, fans have started to become cynical and angered by the lack of ambition in the transfer market. The only other team in the race for the title that has not been making waves in the transfer market has been Manchester United. However, a title and managerial change will temporarily lessen expectations. Plus they wrapped up the signing of English forward Wilfried Saha long before the transfer window even opened.
Last year there was a clear and growing divide between the staunch supporters of Wenger and the fans that have had enough of him and wanted him to step down gracefully. Achieving Champions League football and touting a summer transfer budget of £70million, increased expectations for the club, and tempered the anger of supporters. When the window opened, transfer targets were plentiful and every player became a viable target, but as time passed and targets went elsewhere, even the loyal supporters of Wenger were starting to make noise.
It is clear that the team needs reinforcement, especially up front and the defensive midfield position. Olivier Giroud’s season last year was spotty, but he was expected to play every game and his physical condition started to suffer in February and March, picking up small injuries and a recurring back injury. Even the staunchest supporters of Wenger are having a hard time justifying the ever-increasing prices on tickets and merchandise, without the joy of seeing a world class player join the team. Without any signings, the rumbling will continue and any Arsenal loss against weaker opposition or a dry spell up front will prompt heavy jeering by the supporters. By not signing anyone, Wenger is not the only one under intense pressure but the whole squad will be, especially with a poor start to the season or failure to beat Fenerbahce. For young players like Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and now Sanogo, coping with expectations to win the Premier League without receiving much support in terms of added cavalry may extremely harmful to their still growing confidence.