It has been a difficult start to the season for Arsenal amid accusations concerning their reluctance to spend in the transfer market and an opening day defeat to Aston Villa last weekend.
However, this does not necessarily signal the end of an era and mean that Arsenal are incapable of defending their previously unassailable position in the Premier League top four come the end of the season.
The first element to keep in mind is that Arsenal know how to deal with difficult situations and, more importantly, how to get out of them. They showed this in the way they dealt with last season’s struggle against Tottenham Hotspur to achieve fourth place, losing only one and drawing only three of the last 16 matches of the season with a better winning ratio than Manchester United over the same time period. A slight setback such as a defeat to Aston Villa should therefore be no problem for manager Arsene Wenger to get over.
Something else that points to a potentially successful season for Arsenal is their form before and after that defeat to Villa, a team that is known to be extremely effective when on form. Indeed, the Gunners were extremely prolific during pre-season, winning all but two of their fixtures and only losing one of the other matches. Those victories include a clear 3-1 destruction of Manchester City, arguably this season’s title favourites, in Finland.
Of course, for those who correctly value Premier League and Champions League matches over pre-season friendlies, Arsenal have convincingly won both of their fixtures in the two illustrious competitions this week. Surely this is a sign of better times to come?
Even their comprehensive defeat to the Villains had as much to do with the Gunners’ shocking defending as some shaky refereeing, with Laurent Koscielny getting sent off for two arguable yellow cards - one of which gave away a penalty that many have complained about since.
Of course, this is by no means a suggestion that Arsenal will be challenging for the title. They won’t. This is also not a way of saying that Wenger should not quickly invest in the transfer market before it closes. He should, as he urgently needs a few quality defenders and midfielders to fill the gaps left by suspensions, recurring injuries, classy players leaving for more glory and lack of high-profile signings over the years. However, this might not be the awful season everyone has been promising Arsenal.
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