Amidst the summer drama emanating around Europe with Neymar moving from Barcelona to PSG and Romelu Lukaku making a surprise switch to Manchester United, Arsenal were content to sit quietly in the background.
Well, not entirely. Arsene Wenger added Schalke’s Bosnian defender Sead Kolasinac, who’s quickly becoming a fan favourite at The Emirates, and Olympique Lyonnais sharpshooter Alexandre Lacazette.
With the first of those signings a free transfer and the latter breaking their club record at £46.5 million, Arsenal fans hoped more reinforcements were on the way.
Instead, the remaining days of the transfer window trickled away as Arsene Wenger prepared for the new campaign with mostly the same squad that underwhelmed in 2016/17.
Sure, Arsenal secured their third FA Cup in four years after knocking off Chelsea at Wembley Stadium (and did so once again in the Community Shield this season), but it’s the unfamiliar feeling of missing out on the UEFA Champions League that their fans truly care about.
Wantaways Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez remained despite neither extending their contracts, which poses another problem when their contracts expire next year, while utility player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain departed for Liverpool on deadline day.
Ranking – C
Arsenal sharpened their attack with the dangerous Alexandre Lacazette – a player who netted a career-best 37 goals from 45 appearances with Olympique Lyonnais last season – while the retaining of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez was key.
Sead Kolasinac adds a much-needed physical presence at the back, and one with the versatility to play as either one of the three centre-halves or at left wing-back.
Had Arsene Wenger built on those two signings and signed, say, an additional central midfielder, then perhaps their summer window would be viewed in a more positive light.
There’s little denying that a potential front three of Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez is as dangerous any forward trio you’ll find in the Premier League, but as far as squad depth goes, Arsene Wenger appears to have left himself short in a few areas.
First, there’s no real cover for Hector Bellerin at right wing-back. There was when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was still at the club, but following his move to Liverpool, it looks like the task could fall on the shoulders of unproven youngster Reiss Nelson – or even Arsenal’s forgotten man: Mathieu Debuchy.
Second, and as alluded to earlier, their central midfield ranks are lacking in quality and depth. Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka are the current first-choice midfielders with Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin – who have one Premier League start between them thus far – as their deputies. Santi Cazorla will feel like a brand new signing when he finally makes his return (perhaps not until the new year), while Jack Wilshere faces an uphill battle to turn his Arsenal career around.
Third, and mostly importantly, what’s the difference for Arsenal between this season and last? A new formation? A new striker? It seems that Arsenal have been on the merry-go-round of initial optimism to inevitable disappointment for years now, and that ultimately ends up on the doorstep of Arsene Wenger.