Arsenal lack answers to tough questions

Posted by John Cross

Come on. It wasn't as if Arsenal fans didn't see it coming. They just didn't think it could turn this bad, this quickly.

And the reason that fans saw this coming is the club's farcical summer in the transfer market that left them on the precipice.

Arsenal left themselves open to this crisis because their squad is now threadbare through a lack of signings, letting too many go, leaving it all too late.

Arsenal lost 3-1 to Aston Villa not because of referee Anthony Taylor, but because they were ill-prepared, outfought and made mistakes.

You can blame Taylor for some poor decisions -- including the second penalty -- but did he miss great chances? No. That was Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla.

Thankfully, Arsenal fans do seem to be directing their anger and frustration in the right area, rather than glossing over defeat with a rant at the referee.

Post-match, manager Arsene Wenger was hardly contrite, with fans chanting "spend some money" in his ear for the majority of the second half. "You bring me those players and I will look at them," he snapped at reporters in his news conference.

Forgive me, Arsene, but I thought it was your job to sign players. And it's no good talking about getting deals done now before the end of the August window. Arsenal have had three months since the end of last season.

The only signing they have made is Yaya Sanogo. They have released, sold or loaned more than 20. It meant the bench was so short against Villa at the Emirates that they had to put Emmanuel Frimpong on it.

Frimpong was once a prospect, but these days seems more interested in his clothes range. He is a Championship player at best. So from a summer that promised big names and big signings, Arsenal are left with Frimpong on the bench.

Frankly, it highlights the depth of despair in inept management and allowing the squad to decay and become short of numbers and quality.

Wenger can surely no longer trot out the line about being able to sign only players who are better than they have already got. There's a lot better than Frimpong. Harsh, but fair.

Add to that mounting injury problems. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna all went off injured against Villa, with Mikel Arteta, Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal already sidelined. And Laurent Koscielny is now banned for Fulham next Saturday after his red card.

Arsenal are so short of players it's frightening. Never mind the "two or three" players Wenger has been promising in the transfer market. Arsenal need a new goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, a wide man and a striker. Tot them up.

They go to Fenerbahce for a Champions League qualifier, which will define their season with the prospect of having to take kids and reserves. It is embarrassing.

The promise of summer transfers raised expectations. The club went public on how much they had to spend. They've not spent a penny. Yes, there are two weeks of the window left, but is it acceptable for an experienced manager to go into the season so ill-prepared?

Definitely not. After all, the fans don't get reduced ticket prices until the new players arrive. No wonder they are angry.

Wenger is hesitant, and his philosophy of developing young players seems to also mean that spending big is a sign of weakness or failure. Maybe that is why he has been reluctant and has been dithering.

On top of that, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and their transfer fixer, Dick Law, are caught in the eye of the storm because they failed to deliver Arsenal's No. 1 target, Luis Suarez. And no one else has been signed.

If Arsenal continue their nightmare start and go out of the Champions League, will top players still want to join? That's the worry.

It's one game into the season and yet Arsenal are facing a crisis. The fans are unhappy, there's no signings and they go to Istanbul with half a team.

It's a shocking way to start a season, and yet Arsenal have brought it upon themselves.


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