It's funny how things change in football. After Arsenal won on the final day of last season, securing fourth place, it was widely suggested they had given themselves a fantastic platform to kick on during the summer. We know that they failed to do that, despite the income at hand -- on top of increased commercial revenues -- that would have allowed them to purchase some big-name players.
Now, after losing their opening Premier League game to Aston Villa, they've bounced back with two excellent results. A midweek demolition of Fenerbahce has, for all intents and purposes, secured Champions League qualification, while a well-deserved 3-1 win at Fulham on Saturday has quelled the tide of dissatisfaction that was so prevalent after last weekend's disastrous defeat.
And in a strange parallel with the end of last season, they've set themselves up for the final week of the transfer window, a period in which Arsenal must do business if they are to properly compete throughout this campaign.
The positives from the games this week are easy to point out. Two goals from Lukas Podolski on his return to the team; another strike from Olivier Giroud as he continues his fine run; the form of Aaron Ramsey; the sheer brilliance of Santi Cazorla; defensive solidity; and as we saw in the final months of last season, a team that is capable of getting results when they really need to.
But the season is long. Arsenal are playing their best right-back at centre-half and still lack the necessary depth in that area. The pursuits of Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and, latterly, Karim Benzema (although that seems to have been more about PR than anything else) indicate quite clearly that Arsene Wenger knows he needs a striker. And the midfield could certainly use some bolstering with the addition of someone who can add defensive nous to the clutch of excellent, ball-hungry players who are most effective in the opposition's half.
The last week has given Wenger some breathing room, yet time is not on his side. The transfer window closes on Sept. 2. His players have worked hard and put in good performances, but haven't done anything out of the ordinary -- Fenerbahce and Fulham are teams Arsenal should be beating most of the time anyway.
The Arsenal manager is absolutely right to talk up the qualities of the players he has. He reminds people time and time again not to underestimate their talent, spirit and, famously, mental strength. However, as good as they are, they could only manage fourth in the league last season and need help to improve over the course of a season.
This final week is the last chance to do something about it. There is no good reason why a club like Arsenal can't spend the money at its disposal to bring in new players to make the team better. If the result in May provided a platform for improvement, this next week is like somebody holding the elevator door open as the club runs toward it. They need to get a move on.