So after watching the opening weekend of the EPL and the opening matches of the UEFA CL, I have only one question regarding Arsenal. Is the side good enough?
Arsenal fans may think so, given their 6-1 defeat of Everton on the weekend and their 2-0 win against Celtic at Parkhurst, but I still believe there are questions to be answered by the side. No more than a week ago the fans and the press were all over Arsene Wenger for not picking up more during the transfer window, after losing Adebayor and Toure to Manchester City, but since their opening match I have not heard one word of doubt from anyone speaking about the Gunners. It is as though 8 goals in two matches has jaded the public into thinking that the Gunners have not lost a step, and will be able to challenge for silverware this season after all; something they have not picked up in a few seasons. But moving forward in this term there are still questions to be asked about the strength of the squad, and let’s not forget; Arsenal have won nothing yet.
So Gunner and footy fans alike, let’s have a look at the Arsenal scoring history to date. There have been 8 goals scored by the side, which is great for your record, but look a bit closer and you will see that only one of those goals was scored by an Arsenal striker, and by the time that goal was scored the match had been over for almost 45 minutes. Does this worry anyone? It would worry me if I were an Arsenal fan. Cesc Fabregas contributing and putting two goals in himself in the second half of the Everton match is one thing, but look at your other scorers. Eduardo put the last of the six on the board in the 89th minute of the Everton match, Denilson scored on a shot from distance against Everton, new boy Vermaelen scored on a header from a set piece against Everton, defensive winger Gael Clichy put a cross/shot in that was deflected past Celtic’s keeper, and central defenseman William Gallas has netted in both fixtures, though he did not seem to know much about the goal against Celtic. Would this worry me as an Arsenal fan? Of course it would, and how could it not? Out of 8 goals scored, all of them but one have come from places other than the front men, with half the goal total coming from the defense and another coming from a holding midfielder. I would be asking questions about the future if I were an Arsenal fan. The front men need to score, maybe not all the goals, but a better percentage than they have contributed so far. Arsenal have quite a few options up front already, but I would not doubt the goal total will be a reason for Wenger again to get out of having to spend any money.
Another area to question in regards to Arsenal is the defense. Do they have enough to make it through the season? The starters at the moment are doing well and contributing on both ends of the pitch, but how much depth is there should something happen. New arrival Varmaelen has already had to come into the starting lineup, and while he has not disappointed and actually looks like a quality option, how much depth is behind them? Now with what I would consider a quality replacement in Phillipe Senderos, after doing nicely during his loan to AC Milan last season, they want to sell him; further weakening an already shallow depth list in defense. This does not seem to be the brightest move when your main replacement is Silvestre, who has a history of finding himself unfit to play for long spells. Though at the moment it does not look like an issue, I think it is a question Wenger will have to answer before the season is over.
The only other real question I have is the youth in the side. Now I know that most of these young players have been playing in Europe for years now, and that they have experience in the big games, but is that enough. As Wenger has trimmed some of the fat from the side, he has left the team lacking in depth, and with a side who’s young players often find themselves injured; it becomes a question that needs to be asked. Yes they can play in the big games and produce, but how much pressure is going to be put on these young players as they have become the majority in the side? If enough of them can stay healthy to always have the depth they need, I think they will be fine, but look out for the pressure put on players if injuries creep into the side during a busy schedule.
So to answer some questions for you all. I do not hate Arsenal. In fact I like watching them a great deal, as they play very attractive football. These are questions that I think have been put on the back burner after a strong start by the side, but that are still issues going forward. I do not see Arsenal having the depth and strength to challenge for the title this season, but if they can keep their youth performing they should find some success in the cups this season. So beware Arsenal fans, as the season is long and the matches do not get any easier as things progress. I feel that this lack of scoring from the forwards is an issue that needs to be addressed, but as long as the midfield and defense continue to score with regularity the side should still at least look dangerous.