There are many ways to answer this question. It also depends on the type of fan you are: are you a 'in Wenger we trust' fan or are you a 'sack Wenger, enough is enough' fan. Are you a fan who'll pay anything for success or are you one who believes in a cautious patient approach?
Depending on the above combination (there are certainly more permutations), you will either be flabbergasted at the lack of transfer activity or be sitting tight — waiting for a good run of form to open your mouth before uttering "told you we were okay!"
DEFENCE: Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Johan Djorou, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs.
This is where Arsenal are disappointing. The wing-backs are pretty okay considering Arsenal are a very pass-and-move team and not a pump-in-the-crosses team. Sagna can do a good job and Gibbs is raw talent. Andre Santos was an intelligent acquisition but hasn't quite adjusted. What really is worrying is the lack of quality centre-backs. If Vermaelen and Mertesacker are taken out of the equation, there is absolutely no quality back-up.
Djorou is one of those who's constantly on the injured list. Alex Song isn't there for back-up anymore and Jenkinson is a young kid (wherever deployed). Arsene absolutely should have signed someone in this area.
MIDFIELDERS: Abou Diaby, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Frimpong, Andrei Arshavin, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla, Alex Chamberlain
The Gunners look quite okay here. Obviously they're nowhere near the depth of Manchester City or Chelsea, but this is a vastly talented midfield. Diaby, again injured usually, is a very good player on his day. Frimpong is good back-up however much of a liability you may think of him. If Wenger can tweak his mentality, then he can be a force in the middle.
Ramsey, Arteta and Rosicky are a fine trio to choose from. Throw into that a fit Wilshere (who is top-class) and Santi Cazorla — who has had a tremendous start to his Arsenal career and you're pretty solid. Oxlade-Chamberlain is developing into a quality player who can operate through the wings.
Midfield-wise, Wenger could have done with a defensive midfielder to replace Song. Otherwise, they're sorted.
Forwards: Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Gervinho, Marouane Chamakh
The loss of Robin van Persie is certainly a blow, but they keep coming and going. Let's get over it. What Wenger has to work with are five attackers who he usually deploys in a fork formation. Walcott and Gervinho need to get the fact that they're there to cross and not score. Their 'final ball' decisions are just immature at times. Podolski and Giroud will certainly get going in a while. Striker-wise, despite the loss of RVP, Arsenal are covered with some versatile forwards.
So, why didn't Arsenal buy a player on deadline day? For one, it's harder than you think to sign players. Convincing them takes a lot and Arsenal have nothing to show in the last six years to attract players.
And to still be able to sign their targets is a huge achievement for Wenger.
Secondly, Wenger will sign players only if he is sure of them. He won't splash the cash needlessly. The player he wanted may not be available at all... or the club may have priced him out. Take for example the 25 million pound signing of David Luiz. How did that work out? Defenders are absolutely mint in Europe and Arsenal don't have that spending policy. Actually, they never have.
Arsenal will not be successful by just buying a very expensive player, and Wenger knows that, and that's why he didn't sign anyone.
What Arsenal really need is a leader. An influential player who can inject the sort of belief that leads to incredible things— like the glory days of the unbeaten season. What Arsenal need is a Patrick Vieira, a Tony Adams, a Martin Keown or a Dennis Bergkamp. And these players aren't bought— they are molded from within the club.
But the Frenchman has been unlucky. Feel sorry for him. His plans were going fine but then Thierry Henry left. Then Cesc Fabregas left and then Robin van Persie left. And he didn't have a choice there.
The Arsene Wenger way of doing things, which includes bringing in youth from the academy, holding back from splurging, winning nothing and still selling out 60,000 seats every week guarantees constant sustenance in the top flight. It means Arsenal, once the Financial Fairplay Rules kick-in, will be the most powerful club around. At least that's what the plan is.
The other way could be going the Man City and Chelsea way, win a few trophies, get better players at exuberant rates and burden your club with debt.
And they're not a bad team. Arsenal are always thereabouts at the end of the season. It's just the bad patch that they hit after 30 gameweeks that ruins their season.
What would you have? Constant top-level football with a chance of winning something every season OR buy players left, right and center with the risk of causing permanent financial damage?
Your choice defines what sort of Arsenal fan you are.
First Published On : Sep 1, 2012 17:08 IST