Arsene Wenger is a master of obfuscation. And in time honoured style he displayed his skills in this area after a disappointing Arsenal loss in their second Emirates Cup clash 2-1 against Galatasaray yesterday.
The vital question is: Does Wenger’s close-guarded bluster hide impending big business which will result in players arriving to bolster his squad?
Chief amongst these, of course, is the protracted Luis Suarez situation.
In short, Wenger told us that Arsenal may have to be strong enough to start the Champions League campaign in earnest without any major signings – and reiterated his earlier comments that Cesc Fabregas was staying at Barca for another year. But he mustn’t allow the former to be the case. Not after the lacklustre defeat to the Turkish outfit which followed a very ordinary 2-2 draw with Napoli the day before.
It had always been abundantly clear the Gunners need to strengthen their squad and patient supporters have waited all summer to hear if news of the marquee signings on their way to North London had any credence. To date the answer is a solemn ‘no’. In this respect it has been a long and tedious summer with nothing but hype, speculation, rumour and counter rumour to frustrate fans. The frustration must have been at boiling point during the games at the weekend in which time and time again opponents undone the home side’s rearguard.
With the not entirely unexpected news that Thomas Vermaelen will be out for a further six weeks (we’ll wait to see if that is the case – again, with Wenger the best bet is to double the time given previous injury period predictions) the desperate need for another central defender comes sharply into focus.
Arsenal scouts are said to have watched Swansea’s Ashley Williams in their Europa Cup win over Malmo last week and there are strong suggestions that this move may well happen.
Williams is very much a no-nonsense defender who knows the Premier League and has the required experience to slot in to Wenger side, it could be argued.
With the departure of Johan Djourou and Seb Squillaci it must surely be the case that acquiring another defender is crucial housekeeping given how vital the Champions League qualifier could be.
Wenger has experimented with Bacary Sagna as a centre-half, presumably to act as emergency back-up should either Laurent Koscielny or Per Mertesacker end up on the treatment table.
And given Arsenal’s appalling run with injuries over the past few years you wouldn’t want to wager against either of them getting crocked.
But it is not just at the heart of the defence that recent outings have revealed worrying frailties.
As much as the fans love him for his allegiance to their own team, Carl Jenkinson was again exposed in the Emirates Cup. If Sagna has to play in the middle, Jenkinson would slot in at right-back and, with his confidence no doubt jolted by his error-strewn performances, this could backfire badly on the Gunners.
We know Wenger is parsimonious and believes in disposing of the club’s money as if it were being taken from his own account.
Some say the reason he waits so long to make signings is that the new recruit isn’t on the wage bill over the largely inactive summer months.
This could be bunkum but what is plainly clear as of this moment Arsenal have brought in just one player – French youth international Yaya Sanogo, 20.
One for the future, Wenger may argue. Gooners may counter: What has posterity ever done for us?