We don’t need Benzema
(1) No injuries, no problem
When everyone is fit, this Arsenal team is actually a match for any of Europe’s elite sides. In fact, how to keep players fit for the season should have been more of a priority this summer than how to sign new players. We are all aware of the Arsenal injury curse which can often see four key players ruled out for lengthy spells, two first-choice centre-backs injured at the same time or a talisman ruled out for six months.
Indeed, knowing Arsenal’s luck with injuries, it would not have been too surprising to see a new signing like Benzema suddenly pick up an injury and go missing for months – especially with our medical staff.
Long story short; our new signing on deadline day should have been Mr. ‘Avoiding Injuries’. After all, the question which prompts the demand for a defensive midfielder is “what if Coquelin gets injured?”.
Fitness has become Arsenal’s biggest nemesis over the last decade and while some may suggest that the need for a striker is based on lack of quality more so than lack of fitness, it is better to reevaluate Arsenal’s goal scoring tallies from previous campaigns. Even though they can be profligate trying to walk the ball into the net, an Arsene Wenger team never fails to score enough goals.
With an array of talent, pace and creativity like Sanchez, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey and more available, you may have spells where goals are not pouring like rain (0-0 draw with Liverpool) but the floodgates of goals will eventually open.
Apart from defensive midfield and perhaps upfront (where the goals problem can be solved), Arsenal have at least two strong options in every position on the field.
Mind you, certain players may still be finding their feet at this embryonic stage of the season, but when a majority of this Arsenal squad is fully fit, opponents run out of ideas. The second half of last season should be an immediate reference.
Thus, escaping that harsh injury curse which often strikes in November is what is imperative because this team is good enough to win games.
(2) Everyone is struggling
Apart from Manchester City, every major club in the Premier League has struggled in their first few games and every one of them has struggled to find capable new recruits in the transfer market, hence United paying £32m for a 19-year-old striker.
Over the weekend, Chelsea were beaten by the same Crystal Palace side that Arsenal put to sword recently while Liverpool were thrashed by the same West Ham team which dismayed the Emirates on the opening day. Manchester United have gathered the same number points as the Gunners and for good measure, Tottenham are still below us (not that they are a title rival anyway).
The financial might of the Premier League’s new TV deals has been embraced by most of the division’s ‘smaller’ sides who can now strengthen their squads with names like Cabaye and Shaqiri. Everyone at the bottom is stronger than ever, so there will be more results like Palace’s win at Stamford Bridge this year.
Wenger’s men have dropped some vital points so far but they are yet to be punished by most of their rivals who are finding life just as rough.
Manchester City remain the only concern, and a big one too because Manuel Pellegrini’s men now seem impeccable but despite the growing gap between top spot and the rest, be reminded that we are not even in October yet. With that said, you would have to hope that City do not emulate the Chelsea of last season which chased the title right from the start and never looked back.
(3) Arsenal can fool you
One factor about Arsenal over the past decade is that they never do what you are expecting. Campaigns like 2007/08 and 2013/2014 in particular are valid examples of why.
In the former season, only a morale-damaging injury to Eduardo denied them the title while the Gunners topped the league table for 128 days (more than any other side) during the latter. Ahead of both of those campaigns, expectations were very low.
In truth, Arsenal usually perform better when they are no longer favourites and with that tag now dismissed after City’s perfect start and Wenger’s muted transfer window, we could be in for one of those “I wasn’t expecting them to do so well” campaigns.
Like they did in last year’s Champions League clash with Monaco and have done in a number of top-four chasing seasons where they were rather meant to pursue the title, Wenger’s men have a habit of letting you down when you expect so much.
This is only a matter of luck and omens – not actual footballing evidence – but do not be surprised if 2015/16 turns out to be another year which catches us by a good surprise.