The Premier League is back! An 82-day void filled instantly within 90 seconds of the start. Arsenal and Leicester played out to what is surely to be one of the best games of the upcoming season. A brilliant advert to the most exciting league in the world.
However, this article is not a review of the last night’s thriller, instead, I will explain exactly why Arsenal fans shouldn’t be expecting the moon but rather why more of the same of last season will occur… unless we strengthen further.
To put it bluntly, our defence is in dire need of attention. Yes, our first choice centre backs Koscielny, Mertesacker and Mustafi were not available and thus we should not view last night’s defensive horror show in isolation, but it is no secret Arsenal struggle defensively. That coupled with the fact that Koscielny has a recurring achilles problem that he will need to manage and the odd suspension, means that we will be short – presuming that we never ever resort to the makeshift back three of last night or an equivalent.
However, regardless of our defensive frailties (that have existed for many a season), the real question that needs asking is whether or not we have improved.
To merely improve does not help our cause in any way. We finished 18 points behind Chelsea, and to improve currently like we have (with the Lacazette and Kolasinac additions) mean we maybe cut that deficit. However for us to mount a serious challenge or even win the Premier League this season, we need to improve at a greater rate than what our closest rivals have improved.
It makes no sense we have improved only for rivals to improve as well and therefore resulting in us never really closing the point gap.
Lacazette and Kolasinac both had impressive debuts for Arsenal and impacted the game heavily last night, and they both will improve Arsenal, but to what extent. If we had them both starring last season for us, Arsenal would have without a doubt secured top 4 and possibly mounted a challenge. However, Chelsea have improved their squad compared to last season, United have improved, City have improved, Liverpool have improved.
The additions of Lacazette and Kolasinac do not alone close an 18 point gap and improve Arsenal to a greater extent than what our rivals have improved this season. We may have closed the gap from last season but we are staring face on into another point gap with our rivals this season.
The only conclusion can be that we still need further additions. Leaving the squad as it is currently, will see us fighting for a top four place at best as even though we closed last seasons gap, this season we are still behind (as other teams have improved as well).
What is frustrating is that we do not require wholesale changes, we are just one or two players short – as we always have been every season. The transfer window is still open, there is still time. Who we should get is an article for another day.
Nothing is set in stone yet, at writing we sit top of the league.