A problem and some more for Mikel Arteta, whose team will not feature in any European competition for the first time in 25 years due to their poor showing last season.
A positive outlook on this, however, is that Arsenal have hit rock bottom and things could only get better from here and there have been signs of that. The signings of Nuno Tavares, Ben White, and Albert Sambi Lokonga have been clever moves while tying down both Emile Smith Rowe and Kieran Tierney have also been shrewd deals.
However, Arsenal have failed to mend their main problem from last season– creativity from the midfield.
FALSE SENSE OF HOPE:
The signings of Tavares, Ben White, and Albert Sambi Lokonga have been necessary but they do not feature on top of Mikel Arteta’s priority list of solutions to last season’s problems. The Gunners scored only 55 goals last season, just as much as 11th placed Aston Villa.
There is a lack of chance creation and a player who can provide the key pass in the final third. While Sambi Lokonga and Thomas Partey might bring out the best in each other, neither player is an astute creator.
In mid-June, Arsenal pulled out of a deal for Emiliano Buendia for £34 million, stating that they did not have the necessary funds to complete the deal. Since then, they have spent nearly £80 million on transfers while they are also considering spending another £32 million on Aaron Ramsdale for the backup goalkeeper role.
While all of these transfers are encouraging, they are proving Arsenal with a false sense of hope for the new season. Out of the completed deals, only Sambi Lokonga and Ben White will start for Arsenal next season, and they cannot make the Gunners any better than they were last season because their problems were not in those areas.
ONLY LINKS, NO ADVANCED TALKS:
Over the last two months, Arsenal have been linked with Emiliano Buendia, Houssem Aouar, Leon Bailey, and James Maddison, but none of them went at a serious negotiating stage.
While a deal for Houssem Aouar seemed to be ‘close‘, talks broke down, and the midfielder is now closer to joining Liverpool than to the Gunners. Arsenal have shown their might in the transfer market this season, but they have not addressed their main issues. The club is still trying to sign players like Franck Kessie and Tammy Abraham, even though neither player could change the fortunes as an attacking midfielder could.
While Emile Smith-Rowe can play that role, he is still young and needs rest every now and then. Although Bukayo Saka can create, playing him in that role would hinder his other strengths of direct running, dribbling past opponents while he is also a threat in the box. Saka is an incredible winger, and Mikel Arteta does not want to lose that side of the young Englishman.
Since the departure of players like Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil, Arsenal have not had a creator in the team, and this could come back to bite them at some point in the upcoming season. With players like Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette vying for the forward role, Arsenal need a player who can supply them with enough balls into their feet if the club hopes to make it into one of the Top 6 slots next season.
The standards have dropped down, and the bar has been lowered. What Mikel Arteta cannot afford to do is drop down his shoulders and make such a crucial mistake in one of Arsenal’s busiest summer transfer windows, because if the Gunners fail to bring in a creative midfielder by the end of the window, it could become another season of sheer agony for the Men in Red & White.