“Presason means nothing.” That’s how Arsene Wenger put it right after his club won the Emirates Cup. He’s right yet he didn’t predict that his club will lose their opening Premier League fixture against West Ham United. After the transfer soap operas of the summer, English football returned with plenty of surprises. Arsenal was one of those teams who were stunned despite signing Petr Cech from Chelsea and winning two preseason trophies and the Community Shield earlier this summer. The fans have been shocked but writing the team off is a bit dramatic. The Gunners still have plenty to fight for.
Two seasons ago, Arsenal ended a long trophy drought by winning the FA Cup. Last season, they managed to successfully retain the cup without any significant progress in the Premier League and the Champions League. This season, the club was intent on proving that they finally have an experienced competitive squad that can dethrone Chelsea in the league. In fact, their preseason games showed great signs of commitment from all players and they even went on to beat the Blues in the Community Shield with Petr Cech keeping a clean sheet.
Arsenal’s squad is quite unique, they have a lightning-quick interplay in the final third. They can outpace any other English club and they have a blend of experience and exuberance with players like Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla. In addition, the club finally managed to sign a proven goalkeeper, one they rest assured will not let in easy goals. It’s Cech after all, a man who won European and domestic titles with different managers at Chelsea.
Despite that, the Gunners failed to fix one problem. The defense was left ignored, the club has some good players at the back yet they are not world class and even the few good names at the club are prone to injuries which leaves the team with an inconsistent back four. Arsenal fans thought that Wenger had done everything right this summer and they knew that no other team can play entertaining football like they do, but they drifted a bit too much in their dreams.
When Arsenal played their very first Premier League fixture of the season, they did not expect plenty of resistance from West Ham, especially when the game is being played at the Emirates. However, they failed to see one important thing. West Ham’s season had started over a month ago as they had to play a few Europa League games, the first of which was on the 2nd of July. West Ham had more time to prepare than Arsenal did and they took the game quite seriously as opposed to their opponents who were still enjoying their win over Chelsea.
Wenger should not be arrogant like his rival Jose Mourinho. Chelsea have already paid the price for Mourinho’s arrogance in the games against Arsenal and Swansea City and they may lose silly points for taking opponents for granted. Moreover, the Blues have a depth problem, at the back they lack cover while there seems to be no alternative to Belgian star Eden Hazard. In case he gets injured, the Blues may fail up front. Other opponents seem to be lacking a bit as well. Liverpool have a very shaky defensive line while their attack is new to English football. Staying in the north of Englang, Manchester United lost a few key players including Robin Van Persie and failed to sign the right replacement up front. They may be stronger defensively than before but there are many questions regarding their options up front besides Wayne Rooney. In fact, Manchester City who had a fairly bad preseason seem to be the readiest of all. Their squad is stronger than last season and is determined to win the Premier League for a third time under the Middle Eastern ownership.
Arsenal’s loss against West Ham is nothing important, it only puts them three points behind league leaders Manchester City, but the important thing is that the London-based club learns the lesson. The Premier League is arguably the toughest league to play in and opponents cannot be underestimated. Arsenal have not achieved anything yet but they can if they fully concentrate on the league and avoid any other distractions may it be domestic cups or selfies, they can actually go far. Optimism can backfire and disappoint even the most loyal fans. Arsenal need to get over their psychological barrier of failing in easy games. Arsenal cannot afford that to happen at the start of this season. They’ve had frightening starts before, a defeat to Aston Villa two years ago, a pair of goalless games against Stoke and Sunderland the year before that. This Arsenal team is better than those and has everything it takes to get back to its feet.