Though the January transfer window did not materialise as the soul-crushing disappointment many Arsenal fans had expected, with the additions of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang boosting the Gunners’ forward line, they missed an opportunity they may live to regret.
Arsenal simply needed defensive reinforcements. Granted, it was sage to swap Alexis Sanchez for Mkhitaryan and the purchase of Aubameyang excites, but the one area where Arsene Wenger needed to recruit he failed to do so.
How much of Arsenal’s transfer business was a product of Sven Mislintat – Arsenal new sporting director – is cause for speculation and rather besides the point.
Arsenal’s attacking might was on display for all to see against Everton on the weekend: a 5-1 blitz of Sam Allardyce’s meek men a tremendously entertaining spectacle. Arsenal’s Armenian playmaker popped up with a couple of assists and their Gabon forward scored a delicate chip, and Aaron Ramsey reminded everyone of his qualities with a well taken hat-trick.
Yet Arsenal’s ability to score, play attractive football and put on a show has seldom been in doubt. What has been in doubt – more so a glaring problem – is their porous and leaking back line.
Had the Gunners swooped for Johnny Evans with a credible bid – or any defender with an ounce of bullish steel – it would’ve been a fantastic transfer window.
Instead, they submitted a paltry offer for Evans and failed to shore up a vulnerable defence. It is this defence with threatens to undermine their efforts to secure a place in the top four.
Wenger’s men sit five points off Chelsea in fourth and have an outside chance of securing Champions League football next season – through the league anyway.
To punch their way into the top four they need to embark on a consistent run, pick up points and, importantly fail to lose. They have only lost one less than 8th placed Burnley – seven – which is unacceptable for a team vying for the top-four.
Yet Arsenal will not convert losses to draw, or even wins, with their permeable defence. They needed a strong, dependable back-bone to complement their ferocious forward line. Their failure to do so will ultimately cost them Champions League football next season.
Written by Michael Jones
Follow Michael on Twitter @jonesmichael_97
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