Arsenal are going backwards despite spending nearly £130m on transfers

Jamie Spencer
Arsenal have spent big on transfers this summer but are no better for it
Arsenal have spent big on transfers this summer but are no better for it / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal have spent the best part of £130m on five signings this summer and are no better than last season. If anything, the Gunners have actually gone backwards, despite their massive investment.

A 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City has now made it three defeats in a row to start the new Premier League season, making it Arsenal’s worst start to a league campaign in 67 years.

Before the summer, the club hierarchy was targeting a full-back, centre-back, goalkeeper and two midfielders. They have ticked off all of those positions with the arrivals of Nuno Tavares, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Martin Odegaard respectively.

But how many of these players will make Arsenal better than last season? Probably none.

Of the quintet, only Odegaard and White are genuine starters.

Odegaard was at the club in the second half of last season anyway and the Norwegian was given the runaround by a Manchester City side who barely needed to get out of second gear.

White is probably better than all of Arsenal’s existing centre-backs, but it isn’t a high bar. The £50m England international didn’t actually play against City, which fans may hold as a beacon of hope that things aren’t as bad as they could be. Yet any player would be hard pressed to come into such a calamitous unit and make significant improvements by themselves.

Aside from underwhelming new arrivals, for all the talk of a rebuild, the squad Mikel Arteta is overseeing is still littered with deadwood.

Granit Xhaka has been skating on thin ace for a couple of years and was expected to join Roma this summer. Instead, he landed himself a contract extension in north London and regressed to old habits when his insanely stupid two-footed tackle on Joao Cancelo put his team even more up against it at the Etihad Stadium when they were already losing 2-0.

Sead Kolasinac, who moved to Schalke on loan in January, has been out of the picture until suddenly finding himself back in the starting lineup against City. That in itself is representative of the squad’s stagnation, that players deemed surplus to requirements can still command starts.

Pablo Mari started the first two games of the season but was benched. Calum Chambers showed against City that he is absolutely not a Premier League calibre centre-back, while Rob Holding was the best of a bad bunch at the back – which isn't exactly saying much.

Further forward, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hasn’t been firing for some time. He and Alexandre Lacazette were recently sidelined with COVID-19, which may excuse their respective performances against City if it was an isolated incident.

Nicolas Pepe was missing against City with non-COVID illness against City, but is unlikely to make all that much difference going forward. He played the full 90 minutes against both Brentford and Chelsea and didn’t step up then, so why would this match or any other be different?

Willian? Next.

Arsenal have also put undue pressure on Emile Smith Rowe, a 20-year-old with less than a full season of first-team experience, giving him the number 10 shirt and expecting him to be the answer to their prayers without realistic support on the pitch. That isn’t how it works.

Arsenal have deep, deep problems. £130m worth of transfers is barely enough to scratch the surface…and that would be if they had spent it well.

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