It’s been a while since Arsenal mounted a serious title challenge and their fans have become increasingly frustrated at Arsene Wenger’s seeming refusal to be competitive in the transfer market. This summer, at long last, Arsenal have been splashing the cash, but it looks as though as it may be too late to convince captain Robin van Persie that the club is ambitious enough to win trophies. Today’s papers claim that United are set to sign him.
Andrew Weber from Arsenal FC Blog has shared his thoughts on the coming season.
Scott the Red: What would have to happen this season for you to class this as a successful one?
Andrew Weber: I think with the excellent summer we have had, bringing in three quality attackers to freshen things up and avoiding the transfer mishaps of the previous seasons, we have reason to be optimistic. It might be ambitious to say ‘winning the Premiership’ but that is exactly what Arsenal fans will be hoping for and I have to count myself among them.
STR: How do you feel about your club’s business in the transfer window this summer?
AW: Extremely good. This stuff is alien to Arsenal fans in recent seasons. Cazorla looks a brilliant signing while Podolski and Giroud offer us options that we simply haven’t had: a direct snap-shooter with experience and a powerful centre-forward. The Robin van Persie situation has been a pity — more in the manner it has been handled than the actual event — however the club has been proactive with their dealings and that suggests lessons have been learned.
STR: What do you make of the RvP transfer saga? Which club would you like to see him at in 2012-2013?
AW: The way RVP’s agent delivered THAT media release was tasteless and ill-mannered however the club has managed the situation well. It remains to be seen whether this was some masterstroke of a ploy by our captain to provoke some spending from the club — although I highly doubt it — but the club has created a situation where whether he stays or goes we are in a good place. Regarding which club I’d like to see him at it would be Juventus, followed by Manchester United and then City, for obvious reasons.
STR: Who do you think will be your most important player this season?
AW: Mikel Arteta. He gives us something that nobody in the midfield possesses to the same level: a sense of calmness and tactical nous. He allowed Alex Song to flourish as a more attacking player last season and will likely accelerate Santi Cazorla’s integration into the team.
STR: How do you rate your manager’s ability to take your club forward?
AW: I personally have no questions about Arsene Wenger’s ability to continue moving this club forward. There is so much mystery around what he has to spend in recent seasons but this season suggests the Frenchman may have put his foot down. In an era of mad spending he has played to his strengths and the fact that we finished third after a shocking start last season and can even harbour outside hopes of a title victory this season speaks volumes.
STR: Where does 8-2 from last season rank in your worst days as an Arsenal fan?
AW: It was bad, but the novelty of it somehow lessoned the pain. Level-headed fans knew the ridiculous situation we were in going into that game and took the beating with a pinch of salt. Jenkinson had a shocker and Armand Traore, for example, was on the eve of a move to QPR and smiled his way through the game, giving a serious insight into how lightly he seemed to be treating the occasion. In all honesty the 4-3 loss a week later against Blackburn, featuring two own goals, was a much harder pill to swallow.
STR: Were you glad to see Chelsea win the Champions League because it denied Spurs their place in Europe for next season?
AW: The short answer: no. By winning Chelsea became the first club from London to become Champions of Europe and we will never be able to take that back. For all the rivalry that bubbles between Arsenal and Spurs I would much rather they have qualified for Europe than Chelsea anyway. Although I won’t say I didn’t enjoy the laugh!
STR: Who do you think will win the league this season?
AW: City are the best bet and no amount of loyalty or bias will change that.