Has Wenger fallen at the final hurdle before the race has begun?

Has Wenger fallen at the final hurdle before the race has begun?

As the transfer window slammed ominously shut on Tuesday, I was left with the unshakeable thought that the summer has mirrored so much of the last five seasons at Arsenal.

It started so full of hope, with the astute purchase of Chamakh being followed up by a typical Wenger signing in the form of Koscielny. Squillaci’s arrival was also a welcome one, giving the defence a necessary makeover. A ‘keeper then, and Arsenal could be counted as serious title challengers once more.

But as the time slowly moved towards the transfer deadline that goalkeeper, astonishingly, never arrived. And on that decision rests the hopes of our season once more. That final hurdle suddenly looks harder to clear.

To fall so painfully short in the transfer market once again is, in my eyes, inexcusable. Wenger clearly believed Fulham would eventually find a replacement for Mark Schwarzer and allow the Australian to join the Gunners, but the price of that gamble could prove the difference between first and third place.

Instead we must rely on Manuel Almunia, a player who must surely know that his manager no longer trusts him as his first choice, yet is forced to turn to him out of necessity. What effect does that have on a player mentally? Only the coming months will answer that question.

Of course, that’s not to say this summer has been a failure. A shake up in the defence was much needed and in Mikael Silvestre, Sol Campbell and William Gallas we have got rid of three players whose best days are far behind them. Laurent Koscielny looks to be a player who will soon adjust to the Premier League, while Sebastien Squillaci will provide experienced cover and, at 30 years old, is hardly past his peak.

As Wenger so often points out, the benefit of having such a young team is there’s a noticeable improvement in each season that passes. And the midfield will reap the rewards of such an approach this year, with Samir Nasri seeming particularly sharp and Jack Wilshere providing another option in central areas. Out wide Theo Walcott has started in sparkling form and when he’s on song his pace really can prove to be the difference.

Effectively trading Eduardo for Chamakh is a wonderful piece of business as well. I, like so many Arsenal fans, was sad to see the Croatian international move on from the Emirates but it was the right thing to do. Marouane Chamakh fits the 4-3-3 formation perfectly and his athletic and hard working approach to the game makes him becoming a fans favourite in North London a question of when rather than if.

So plenty to still be positive about then, but in failing to fix the goalkeeping problem has Wenger ensured we’ll be nearly-men yet again?

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