Yesterday, for many fans, will have felt like a tough day. As I wrote about in my Deadline Day and Transfer Window reflections, it was a window that felt meticulous, well-planned and proactive heading into the season. But as the window shut, fans were left with a sour aftertaste and sentiments of inadequacy and failure by the club.
It’s hard to blame them. Heading into Deadline Day, the club felt short in about three or four places, but really short in two: holding midfield and a wing option to rotate with Bukayo Saka. At the end of the day, Arsenal felt short in about three or four places, but really short in two places. Fans across the world were left to argue over whether the club had made the right choice when they walked away from Douglas Luiz.
It was quickly understood that the likelihood of Arsenal bringing in a winger like Pedro Neto, or even the far less expensive Mykhaylo Mudryk, was slim to none and all focus shifted to what the club could do about the early crisis created by Partey and Elneny’s untimely injuries.
In summary: nothing. They made three separate offers to Aston Villa for Douglas Luiz, a player in the final year of his contract, that Arsenal seemingly valued at ~£15-20m. Villa felt he was worth £30-40, Arsenal went up to £25m, but refused to be held hostage and overpay. A final decision that only adds to the conflicting feelings. No one wants to see the club overpay for bandaids, but we are still short.
Yesterday, fans voiced their fears, frustrations, opinions, concerns; most of it was exactly what you would expect. What was unexpected was the outright doom and gloom response of so many fans. The idea that not signing Douglas Luiz ended Arsenal’s season and meant the team would be settling for a fourth place dog fight at best, if not worse.
Some went as far as to look at Arsenal’s upcoming five matches and speculate Arsenal would be lucky to take 3 points. Every point in the league is tough to get, its not impossible Arsenal suffer a setback, but it’s shortsighted to suggest that the same team that has set a great tone for their level of play this season, and are in fact the same players Arsenal still have for the rest of the season, are no longer a quality side. As if the club not buying Douglas Luiz, a player that would be unequivocally a desperation purchase, has been the move that failed to make the team competitive. I make no argument that it would have helped, but some of the responses are excessive.
Squad depth is likely to be a point of discussion for much of the year, or until the January window at least. And fans must try to keep the crucifixion of any club’s depth woes limited to problems associated to the winger and holding midfield role, after all, they weren’t setting out to purchase in other areas of the pitch. But most important, fans need to find a way to remind themselves there is still a very good team to support going forward.
It’s a team that has won their first give matches, has dominated the last three games they have played, look to have taken immense strides forward in their ability to control matches consistently, and a team with a major match on Sunday that they can get points from.
This weekend has already seen Liverpool drop points to Everton and Manchester City drop points to Aston Villa. Arsenal have an opportunity to extend their separation from the pack early. It’s a chance to get points on the road, and take points from a rival. It’s time to put the window behind us, lace up our boots tight, and go get a result at Old Trafford.