When Chuba Akpom scored the winner to give Arsenal a 2-1 victory over the MLS All-Stars in San Jose, the goal would have been met with mixed feelings by the English Premier League team's fans. While it is always nice to see your team win, even a preseason match, that goal could also mean Ivan Gazidis thinking: OK, proof that we can stick with our youth and we do no need to waste money on a new striker, and Arsene Wenger agreeing, saying: Yes Ivan, I believe he has the talent to make it at the big stage, I have always believed that.
That really would be the worst-case scenario as far as the Arsenal fans are concerned. While Manchester United are spending money and getting ready to break world record transfers, Manchester City are hunting down some of the best and brightest players in the game, Chelsea are making astute signings, while also weakening their rivals, Liverpool are buying players to really begin the Jurgen Klopp era, Arsenal only remain the leaders in the transfer rumours room.
Unfortunately, apart from bringing Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach, Arsenal have not made any other major signing of note. The Japan international striker Takuma Asano and the young defender Rob Holding, who played in the 2-1 win at the Avaya Stadium, where Didier Drogba scored again against his favourite rivals, have been brought in, but those are not the kind of signings that are going to hurt their rivals, not the ones that will get the Gunners competing for the title from match one.
Leicester City might have worked a miracle by banding together as a team and producing one of the greatest titles wins in English football history, but that is the exception to the rule, and as much as Gazidis might like to suggest otherwise with his interviews, even the Arsenal CEO will know that.
Wenger will be quite aware of that fact as well, and the Arsenal manager, for once, has been pretty open about his team needing a few more players to be a real force next season. Wenger now wants to sign an experienced centre-back following a long-term injury to Per Mertesacker, while a striker, who can bang in 25-30 goals in the Premier League remains the priority.
Unfortunately, the market is such that those strikers are just not readily available. Even paying £40million for Alexandre Lacazette will be a gamble, when, previously, that kind of money would have guaranteed you a world-class talent.
But, with the money lying around, doing absolutely nothing, Wenger and Arsenal need to take that punt, and at least give it a chance for it to work out. Contrary to what Gazidis said, more than once, Arsenal can compete on transfer fees with the vast majority of the clubs – yes, a Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea might be difficult, but more often than not, Arsenal have the financial firepower to trump other clubs, and that is a power that the team need to use.
So, buying a Lacazette, a Riyad Mahrez/Julian Draxler and a Shkodran Mustafi, to go with the signing of Xhaka is what will give Arsenal the best chance of competing for the title. As great as watching an Akpom or a Benik Afobe sparkle in an Arsenal shirt, having come up from the Academy, might be, the nature of the beast is such that, Wenger cannot rely on them solely, not just yet, if the Gunners are to win the Premier League title this season.
Watch the highlights of MLS All-Stars vs Arsenal below