Déjà vu – a word that Arsenal fans around the world would be sick to the stomach of, a word that they will gladly never have to come across again. But that déjà vu word continues to hover around the Arsenal camp, as another summer of discontent leads into the new season.
Injuries and a lack of summer signings at Arsenal are as bankable as Jose Mourinho taking a few jibes at Arsene Wenger – it just happens, no matter what.
Here we are then, two days away from the new season, and Arsenal have made one major summer signing – Granit Xhaka. The others are all seen as ones for the future, so for the here and now, Arsene Wenger has Xhaka as far as reinforcements go, to go with the team that fell off a cliff in the second half of the season, before making that inevitable late run, when the title was all too distant a dream.
While Manchester City make signings left, right and centre, Manchester United break transfer records, Chelsea go about raiding rival teams' best players, Leicester hang onto theirs (well, most of them), Arsenal have dillied and dailled in the transfer market, yet again, with their chief executive making statements about not being able to compete in the transfer market, when they are one of the biggest clubs in the world and have bucketloads of cash lying around.
Arsene Wenger has spoken, again, about using the cash available as you would use it if it were your own, but the reality of the transfer market is such that, particularly for Premier League clubs, with the record TV deal money flowing in as well, even an ordinary player comes at a premium.
So, to buy a Gonzalo Higuain, Alexandre Lacazette, who is far from a proven talent, Julian Draxler or any of the other players that Arsenal were and continue to be linked with, putting that extra cash in is necessary, whether Wenger agrees with the value or not.
The opportunity of buying a striker of Higuain's quality might have already gone with the wind, but there is still time for the Gunners to do something in the transfer market, in terms of buying a forward-thinking player. Riyad Mahrez has been talked about a lot, but that option also looks to have gone, leaving Wenger to either bite the bullet and pay extra money to get someone in or bite a bigger bullet and face the wrath of the Arsenal fans.
At the back, Shkodran Mustafi is the name that is expected to be brought in soon, after another defensive crisis befell Arsenal, with Per Mertesacker and Gabriel picking up injuries. The Gunners, though, will go into the Premier League season opener against Liverpool with a makeshift/inexperienced defence. Wenger will either use left-back Nacho Monreal as a centre-back alongside Calum Chambers, or he will throw Rob Holding, the 20-year-old summer signing from Bolton, at the deep end.
Whatever Wenger decides, the manager will hope the team come away with a victory, because if Arsenal end up on the losing side, or the match finishes 0-0, the protests will begin a lot sooner than normal, and that is not the way you want to start a season.
All the negativity surrounding Arsenal could have been eased, of course, had Wenger been a little more proactive in the transfer market, but the Frenchman is a big believer in the last week of the transfer window, when, he believes, most of the movement happens.
If Wenger does end up getting a quality forward and defender by the time the August 31 deadline hits, Arsenal will have a pretty good chance of competing for the title with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, not to mention Leicester City, Tottenham and Liverpool.
However, if new signings do not come in, in time, then expect this to be another one of those frustrating seasons, where it might promise great things at one point or another, only for it to all fall flat in the end. Arsenal have a pretty good squad – any team that has the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Petr Cech has to be – but it is a squad that needs reinforcements, and as good a signing as Xhaka might prove to be – it will allow Wenger to play Aaron Ramsey through the middle, because the Swiss is someone with a range of passing in his armoury – the club need, at least, two more, and top quality ones at that.
Wenger said if this will be his final season as Arsenal manager or not will depend on how the campaign goes, and if it does end up being the Frenchman's last at the Emirates, surely, he will want to make it a memorable one, and not one where Arsenal fall short in the title race, again, only to scramble for a top four place, and bring that déjà vu feeling back into play again.