Their eighth major European final will not linger for long in the memories of Arsenal fans. A crushing 4-1 defeat to London rivals Chelsea, which so glaringly exposed the club’s stark deficiencies, will be hastily banished from traumatized Gunners fans.
While Chelsea supporters will be more than happy to remind them in the coming years, of their capitulation in Baku; it may well be in the coming transfer windows, that reminders really start to pinch.
Unai Emery will know all too well, the scale of the work ahead of him in North London. Despite missing out on a top-four place by just a single point; the Spaniard will know that there is a multitude of problems that need urgent attention this summer and beyond at The Emirates.
In the aftermath of their capitulation to Chelsea, there has been plenty of talk of the need for a rebuild, particularly in the defensive department of the club. Whether or not Emery will be quick to oversee a mass overhaul of players this summer remains to be seen, but you cannot deny the need for some superior defensive recruits to patch up a porous backline.
51 goals conceded this term and 13 individual defensive errors leading to goals is simply not good enough for a team with aspirations to challenge at the top of the table. By contrast, their North London neighbours, who pipped them to the post in fourth place, conceded 39 Premier League goals and had just six individual errors leading to goals.
However painful the final defeat and accompanying defensive capitulation was for Arsenal fans; the cost of their failure is only now starting to add up. If there is a demand from the terraces for new recruits to fix these problems, there may not be the money to match it.
Cash for new faces appears to be in short supply at the Emirates these days. Of course, the absence of Champions League football and it’s high stream of revenue is a massive factor. However, there was some speculation that even if Arsenal had triumphed over Chelsea and got back into Europe’s premier competition, they’d have had as little as £75 million to spend.
When you consider they spent £71 million last summer and have more or less remained static in their progress; this must be a worry for the fan base. Worse still, Emery’s depleted budget of just £40 million is hardly a war chest to boast about.
Rival clubs will not be ignorant of Arsenal’s shortcomings. They will be on alert and ready to charge a premium rate for any of the club’s targets should the North London side come knocking. This will only exacerbate the issues facing Emery as he looks to strengthen.
He will also have to do quite the sales pitch to would-be recruits. With no Champions League to offer and an eye-watering 28-point gap between them and the top of the table last season, players and agents may not be quite so enthusiastic about committing to a club very much stalled in transition.
Aaron Ramsey’s protracted departure to Juventus, owed in part, to a reluctance from Arsenal to offer him parity with Mesut Ozil. The talented Welshman’s departure hardly paints a picture of ambition or wealth from the outside looking in.
Ramsey’s exit has also left a considerable void to fill in the center of the park. With their aforementioned defensive issues and the departure of Petr Cech, there are real holes and shortfalls in suitable experience all over this Arsenal side at the moment.
There is still quality there for sure. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have the ability to keep the forward line looking sharp. Whilst Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi can bring some flair from midfield. Whether or not this will be enough though, to entice serious targets, remains to be seen.
The Premier League is getting increasingly crowded with emerging clubs backed by wealth and ambition. Leicester City, Everton, Wolves, and West Ham have all shown they can flex their muscles in the transfer market in recent windows. If Newcastle’s reported takeover bid by Abu Dhabi backed investors goes ahead, then we can add them to that list as well.
With Farhad Moshiri increasing his ownership at Everton and Brendan Rodgers still freshly installed at Leicester; we can expect to see a surge in expenditure by those clubs as they look at the top six, hoping to challenge and barge their way in.
Arsenal’s superior quality over the past decade has made them immune from the would be challengers to their top six status. However, you simply cannot ignore this growing surge of chasing clubs, all of whom can currently boast bigger wallets than Arsenal. If The Gunners remain static for much longer, they do run the risk of yielding ground to these aggressive chasing clubs. Without the Champions League and with such a tight budget they are looking increasingly vulnerable.
Emery is an excellent coach and regardless of his side’s less than squeaky clean bill of health, they will still take some dislodging from their foundations as one of the country’s top clubs. However, the defeat in Baku last month is looking more and more costly by the day for Arsenal and Unai Emery.
A plug for Frank Lampard to be the next #Chelsea boss and why they may defy all logic and win silverware next season even with a transfer ban. 🎧
— Football Faithful (@FootyFaithful_) June 7, 2019