The new English Premier League season gets underway tomorrow with lots of interesting subplots. How will Man U make the transition to the post-Ferguson era? Will Jose Marinho discover that you can go home again, as he returns to the helm of Chelsea? Will Arsenal experience deja vu all over again, making emergency acquisitions two or three games into the season after standing still during the summer, just to avoid falling out of contention for a Champion's League spot?
Last year, the Gunners finally jumped into the transfer market with both feet just as the summer transfer window was closing. We could well see a repeat this summer - that is, if any of the most talented players are still willing to join Arsene Wenger's squad. Throughout this summer, Arsenal came close but failed to close deals on the likes of Higuain and, most recently, Gonzalo. I have to wonder whether it was (a) a case of Wenger abiding by his traditional "moral economy" evaluations (as opposed to market valuations) of players, or (b) a case of players deciding that Arsenal was not a big enough club for them. At the end of the day, all players (let alone the best players) want to go to a club that will (1) offer them the most money and (2) have the best chance of winning championships. Arsenal haven't promised (2) in eight long years, and have never really promised (1).
Woe be to Wenger, Gazidis, and the rest of the Arsenal brain trust, if the team struggle out of the blocks once again this season. Personnel wise, they are clearly better than the squad that started last season. But they also appear to be, once again, a club that will compete for a Champion's League spot, but not for silverware.