The arrivals of one world-class goalkeeper in Petr Cech was deemed enough to elevate Arsenal from top-four staples to title challengers, but the bulk of those pre-season premonitions were revised following the Gunners’ home defeat to West Ham.
It was their failure to trouble Irons stopper Adrian in the 2-0 reverse that prompted the pandemic recalibration; now the north Londoners have no hope of claiming the Premier League crown unless they sign a first-rate striker.
As if to reaffirm this new-found notion, their price to claim English football’s top prize drifted to 5/1 in the aftermath of the setback.
Some expert dead-horse flogging from the media reactionaries saw the blame for Arsenal’s loss laid at Olivier Giroud’s door.
After the most powerful members of the punditocracy once again lamented the Frenchman’s shortcomings, Monday’s back pages were (in yet more masterful flogging of expired equines) awash with rumours of Arsene Wenger readying a club-record bid for Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema.
It’s an opening weekend overreaction news.bwin.com’s own Thomas Reynolds has already highlighted the ludicrousness of in this article.
The mere insinuation that one fruitless attacking display would cajole the Frenchman into taking such action is laughable, while the object of his alleged affections has given no indication that he’ll be leaving the Spanish capital this summer…in fact, he has done quite the opposite.
But whether big-match Benzy was on his bike or not, Arsenal’s unnecessary craving and subsequent purchasing of a world-class keeper should’ve taught them to steer clear of the French superstar.
Few would debate only summer signing Cech’s superiority when compared to recently overthrown Gunners twosome David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny, but the pair were more than capable between the sticks.
Nevertheless, their collective banishing to the first-team periphery to make way for the inbound Czech international was supposed to elevate the Gunners to a point where they could claim a first league title since 2004.
Blunders from the number one were a thing of the past, 2015/16 would see a new Arsenal, a concrete, reliable, unyielding outfit who will pride themselves on their rearguard to rival all.
Sadly, from a Gooners perspective, this pipe dream was dead before half-time of their first top-flight fixture with West Ham, when some gross Cech misjudgement allowed Cheikhou Kouyate to fire the Irons into the lead.
It was an error of sufficient magnitude that, were it committed by any of the former Chelsea man’s predecessors, national outcry for Arsenal to go and buy a proper keeper would’ve ensued.
Following howler number one, Cech’s inexplicable decision to guess which way Mauro Zarate’s shot was going enabled the Argentine to make it 2-0 with the tamest of efforts, rendering the game safe for the visitors.
With this in mind, perhaps Arsenal’s desperation for a world-class number nine isn’t quite as severe as it seems.
Leading scorer from last term Alexis Sanchez wasn’t in the starting XI for the West Ham defeat, nor was another potent source of goals in Theo Walcott.
As for Giroud, he notched at a rate better than one every two appearances in 2014/15 and will bag a competitive haul this time around with the wealth of service available to him.