A summer without a transfer saga involving a player leaving Arsenal isn't really a summer as we have come to know it. The outflux of first-teamers to Manchester City began the trend before Cesc Fábregas's drawn out transfer to Barcelona and Robin van Persie's move north last summer. And yet this off-season, the Gunners have had almost none of their key players linked with big moves away. At the beginning of the summer, a few sources mentioned Laurent Koscielny's name in the same breath as Barcelona after his impressive end to the season, but even that soon lost momentum.
Instead, Arsenal seem set to start the new campaign with all of their most important squad members in tow. The deadwood has been released, with no fewer than 20 players having made their way out of the Emirates exit in the last 2 months, and the better players have remained, unruffled and content in north London.
What is worrying Arsenal fans, however, is that only the injury-prone, 20-year old striker Yaya Sanogo has been brought in. Of course, Wenger has the propensity to discover brilliant young talent and there is good reason to trust his judgment on bringing the Frenchman to London, but there have also been failures during his reign and the Arsenal faithful won't be confident that Sanogo's arrival will be sufficient this summer.
Rivals Tottenham have been active in the market, and while they stand to lose Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, André Villas-Boas has overseen 3 notable signings in recent weeks, with Paulinho, Nacer Chadli and then Roberto Soldado joining. Chelsea and Manchester City, who both finished above the Gunners last term, have strengthened too. Both have new managers who have sought to stamp their own mark on their squads by bringing in players, as well as Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne returning from loans to Stamford Bridge. As it stands, Arsenal could well be left behind.
Not for the want of trying, of course. Their intentions to bring in a big name striker have been plainly obvious, Arsène Wenger has even seemingly been open to the idea of spending big on a proven, world class - and thus overpriced - striker. The idea of the Frenchman doing so had seemed so unlikely that most fans would have given up on the idea before this summer, but optimism grew early on when names such as Higuaín, Suárez and Jovetic were mentioned. Higuaín and Jovetic have gone elsewhere, though, while a deal for Suárez seems like it might just be dead in the water, Arsenal unsurprisingly priced out of the transfer.
However, all is not lost for the Gunners. Far from it, in fact. They were already in good stead before the end of last season, as their first XI became a more coherent unit; they lost only 1 of their last 16 Premier League games and none of their final 10 as they claimed 4th place and the final Champions League spot ahead of Spurs. The clamour for investment emits an air of desperation that simply isn't there.
Squad depth could be an issue, particularly given that the likes of Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Abou Diaby - amongst others - are unlikely to avoid periods on the sidelines all season. But Wenger might be better off saving his pennies and trusting in a few more of the highly-rated youngsters coming through the ranks, hoping to avoid more expensive flops like Arshavin and Denilson. A few more signings of the ilk of Sanogo won't fill the fans with confidence, but could turn out to be strokes of genius and will provide depth for the time being.
Arsenal's form in the run-in suggests little needs to be changed. Theo Walcott came good, with 3 goals in the final 4 games; Lukas Podolski scored 3 times in the final 7 games despite appearing primarily from the bench; Santi Cazorla set up all four goals in the vital win over Wigan and Olivier Giroud chipped in with a couple of goals (and a red card, mind). Each managed double figures in terms of goals last season, making Arsenal the only Premier League side to have 4 players to do so. Cazorla and Walcott also reached double figures for assists; they were 2 of only 4 players to do so for both tallies in the top flight (along with Chelsea's Juan Mata and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney). The goalscoring burden that weighed so heavily on the shoulders of van Persie the season before last has been spread out amongst the front four, and it has worked.
The main concern for Arsenal would be whether Giroud could provide sufficient goal threat up front. His solitary goal in the 5-2 win over Tottenham was the only Premier League goal he managed against any other team that finished in the top 6, but players often take time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League and Giroud might well do so in time for next term. What is more, Podolski staked a decent claim for his preferred centre forward spot in the lineup when Giroud was suspended, with 2 goals in the aforementioned win over Wigan. He might not be good enough to lead the line week in, week out, but as a second choice he is hardly a terrible option.
Then there is the ever-impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Still only 19 years of age, the former Southampton man is more of a regular for England than he is for his club, but that may well change this season. Arsenal won 72.7% of the Premier League games Chamberlain started this season, compared to just 48.1% without him. Part of that will be to do with his utilisation in the slightly easier games when Wenger rotated his first eleven, but he should not be discredited too much. The youngster has shown an astounding degree of confidence that allows him to look so at home on both the domestic and the international stages. There is every reason for him to play a bigger role in Arsenal's season this time around, and he could be a important player this term.
Thomas Vermaelen's latest injury looks set to rule him out of the start of the season, so arguably the Gunners require investment at the back, with Koscielny and Per Mertesacker their only fit centre-backs. Vermaelen was below par for much of last season but again, there is little reason to panic. Another backup may be necessary but money shouldn't be thrown at the situation too extremely. The duo were vital to Arsenal's impressive run-in and will be the first choice pairing for next season; with them playing together, Arsenal conceded only 5 goals in their final 10 games of the season.
While Arsenal fans fret about summer signings, Wenger will be going about training safe in the knowledge that his Arsenal squad are capable of challenging at the top without huge investment. This is not to say that Arsenal would not be better off with better players coming in; of course they would. Suárez would be a great addition to the squad, but at £40m, would that be worthwhile? With the talent and goal supply already in the squad, arguably not.