After Olivier Giroud arrived at the Liberty Stadium just hours before his projected move to Chelsea on transfer deadline day, Arsenal showed they'll need more than Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the January transfer window if they are to secure a top-four spot this season.
Once again, the Gunners defensive frailties were laid bare as Swansea came back from Nacho Monreal’s well-finished opener to beat Arsenal 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium.
Arsene Wenger has already admitted that his team have been distracted by the January transfer business going on in and around the club, but there can be no excuses for another dismal collapse at the hands of a relegation-threatened Premier League side.
The Gunners have won just three of their 13 Premier League away games this season. The last time they’d won as few on the road this far into a season was 2005-06 – ironically the campaign they reached the Champions League final.
Mkhitaryan’s second-half cameo did little to impact on Arsenal’s fortunes. The Armenian showed a couple of nice touches but the gaps in Arsenal’s defence and vulnerabilities down the flanks were never going to be solved with the addition of one world-class attacking acquisition.
Aubameyang’s imminent arrival may relieve the burden of Alexandre Lacazette, a player who has struggled in isolation up front in recent weeks, but it doesn’t do anything to solve the defensive issues which have plagued the Arsenal team for years.
Petr Cech’s horrendous goalkeeping error allowed Jordan Ayew to score a tap-in before Sam Clucas’s second goal of the game made the result safe to lift Carlos Carvalhal’s side out of the relegation zone.
Cech’s critics will point to the error as another example of why Arsenal should have kept Wojciech Szczesny in the summer instead of selling him to Juventus for a snip at a £10m. Szczesny is now set to inherit the No.1 jersey from the retiring Gianluigi Buffon while Arsenal are left with a 35-year-old mistake-prone goalkeeper and another wantaway shot-stopper in David Ospina.
Arsenal’s dismal away form throughout the past season and a half is a huge worry and it seems to show no sign of coming to a halt. Regardless of the ifs and buts, Wenger should be fully aware of the changes needed in this Arsenal team and defence should be a priority in terms of January recruitment. Jonny Evans has been linked while Abdou Diallo of Mainz is another player who has been consistently watched by the Gunners.
Wenger said that he will review his position with the Arsenal board at the end of the season and it's surely just a matter of time before his tenure at Arsenal comes to an end. With seven defeats in the league this season and only three wins away from home, the Gunners need more than a League Cup triumph to salvage something from this below-par campaign.
If Arsenal don't address their defensive issues, no amount of world-class talent will prevent them from missing the Champions League for a second season in a row.