A fruitless summer in the transfer market with no marquee signings to suggest that a new era is dawning – sounds like a description of Manchester United's summer, right? It certainly fits with the struggles faced by new boss David Moyes since replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford. But the same assessment could also be applied to Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger is in a position to open the chequebook for a big money deal but is unable to lure a landscape-altering talent to the Emirates Stadium. In many ways, Manchester United's woes (including the ongoing uncertainly around Wayne Rooney's future) have deflected attention from the North Londoners' lack of progress.

For Gunners fans, there is a heavy dose of deja vu in the air, with other clubs striking deals while their team looks on. Arsenal simply cannot close the gap on the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea without significant investment – that may be in the form of just two or three players in the right areas, but it will certainly require the majority of the £70m kitty at Wenger's disposal. And adding players once the season is under way is a daunting prospect, given the limited time to gel with new team-mates.

The Luis Suarez saga – like the Rooney "will he-won't he" storyline – has become tiresome and looks set to end in disappointment for the Gunners. Credit to Arsenal, on some level, for the bold £40m bid, but Liverpool are holding firm and are understandably reluctant to sell Suarez to another English club. The Uruguayan comes with baggage but would have definitely given the Gunners a sharper edge up front. For now, though, Wenger's summer business has been limited to 20-year-old French striker Yaya Sanogo – not quite what he wold have had in mind when the transfer window opened.

On paper, Arsenal's ceiling again seems to be fourth place, possibly with a cup run thrown in. Home form should be typically strong, only for inconsistency and wasteful finishing to weigh down the Gunners. However, Wenger sees things differently and remains upbeat about his team's chances, regardless of whether he can find a few attractive deals before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

When asked if his squad could compete with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in the title race, the Frenchman explained: "Yes, of course. I am confident. Why should I sit here and say to you we can absolutely not win the title with the players we have?"

There will be added frustration in seeing some of his targets lining up for Arsenal's Premier League rivals. Wenger had coveted Stevan Jovetic prior to Manchester City's swoop for the Fiorentina forward, while Manchester United have been linked with Everton's Marouane Fellaini, who was thought to be on the Gunners' radar earlier in the summer. And so, the wait goes on for Arsenal supporters. Former fan favourite Ray Parlour added his voice to the debate recently, urging his former club to make the big splash that might redress the balance in the title race.

On the plus side, an entire season of a fully fit Jack Wilshere will give Wenger an array of midfield options, with playmaker Santi Cazorla ready to pull the strings again this term and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain poised for a breakout campaign. Olivier Giroud has looked more settled during pre-season and should be more prolific as the spearhead of the attack. But depth has always been the bigger problem, with Arsenal so often ill-equipped to handle the frequency of injuries that occur while chasing silverware on four fronts. Additions in defence and up front would give the Gunners a better shot at surprising their rivals and reaching the knockout stage of the Champions League.

It feels as though the same Arsenal discussion surfaces every August, with head-shaking and scepticism aplenty. But, hard though it is to believe, it is ten years on from the "Invincibles" season in which Arsenal were unbeaten through all 38 league games. Now reduced to also-rans, the climb back to the top of the Premier League mountain is getting the better of the North Londoners and it will be insurmountable without some decisive moves in the transfer window. Wenger must surely know that the clock is ticking and that he only has a fortnight to put things right.

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