So, we have a press conference ahead of a proper game to digest, eh?
Uni took to the press conference and spoke to the assembled hacks to talk about the game this weekend and once again, he sounded like his English is improving at each time and once again I was impressed with a guy who six months ago probably just talked enough English to order himself a cerverza and maybe ask for the bill in a restaurant. I’m learning German at the moment and I can’t tell you how daunting it is chatting to one person that I know, so for him to do what he’s doing in front of the media is impressive. Let’s just hope his football team is as impressive.
He sounds like he knows exactly what he wants and he repeatedly talked about togetherness but also energy going forward and so hopefully we see the fruits of the pre season labour tomorrow with that high intensity that has been a trademark of his teams historically. Team wise we know at least Nacho is back in training and so is Welbeck. He did also make it clear that Ainsley Maitland-Niles is looking likely the choice at left back and given his recovery pace that might be a good thing for us I think. Uni certainly seems to have enough faith in him and whilst it’s not his ideal position I’m sure that the fact he’s getting a chance to start in the first game of the season will give him plenty of room for optimism.
He talked a bit about the intensity and the importance of the fans and I think he’ll certainly get that from the start tomorrow. There will be an energy about the stadium tomorrow I reckon. In the last couple of seasons the only time I’ve seen real massive levels of energy is when we play the Tiny Totts, but I have a feeling this game will be like that, because everyone will want Arsenal to do well. I’d love it to be that electric that we boo every City touch. We’ve never really seen the Emirates as such a cauldron of partisan noise and I think if we’re ever going to get that for a non-torts game, it’ll be a game like tomorrow.
But I think we, and Emery too because he mentioned it in his press conference, recognise that we will be definite outsiders on our own patch tomorrow. The expectation from most of the world is that we’ll lose tomorrow. City look very good even without some of their star players available and Unai admitted that City are two year’s in to their Guardiola adventure, where as he hasn’t even hit two months,. City know exactly how they will play under Pep and our players are still learning. So I suspect there will be a degree of understanding should the worst happen tomorrow. Which I think is probably more than likely.
But at least from our side we have hope. We have hope because Emery has specifically said we are working to counter the strength of Man City. No more “We will play our game and focus on our strengths” nonsense. We are a team who have good players but those players aren’t better than City in all positions and so we need to make sure that we take a long, hard, look at what City are going to do when the match kicks off. And for this particular gooner, that’s a good thing.
What is also good is that the players seem happy. Unai touched on it again yesterday and said that he’s seeing laughing and joking and players enjoying themselves, whilst still working hard, which I think is useful for team harmony. Given the Rambo situation, the Welbeck situation, a new manager and nerves about whether you’re going to play or not, whether the style will end up being a disaster, I think that we could be forgiven for thinking that Arsenal could be an apprehensive place right now and that London Colney is a place of many serious faces. But the fact the players have enjoyed the fresh ideas is a good thing. There will come a time and a place for the players to show they are serious but at this point it feels right that London Colney has been a happy place.
Let’s hope that this positivity gets through on to the pitch and that we see Arsenal get a result tomorrow. I could talk a little bit about the Koscielny captaincy situation but really, given the fact he’s injured and might not find his way back in to the team until the second half of the season, what’s the use of talking about what his writing style might be for the match day programme?
Catch you all tomorrow.