A combination of a heavy night’s drinking on Thursday, coupled with centre court tickets to Wimbledon on Friday, conspired to prohibit me from blogging yesterday. But in true ‘they’re all agin me!’ style, the fates decided that they should release some interesting quotes from players and some good pictures for me to look at on the official site too, so I suppose if I was looking at this with a half full glass, I could say that at least I have some stuff to talk about. And look at.
And if pictures can tell a thousand words, I’m glad when they also tell less, because I can’t be arsed to look at a picture that’s going to take me that long to digest it. So it’s pleasing when pictures tell about a dozen words, which include:
Our shiny new ‘keeper is world class and has a funny hat.
Of course one has to feel sorry for Ospina, who is saying all the right things by declaring that he wants to keep his place. But whilst he has a somewhat entertaining chant, he is distinctly lacking in the hat department, so I can see why Arsene made the decision he made to bring a new man in.
As for the spoken word of players, whilst I was sunning myself in SW19 yesterday, I took time in between Roger Federer’s smashing of Andy Murray to have a look at the Sky Sports website and saw that Aaron Ramsey was quoted as laying down a challenge to Chelski for this upcoming season. I know talk can be cheap, but I have to say I have been loving the players attitude since we won the FA Cup for the second time. I don’t know about you, but it finally sounds like they believe they should be up there. Arteta, Mertesacker, Alexis, Wilshere, Ozil – all have made comments of differing levels of happiness with the FA Cup but ultimately saying that they want more. It just feels like this group of players believes in itself more than ever before. It feels like they are ready and by Jove, doesn’t that make you feel good as an Arsenal fan?
He spoke of keeping players fit, of challenging for the title and of his own career too. And when you have the desires and the potential of a team like this Arsenal team, players want to stay and players want to join us. Ramsey admitted he was flattered to be linked with Barcelona but despite all of that hubbub, if we are challenging for titles both domestically and abroad, we can keep all of our players. London is a great place to live, the Premier League is the best league in the world and if Arsenal are one of the best teams, then I think even the lure of Barcelona or Madrid would be easier to turn away.
I realise I might be getting a little too excited here by talking about fending off a Madrid or Barcelona if they come calling for our players – and I do acknowledge that right now we’re not up there – but what if we win the league and get closer to the Champions League than our regular exit in the round of 16 or quarter final? What if we start to turn the corner and become the team like we had 11 years ago? We kept Patrick Vieira from numerous Real Madrid advances and if players are winning things at Arsenal then we can keep players like we used to back in those halcyon days.
The trick for us will be keeping all of our best players fit, as Ramsey says in his interview. The back end of last season showed that if Shad and his crew are keeping everybody fresh, if Arsene rotates properly and if we can start the season off like we finished this season, we’re strong enough to have a go at the league. Think about what did us over in 2013/14 – a lack of an option other than Giroud. We had no Walcott (injured), no Welbeck or Alexis and we ended up with few options. Heck, even Bendtner played against Hull that season! So even if we didn’t sign anybody else (although I hope we do), we will still be competing. I’m convinced of that. If we start the season like 2013/14, even injuries to the team won’t mean we’re completely derailed, as we have plenty of cover (nearly) everywhere.
This isn’t just a over-the-top puff piece that is me trying to convince you to get excited about he season ahead without any real belief. I truly do believe we’re ready now. More than we’ve ever been.