Here we are. After all the summer waiting, anticipating and hoping, we’ve arrived at the start of the Premier League season with the first weekend. It’s a bit of a funny one though, because we’re not playing tomorrow, so it only really half feels like the Premier League starts in earnest today.
The up side is that we get to cheer on any team that isn’t Chelski or Liverpool, whilst hoping for a 5-all draw in the game at Old Trafford with lots of sendings off, a few injuries and big fines for the two clubs that are playing in that part of the North West at lunchtime. If we’re going to look at the glass being half full, at least one of those two teams will have dropped points come Match of the Day tonight.
As for Arsenal and Arsene, we had the customary pre-match press conference and Le Boss seemed to be in a jolly enough mood. This was probably in part down to the fact that a) we’ve had a good pre season, b) people are saying we’re in with a shout of the league, c) he was only half-heartedly asked about transfers, and d) the football is back for him. We all know how obsessed he is with the game, so summer must be a tortuous period for him and most people with which football is their livelihood. So he was probably quite excited to be back – even doing the press conference was probably quite tolerable for him.
We got most of the team news on Thursday, so we know there will be no Jack, Welbeck Rosicky or Alexis, but as expected Arsene admitted that Alexis might be back sooner rather than later. Estimating that he’ll be potentially ready in ten days wouldn’t have surprised anyone, because the Chilean is the embodiment of all good things to do with football. He just loves playing and he’ll be like a tightly wound coil ready to be unsprung next week in training, I’m sure, so that’s all good to hear.
The phrases used by the boss shows just how much he thinks there’s something in this team. Talking about ‘fighting spirit’ and being ‘up for the challenge’ is nothing new for us, but I’ve rarely believed it with such conviction as now. He is being cautiously optimistic about the teams chances of winning our first league title in over a decade, but that’s what you’d expect, because he’ll get pelters if he pulls out another “we could go unbeaten” again and it doesn’t happen. Let’s leave the arrogance and ugly characteristics to the Portuguese in West London.
Arsene also talked about the unknown quantity of the other squads in the division and how we still don’t know how the top of the table will shape up. He didn’t lead down the line of enquiry of stopping the transfer window as soon as the football starts, but it’s certainly something I’d advocate, for that very reason. As it stands, I’d be pretty happy with the opposition that we’re up against, but if there are some mega moves in the transfer market, I don’t know about you, but it does make me nervous. It’s fear of the unknown you see. Before a player has kicked a ball they are a world beater – think Falcao at United last season – but when the football kicks in often so does reality. But because Arsenal haven’t been overhauling their squad like some others, there’s always a bit of a fear that a club like Liverpool could actually ‘click’.
I should probably look back historically and see that root and branch changes don’t usually result in success, but unfortunately I’m an irrational football fan, which you can see by the fact that I’ve been writing all summer about continuity and how I’m pleased we’re not snapping up new players left, right and centre, yet now I’m admitting that I’m nervous of the opposition we face at the top of the league!
That’s why it’s always good to have the football start, because the speculation and the expectation soon give way to reality and as we’ve seen over the last few seasons, the reality is often that Arsenal are pretty decent and pretty consistent. We just need to make that next step now and win the league. Just a small thing….
Arsene was asked about Benzema so I suppose I should mention it, because although he dismissed it as media speculation, the noises about his imminent arrival seem to have picked up again. I’m not particularly interested in that and I’m sick of the ITKs, but talk of him arriving on Sunday amuses me. What, has somebody seen his name on the flight details of an Easyjet plane from Madrid to Stansted or something? Don’t be ridiculous. These people know nothing and so it’s best just focusing on the existing players who will be trying to score us plenty of goals and bag points on Sunday. That’s what’s real and that’s what I’m going to invest my emotions in to.
That’s it from me for today. I have a stag do to prepare for, so I’ll make my excuses and leave you to get on with your Saturday.