These Friday games, eh? It’s like some sort of footballing jet lag with press conferences on a Wednesday, the match on a Friday after a long gruelling week of work and the decisions on whether to drink in the City or closer to The Emirates, all conspiring to make this the most unusual of season openers. Well, to me, anyway.
I suppose there’s part of me that’s a little excited about playing a little earlier than everyone else; as well as the fact that we’ve been pretty shoddy on opening day in the last few seasons previously so perhaps a change of time and day will be some sort of good omen. But the reality is that it’ll mean little in the grand scheme of things and we will see the same performance under the floodlights that we would have seen on a Saturday at 3pm.
It’s just that as a football fan you always look for completely irrational reasons as to why your team are a sure bet and when you have some data so weighted against your team like we have – our opening days have included defeats to Aston Villa 3-1, West Ham 2-0, Liverpool 4-3, as well as draws to Sunderland, Liverpool and Newcastle in the last seven seasons – you want to grab hold of any kind of superstition or belief that this time can be different. But that needs to start with which players are available and hoping that, like last season, we’re not so far behind in our prep and injuries that we’re not ready for the beginning of the season.
Who will be available for Friday’s game is another matter and with Arsène giving us an update at 9am I expect this blog to be pretty out of date by the time most people read it. I guess if you’re going to curse the Friday evening fixture from an injury perspective it’s that it is an overnight sleep and therefore reduced opportunity for some to heal a little more, but given the fine margins and desire not to take chances with the health of players these days, I don’t suppose an extra night’s sleep would make too much difference in terms of making somebody more available come kick off.
So we wait to hear what Arsène says on this Friday’s game and who is available, but we’ll also get the inevitable questions about Alexis, transfer ins, transfer outs and everything in between. My guess is that we’ll get anything from “I’ve told you already, no news”, to “we’re not on that” or even the blank look when asked the questions to which he full well knows the answer but wants to make the questioner feel a little bit silly.
I hope somebody delves in to the 3-4-3 and how long he expects to deploy it. He’s said before he might look to switch it around and at home to Leicester you’d expect us to be more aggressive in our formation, but as it stands we’ve spent all summer with three at the back, so my gut feel is that he stays with it until it stops working, before reverting back to the back four and going with the formation we had at the beginning of last season. I don’t really have any evidence to back this up, but I just have a feeling that the 3-4-3 and Wenger is more of a ‘marriage of convenience’ rather than a philosophy change. I guess the real acid test will be after 12 games. That’s when we’ll see whether it’s here to stay.
And that’s really all I gots to say for today. You have yourself a merry little Wednesday and I’ll be back tomorrow with some thoughts on what the manager has said to the assembled hacks.