It helps to settle the nerves on a Thursday morn to check out the official site and see certain players back in training. For too long we’ve had situations where the international break has been followed by a collective holding of hands, silent prayers said, a hope of no missing limbs from key players.
Which is why seeing the likes of Torreira, Monreal, Aubameyang, Ramsey et al all training and laughing is always so welcoming. It hopefully means Unai Emery (when is it ok to start calling him “the Boss”? Or maybe “El Bosso”?) can give us a positive update when he does his presser at some stage today.
This will be another stern test at the weekend no doubt and Unai will be keen to build the momentum from two wins but more than that, personally, I’d like us to show that the demons of last season’s away form can be arrested. I went up to St James’ Park last season and despite going one up we lost yet another league game in pitiful style.
Saturday’s game represents the first proper comparison match with last season and whether we’re in better shape (which I think we are…just). City at home and Chelski away are always tough games. Cardiff weren’t in the division last season so it’s very much a case of the unknown in that game. But Newcastle was another bad away day and it feels to me like a win up there will be another tick in the box for us all in terms of looking for signs of progression.
In some respects this is another game in which it doesn’t really matter how it happens, just that it happens, in terms of getting the three points. We all want to see flowing Football and defensive solidity, but we’re still teething and as a result this run of games we’re in really are just all about points on the board. Then, suddenly, you find yourself in October and the team have built a run and the things that seemed so difficult to do at the beginning of the season are suddenly more natural. Those ‘automatisms’ that Big Per used to talk of look a little more, well, automatic, and we all start to feel more confident that we can challenge for a Champions League spot come May.
I refuse to call it a fourth spot by the way.
Anyway, how about the under-23s eh? Some familiar goalscorers last night as they beat Coventry 3-0 with Smith-Rowe, Nketiah and Willock all notching up goals and surely giving themselves a big chance of featuring against Brentford in a few weeks. These are the games in which we want them to excel, but it’s games like Brentford at home that you want your young players to show that they can hack it on a bigger stage when it is competitive football.
Just think about Iwobi’s trajectory from youth player to the first team. The season he broke through he played in the league cup, got a shot in the third round of the FA Cup against Burnley, played really well, then found himself starting against Barcelona a little later in the season. You can’t therefore underestimate how important the Brentford game is to some of these players. They’ve seen that the manager is happy to play teenagers in Guendouzi and so based on their performances they can expect the same level of confidence from the manager if they perform in the <Sponsor Name I can’t remember> Cup.
And we all want them to succeed too. We want to see players come through the ranks. As much as a shiny new signing gives an adrenaline shot to fans in the summer or January, there’s nothing like seeing a young player make it in the first team. Provided they’re good enough.
That’s about it from me today. I’m New York bound this afternoon for the weekend but should be able to get a normal blog out tomorrow.
Catch you all then.