Happy Saturday folks and welcome to the start of the new season. Even though Arsenal don’t play until tomorrow I’m still happy it’s here and after feeling like I could go a good six months without any football after the travesty that was the Europa League final, here I am, back again and raring to go.
Unai faced the media yesterday and talked about the Newcastle game, new signings, etc. These days the first or second game after the transfer window are always a bit of a pain in the arse because you never usually see all of those shiny new players your team has bought and from what Emery said yesterday I suspect that’ll be the case in the north east.
For one thing we know Kieran Tierney is out. He joins Bellerin and Holding in the treatment room but perhaps more frustrating is the Kolasinac and Özil situation, as Arsenal confirmed yesterday that neither would make it to the game in the North East because of security fears and subsequent issues following their attack a few weeks ago.
For me this is a depressing state of affairs. That we are now unable to play some of our players because they are being targeted is a damming indictment of the current state of affairs in London. When somebody with a bit of profile fears being targeted you have to wonder what is happening in the great city I live and work in.
We can only hope that this is resolved and sadly I suspect it’ll be resolved through increased security for the players. All because of some stupid little youths trying to steal themselves a quick buck.
We also don’t get the benefit of two players who could have helped us tomorrow and with that in mind the team looks like it’ll have a familiarity about it, something Unai Emery suggested in his press conference yesterday. He talked about how Lacazette had only been training for a couple of days but also that Pepe had only been training for a week. I suspect the line up will include neither tomorrow but I’ll get to some predictions on what it could be in tomorrow mornings blog I reckon.
This is always the pain with players signing late in the window and also when players arrive from international duty like Pepe is from the Ivory Coast. They end up having to be slowly drip-fed into the team and whilst I get that the window closing is good because it means we’re not waiting around until August before deals are done, it’s still a pain in the arse, because with a new season you want to see your shiny new signings.
One player I doubt we’ll be seeing too much this season is Shkodran Mustafi and even Emery admitted yesterday that there will be players leaving and he’s spoken to him about the possibility of his playing time being limited. I mean if ever you’re going to be demotivated it’s going to be when your own boss tells you you’re not wanted and so whilst I think it’s the right thing to do, I wonder if that has also contributed to his poor form this preseason too because his head will hardly be in the right frame of mind, will it?
I suspect that’ll be one that will be sorted out right at the end of August as foreign clubs get desperate and search for a central defender but until that time, we just have to keep him fit and I would say this: I don’t think it’s of anyone’s benefit to completely ostracise him from the team completely. He’s still a paid member of staff and whilst Emery might be saying one or two players can leave, I think he’ll still leave the door ajar for Mustafi, just on the off chance we can’t do a deal for him to leave the club before 31st August. Why would you have him training with the kids, for example? It’s just not worth it and so whilst I’m not sure whether Luiz will start tomorrow or not, I suspect we’ll at least have Mustafi on the bench, as cover and as somebody who can play right back too.
That’s pretty much everything from me today. I started watching the Liverpool game yesterday but switched off after seven minutes when it became clear that the game would turn in to a bit of a joke. Watch Norwich become an elite force by the time they come to the Emirates, but last night they just looked like they’d all been on the lash. It’d be great to see those Tiny Totts have their noses bloodied too this weekend, but with another easy game handed to them in the shape of Villa at home, I’m hardly holding out any hope, although tomorrow’s game between united and Chelski could be an interesting one. Particularly given both teams hardly had the worlds greatest window and a lot of people are looking at Lampard and how he can inspire his Chelski team. We’ll have to wait and see.
Catch you all tomorrow with a pre match preview.