So….we have a shiny new away kit that has been launched yesterday courtesy of a rather swanky new video that Adidas launched across all of the socials yesterday. The video was ace, I have to say, drawing on the history of the club, great players and achievements and even a very racey Dave ‘Safe Hands’ Seaman statue of him looking a wee under dressed. I enjoyed watching it for a couple of minutes. But ultimately at the end was this weird looking monstrosity that The Management described as “like someone has repeatedly spilled red wine over it”.
I see what they’re trying to do by tapping in to the nostalgia of the red marble halls and the history and tradition of the club, but ultimately it is only a kit and if i’m honest, I probably won’t buy either. I went out last season and bought both kits because I loved the simplicity of the home kit and the nod to the past of the away kit, but that’s probably me done for a few seasons. So it doesn’t really matter what I think about it.
Nor should it. To what anyone thinks to be honest. Adidas will want to have plenty of fans flocking to purchase it but you’re either going to buy it or you’re not. Simple as that. In any event it doesn’t matter because what is more important is the players that take to the turf in it in a few week’s time, which will certainly be the case for the first Premier League game of the season as we play Fulham away on opening day.
That’s a fascinating start and sometimes it’s difficult to know whether it’s the best time to play a newly promoted team. After all they’ll be riding high on confidence after their swift return to the Premier League and as opposed to halfway through the season when they might be down there and perhaps a little lower on confidence, this time of the season won’t have them with any lack of belief that they can stay up.
It’ll be up to Mikel and his charges to get off to a good start in that game, as well as the next one at home to West Ham, because after that we’ve got some hum-dingers for the start of the season. Liverpool away, Man City away and Man United away all before we hit ten games played in the league. They say that’s when the league starts to have taken shape but by the time we’ve played ten games this season we’ll have played five of last season’s top seven teams, with three being away.
I know we have to play everyone anyway and so there’s little point in speculating, but some of those away games fall just after Europa League ties and momentum means so much in football. I remember in 2007/8 us starting so well and being up there towards the top of the league because the start of the season saw some very kind fixtures. It meant we went in to games against tougher opponents full of confidence. By the time we hit the ten game mark it isn’t unfeasible to have seen us pick up at least three defeats and so Mikel might have to really pick the boys up a couple of times in those early games.
That’s not me being overly negative by the way; I’m just looking at the quality of some of the big teams and how we are only at the beginning of our journey with Arteta, so expecting us to beat Liverpool, City and United away given our atrocious away record against the big teams in the last ten years is probably a bit of a pipe dream. But what we do have to be better at is winning home and away against the ‘lesser’ teams. We were ‘Draw FC’ last season and that was down to a lack of creativity and goal threat aside from Aubameyang. That’s the puzzle Arteta has to unlock and if he can then we will undoubtedly unlock the secret of turning those 1-1s and 2-2s into 2-1s and 3-2s. Just think about it; if we turned half a dozen draws from last season into victories – we drew against Watford, Sheffield United, Burnley, Wolves, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth – we’d have picked up an additional 12 points. That would have been 68 points and we’d have finished third.
We don’t need to win all the big games, we just need to be better at being flat-track bullies, picking up points against those teams because you can easily get yourselves into the reckoning towards the top of the table if you can do that.
You can’t do that to win the league, but we’re at the start of this journey with Mikel and you can see that he is fully aware of those incremental steps that the club needs to take, as spelled out by Willian in an interview recently. So out first aim is that top four again and we do that by improving our consistency over a number of games. If we manage to achieve that objective next season then we can look at what is next in terms of fighting for the greater honours.
And the great thing about Mikel is that I so believe in him. I believe he has the ability as a coach to deliver us glory and that has – if I’m honest – been something I haven’t had in a coach for about seven or eight years. But it is back now and once again, like the mug I am, I am sucked in to being very excited about the new season.
Catch you sexy bitches tomorrow.