Welp, the fixtures are out and the football karma gods clearly had a look at my plea for us to get a relatively serene start in terms of calibre of opposition, then kick that hope right in the nuts. That’s because from 14th August until the beginning of October we have six football matches and three of them are what you would class as ‘big ones’. Chelski at home on the second game of the season, Man City away on the third, then Tottenham at home on the sixth. It means we play teams expected to be at the top of the league before any of their fatigue has set in, before they’ve played a bunch of games in Europe, before anyone has really got going.

If you’re going to look at the glass half full you could argue that many of those teams have a wealth of players who are at the Euro’s, which we do not, typified by the fact the official social media accounts are spending an inordinate amount of time putting messages out about Granit Xhaka. He’s one of only a few Arsenal players in the tournament so they’re really over-egging it this summer, although that might also be because he’s out the door and they’re trying to put on a cool “he’s still our player” front until Roma pay up a decent market value, that is. Apparently it’s around the £13million mark which, let’s face it, is a bit of a piss take.

Especially when we’re out there bidding £40million for a centre half with one good season in the Premier League in Ben White. Yes, Mr White from Brighton has been subject to a bid and if Arsenal go back again it really will feel curtains for somebody like Saliba. I’ve said my piece on Saliba and I don’t want to keep banging on like a broken record; I think we should invest in him and we clearly won’t be doing that.

But also, speaking on strange bids, we got wind via The Athletic that Aston Villa had made a bid for Emile Smith-Rowe in the region of £25million. That certainly surprised me and I think it took a few of you – my fellow Gooners – by surprise. The noises are that Arsenal laughed it off but let’s not laugh too hard here folks. The reason I say this is because we need to get his deal extended pronto. Let’s not think that because he’s a Hale End boy, because he’s been at the club since the age of 10 and because he seemingly loves The Arsenal, he doesn’t have an agent that is trying to deliver him his massive bumper pay rise.

Perhaps this leaking of this is because of ESR’s team trying to hurry along the negotiations and so this puts a little more pressure on Arsenal, but in any case it is a little bit of a concern I have to say. That’s because clubs don’t make bids for players unless they know that the player himself would be open to a move. Of course, again, this could be an agent just sounding out other teams and maybe the agent has given Villa a heads up and they’ve decided to take a punt. But the fact they have taken a punt means they think there might be a deal to be done. That, in itself, is a worry.

The final bit I’ll also say on this is on Villa themselves. £33million dropped on Buendia, who will most likely play right wing I suspect, then Grealish through the middle and what, ESR on the left? Perhaps. But I don’t know if Smith Rowe would see himself as a permanent fixture on the left or not so it would be interested to know why Villa bid and where they would see him fit in. Perhaps he replaces Barkley, who was on loan and did well last season, so they are looking at ESR as the man to replace him. Or – as some have pointed out – perhaps the reason the player is amiable to the idea of a move is because they’re shifting on Grealish. Villa fans will tell you they don’t need to and the club has the money to buy these players which of course is true given their backer, but my question is around whether the player himself has been tapped up. If City, or United, or Chelski, are all looking at a £100million bid, maybe Grealish would tell Villa he wants to leave. He may be a boyhood Villa fan, but so was Rooney at Everton, so you never know.

All I guess I’m saying here is that the rumours of interest for ESR to Villa make sense because he’s a top young talent, but the reality of an actual bid coming in make for slightly worrying reading if you’re an Arsenal fan. I’m more positive we could get a deal done for a new contract and that this might all go away as soon as it’s surfaced, but it has just planted a little bit of a seed of doubt in my head this morning.

But anyway, back to the fixtures as I wrap up today’s ramblings, and that start is a real tough one for Arteta. Three defeats in his first six games isn’t out of the question given the calibre of opponent and if that does in fact happen it will put a fair bit of pressure on Arteta given our season last year. There are a fair few fans who already think he probably should have gone after the Villareal debacle and whilst I was one at the time, that phrase ‘time is a healer’ has rang true a little bit with the manager too. I just want him desperately to succeed but if we get off to a bad start and the players start to lose confidence like in that terrible run last October to December, he might find himself close to the brink sooner than he thinks.

The pressure is on from day one. I’m already crossing everything.