Morning folks. Happy Saturday. Hope yours is set up to be a good one. I’m off in to London for a birthday party in a pub this evening. Mask wearing on the tube aside, it all feels very normal and that’s great.
I also went in to London last night. The Management bought me a Jamie Oliver steak cooking experience and wouldn’t you just know it, his HQ is in Islington on Holloway Road! I must have walked past it a hundred times on the way to The Emirates Stadium and paid absolutely no attention to it, then last night I find myself having a cheeky pint in the Duchess of Kent on Liverpool Road, followed by a little walk to the ground before heading home after the experience. It was nice. Felt kind of odd but at the same time familiar. One thing’s for sure; I cannot wait for that first home game against Chelski. They might have the better team, we may get beaten at home, but just to feel that pre match excitement again will be fantastic.
Bring it on.
I can’t wait to see how our team shapes up too. There’s been a fair bit of noise in the last 48 hours of Tammy Abraham, so maybe he’ll be rocking up in red and white against his old team by then?
That’d shock me. At £40million and with little noise about a buyer for either Eddie Nketiah and Lacazette, I can’t see that becoming a reality. I don’t doubt that Arsenal would do the deal if they could; getting £15million each for both players and bringing in Abraham for £40million might make a little bit of sense if that was the situation the club was looking for. It would mean we have Auba, Abraham and Balogun to fight for that third spot. It would also mean no more shunting Auba out wide as we focus on having Smith Rowe, Pepe, Saka all rotating for those wide forward positions, with perhaps Martinelli getting more game time too. But as I said, with little noise about an exit I just don’t see that scenario playing out.
So instead we have to be looking at what we have at the moment and Arteta has been speaking after the contract signing of Emile Smith Rowe, talking about some of the young talent emerging at the club, citing Smith Rowe, but also Tierney and Martinelli and when I was reading his comments this morning I was like “yeah, we have lots of great young talent so let’s lean in to it”. Signings are great n’all, but I am excited to see just what this young crop of players can deliver for us this upcoming season. We have less games and so the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that we should spend more time getting excited about those players rather than a whole raft of new signings.
We do need a central midfielder, but we shouldn’t be forced in to making a move, because Granit Xhaka is perfectly capable of playing this next season if we don’t get what we want. Imagine a starting line up against Brentford of:
Bellerin – White – Mari – Tierney
Partey – Xhaka
Pepe – Smith Rowe – Saka
Of course we can improve on Mari, but that’s when Gabriel gets back fit. Then perhaps we need a Bellerin replacement, but if Inter don’t meet the demands then we shouldn’t be forced in to selling him on the cheap. You then look at the Xhaka situation and he may well fancy heading off to Rome, but I suspect Arteta has had a conversation and told him what Arsenal are expecting and I’d expect Xhaka to be a pro and if he stays for the season then so be it.
Then in front of them two we have a young forward line which has creativity, movement, some goals in them and certain upside in terms of development in the trio that sit behind an Aubameyang who, if given chances, will take them. So whilst I’d like to see a couple of upgrades, in terms of getting us moving up the league next season, that XI looks pretty good to me. Good enough to beat Brentford on the first day? You’d hope so. Good enough to beat Chelski? Maybe, maybe not, but at least we can be competitive. I can’t see many ways in which we get anything up in Manchester away to City, but then you’re talking Norwich and Burnley and I’d hope that team could pick up points there for sure.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I can understand where Arteta is coming from when he talks about players that excite the crowd. We already have that in Tierney, in Smith Rowe, in Saka, Aubameyang, Pepe and Martinelli. We have options despite the fewer games this season and whilst everyone’s always looking at the shiny new thing, some of the things we already have are pretty shiny in themselves.
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the season ahead. I am certainly that on this drizzly Saturday morning in London.
Catch you all tomorrow