Morning Gooners and welcome to Friday. We’ll hopefully get a press conference this morning, unless London Colney has blown away with all the high winds we’re seeing in the UK right now. There’s a that has been brewing and it isn’t Mikel’s latest falling out that is causing the ruckus, but instead Mother Nature that has been flexing her muscles.
What we’re hoping for confirmation of ahead of the Brentford game is that enough of our players have been flexing, stretching and preparing their muscles for the arrival of the Bees. This game I’ve been looking forward to for a while you know and I hope the players feel the same. There was a horrible narrative that evolved on that opening game of the season and it feels like tomorrow’s match needs to be one where this Arsenal team lays a ghost to rest in North London. The narrative was that of a new team to the league, never been in the Prem before, with a new stadium, who wouldn’t just turn up and play low block football; a team who was going to shake up the Premier League and those first victims were The Arsenal. And I guess you could argue that is exactly what happened. They won 2-0, the commentators were dancing and partying with them in the studio, Sky had their David and Goliath storyline with which to peddle over that opening weekend.
And for us Arsenal fans it didn’t feel good. It felt like the world was on Brentford’s side and was collectively meming us all throughout that first weekend. That continued for those first three games as we lost at home to Chelski and then away to City, before shifting up a gear and getting our absent players back from COVID, bringing in genuine first team contenders, turning our form around to the point where we’re looking like we at least have a shot at competing for Top Four this season.
So yeah, this weekend feels like one in which I personally want us to extract revenge, with no disrespect and any malice towards Brentford other than to close a chapter of our season that we really want done and dusted sooner rather than later.
To do that we’re going to need as many of those first team players fit as possible, so all eyes will be on Arteta hopefully confirming that Tomiyasu training videos of him running up and down showed that he’s ready and we’re at a stage where we can play our best back five against Brentford. Then a Partey/Xhaka midfield to add solidity, followed by the young ones behind Lacazette. That’s what I’m hoping for from the press conference today although there will of course be many references to that opening day of the season that Arteta will have to deal with.
I’ll talk tomorrow about the possible line up and how I think Brentford will line up against us, but before that, I’ll point you in the direction of the Martin Odegaard who was speaking to the official site this week. I don’t know what it is about him, but he’s my kind of player. He glides with the ball at times, he has a fantastic touch and he brings so much to our play. He was inconsistent last season as he bedded in on loan, but what we’re seeing from him now is a guy who has found his feet at The Arsenal and is looking every bit the star for us. He keeps us ticking over in possession and in a game like tomorrow where you expect ESR and Tierney to form a bit of a partnership on the left, Odegaard’s ability to drift wide right and bring Saka in to play helps to bring a natural balance to our attacking play. If only we had a proper striker to finish our chances, it feels like we’d be devastating, such is the excitement the Norwegian brings me.
I love how he talks too. He is calm, assured, inevitably his English is impeccable, plus he seems to really enjoy being at The Arsenal. In the interview he talks about how having players of the same age is important to him, makes him feel a connection, but also that he can see that something is building at The Arsenal. You feel it too, right? We don’t have all of the pieces of the jigsaw yet, but I speak to loads of Arsenal fans who all feel the same; this is a likeable crop of lads who we feel we can connect with and they can hopefully deliver for us. They have to do it on days like tomorrow and more regularly, but the signs have been good so far and with people like Odegaard in the team – a more experienced player compared to some of those guys in the squad – it feels like we have a real chance to build something special in the next few years.
Odegaard definitely feels captain material when you hear him speak in the way he does. He has a sensible head on his shoulders and you would understand it if he took up the mantle come June. You can also understand why there were rumours of that when Auba went because the guy is already Norwegian captain and there is a reason for that. He is a leader on the pitch. More of a Cesc than an Adams, but a leader nonetheless.
A final quick one for Steve Burtenshaw, who passed away this week and who is well known to some of the older Gooners out there. It’s always sad when a member of the Arsenal alumni die and whilst I myself don’t have many memories of him as a coach or scout, when you look back on his career and the times he came back to Arsenal over the years to be such an integral part of the club, you can see what a true Arsenal man he was through and through.
That’s it from me for today. Have yourself a good one and if you’re in the UK, enjoy staying at home if you can!
Catch you all tomorrow.