Howdy folks, we all good?

Well, we know what our start looks like in the Premier League and, I’ll have to admit, it could have been worse. That’s because it could have been like the first season under Arteta where we had three quite tricky games back-to-back and that put us on the back foot for the season in which we just missed out on the Champions League. The following season, last season, we were able to get a good pre season under our belts, we got players in early (this season looks like we’re trying to do the same – more on that anon), it set us up well for the start and we went ona  five game winning run before we lost to Man United away despite outplaying them and also having a referee against us as we now know (Martinelli goal that the PGMOL subsequently told us should have stood and they made a mistake).

This coming season we start with a lunchtime kick off on the 12th August with a home game to Nottingham Forest at the Emirates. Then it is an away trip to Crystal Palace, at home to Fulham, home to Man United and away to Everton. In those five games if we can get a run going it could be a massive springboard to the season and would also include what is expected to be a fellow challenger at the top, as well as two teams that beat us last season in Forest and Everton, so perhaps there is a measure of revenge needed there and hopefully we can get that in early.

I am a firm believer that momentum in football is everything and Arsenal need to prove that last season wasn’t a one off by showing that momentum. They say that friendlies and pre season games don’t matter and I’m sure we can just dismiss them when they come and if they work out badly, but the excellent pre season we had last summer did – as I’ve said before – have quite an impact on how our season panned out. So in those first five games if the Arsenal that started last season show up again and do the business, I think it could be another exciting season.

Quite who the first XI will be remains to be seen at this moment in time. The transfer floodgates have opened and we’ve already seen Bellingham join Madrid, Mount be rejected for a move to United, Mac Allister has joined Liverpool, Youri Tielemans is heading to Villa, whilst the noises around Rice and Caicedo have started already.

Let’s start with Caicedo, as yesterday everything coming out of the vaguely reputable transfer guru’s was that Arsenal were looking to pull out of the running for Caicedo. Interesting. I guess if Tony Bloom – as it is led to be believed – really wants £120million for Caicedo, then he won’t be an Arsenal player. And nor should he. That valuation is farcical and whilst I suspect that is not the real value that Brighton would sell for, if they are looking for £100million for the player than I think there will be a very small market for it. The only clubs that seem willing or able to do that are Newcastle – who I don’t think are looking at a deep lying midfielder, Man City – who appear to be sniffing around Declan Rice now, or Chelsea – who will spend anything to get a player and are on the verge of breaking FFP rules if the noises coming out of the press and online discourse are led to be believed.

Penny for the thoughts of Caicedo’s agents. Obviously we don’t know the details of the discussions that took place, but if they knew that Brighton were going to put such an astronomical price on his head this summer, would they have signed that deal in January? I don’t know. There was talk that there is a gentlemen’s agreement between player and club but as we’ve seen from Luis Suarez with the infamous £40million+£1 stuff with us, or when Daniel Levy simply ignored the supposed gentlemen’s agreement to let Harry Kane go to City last summer, those kind of arrangements rarely work out for the player. If they’d have stuck in a £75million release clause like Mac Allister’s agent did, Caicedo would probably have his pick of about six or seven clubs that would have triggered it. As it stands it wouldn’t surprise me to see that no clubs go near him if Brighton insist on a north of £100million fee. But I guess the summer is long and we have to see.

It is similar with the Rice situation. I find it interesting that David Sullivan went on national radio to say that Rice had probably played his last game for the club, that he turned down a big deal at West Ham and to all intents and purposes told the world that he’d probably earned a big move now, to then start playing the kind of hardball that we’re hearing about. Of course it is entirely West Ham’s prerogative to sell to the highest bidder and Man City coming in an offering Phillips and £70million may well appeal to West Ham as they try to get as much as possible. I don’t blame them at all for doing that. But all of the noises we have heard is that Rice wants to go to Arsenal, he wants to stay in London, he wants this deal to be done. So don’t have your chairman go on radio talking up the player and how great he is, how you want to ‘do right’ by him, then tell him he can’t get the move he wants and that you are selling to another team because you can get more moolah. I seem to recall we offload Cesc to Barca for a cut down price because we were willing to ‘do right by him’ and give him his dream move home despite the fact that Barca acted like dicks. I don’t think Arsenal offering £90 million all in is acting like dicks or ‘insulting’ as I’ve seen it reported.

My hope is that all of this stuff is posturing. My hope is that Arsenal go back in to get the deal done with a slightly improved deal, West Ham get the – frankly sh*t tonnes of – money that they want, we get a player who we think can be a game changer. Let’s hope that all parties do it fairly and squarely and one doesn’t play silly buggers – whoever that is.

This feels like it might well drag on a bit and with that in mind I should probably leave it there for today and catch you all in the morning tomorrow.

Have a good one peeps!