Let us start with the simple stuff. We are playing Newcastle . Everything else has complications. Which team will we play? What are the tactics? What is happening with the squad? Will the shenanigans with Cesc and Samir affect the team? How will Newcastle perform with their new players and the loss of major stars? Will last season’s lucky socks bring a better end of season result?
I cannot speak for all but I am really excited by this season. The potential loss of our best player (and Samir) will not mean the loss of our football ethic and ability to win trophies. We are about to witness the development of the best English creative talent since Gazza (let’s hope JW has a longer career); TV has the potential to become a real world class player – we missed his drive and resolution throughout last season, should he form a partnership with either JD or Kos, we have defensive solidity. The loss of Clichy (who I liked very much) allows the fleet footed Gibbs and Traore to shine – they are the future. One of last season’s highlights was the Pole in Goal – still a baby and yet comfortable, relaxed and confident, an AFC legend in the making. What with the youth and skill of Ramsey, Song, Theo, allied to the experience and quality of Sagna, AA and RvP, what is there to be fearful about? And that is before we look at Chamakh who will surely improve in his second season and the dazzling talents of Gervinho.
It would be easy to see Newcastle away as the beginning of the end of our previous season’s trophy campaign. I prefer to look at that amazing first half when we blew away a decent Newcastle side. This is the Arsenal I want to see – incisive, intelligent, impish, involved and inspiring. Turn off the DVD at 4-0 and you will be a happy man; stay watching and you will see one of the worst refereeing performances in the history of the Premiership. Let us hope for better from the referee today.
The team? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. Our midfield is decimated and yet we still have the opportunity to play with 4 full Internationals and three national captain’s (Rosicky , Ramsey and AA). I haven’t seen any of the friendlies and have no idea about the form of our players but my gut feeling (based upon too many years as an amateur pundit) is the following:-
though we may be better going at a dodgy Newcastle defence and playing Theo in place of Rosicky. There has been talk of Lansbury getting a game – I would be loathe to start him at St James’ which can be a testing ground for a young man, I would prefer the experience of Rosicky (though much depends upon the fitness of Ramsey).
A topic of discussion on yesterday’s AA blog was whether we play 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 or another combination. My take is that we have such fluidity there is no fixed formation, particularly when we play with overlapping full backs and centre backs who like to go forward!
And how about the opposition? Fervent, expectant fans will be expecting a win against an Arsenal team in “disarray”.. The Barcodes are a passionate club and their players will be fired up. The loss of Nolan could be telling as will be the lack of an adequate replacement for Carroll. Mad Joey Barton has yet to find a club yet it would be no surprise to see him start – Pardew will be short priced at the bookies to be first manager sacked this season, and for that reason he may well decide to forego creative football for the malice and aggression we saw last season.
We usually start the season well and perform our best when facing difficulties. No Wilshere is disappointing but Arsene still has enough strength in depth to cope, especially as we have our first choice defence available (if this IS our first choice defence!). Can we win? Of course.
Newcastle was home to Reginald Mitchell (1895-1937). Who, you may well ask? Mr. Mitchell was an aeronatical engineering genius who designed and created the WW2 fighter plane, the Spitfire, without which Arsenal could currently be playing in the Bundesliga!