Opening Day

August 12, 2018

Last season’s champions versus this season’s. The PL couldn’t have a better opening.

Man City were magnificent in winning the title, possibly the best team since the Invincibles. They showed in the thrashing of Chelsea in the Community  Shield that they remain highly impressive, BUT we will beat them.

Why? Because We Are The Arsenal.

Who will be lucky enough to pull on the red and white this afternoon? TBH I have little idea.

GK? Cech or Leno? Cech for me, but we do not know who is to be our regular gloveman, nor do we know the quality of Leno. I will go for the experience of Cech in this important game.

Bellerin/Lichsteiner?  Hector struggled against Sane last season but who didn’t? The Swiss fellow is a fine defender and will hopefully inspire Hector to achieve his undoubted ability.

CB’s? GIven the startling decision to ship Chambers, one must assume Emery has confidence in our new signings. Mustafi was a liability and made some very strange decisions which cost us points, I don’t trust hm but the management does. No point signing the Big Greek unless we play him.

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LB? Beast crocked, Nacho half-fit, Either we play a Back 3 with Holding or M-N gets the shirt. Hardly what we want in such a tough challenge. We all love M-N, he has huge potential and has played this position in the past. Let’s hope

Midfield? We cannot go gung-ho at City, we need to maintain some defensive discipline in front of what is a shaky Back 4, hence my choice of Terrier, Ramsey and Xhaka. I expect Xhaka to become the on-field leader of the team, he has the talent and appears to be maturing as a man and a player. If Ramsey is not fit then we can trust Elneny to be tidy and responsible. Torriera could be the player we have been waiting for, much rests upon his diminutive shoulders.

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Upfront? Ozil and PEA, but who else? Some fine players are going to have to ride the pine as our new manager experiments. Today I would play Mhiki, he is just too good to leave out. But this team lacks width and neither Mesut nor Mhiki have the pace to trouble City’s excellent FB’s. We will have to rely upon skill, cohesion, cute-passing and rapier like finishing and if that isn’t working, we have Iwobi, Welbeck and, above all Lacazette on the bench.

My Team:

Cech

Bellerin   Mustafi   Sokratis   M-N

Ramsey   Torreira   Xhaka

Ozil   Mhiki

PEA

And what of City? Guardiola has improved an already excellent team, another PL win is expected (even with Klopp’s spending) with the CL the club’s main priority. However, we have a new manager who is well versed in Pep’s tactics, a man who will want to show from the outset that his team have the beans to compete.

Excited? You bet, it couldn’t be a better opening game.

On an AA note, does anyone have a theme for this season’s PM’s? It makes it more fun to write when I have a non-football focus.


Torreira Debut? – Arsenal v Lazio

August 4, 2018

Today’s friendly in Stockholm is Unai Emery’s last chance to get the measure of his squad before next weekend’s Prem curtain raiser against City.

The biggest question and most enthralling prospect for the game is whether we might get a look at Lucas Torreira in an Arsenal shirt.

Who will start the game at centre back? Mustafi and Sokratis looked less than convincing against the chavs. Time is running out for an obvious settled partnership to emerge. Perhaps Calum Chambers might feature in his preferred position?

Ramsey is out with a perfectly timed tightness in his calf. The Beast is out for 8 weeks. Interesting to see if ESR gets another chance. Xhaka alongside Torreira could be fun.

Up front I’d like to see Auba and Laca in tandem as it offers up the most chances of scoring goals.

Cech

Lichtsteiner Chambers Mustafi Monreal

Mkhitaryan Torreira Xhaka

Ozil

Lacazette Aubameyang

Hark at me choosing a team for a friendly. How preposterous! Maybe choosing players I’d want to see start against City,  more like.

I know virtually zero about SS Lazio but they finished 5th in a Serie A which appears to be re-establishing some of its former strength, so they’re no mugs.

COYRRG


Arsenal v Chelsea – plans firming up

August 1, 2018

Apparently today’s friendly in Dublin is still part of the International Champions Cup so it’s all to play for!


New chav manager Maurizio Sarri will be at a similar stage to Unai with ideas forming as to who will be playing for him in the new look West London set-up.

With only today’s and Saturday’s game in Stockholm against Lazio remaining, time is running out for Unai Emery to decide which players are edging towards his first Premier League selection.

Even before this week’s return to training of Granit, Nacho, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Lucas Torreira, there appeared to be a multitude of options. Now is the time for those to be whittled down.

Historically, the youngsters who impress on pre-season tours often get moved to the sidelines once we get down to the nitty gritty of the League. In a way I’m hoping that Matteo Guendouzi and Emile Smith-Rowe are, at least, given the opportunity to claim a spot on the bench for early Prem games. They’ve been like a breath of fresh air.

Regardless of that, I’m sure Emery, Carlos Carcedo and Stevie Bould will come up with the right players and formation.

COYRRG


The Missing Piece of the Jigsaw?

July 31, 2018

For years, according to the Gooner blogdom experts, we’ve been 2 or 3 players away from having a team capable of mounting a serious assault on the Premiership summit.

Arsenal goals Centurion he may have become, but Monsieur Giroud (gorgeous though he was) never looked capable of pushing the team that little bit further with 25 or 30 league goals in a season. Now we have Auba and Laca who both seem to have a much more natural, born-goalscorer’s disposition.

Again, perceived wisdom from the multitude of fan social media sites would have it that Arsenal have lacked a key player at the key defensive midfield position since first Gilberto, and then the Flamini of 2008, left the squad.

Step forward one Lucas Torreira, the man born in Fray Bentos, Uruguay. Could he be the man to put the beef back into that crucial zone just in front of Arsenal’s back four?

                      Courtesy AFC/Getty

Slight of stature in the mould of a Makelele or Kante, he is swift across the ground, strong in the tackle and appears to possess that uncanny knack of sensing where his team’s defence is vulnerable.

An apprenticeship at Pescara in Serie B, followed by two successful seasons at mid-table Sampdoria in Serie A, have seen his star rise enough for him to make his international debut this year and then look completely at home on the world stage at Russia 2018. His previous manager at Sampdoria rates him up there with the best – ‘second most effective DM in Europe’ after the loathsome Sergio Busquets.

At 22 and with his best years ahead of him, he’s decided to join the best Club in the world. There’s a real buzz about Arsenal’s pre-season; could our new Uruguayan signing be the final piece of the puzzle?

Some might be wary of building up hopes too high even before Unai Emery’s Arsenal has emerged from its chrysalis properly and they’re probably right, but who knows, fingers crossed, we could be in for a real treat this season.