Forgive me, I suppose if I went to any professional writing school I would know that is no way to start a blog post but the Mrs. made me join her and her “trupprs”, a fitness group, for a long walk on Saturday morning. Considering how all my physical exercise in the last 7 months have been limited to the occasional one flight of staircase at work, my whole body feels like I have been run over by a truck. I have practically been cursing out the pain in my back and legs.
I feel my decision to join was partly influenced by the new football season buzz we all have. It’s almost like a new calendar year. Everyone has got some brand new players and new expectations from your team, so I suppose I needed to make a new season resolution to pay more attention to fitness. Don’t track me on it.
The thing with new seasons is always that sense of renewed hope it brings that it might be better than your last. I live in Nigeria and to be honest around here expectations always end up with which or how many trophies your club is going to win. Basically, like I believe it is in most places around the world outside England, there is great followership for only the major clubs. What makes our situation a tad worse is there is very little cult support for our league hence people do not know how to support clubs for reasons other than trophy hunting.
To make matters more interesting , our FA Chairman, an Arsenal fan himself was at Wembley watching the community shield game Arsenal vs Chelsea (an almost meaningless season opener) when our U-23 and Female National Team were engaged at the time with crucial Olympic qualifiers. We certainly know what his expectations are, don’t we?
To more Arsenal related matters, we kick off with one of the many London derbies as we host West Ham and their new coach, fresh after their Europa league elimination. I think there are too many of these London derbies, hence my joy when Fulham and QPR got relegated. I feel the battle for the title is going to be between Arsenal, Chelsea and City this season and with Chelsea dropping points against Swansea and with a trip to the Etihad next week, winning our first two games puts us in a position where we can put a quick gap against our main competitors. It certainly would be too early for that gap to mean anything but I would rather we give them something to chase rather than be the chaser without any room to make mistakes.
Just reading the interviews and comments from the players during the week gives you an understanding of how they too know the amount of expectation fans have of them this season. Notice how quick they are to dismiss any praise of what they have achieved pre-season, with we need to replicate this form when the league starts
Oxlade : “I could sit here all day saying what we will and won’t do this year but at the end of the day talking wins you nothing. We need to prove ourselves out on the pitch”
Cazorla : “We have to try to show that level to fight against Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool. “People are very excited to win this weekend at Chelsea, but the League is the most important and we have experience of losing matches you can’t lose if you want to win the league. We must learn from it.“The aim is to fight for the Premier League, but looking from Sunday to Sunday, not long-term.
BFG : “We have good form, can we keep that and start well is the key. We are confident; we have a great winning streak from Asia, the Emirates Cup and Wembley. “We have to step up and do more than last season, so that is the question for us. We asked the question to ourselves and you could see we really want to compete and do the next step.”
I am sure there are a lot more of such comments on the internet and even though we all know players these days players are all very well media trained you can still just sense that this group know exactly what they are doing.
To the game itself I think the really interesting decision would be who the Manager goes with up front and for at least the next five games we can expect some uncertainty with that position. I feel there are already 8 players in our current team that are certain starters for Arsenal. Cech, Kosceinly, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil and Sanchez. This leaves Giroud, Theo, Oxlade, Welbeck and Joel Campbell (believe it or not, he is hasn’t gotten out while he still can) fighting for two positions. Of the five, Giroud is the only one that can only play in one position.
How all this adds up, I do not know, but I would rather see Giroud upfront and Ox on the right for this game. West Ham might have changed manager but the team still has the physical presence Big Sam built and the power of Ox and Giroud would come in handy. Also, coming from their recent knock out from the Europa league, they might come to the Emirates with a mindset of not losing. If they do and decide to sit deep, it limits the runs Theo can make and nullifies any advantage his pace would bring to the game, whereas Giroud’s interplay with midfield and wingers can open one or two spaces for us. His contribution aerially from corners would also be key.
Looking forward to a really good game as our team looks really sharp and West Ham have already had a competitive game under their belt. I watched the United vs Spurs game and the players seemed like they were still in pre-season mode. I hope we produce much better and get the needed three points to set the Premier League winners party rolling. Cheers friends!!
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