A New Dawn At Arsenal? Palace Awaits

Its finally here, the football season finally kicks off tonight as we face off against Crystal Palace. What seems like an age from when we last kicked off against Everton on the 22nd May the football is back.

The new shirts are now released; squad numbers have shuffled about, pre season games completed and of course pundits have written off Arsenal’s chances of a good season; we really are ready for the big kick off. Not quite sure why Arsenal is always the overwhelming popular choice for an opening day fixture on the big screen but here we are. Others can look on jealously as the Arsenal play their part in kick starting the new season.

New season new kits

Given the disappointment in how it all ended last season it is refreshing that the general feel about the club from viewing the interviews and footage of the players and squad, talking to other fans or scouring through various social media platforms is one of positivity and belief in the team and the manager.

If we were to circle back this time last year there was such a negative, acrimonious and toxic cloud that surrounded the club. Fans were arguing with each other over support for the manager, ownership was a hot topic as protests were set up outside the stadium in opposition of the Kroenkes, the team preparation and recruitment was unfinished and left us looking far from our optimum for a season start. Covid added the final nail in the coffin as it disrupted our squad and left us with key players missing in the opening games.

Disrupted start last season

Anyway this season it all feels different. Pre-season on the whole was excellent, the results were all positive admittedly against teams at different stages of their own preparation for the coming season. On the whole the result although nice wasn’t the most important factor from these games. The players got minutes and built on their understanding with each other and enhanced their own physical developments and conditioning. We’ve made some shrewd signings and they have slotted straight into the team pretty much hitting the ground running. Of course its pre season and the football season is a totally different level of battle but it’s important that the new guys have integrated so quickly. It takes the pressure off a bit and hopefully the confidence remains sky high when we kick off at Selhurst Park. Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko are likely to start tonight whilst Saliba will make his long awaited debut for the first team in the Premier League (those EFL Trophy games he played in were pretty much U23 games). It’s an exciting time and you’d be hard pushed to locate an Arsenal fan that isn’t looking forward to getting the season started and seeing what is in store for us in the months ahead.

Hit the ground running

Fabio Vieira is still to kick a ball for us and his impact could be a welcome surprise. The transfer window isn’t closed yet as we could well see a couple more additions to the squad whilst many also move on.  

So as mentioned we take on Crystal Palace, 3 points are far from guaranteed as we have come to find them a bit of a bogey team over the years, we relied on an injury time equaliser from Lacazette to snatch a draw at home last season whilst the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park was a damaging blow to our top four hopes. WIlfried Zaha is a constant thorn in our sides and we certainly won’t be receiving any special favours from our former captain Patrick Vieira on the night. With the Arsenal team’s confidence sky high they will go into the fixture looking for 3 points but know it will not be an easy night. Crystal palace will take inspiration from their results against us and give us a tough battle; any points gained will be truly earned.

need to improve on last season’s results v Palace

So let’s look at the Eagle’s preparation for the new season. They had a few mixed results, drawing with Accrington Stanley and beating Millwall before heading off on a tour of Singapore and Australia where they faced off against Liverpool in a 2-0 defeat followed by a 3-1 loss to Manchester united and then a 1-1 draw with Leeds. They closed out their pre season program with a comfortable 4-2 win over Montpellier, Zaha, Guehi and an Edouard brace contributing to a 4-0 lead. Former Gunner Stephy Mavididi scored the two consolation goals for Montpellier. Much like our preseason you can’t read too much into the results however it’s always good to sign off with a win.

Our line up for the game? I believe the team pretty much picks itself and with a few key players namely Tomiyasu and Tierney not yet ready to play we will be expected to start with the same line up used last week against Sevilla. Ben White will deputise at right back whilst William Saliba will have his first audition for a regular starting spot in the team when everybody is back fit.

Line up from Sevilla expected

I’m certainly excited for the season to start, my fantasy football team is picked and I’ve sent the fixture list to the Mrs so there is no confusion when I’m off to a match. Come on Arsenal! Let’s start the season right and beat Palace; it’s all or nothing now!

Enjoy your day people

This post will also feature on Gunners Town site which I write for.

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Football Has Finally Come Back Home To The Emirates

As the kick off to the new season draws ever closer, the feel good factor amongst Arsenal fans is as high as ever in recent times. The staggered return of the players who represented in the World Cup hasn’t halted the momentum during pre-season and the squad heads into the game with Crystal Palace fairly strong and in good shape.

The results during preseason haven’t been perfect however such is the positivity surrounding the club that logic has taken preference over heart with a greater understanding of the need to fine tune and gain match fitness over a result.

A 100% pre season record as impressive as it can be does not equal points on the premiere league table, the real stuff starts this weekend and the best chance for the team to obtain optimum points is by being in the best condition possible and ready for the season ahead.

charity shield

The Charity shield has ensured a psychological boost for the curtain raiser and it is hoped that complacency doesn’t show its ugly head. The result last year against Aston Villa was a real eye opener and a wake up call of the highest order. Admittedly Arsenal football club was in a different place this time last year, confidence was low and major question marks hung over Arsene Wenger as his inactivity in the transfer market fuelled the fans fury.

The arrival of Mesut Ozil soon changed the mood around the club and it is hoped that with the majority of business being done a lot earlier this season the club can hit the ground running and sustain a serious attempt for the premiership title.

Until the transfer window closes on September 1st the door is open for more signings to be made. The need for a replacement for departed skipper Thomas Vermaelen is strong and names such as Benedikt Howedes and Manolas have been mentioned as potential arrivals.

Up front question marks remain as to whether Arsene will bring in a marquee signing to challenge Olivier Giroud or utilise the adaptability of those available to him I.e Sanchez, Campbell, Walcott.

With Tony Pulis gone it’s not quite clear what effect it will have on the Crystal Palace players, being the start of the season brings fresh optimism and enough motivation to attempt a good start to the campaign. For the players to go into the game half-assed and without fight would put serious question marks over their right to be described and referred to as professional footballers.

The excitement of getting the campaign underway is off the chart right now so the last thing needed is an unfavourable result against a manager-less team. Three points are a must as those not directly linked to the club are gradually changing their opinion on the Gunners and mention of a league title is no longer a tongue in cheek comment. People are starting to take notice so come on Arsenal lets live up to the expectation and make it count!

mertesacker

Per Mertesacker announced his retirement from international football yesterday, I suppose you could say its the best time to bow out. Winning the World Cup is a unique and special achievement which is hard to top once you have you crossed it off your bucket list. The BFG certainly played his part in the long term plan for success and has over 100 caps having been a great servant to his country, taking away the burden of international football is now likely to enhance and prolong his Arsenal career. Good call Per.

Feel free to enter the Gambeano Snitch Fantasy Premier League. Always good fun and an Arsenal related prize will go to the winner.

Enjoy your day people.
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Football Trumps Transfer Dealings For Gunners

After the events of the last few days it was nice to get back to the part of football we enjoy the most – the football on the pitch. The closing of the transfer window presented an unwelcome distraction as at first the lack of transfer activity was followed by the questionable caliber of acquisition to the squad which then led into the revelation of the injured condition of a certain Kim Kallstrom.
Granted the whole saga involving the Swede has caused much embarrassment to fans and employees of Arsenal Football Club but until the results on the pitch are affected I couldn’t care less.
An Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain inspired performance ensured that Crystal Palace were dispatched without too much effort moving the club back to the top of the premiership table. Despite a quite flat first half as we all know games are won over 90 minutes and any apprehension to the success of Tony Pullis’s ‘park the bus’ strategy were swiftly dismissed when Oxlade-Chamberlain found the back of the net two minutes into the second half.

oxlade chamberlain
Given the recently publicized reduced midfield options at the club Arsene Wenger chose yesterday to back up his claims that Oxlade-Chamberlain could eventually develop into a top central midfielder by giving the young Englishman a start there. He certainly did not disappoint and refreshingly gives Arsene a selection dilemma for our massive game next week at Anfield.
After so-called successes in the transfer window didn’t work out quite so well for other clubs it’s nice that the Arsenal were able to exhibit their strength in-depth despite having nobody walking through the Emirates doors… well, uninjured. The injuries are temporary, same with the bans being served, so the players will return eventually to help the cause.
My personal regret is not having a striker join the ranks but I suppose if Nicklas Bendtner can build upon his new-found commitment to the club then we just may have a ready-made player to share the central attacking burden placed upon Olivier Giroud’s shoulders.
The tough run starts from now so it was important to get maximum points against Crystal Palace yesterday. It is going to be a bumpy ride so strap in and hopefully by the end we will all be smiling.
On a final note Arsene in his own words explained the events of the Kallstrom signing. As speculated he was aware of the injury to the Swede’s back and admits the deal would not have gone through if more time was afforded to the club to find another player. Always best to hear straight from the horse’s mouth, it may not be enough to calm all Gunners’ Fans but hopefully at least knowing the truth we can move on from the debacle.

Enjoy your day people.

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