I normally have a nice little introduction to these blogs already good to go in my mind before I’ve even sat down and begun my typing, but I’m struggling to come up with one tonight. What I will say is, personally, I have completely given up trying to predict who we will sign or what the club is trying to do in this transfer window, dig hard enough through your twitter feed and most major football news sites and you’ll understand why. So many targets, so many sources, so many quotes (some vaguer than others) and yet so little has actually happened.
Not that any of that is anything new, the unreliable, throw-shit-until-it-sticks approach to transfer reporting has been present for many years now so we shouldn’t be too surprised. It just feels that after so many seasons of almost solely hearing about who we’re going to lose (with incoming transfers feeling somewhat of a secondary concern) that the amount of myths surrounding players we may sign are at the highest point that we’ve seen.
That being said, when I decided I was going to write a blog this morning I didn’t intend for it to be about our current transfer situation and regardless of the stories currently circulating I’m going to stand by that. My original reasoning behind writing this blog was to have a look ahead at our first game of the season against Aston Villa, and that’s precisely what I’m going to do, so my friends, if you’re here to read about the possibilities of us signing Suarez, Gustavo, Dzeko, Rooney or Johnno from down the road I suggest you close this tab on your explorer because the above is as far as I’m going to delve into all that.
Right then, let’s turn our attention to the first game of season at Home against Aston Villa (Saturday Night if you live Down Under).
Aside from our obvious issues regarding squad depth, there’s plenty to be confident about in regards to this match. Villa finished last season with 41 points, missing the drop by 5, and looked thoroughly unconvincing for most of the campaign. However, they gave Arsenal some stern tests on the two occasions we locked horns with them; holding out for a 0-0 draw at Villa Park and finding themselves on the wrong end of 2-1 at our place.
Like us, the team that Villa will put out on Saturday will likely be pretty similar to the one they fielded for most of last season, with the possible differences being Antonio Luna (a purchase made during this window….) slotting in at Left Back, and Jores Okore (another new player) playing in the centre of defence alongside Villa captain Ron Vlaar. Villa’s biggest coup of the off-season thus far would have to be their retention of star striker and confessed Gooner Christian Benteke. He will clearly be the danger man in this game, and will probably be flanked by Agbonlahor and Wiemann, who scored Villa’s goal in the 2-1 result last season.
Given the fact that we still have those ridiculously pointless International friendlies to come tonight we cannot be certain of how we’re going to line-up (given injuries and fatigue), but I were to assume that all players are to come out of these games unscathed then I think we’d be looking at this starting 11:
It may be a contentious decision to start Jack off the bench, but I feel that the 3 midfielders in the above team worked perfectly in tandem in the second half of last season and deserve the opportunity to start this one in the same vein.
Aaron Ramsey’s improvement last season was fantastic, and he has taken that form into the pre-season with several brilliant showings, none more fantastic than his game against City in Helsinki. Rosicky is in my opinion absolutely crucial to the structure of this team and he should also be starting. Tommy’s willingness to press high up the pitch and pressure the ball-carriers of the opposition is extremely important when the side works to win back possession, not to mention his work when we do have the ball, which is also outstanding. I think Wenger recognizes this, and will therefore sacrifice Jack on Saturday to include Rosicky, not to mention that Wilshere playing in a friendly during the week may have alarm bells ringing for the boss.
The back 4 in this side really pick themselves, as does the striker in Giroud. Oli has been in excellent form during the pre-season, and is currently looking deadly in front of goal. Although he is really our only true Centre Forward, and as a result is picked by default, with him playing the way he currently is there is no reason not to be excited about what he may produce this Saturday and during this season as a whole.
The Szcezesny vs Fabianski argument is an interesting one. I personally lean on the Fabianski side of the fence, and if it were me picking this team I’d have him in the side ahead of Woj (marginally mind you). That being said, it’s not me picking the side, and I’ve tried to look at what is the most likely side to line-up on Saturday, and with that in mind the most likely choice that Arsene will make is to play Szcezesny.
The result of this match is crucial in more ways than one. It goes without saying that it is so important to get your campaign off to the right start with a win in your first game, but the result here has more hanging on it due to circumstances of our own making really. If we were to come out of this game with anything less than three points the reaction in the terraces and in social media will likely be right up there with some of the worst we’ve seen in recent times. I am certain though, that if this team can play to the level that we saw it do for an extended period last season (and against City in Helsinki) that we should be kicking off our season in the best possible way, with 3 points.
On a final note, we’re currently putting the finishing touches on Episode 4 of the Gunners Down Under Podcast and should have that ready for you sometime tomorrow. There’s plenty in there, including a review of our game against City, a look forward to our game against Villa and a whole lot of transfer waffle. We also set aside some time to answer quite a few questions that were put forward to us by some of our listeners on Twitter and Facebook which was good fun and we hope you enjoy it once it’s up and ready to download.
As is mentioned on the pod, we will be down at the Celtic Club in Melbourne on Saturday night which is the home of Arsenal fans in Melbourne, so we hope to see a few of you down there to bring in the new season, and to share a few beers over an Arsenal victory.
COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!!