It’s been rather a nice summer so far…

By Tony Attwood

Having done my bit of summarising as to where we are following the Emirates Cup I’m going to take the plunge and try and do a bit of thinking about how it has been so far for us, and what our rivals in the Premier League are up to.

Now I do this, knowing how tough any sort of prediction is.  For example, consider this…

11 July 2003: Peterborough 1 Arsenal 0.  I was there.  Not a clever afternoon.  And it was followed by Barnet 0 Arsenal 0

Then on 10 August 2003 the Independent on Sunday newspaper predicted that Arsenal would finish 5th, that season while the Sunday Times was thought to be over-optimistic suggesting Arsenal could come 3rd.

With such a poor start to our friendlies, in which we played the first team against very much lower league opposition you couldn’t really blame them too much.  But even so you might recall 2003/4.  We reached the semi-final of both the league cup and the FA Cup.  And the Quarter Finals of the Champions League.  Not bad really.

Oh yes and we went the whole season in the Premier League unbeaten.

So what of this year?   Well, you’ve seen the preliminary games – and given the lack penetration in the Monaco game you might have some worries about the Community Shield next Sunday.  At this moment I am not wholly optimistic.  But as July 2003 showed us, pre-season games don’t tell us much.

The Guardian has just come out and made its prediction for this coming season, and has us down as coming third.

Which leads to the question – what is Untold’s take on how it has been so far this summer for Arsenal.

For me it’s been quite nice really.   There was the FA Cup final in the company of good friends.   And even the match was enjoyable – at least once our first goal rocketed in.  Then the women’s FA Cup which turned out to be an easier stroll than I feared, and it was a chance to visit another stadium – in Milton Keynes.

After that we had the Puma thing, with them talking about studying Arsenal’s past as they did their design work on the new shirt, before suddenly focussing on “Making the Arsenal” by, well, me, actually.  You could have knocked me down with a pogo stick.   I quite enjoyed that (the video not the imaginary knocking down), as I may have mentioned at the time.

Beyond that we had the news that BT Sport had been named Arsenal’s media partner – a slap in the face to the dedicated fan if ever there was one.  We had a bit of a campaign against them, and lo and behold this weekend they really returned to the fold and delivered a decent middle of the road approach.   One up to Untold, or just a coincidence… who knows.  But at least we didn’t have them laughing at us.

The other great bit of fun was the total mess the Wenger haters got into when Mr Wenger was pictured playing foot volleyball in Rio instead of (as they saw it) signing up people.   I did keep an eye out for apologies from these sites, once the signings started rolling in, but have seen none.  Hey ho – they’ve probably deleted their offensive articles too.

Anyway we got Alexis Sánchez, Theo’s recovery is coming on apace, Bellerin is an Arsenal youth dream come true, Debuchy should be great and Chambers is amazing and can play in three different positions, probably all at once.  Ospina who we haven’t seen comes with a great reputation, Zelalem looks like he’s progressed a lot, we haven’t yet spotted Gnabry, our three Germans ought to be refreshed and full of the joys of life with the world up, Özil has now had a year in the premier league to learn its little ways, Campbell scored a cracker on saturday, Sanogo can actually score and score and score and score, Ramsey is clearly raring to go… how much more do you want?

Behind the scenes Shad Forsythe has been recruited from the German national team to sort out the injuries (although that maybe tough, when it comes to the failure of refs to protect Arsenal) and Andries Jonker should sort out whatever it was that went so wrong last season with the academy.

Which brings us to just how far off the pace we were last year.  I’ve done that analysis as a separate article, to show that if two draws had been victories, and the defeat to Stoke, had also gone the right way for us, we would have won the league.

If, if, if, I know.  But to me the article shows how close we were.  But then it would, because I wrote it.  If it doesn’t work for you, fair enough – its a matter of opinion.

So what of the opposition – in very quick summary.

Every web site and every paper analyses their purchases – but being perverse I often think that the way these things work is as much psychological as physical.  What is the feel of the club?  What is the optimism?

Man City are still playing FFP games – and having been given a clear warning by Uefa (which they very clearly didn’t like) that further transgressions will be heavily penalised, they are now seemingly trying a new approach by having clubs in other big cities.

The interesting point is that aside from Chelsea, no other English club can really afford to do this, and aside from PSG and Monaco, no other club outside Russia could.  I suspect Uefa is gearing up to have a go at this situation, and it might just distract City.   Certainly they know they can’t try and drive their accountant powered truck through FFP this year, so they could slow down a bit, and they won’t have liked Mr Wenger’s side swipe at them this weekend.

Liverpool have distractions too.  We still don’t know where the money is coming from on their stadium, or which bits of the stadium will close, or when, for the rebuilding.  Will losing the vampire hurt?  Obviously – and the fact that we have had the owner boasting of his ability to lie through his teeth to Arsenal last summer, and the captain saying Arsenal were not good enough for his, suggests either a concern they are trying to hide, or an arrogance based on coming second last season.

We would of course loved to have come second, and didn’t – so fair enough they did it.  But I still think a club that was certain of its position wouldn’t get involved in that sort of thing.

Liverpool also have to face FFP for the first time later this year – and they may be as arrogant or as ill-prepared as Man City believing that their accountants have found the rich kids holy grail.  But they are not guaranteed plain sailing, and with that plus the distraction of the stadium rebuild and its ability to soak up cash, they could be less than 100% focussed.

Also what they had on their side last year (no European games) won’t be there to help them this year.

Chelsea are all bravado and puff, but they too know the limits of FFP, and only the mega sale of David Luiz has given them a chance to buy and stay under their limits.  The sarcasm about Cesc not wanting Arsenal is similar to Livepool’s tales.  No one has bothered saying this stuff in the past – which suggests something.

Only Man U has no money worries – they make a packet every year, but the owners nick it to prop up their other businesses.  And they have no Europe this year, so that’s a clear bonus.  If the new boss is as good as he says he is, then yes, they could be a real challenge.

Do I know where we are going to end up?  No of course not.  Have I renewed my season ticket?  Most certainly.


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15 Replies to “It’s been rather a nice summer so far…”

  1. But with the exception of Sanchez, we really haven’t strengthened
    the squad. The big missing pieces still remain:

    1) an experience, solid DM-enforcerer

    2) 1-2 world-class CB:s to compete with Kos + Per.

    3) a world-class striker as van Persie’s replacement (given that
    we need Sanchez on the wings)

  2. Robert – and where is the money to finance that kind of spree? Please live in the real world!

  3. People are reading too much into the Lampard issue. If City really wanted to use the Lampard deal to massage the figures for FFP purposes then surely a more lucrative solution would’ve been for City rather than NYCFC to sign him direct from Chelsea on a free transfer, then sell him to NYCFC in January – that way we’d have banked a fee. Besides, Wenger didn’t actually say we were doing this to circumvent FFP – it was a classic case of the headlines not matching the actual quotes.

    As for the issue of multiple-club ownership, it might be worth remembering that Stan Kroenke owns Colarado Rapids who took Arsenal’s Samuel Galindo on trial earlier this year.

  4. Robert…you must be new here. Just a warning… we actually support Arsenal on this site. Your comments yesterday hint of a despair that is decidedly missing from posters here. In other words, you may find that this jolly group of posters has little time for whiners and whingers that continuously slate our great club.

  5. @M18CTID…Can’t get excited about this. City will do whatever they do. They do not engender in me any great animus…I like the manager…seems a nice fellow.

  6. I am wondering if phrases like ‘we are still open to buy players’ ‘We have no plans at the moment’ from Arsene, mean: There are no plans for further buying but if a bargin comes along…..

    Many have claimed that once David Dein left the club Arsene was unable to buy players so much did he rely on David.

    I don’t doubt their friendship for one moment. Nor do I doubt Arsene’s ability to buy players with Ivan replacing David.

    In the last two weeks I have heard to ex Arsene Arsenal players say something like this:

    For Arsene, the preseason for players is the time to slowly build up the fitness level so that you are at your fittest on the opening day of the season.

    As has ben said this cup week end is an ideal part of the build up to the start of the new season. However the WC has interferred with the return to fitness programme of the complete team.

    After Saturday’s game it was disappointing to lose on Sunday, especially as most of the players seemed ‘off the pace’.

    The games were Arsene’s for benifit and I am sure that from what he learnt everyone will benifit.

    With the present closed shop set up of the PGMOL it is unlikely the changes needed to improve referee accuracy will be made.

    Our players will continue to be kicked/pushed/tripped off the ball.

    The FA will refuse to protect ‘skillful players’ and will continue to blame everyone but themselves for the poor ability of English players.

    The media (and here I include the BBC) will continue with the same script they have been reading/reciting for the last 20 years or so.

    Despite the last four paragraphs I can’t wait for the new season!!

  7. I think because of the BT change(if it holds up) some others may follow suit.

    Manu Chelsea and Manc have been worried about us for a long while, but thought they could beat us. Now they see us getting to the same strength and are naturally worried, for if we were weaker and still managed to keep up with them, now we are able to strengthen, we are going to be a bigger problem they surmise.

    Anyway, they should be scared. Arsenal will be on fire.

  8. Seeing as Tony’s two articles today attracted so many comments from world class managers who know far more than Arsene Wenger about managing, I thought I would comment on a BBC article.

    Everton’s Naismith donates tickets to jobless

    > “I come from Ayrshire in the West of Scotland and spent a lot of my life in Glasgow – a city that, at times, has suffered from high unemployment,” he explained. “Liverpool has a similar history.”

    > Naismith helps homeless centres in Liverpool and Glasgow and he has also backed his old youth team, Stewarton Annick, with sponsorship.

    I think it is wonderful that Naismith cares, and has done something. However, I don’t think what he did is appropriate. Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

    I come from the Linux/FOSS side of life. Among other things, I have studied hackerspaces. A hackerspace is a community which has members skilled in technology, as well as equipment donated to the community or owned by the community, available for all to use. In reading about cedar as a tonewood for a project I am building, I ran across a similar concept called Techshop, which is nominally commercial.

    I think my community needs something like the above, as it has consistently been one of the top places in Canada for entrepreneurism. But real estate is so crazy expensive, that unless you happen to have a spare million dollars or already own a building large enough to work out of, you cannot afford to try and start a business,to make work for yourself.

    Being unable to find a job can be as much about too many employers making bad assumptions as to what constitutes an employable person. For example, all western society makes mistakes with respect to functional autistic adults. HR policy makes a number of boneheaded assumptions that autistics do not fit, and they won’t entertain argument.

    Perhaps Naismith could work in that direction? Perhaps our own Koscielny could try to educate his accordion investment in a similar manner? But any footballer is welcome to step forward to try and make the workplace a more level playing field for all.

  9. Now now, why is no one talking about Akpom? He’s good enough for me to play in some games. I would love to see us nick the EPL by a single goal and from Chelski. Then we see whether Mr. Mourinho can still laugh.

  10. JohnW
    I’ve been talking about Akpom since last pre-season!
    There is some evidence that teenagers have been held back a little in event years (see Chamberlain, minus the hack that took him out for the season and the WC).

    But I think he’ll make it 🙂
    If he’s luckier then his mate Afobe when it comes to the old injuries.

  11. @Pete, there’s plenty of money. That argument doesn’t wash. Having said that I think we need only one more quality signing and a DM would probably be the best option.

  12. Utd will have massive problems recruiting quality players,they are without doubt in a downward spiral.

    Should they do reasonably well (top 4) the van girl will surely get the manager of the year award.

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