By Walter Broeckx
No Billy the Dog opening of the season for the moment. Since his last article he hasn’t been seen around in the country. Maybe the witchdoctor has put him under a spell and he still has to recover. Or maybe he has gone with Tony to Italy and look for a new signing or so? So you have to do it with me.
So here we are one day before our opening game of the season. An away trip to Liverpool which is never an easy start of the season. Some fans moaning and telling us it is already over before we have kicked a ball. A bit early if you ask me and even if you don’t ask me I will say it anyway: it is a bit early. A bit like the situation last year. After our loss at Valencia in a preseason game some fans, I think the same fans, told we didn’t stand a chance to even qualify for the next Champions League. Now since we have turned a 3-0 down situation after some 35 minutes round in to a 5-6 win at Legia Warsaw some think we are doomed again.
Is everything bright and sunny? No it isn’t. The main reason I’m not happy is the fact that even before we played our first game we are back at the familiar injury crisis we have known in the last years.
Cesc and Robin Van Persie, our world cup finalists, could be in the squad but haven’t played for Arsenal in preseason. So I am very unhappy with the fact that a world cup can interfere the preparation of a team. But I don’t blame Arsenal or Wenger for this. I blame Fifa who should have known better and should have started the world cup a few weeks earlier and who should have made sure that the world cup should have ended at the end of June or on the first Sunday of July. If that would have been the case then Cesc and Robin would have been fit and ready to go with the rest of the team. Now we can hope that they get a place on the bench and if they are needed they can show us what they got inside them. But we cannot expect miracles of these two players this weekend.
Then we have the injuries. We have Ramsey who according to Wenger could be back around November and wouldn’t that be great. He would be like a new signing. The only worry that I have is how he will react when he comes back on the field again. I really, really hope that does manage to get it out of his mind and play as if nothing has happened before.
And then we have out and doubtful a nice list of players: Song, Denilson, Diaby, Djourou and Bendtner. Add those to the 3 already mentioned and you get a normal Arsenal injury list I would say. Is it a coincidence that of those 5 players there are 3 players who have been at the world cup? I really don’t know but if you look at the length of their absence it looks that the more games played at the world cup the longer the injury period.
The only exception is Denilson who hasn’t been to the world cup but who has injured himself in the first training week. He is one who is facing a late fitness test on Friday or Saturday to see if he could join the squad. But even when fit he hasn’t played a minute. Djourou has played a few games but he has hamstring problem and will miss the Anfield game.
The other injured players also haven’t played much for Arsenal in the preseason. For Bendtner I would say that the world cup has cost him a lot. Even a blind man could see that Bendtner was injured when playing for Denmark but their coach kept putting him on the field. As a result we will have to wait until October to have him back. Nice work, Morten Olsen. Song and Diaby both have a calf problem but the latter could be available as he is back in full training this week but hasn’t played a game in preseason so far.
It will also be nice to see how our two new signings perform. Chamakh has shown that he is a player who is great in the link up play and someone who is not afraid to work hard for the rest of the team. He will be a threat on crosses and he will score some goals. He linked up nicely with Nasri so far so I’m confident that he will make it.
Our central defender Koscielny has shown why he was one of the best in the French Ligue last season. He reads the game well, is good in the air. I think he also will become a good player for Arsenal. Those who want to blame him and the other defenders for all the 5 goals against Legia Warsaw should look at the video again and try to look at some missing defensive work from our midfielders. Defending is a matter of the whole team, not just the 4 defenders.
But as we know it Arsenal is a team that goes on the field to score more goals than the opposition. So let’s just do it.
Some players came forward in preseason. One could have expected Jack Wilshere after his loan spell last season at Bolton. He has improved a lot and looks ready. I don’t think he could play all 38 games but I hope he gets as much chances as possible. With Frimpong we have a young lad that came on the scene like a rocket. We seem to have a backup for Song this time around and at only 18 he has a lot of room for improvement. He also will only get better is my hoping. Gibbs also is back to full fitness after his injury last season and also looks strong. Nice to have a youth project somewhere running, isn’t it?
The most important news today was that Arsène Wenger has signed an extension to his contract until June 2014. For those fans who want Wenger out it will be another 4 years of standing on the sideline and moaning about it. Well it is clear to all fans now that Arsène and the board are on the same wavelength about the future of our club. Growing our own superstars of the future and adding when and where it is necessary if we cannot grow our own players. Being prudent and not overspending money is the word. The way this site has defended it since Tony started it a bit. So yes, you could imagine that this person is happy with this.
The people who don’t like this have the choice:
1) accept it and just enjoy the game and our beautiful play
2) don’t really like it but just support the club and show support to whoever is on the field in our colours, said in other words: be a real supporter.
3) leave at the next exit and support a team that does buy and spends lots of money. Once that club is thrown out of the European championships or has gone bankrupt you can always come back.
I am a happy Gooner for the moment. Yes I don’t like the injuries, but hey maybe our luck is turning. Maybe we have our injuries now at the beginning of the season and not at the end when you really cannot afford many injuries.
But for the rest : we still have almost the same squad that was close to the title at the start of April last season. We have some young talents showing what they can do and I know they will make mistakes as they are young, but that’s part of the game. We have a squad that hates defeat and even in a friendly game when nothing seems to be working can turn a 3-0 deficit upside down and win the game. And yes our young squad is a year older, wiser and more experienced at top level.
And yes we still have Cesc Fabregas despite all the efforts made by Barceloanus, the media, the English press and some Arsenal fans. And why not enjoy the fact that our neighbours from around the block lost their first points at home. So let’s just start the season.
- The two faced approach of football regulators to corruption
- It’s the same old problems at Arsenal. But what are the same old problems?
- 78 players now tipped to join Arsenal this summer – the full list
- How the Premier League is copying the German League – but missing a key element
- The benefits of the Europa League, plus Chelsea sale on the edge of collapse