Bienjourno all and welcome to another day. This one has started with that rarest of things: Sun in London.
But is the sun (metaphorically) shining at Arsenal? I think it’s fair to describe it as ‘sunny with patches of cloud’ right now. Well, it is for this particular gooner anyway, as we edge closer to pre-season with the Saturday visit to Southampton. Bit of a weird one that, actually, as we’re playing a Premier League side but we’re doing it at their ground and not in some far flung part of the world. The friendly against the Saints was obviously part of the Oxlade-Chamberlain deal to us, and it was obviously struck by Southampton as a bit of a revenue generator before they knew they were going to be Premier League bound anyway, but it still feels a little odd to me. Hey ho, at least it’s a chance to see Abou Diaby for ten minutes before he goes on his extended season-long ‘break’. We also get to see a chubby little Andre Santos puffing around. Bless him – he really is a loveable chap.
One player we won’t be seeing is Joel Campbell, who arrived back into the UK when his Lorient deal expired at the end of last season, and has been told promptly not to get too comfortable, as he’s off to Betis next season. I hope he really shines next year and we get a Coquelin-styled success (in a different position, obviously) rather than a Vela-shaped one. He’s looked like he could be a couple of seasons away from the first team, but I have to say I’m surprised Arsene didn’t decide to keep him on our shores like Wilshire and Miyachi. Remember him? He’s that Japanese kid that everyone had high hopes for but in the current climate of a desperate need to ‘SIGN! SIGN! SIGN!’ there are one or two existing players people seem to have forgotten could make a big impact this year.
Believe it or not, I actually think that we’re one defensive midfielder away from challenging at the top of the league. Yes, we need another back up keeper, but when you start to look at our squad then you start to see some young players who got game time last year and will most certainly be more improved this time around.
Let’s take a look at some of the following names: Mertesacker, Jenkinson, Santos, Coquelin, Frimpong, Rosicky, Diaby, Gervhino, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Miyachi. I did a quick 4-3-3 in my head and left out the first choice starting 11 and then added all of the above names as more than capable and able deputies. that’s nearly an entire team of good players in my book – and i’ve also made the assumption that RvP is gone. So what do I think this tells us? We actually DO have a bit of strength in depth. A single defensive midfield addition and we have the making of quite a team. They have all played together, had the chance to bed in and will all make an improvement on what we saw – which got us to third place in the league as well.
Of course, the one ‘what if’ factor does remain at the top of the pitch. If we lose RvP as we all expect then the goals will need to be distributed amongst the forwards, which means not only do we need more from Walcott and Gervhino, we also can’t really afford for Podolski and Giroud to have a season of Chamakh proportions. To be fair I think both players are better than Chamakh when it comes to finishing, but until we see them bag their first goals in their first games, we don’t know what we can expect.
I guess I could wrap up today’s blog by talking about the new away kit, but to be honest with you I’m really not bothered what it looks like. It won’t change the fact I won’t buy it (pay enough on my season ticket and paraphernalia on match days) and as long as it still has the Arsenal badge on it it doesn’t mean I’ll support the team any less, so I don’t know why some gooners care. Why they had to try and Jazz it up by naming it after a Prince song i don’t know, but that’s by-the-by i guess.
Anyway, have a good one, and let’s hope it doesn’t ‘reign’ – you know, the purple type (ba-dum-chish!).