Can we make that final step? City preview

Well Mr Matchday, you certainly took your sweet time to arrive, didn’t you? Keeping me waiting like a disgruntled commuter at a National Rail train station wasn’t my idea of fun, but you’re here now, so let’s not bicker and just get on with the rest of our Saturday, shall we?

It’s an early one for us all today, as the fates have conspired to drag us into the horrific world of early kick offs. Look, I have no real problems with the early starts in terms of the teams ability to be ‘up for it’ (it is ridiculous to assume that our players can’t be up for early kick off games based on the travesties of last season), my issue lies purely with the fact that an early start means getting up earlier on a Saturday which is not something I’m overly enamoured with. There’s also the reduction in hours of pre-match amber nectar supping. I like a beer, but I’m not starting my day at 10am with one, so it leaves me with just about enough time for a solitary pint before heading over to the ground.

All this is just the pre-amble to the main event though, so I suppose I shouldn’t be the archetypal moaning Brit and move swiftly on to our own raison d’être, which starts at 12.45pm UK time.

There’s no doubt this is by far and away the most difficult test that The Arsenal will have faced this season. The visit of Moneychester City represents the first litmus test of whether or not we have learned from our recent poor history against any of the top four clubs of seasons past. Last season saw us fail to pick up wins against City, Chelski, Everton and even the ailing Man United, so a marker of whether or not this team has the capability to challenge the top teams will need to be placed today.

I’ve said before that from a points perspective, you can easily win the league as long as you pick up points against the teams lower down the table, which is true if you think about the maths behind the logic. Home and away wins against teams from 8th position in the league downwards gives you 72 points, which is approaching a decent points tally to have a go at the league. But to get over the line you need to have wins against the bigger players not just for those few extra points, but for the psychological boost that big game victories provide. That’s why today is important. It’s not so much about the points, but about the belief that will be instilled in the team, through taking a scalp like Moneychester City.

Arsène has a litany of options at his disposal to draw upon, which is what also makes this game exciting to blog about this morning, because until those first whispers of the team sheet come in, we have no idea who is in the squad, let alone the starting eleven. I hope Arsène opts for ‘pace, pace, pace’ and we see Welbeck flanked by The Ox and Alexis, but I suspect that Özil or Cazorla might be moved to the left, as I think Arsène wants to include both in his team selection. I’m certainly not in the camp that believes having Özil out wide is conducive to getting the best out of his game, but that appears to be where his temporary home is at the moment, so we’ll all have to accept it. I also seem to be in the minority at the moment regarding Cazorla. I actually don’t believe that the diminutive Spaniard has had the best of starts to the season, flitting in and out of games far too much (an accusation oft levelled at Özil but not his teammate), so I wouldn’t be too worried if the Ox was preferred. I love Santi as a footballer and when he is on song his game is fabulous to watch, but I just feel like he hasn’t hit the form of when he arrived and it’s a shame that we’re not seeing the Santi that we all know can change a match. Perhaps I’m being too harsh.

The midfield also has a plethora of options to choose from, so Arsène’s difficult decisions don’t just stop at the pointy end of the team, as he’ll need to work out who from Ramsey, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky and Flamini occupy the two midfield positions if, as expected, both Özil and Cazorla play. I suspect the decision will hinge on how recovered Rambo is from his midweek ankle roll, as I’d think the first two names from that list I’ve just reeled off, will be given priority. It will be another source of irritation for Rosicky, but Arsène isn’t going to drop his captain or last seasons player of the year, so he’ll just have to accept it.

As for our opponents, a Jovetic injury is all I believe they are suffering from, so we know that they will be at almost full strength when they line up against us. Last season they were the free-scoring champions, but I wonder if Pellegrini will be as gung-ho in a match today as his team was at times last season. At The Emirates he needed only a draw realistically to ensure that his team kept on the march to the title. Today’s game is similar in requirements for his team I suspect, i.e. do not lose, so I wonder if he’ll look to try and stay solid defensively whilst catching us on the counter attack.

City will rely on the guile of Silva and Nasri, sure for a spicy reception as always, whilst Dzeko will occupy both Per and Kos at varying times. It’s a team that has threats all over the park, but despite our less than stellar start to the season, I think the openness of today’s game will give our players the chance to express themselves more freely and occupy space that wasn’t afforded to them against Palace or Leicester.

I feel cautiously optimistic about today’s game. Let’s hope it’s not misguided optimism. A win would be a perfect catalyst for a good run against a number of difficult opponents, but I think we have the firepower now to cope with our schedule and demonstrate to the rest of the league that we’re serious title contenders.

Victories against teams like City feels like the final piece in our league title puzzle. That one final step. That’s all we’ve got to overcome.

Come on Arsenal!

Assumptions on Arsène, team photos and Welbeck’s motivation

Right, plenty to sink our teeth into this morning, so let’s get stuck in there like a Suarez.

Team photos! Don’t you just love them? They’re great for seeing who doesn’t play for the club any more in three years time. Yesterday the club had it’s team photo taken and, quite sensibly, it was done after the transfer window had slammed shut, meaning the merchandisers won’t fall foul of any Chelskiesque faux pars of featuring players that no longer play for the club beaming away in the red and white of The Arsenal.

By all accounts it looked like a happy and jovial occasion and whilst I know you can read as much into that as you can at an Arsène press conference, it’s still good to see that there appears to be enough camaraderie amongst the players. We’ve all said for some years that the group appears to be a bit more balance now the big egos of a few years ago have gone, but I see small snippets like the footage from yesterday and am comforted.

Anyway, speaking of Arsène press conferences, the wily old dog had his yesterday and finally spoke about the man of the moment Danny Welbeck. Thankfully Arsène talked up his ability in a central role and also confirmed that he was influential in the signing of said player. Of course, I don’t expect Le Boss to ask ‘who?’ when prompted on Welbeck, but it was at least pleasing to hear him speak of the new arrival and where he would fit in.

I have to join the cast and crew of those that have been a bit baffled of his statement about how the transfer happened though. In classic Wengerian, Arsène said that had he been in the country, the transfer might not have happened. Unfortunately for the manager, that has been seized upon by the press as something that is hardly a ringing endorsement, but wherever vagaries and the opportunity of a story pops up for a journo, we can hardly expect them not to manipulate.

Well I can make assumptions too, you know, so I’m going to make my own on what I thought Wenger was getting at. I suspect that what he was intimating was the fact that a normal day would have meant commitments for the club and so wouldn’t have given him so much downtime whilst waiting at the airport for the flight to depart. Think about it – how bored are you when you’re waiting for your flight? I’m not saying Arsène signed Welbeck because he was bored, but if the only thing he had to do whilst he was at the airport was keep in contact with agents and the club, he was probably pestering all parties concerned to get this over the line.

I’m afraid I don’t subscribe to the view that Arsène didn’t want Welbeck. That’s not how the club has ever been run. Let’s not forget: Arsène has Stan’s ear and if anybody were to go above his head in matters of the football team, he has the Top Trump card in the backing of the Silent One. Arsène has too much power at the club not to be a driving force behind making this transfer happen.

As for the other news, well, it all looks rather positive on the injury front doesn’t it? Arteta, Gibbs and Özil all look to be fit, as well as Ramsey who appears to have recovered from the knock he suffered in midweek international action. We’re missing a Walcott for a few more weeks, but even Diaby came through an under-21 game yesterday!

Not that we should be worried about injuries, because I think we have a strong enough squad (barring the centre halves!) to cover for the aforementioned potential absentees, but it’s great to see the manager having an almost full compliment. It means that he doesn’t just have a bit of a headache selecting the first 11, but picking the Matchday squad as a whole! Whoever he picks, there will be some quality players missing tomorrow and that can only be a good thing from an Arsenal perspective.

Actually, if I can return to the subject of Welbeck again for a minute, thanking Van Gaal for his less than complimentary commentary over the departure of Welbeck. By essentially saying that Welbeck wasn’t good enough to prove his ability to play as a central striker at United, I think he’s given Danny plenty of motivation to prove him wrong whilst at Arsenal. Hopefully he’ll show the Dutchman – yet to win a real official game as yet I hasten to add – that he has all of the attributes to be successful in the middle of the park. Hopefully the comments of the former Holland coach will give him an extra few percent of desire (not that he needs it) starting tomorrow.

It did surprise me actually when I read the slightly abrasive nature of van Gaal’s comments. It strikes me that should the decision have been reversed, Arsène would not have been so dismissive of a player that had been an integral part of winning United teams in the past. In fact, I don’t recall Arsène talking about That Dutch Bloke’s desire for ‘cash, cash, cash’ when he went the other way. I hope United don’t make top four and Welbeck bangs in the winner against them next time we meet. That’s the best way of showing van Gaal that he’s made a mistake, something that he clearly doesn’t feel, despite the growing number of people formerly associated with the club disagreeing to the contrary.

Anyway, my tube journey is coming to an end shortly, so I shall wrap up today’s wiffle-waffle (I think I just made up that word), leaving you to go about your business in the normal fashion.

Happy Friday Gooners.

Where we want to see ‘Welbz’, plus some Arsène thoughts

Morning you lot, hope you’re coping fine without your weekly Arsenal fix of football, thanks to this wretched international week. It does feel as if it’s dragged on a bit, doesn’t it?

Thankfully, my weekend was preoccupied with the wedding of my brother, so I was able to offset the lack of Arsenal goodness with copious levels of beery goodness. So it was a fine way to ignore all things football because, let’s face it, even the gutter press are still going on about it and still bemoaning the lack of cutting edge and guile the English national team has.

They must be all a-quandary at the moment. I mean, this England team with all of the ‘world class’ Liverpool players that formed the bulk of it in the summer, we’re a sure-fire bet to be successful no? Or could it be that the Liverpool friendly corners of the footballing world have what Arsène might call ‘little bit blinkers’ on?

Who knows. What I do know is there is another one of those qualifiers this evening and England take on the might of Switzerland with their opening group match. I’ll probably watch it, I must admit, but only because of this possibility of seeing Danny Welbeck being given a chance as a centre forward. As good as it is to get a look at our shiny new player, seeing him play on the left isn’t exactly what you and I are interested in, so the timely injury to Sturridge at least gives us the chance to look at him.

Hopefully he has a good game. Maybe I was reading a little too much into his cameo last week, but he looked very lively and confident when he came on against Norway, perhaps buoyed by the fact that he is going to be playing Champions League football this season. Who knows. What I would like to see is plenty of running – or at least attempted runs – in behind the Swiss back four, because that’s what we haven’t had enough of with Giroud leading the line. Welbeck will back himself with pace and as a result he’ll be happier to play as a central striker looking to make runs off the shoulder of the two centre-halfs. For the purposes of my own sanity in watching the tedium that is international football, I think I’ll just pretend that the Swiss central defensive pairing are Kompany and Demichelis, which will start to get me excited about next weekend’s game.

We might even see Arsène at next weekend’s game you know. He’s in hiding from the PR team since Welbeck was signed. I think he’s deliberately testing their patience by globe trotting around the world over the international break. I’ve seen a couple of bloggers over the last week, talk about the fact that Arsène hasn’t spoken about Welbeck yet, speculating about the unusual situation that has befallen this particular signing. I agree that it’s not the norm, but rather than throw my lot in with the conspiracy theorists, I think that the most simplest of explanations is probably the most likely: he hasn’t had time.

I know that might seem like a bit of a cop-out response, but over the last week he has taken part in a charity football match in Rome, been part of a professional football managers gathering (I forget where) in which most of the top managers were present, plus I’m sure he’s been commentating for French TV on Les Bleu’s games over the last few days. Whether or not you feel he should be doing this is a different point entirely. And yes, I’m sure he could just pick up the phone and give the press team some soundbites to use. But we all know Arsène is a man who likes control, so I suspect he will give his interview about Welbeck over the next few days and we’ll all be able to over-analyse every word then.

The only other piece of Arsenal news filtering through over the last couple of days is that Theo is scheduled to return for the Spuds game in a few weeks time. Although personally, I’m not sure if it’s quite ‘news’ given that most Arsenal fans I had spoken to over the last month or so have also said that he’s been targeting that game, so quite why this is suddenly new I’m a little confused over, if I’m honest. I suppose with our luck on ‘little setbacks’, to hear that a player is actually going to be back on his scheduled return date, is actually quite a novel and exciting thing. So on that basis, ‘yay!’ and all that jazz.

Anyway, time for me to clock off for a day, so you have a good one and I’ll speak to thee tomorrow.

existing players: does familiarity breed contempt?

Hello Friday, you sexy bitch, you. If only you could offer the promise of Premier League football this weekend it would make you even more lovely. But I understand, it’s not your fault, it’s forces that are a law unto themselves, those pesky individuals at FIFA who keep organising international breaks.

The Arsenal press team know this, which is why they’re releasing Danny Welbeck interviews in a piecemeal fashion. I suspect we might even see ‘Part 3: Danny Welbeck on eating fish and chips’ at some stage over the weekend. Ahh how that’ll be exciting to watch. I guess I should be grateful, because at least we are getting something from the club to sink our teeth in to. That’s much better than radio silence which, oddly, is what Arsene is on at the moment. I suppose he’s still out and about gallivanting around the world and making peace happen through football somewhere, but it is weird in today’s age of mobile phones, FaceTime and email that he hasn’t been able to pen some phrases to give to the official site. Maybe he’s a bit ‘meh’ about the signing? Maybe he’ll be asked at some stage over the weekend and will respond with “well, you all turned your noses up at Zigic, so I just told the lads back at the ranch to pick anybody up who they felt like”, after all Zigic himself confirmed that he was a target for Arsenal as a free transfer option so it must be true, right?

Which leads me to the last dregs of desperation of the hit-whoring football websites that are frantically searching for free transfers that can be linked with Arsenal now the window has closed, to which 38-year-old Mario Yepes from Colombia is the latest to be linked. Captain of his country, bringer of long-hairyness, he’d apparently offer that bit of experience in back up to Koscienly, Mertesacker and Chambers that we need. Which has led me to thinking, with help from the guys that run Arsecast Extra, about how good a player needs to be in order for us to think “hold on a second, aren’t we just better off giving youth a chance here?”. I mean, it’s all very well talking about experience, but if Yepes did sign and can’t keep pace with the frenetic energy of the Premier League, wouldn’t he be more of a hindrance than a help? Monreal may be option number four, or even Isaac Hayden, but at least both will be more au fait with the Premier League.

Given that there are plenty of us looking at the Welbeck signing and wondering if there is an element of ‘BUY ALL SHINY NEW PLAYERS AS THE ANSWER’ at Manchester United, which has allowed us to buy a player who could develop into a very good signing, potentially just because he’s taken for granted at United because he’s been there already. It’s the old adage I guess: familiarity breeds contempt. Is that the danger of what is happening if Arsenal, or particularly Arsenal fans, are looking at a signing like that and not asking the question to themselves: “Is he really better than the options that are there at the moment?”

Hey, I’m not expert, and I paid little attention to Yepes at the World Cup, so I’m hardly going to be able to give you a comprehensive answer. But much like Zigic, when you look at who he has played for last season – Atalanta – and he has been released, surely there is a question to ask as to why he was released in the first place, as well as why he is not good enough for Atlanta, but is good enough for Arsenal (although admittedly as a fourth choice centre half). If we are going to go down the route of looking at free transfers, why don’t we look at Abdoulaye Faye or Zat Knight?? Both of which you’d have to question whether they could actually be any real success at Arsenal.Nope, for me, if i’m honest, I’d rather see Monreal or Hayden given a chance.

Anyway, that’s probably about all I can muster for now, because there isn;t really owt else going on. So I’ll shall catch you on Saturday. Have a good one.

Not even new signing excitement could avoid the tedium

Happy Thursday is wished unto thee, as you like I, battle the tedium that is an international break.

We’re fully into the festering swamp that is internationals now, so there’s no point on looking back and discussing football of weekends past, we just have to keep our eyes on the prize and focus on the visit of Moneychester City to The Emirates on Saturday week.

Last night I made the epic mistake of tuning in to about 40 minutes worth of England Vs Norway and, perhaps surprisingly, found some comfort in the game. The comfort came from the fact that my expectations and experiences of international football have not proven to be false and that it really is a total waste of time. 40,000 people (less than half the stadium) decided that they had nothing better to do in Wembley last night, but by the end of the 1-0 win there will hardly have been any people inside the stadium that would have felt it was a worthwhile journey.

A turgid England was only made more satisfying, for me as an Arsenal fan, by the noises that came from corners of the media saying that Wilshere had a decent game and that Welbeck made a positive impact when he came on for the last 20 minutes. Let’s just hope that all the Arsenal players can come back fit as a fiddle after the qualifying game against Switzerland.

I suppose one positive I can draw from this international break is that by playing a team like City straight after the internationals have finished, we will be playing against players that have also been on international duty, which means there is no additional advantage gained over a team that has had a week to put their feet up. I know that it shouldn’t really matter at this stage of the season, and that having international quality players is what you need in your team if you want to win things, but I’m looking for any sma victories here, so humour me folks.

So we got our first glimpse of Arsenal’s Welbeck yesterday, who looked like he had a spring in his step, if you don’t mind me saying. Perhaps he was buoyed by his transfer and the prospect of finally getting a chance to play as a central striker? Whatever it was, he looked pretty decent and having had his first interview posted on the official site in the afternoon, he’s already endearing himself to fans like me with his comments.

Whilst recognising he spent a lot of time at United, he was very focused on all things Arsenal and the future, perhaps even being slightly dismissive of his past if I do say so myself. And I do. Because that’s what I want to hear and it’s always better to believe what you want to believe, rather than what could be the reality, which includes the fact that having been in the United first team for many years he’ll have been media trained to BBC news anchorman standards.

Regardless of the likelihood that he was telling us what we wanted to hear, it was still good to hear him speak so glowingly about The Arsenal, watching them on TV all the time, admiring the style of football and imagining himself playing for us. What I also liked about his interview was the sense that he already felt part of the club, using the all encompassing ‘we’ to describe Arsenal as a team, the recent history, etc. It’s the little things, you know?

But actually, it’s what he started to touch on (admittedly with the help of the interviewer) when talking about the creative players that we have, that had me getting excited of the prospect of him being a success at the club this season and I the future. He talked about linking up with the midfielders, about getting in behind defences and about using his pace to bag himself a few goals. It was only a year ago to the day that you could look at our team and, Theo aside, wonder how many times the players we had could get in behind defences like the Arsenal teams of old. Now, with the additions of Welbeck, Sanchez and Campbell, there are multiple options with pace as well as Walcott. The hope is that we can use it to our advantage.

I hope he hits the ground running on Saturday week and I hope we see him bang in a debut goal. That would be special and give us all a massive lift.

There’s not really a lot else to report on. It was nice to see Chambers get some minutes on the pitch towards the end of the match yesterday, plus the Ox got another good run out after injury last season and despite the fact he didn’t have the best game in the world, he will need time to rediscover his potency in the attacking third of the pitch so I’m not particularly worried about that. Jack will have also have felt good about getting another decent performance under his belt and, with all of the scrutiny he has over everything he does, it’s pleasing to see he’s essentially ignoring the morons in the media and getting his head down and working towards being the great player he can be. I still wonder how much game time he’ll get when Arteta, Ramsey and Özil are firing on all cylinders in the middle of the park, but it’s a concern for another day so I’ll park any further thoughts on that for now.

That’s yer lot from me today. Stay safe in this bleakest of international breaks.

A reason to watch international football???

Welcome to Wednesday, a Wednesday in which where we’d normally be counting down until the next Arsenal game, we’re thrust into the cruddyness of an international break with only the prospective of pointless friendlies to endure over the next couple of days. Oh, and don’t forget the nervous and worry about players coming back from international duty looking like C3-P0 after he’s stumbled across something he shouldn’t have.

We even had the hilarity of hearing that new signing Danny Welbeck picked up a knock in the last kick of training yesterday. Thankfully Woy has said he’s ok, but wouldn’t it just be classic Arsenal luck if we’d have found out he’s out for six weeks with an ankle sprain or something similar?

Of course I’m being a bit melodramatic, but that’s how I feel about international breaks, that they are designed to cause maximum breakages to Arsenal players. In fact, that’s probably why they call them ‘breaks’ and not ‘excursions’.

Anyway, we got our first glimpses of Welbeck in a new shirt yesterday and I must say I’m pleased. Pleased because it looks like he’s trimmed down his high flat-top haircut a bit and looks a little less like he should be a person of royalty from Bel-Air. It also means the only ridiculous haircut in the team is now Matthieu Debuchy (although Giroud’s loaf comes close), which I can handle if it’s just one of them. We’ve always had one you see, from the grease of Chamakh to the orange head of Ian Wright, there’s always been one nutter when it comes to styling the old barnet.

It’s number 23 that Welbeck will be wearing and I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping his Arsenal career is more akin to his predecessor of that number who played at centre half for Arsenal and England, rather than the one that waddled the wings of The Emirates and Russia only a few short years ago. The important thing is that he hasn’t got the dreaded number 18 shirt; a burden for which somebody really should have told Monreal of some of the players in recent past who had worn that cursed number. T’would be the morally decent thing to do you know.

How are you feeling about the internationals tonight though? Will you watch them? Me personally, I normally swear off them if I can (and when I get the Metropolitan Line home of an evening I really do quite literally ‘swear’, especially with all the ‘ENG-GER-LAND’ fans who turn up), but today I think I might actually tune in to England vs Norway. Roy has suggested that he’ll play Welbeck if he’s fit – albeit only for a limited amount of time – but that’s pretty much the only reason why I’ll be tuning in. You see, I have a reason to actually watch Welbeck a little more closely now, to scrutinise every touch and hope to see positive glimpses of what he could bring to The Arsenal. Before, he was just another dude in a white shirt, but now he’s an Arsenal boy it’s an opportunity to start making snap judgements before he’s even kicked a ball for his new club. It’s weird actually, as I was saying to Lulunix on Twitter yesterday, I literally cannot remember a game in which he has played and how he has played, such is my awesome ability to tune out on any noise from the football world that isn’t related to The Arsenal. The down side of which is that I now can’t really remember what sort of player we’ve got from United. The upside of course, as somebody pointed out to me when they said that Welbeck scored in the 8-2 defeat (for which I was on a plane at the time and so therefore have conveniently never had to watch) at Old Trafford, is that I can erase bad memories of Arsenal pretty darn well too.

We’re great at doing that, you see, us football fans. Forgetting quickly, snap judgements, etc – we’ve got all of that in our lockers.

I suspect he’ll get a maximum of a half tonight, so I’m not really going to be making any instant judgements, because he’ll probably not even start in his expected position for England. He’ll be shunted out to the left wing and will more than likely be less effective. Let’s hope though that he can come back unbroken and quite eager to prove himself against a former bitter Manchester rival in City.

Because it’s the tedium of the international break, there’s very little real other news going on, unless you count the Ox talking about learning from the World Cup experience. I’d wager that he didn’t learn that much by being in a sh*te team and not being fully fit, unless he learnt not to get injured, in which case he’d get two thumbs up from your humble narrator here.

That’s pretty much it for now. I was thinking about delving more deeply into the ‘how the bloody hell are Poldi and Campbell going to get a look in?’ debate, but I think I’ll save that for another day, as I could probably spend half my life pondering that particular conundrum.

Anyway, catch ya laters, potatoes.

A deal done that’s decent, but is it enough?

So here we are then. The dust has finally settled following the cold sore on the face of football that is Transfer Deadline Day, with a fuller picture of who we’ll be sticking with this season, plus a new face to welcome to the club in the form of Manchester United born and bred Danny Welbeck.

It was classic Arsenal, if you think about the last few days of the last five or six deadline days that you and I have been put through as the club frantically searched for replacements, finding one as the transfer went right to the wire in the opening hours of the morning.

When I say it was ‘classic Arsenal’, I don’t just mean leaving it to the last minute, although that seems to be part of our process these days. What I actually mean, is the way in which we’ve filled a position in which we did in fairness need to sure up, but by no means was it the most pressing need. It happened in January when we all thought we needed a striker. So we bought in Kallstrom on loan. Or the summer when we all thought we’d get a striker, then up rocked Mesut ‘Frigging’ Özil. Or the January window before that, when the rumours were red hot about David Villa, before we went out and bought Monreal as a left back.

I guess what we’ve got to get used to with Arsène and Arsenal these days, is that they’ll almost never buy in the positions that you and I think we need to strengthen in. And hey, I’m no football expert, I’m just a fan and as a result perhaps I’m more blinkered to what is needed at the club to help us challenge for the title.

So as I hurtle my way towards London for another day as a desk jockey, I’m in a reflective mood on the squad as a whole and whether or not we can compete. What has the arrival of Danny Welbeck done for us? Well for one thing, it’s yet more pace to add to the team, which is essentially something that a lack of cost us a serious push towards the title. With both Sanchez and Welbeck we have two players who, had they been fit in February and March, would have stopped teams like Everton playing such a high line against us because they know we have men who can get in behind.

But I still have a nagging feeling that the squad is incomplete. I’m sure you do too. We needed another centre-half to take off the pressure from Chambers, should we lose one of the first choice two for any length of time, so to get to the final day of the deadline having not addressed that given Vermaelen’s departure a few weeks ago was poor.

Similarly, the reliance on Arteta and Flamini will now become all too evident and if Flamini has off days like he had at Leicester more often, we’ll find ourselves ruing the lack of options I fear. Thankfully Arteta is back after the international break and will no doubt reassume his position as the fulcrum of the midfield. It will be a welcome sight with Moneycheter City arriving in town.

Given the arrival of Welbeck, I’m also interested to see how the pecking order works at the club. One would assume that Lukas Podolski will be relegated further, most probably into the role of loveable mascot like Gunnersaurus, who we all love but will never actually see getting game time on the pitch. Not unless he’s waving at the fans or they bring back that massive cannon that fired t-shirts into the fans during the interval. It’s a shame really because we know he will score goals, but Arsène doesn’t rate him and I see a similar freezing out to the one we saw with Arshavin.

Or what about Joel Campbell? With Giroud injured his route to the first team was a little shorter with Arsène playing Sanchez up top, but the arrival of Welbeck will surely add in another hurdle for him to overcome, especially if he has aspirations of being a first team player. It’s an interesting conundrum that Arsène has to face, but it’s better to have too much than not enough, I guess.

So if I was to rate this summers dealings in the transfer market out of ten, what would I give us? Well, we’ve certainly replaced all of the departures with capable players, plus we’ve added the guile of Sanchez and replaced Giroud (through injury) with Welbeck. I don’t think we’re weaker than last season, but I do think we’re only just a little bit stronger. I hope I’m not right, but I think we’re going to end up ruing not signing a centre back at some stage in the season. We didn’t need it last season as Kos and Per stayed fit, but I have a feeling one of those guys is due a lengthy absence, so there’ll be much crossing of fingers between now and January. Hey, this is Arsenal we’re talking about, injuries are our ‘thing’.

Based on those thoughts, it’s hard to give this summer anything over and above a six out of ten really. We’ve done ok, we’re better offensively than last season, but for it to be ‘good’, we needed at least one more decent body defensively.

Still, with all of the slight frustration at not shoring up defensively, it could be worse. We could have been Man United and taken the Barcelona route of ignoring where the key deficiencies lie and signing as many offensive players as possible. If Van Gaal continues with 3-5-2 and has only Jones, Smalling and Blackert (is that how you say his name?) as his defensive set up, with the occasional game there for Blind, then he’ll have to be the luckiest man alive not to pick up injuries and have to start considering playing Rooney in front of the back four.

Anyway, that’s enough babbling from me, you have ‘at it’ for today and I’ll see thee in the morrow.