Dropping points not so bad? Falling for the click-baiters is though

So Happy Saturday to you. It’s one in which we have to wait a little bit before we get to avenge the defeat last weekend. Sure, we took a bit of a surprise sucker punch from Slaven Bilic’s West Ham, but it was only our first game of of the 2015/16 season (match preview from the guys at Coral) and there’s plenty more football to be played. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t smart any less, so I for one am hoping we can wash the bad taste out of our mouths, with the sweet succulent flavours of three points at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

It certainly won’t be easy. Arsene said as much in his pre match presser when asked about how tough the Premier League is this season. If going the season unbeaten was difficult 11 years ago, it must feel like an almost impossible tasks, when you look at some of the squads that have been assembled. Who on God’s green earth would have thought Yohan Cabaye would be rocking up at Palace three years ago? Or that a very polished Payet would boss a game for West ham at The Emirates? Certainly not me. So despite how clearly annoying it is to drop points at home on the first game of the season, perhaps it is not as damaging as it might have been last season? Who knows. Time will tell, etc, etc.

What is essential is that we get some side of response from the pretty insipid display we endured last Sunday. The passing accuracy needs to be better and we need to see more urgency and potency in attack. The manager has to drive his players forward in that regard, so perhaps he’ll be mentioning the fans in his team talk this week, after explaining about how they don’t want to upset us. Hey, anything that gets us a result is fine by me, so if Arsene has to show pictures of totts in Arsenal baby-grows balling their eyes out, or a little child with his dreams in tatters because we lost a game, then I’m ok with that. Winning is everything people, winning is everything.

Just ask Jose, who clearly will do anything to win, including deflect the performance of his team and make it about an internal bust-up just to get a bit of attention. He really is an odious character. I am loving the way the media are trying to beef up his issues with Wenger and vice-versa though, but Le Boss just isn’t biting. In his presser yesterday he was specifically asked by a journo about the Mourinho issue with his medical team. The question was more loaded than a 12-bore, designed to get a sound bite that can be used to fire in Jose’s direction to see if he can get an argument started. Arsene steered clear of the games though, simply talking about it as an internal matter, that you need the unity of the team and you need to trust the medical department. Cue the various media outlets reporting this as ‘Arsene wading in to Chelsea medical team debate’. Not really guys. He was asked a direct question and pretty much said ‘not interested, thanks’. But let’s not let the truth get in the way of sparking up some sort of perpetual hyperbolic row, eh, guys?

Whatevs. If that’s what these media bods are happy with then you and I just need to make sure we’re savvy to the truth. The first thing I do before visiting any media websites is have a listen to his presser these days, because it tells the real story and you can make your own informed decision as a result. So rather than being click-baited I am a little wiser and a little more laid back when I see a headline that is clearly trying to stretch the truth to its outer limits.

The more important thing for me is trying to work out how I’m going to watch the game tomorrow. The in-laws have bought The Management and I a lovely day at the Red Bull air race in a corporate hospitality area (free bar!) and, upon my advice they choose Sunday rather than Saturday because that’s when the game was originally supposed to be played. Now I’m in a quandary because I’m not missing the game. Sky Go on the phone it is I suppose!

That’ll do for me for one day. You have a good one and remember, avoid the click baiters, stay safe and try not to go mad without The Arsenal on a Saturday.

A chirpy Arsene and the excitement/fear of the unknown; The Premier League begins…

Here we are. After all the summer waiting, anticipating and hoping, we’ve arrived at the start of the Premier League season with the first weekend. It’s a bit of a funny one though, because we’re not playing tomorrow, so it only really half feels like the Premier League starts in earnest today.

The up side is that we get to cheer on any team that isn’t Chelski or Liverpool, whilst hoping for a 5-all draw in the game at Old Trafford with lots of sendings off, a few injuries and big fines for the two clubs that are playing in that part of the North West at lunchtime. If we’re going to look at the glass being half full, at least one of those two teams will have dropped points come Match of the Day tonight.

As for Arsenal and Arsene, we had the customary pre-match press conference and Le Boss seemed to be in a jolly enough mood. This was probably in part down to the fact that a) we’ve had a good pre season, b) people are saying we’re in with a shout of the league, c) he was only half-heartedly asked about transfers, and d) the football is back for him. We all know how obsessed he is with the game, so summer must be a tortuous period for him and most people with which football is their livelihood. So he was probably quite excited to be back – even doing the press conference was probably quite tolerable for him.

We got most of the team news on Thursday, so we know there will be no Jack, Welbeck Rosicky or Alexis, but as expected Arsene admitted that Alexis might be back sooner rather than later. Estimating that he’ll be potentially ready in ten days wouldn’t have surprised anyone, because the Chilean is the embodiment of all good things to do with football. He just loves playing and he’ll be like a tightly wound coil ready to be unsprung next week in training, I’m sure, so that’s all good to hear.

The phrases used by the boss shows just how much he thinks there’s something in this team. Talking about ‘fighting spirit’ and being ‘up for the challenge’ is nothing new for us, but I’ve rarely believed it with such conviction as now. He is being cautiously optimistic about the teams chances of winning our first league title in over a decade, but that’s what you’d expect, because he’ll get pelters if he pulls out another “we could go unbeaten” again and it doesn’t happen. Let’s leave the arrogance and ugly characteristics to the Portuguese in West London.

Arsene also talked about the unknown quantity of the other squads in the division and how we still don’t know how the top of the table will shape up. He didn’t lead down the line of enquiry of stopping the transfer window as soon as the football starts, but it’s certainly something I’d advocate, for that very reason. As it stands, I’d be pretty happy with the opposition that we’re up against, but if there are some mega moves in the transfer market, I don’t know about you, but it does make me nervous. It’s fear of the unknown you see. Before a player has kicked a ball they are a world beater – think Falcao at United last season – but when the football kicks in often so does reality. But because Arsenal haven’t been overhauling their squad like some others, there’s always a bit of a fear that a club like Liverpool could actually ‘click’.

I should probably look back historically and see that root and branch changes don’t usually result in success, but unfortunately I’m an irrational football fan, which you can see by the fact that I’ve been writing all summer about continuity and how I’m pleased we’re not snapping up new players left, right and centre, yet now I’m admitting that I’m nervous of the opposition we face at the top of the league!

That’s why it’s always good to have the football start, because the speculation and the expectation soon give way to reality and as we’ve seen over the last few seasons, the reality is often that Arsenal are pretty decent and pretty consistent. We just need to make that next step now and win the league. Just a small thing….

Arsene was asked about Benzema so I suppose I should mention it, because although he dismissed it as media speculation, the noises about his imminent arrival seem to have picked up again. I’m not particularly interested in that and I’m sick of the ITKs, but talk of him arriving on Sunday amuses me. What, has somebody seen his name on the flight details of an Easyjet plane from Madrid to Stansted or something? Don’t be ridiculous. These people know nothing and so it’s best just focusing on the existing players who will be trying to score us plenty of goals and bag points on Sunday. That’s what’s real and that’s what I’m going to invest my emotions in to.

That’s it from me for today. I have a stag do to prepare for, so I’ll make my excuses and leave you to get on with your Saturday.

Victoria Concordia Crescit – never been more applicable than now

The official dot com site must be as excited about the return to football as us lot, because despite the fact that Arsène’s presser isn’t until a little later this morning, we have a veritable smorgasbord of stories to pour over before Le Boss even takes centre stage.

Thankfully, they’re all positive, unlike the news on Jack’s injury yesterday. The team news appears to be good, with Welbeck and Rosicky back in ‘progressive’ training today, which I for one am thankful for because I’d probably recommend they refrained from ‘regressive’ training. Ahh Shad and his revolutionary fitness and condition ideas, eh?

The return of Alexis and his perpetual motion is also well timed and, whilst I’ve heard a few whispers about him being saved for the month of August, if he’s not at least on the bench by the time Liverpool at home comes around I’d be stunned. I mean, the guy was doing sprint work on holiday for crying out loud, so he won’t be able to be kept at bay for too long. He probably runs in his sleep. It’s a good job he’s got plenty of money and a small frame, because he could afford a bigger bed so as not to injury his lady friend or his dogs.

With or without our Chilean Energiser Bunny, we’ve still got a hatful of options, but the fact he has such desire to return really is pleasing to see. Last season the other players took note and I think they’ll all be trying to have some of his special mojo rubbing off on them, so if it means we’ll have players who are running that extra hard for feel that he’ll make them look bad, then I’m all for it. That’s what competition does for players; they all want to up their game and in a season where one or two pundits are even tipping us for glory, we need all of the drive and determination from the players that we can get.

We also need unity. Arsène had another say about the signing of Theo and Santi and the video was released on the official site yesterday with him talking about the continuity and importance of it to a team. You only have to look at Sven Goran-Erikson’s City, or AVB’s Spuds, or Brendan’s Scousers to see how bringing about root and branch changes to a squad comes with complications. Players don’t know what runs are being made, there might be confusion over positions defensively and sometimes partnerships just don’t work, so I’ll be if you asked ten managers in the Premier League they’d all tell you they’d prefer a settled squad above any amount of transfer dealings. 

Santi and Theo’s signatures were vital to show that The Arsenal is now a collective of people all in it ‘for the long haul’ and wanting to grow together to be successful. Victoria Concordia Crescit folks, Victory Through Harmony. Both seem really pleased too. Whether it’s Theo talking about Arsenal as his second home, or Santi talking about how Arsenal is the perfect place for him, the sense I get as an Arsenal fan is that all of the players are pulling in the same direction. With characters like Gallas and Bendtner six years ago, how can you say that was true for us back then, eh? You can only build friendships, partnerships, understanding and a collective bond with time. It’s only in the last couple of seasons that this kind of comradeship has had the opportunity to grow. The seed was planted three years ago and it’s taken a while for the flower to grow and show its colour.

As for today’s presser, no doubt Arsène will once again be asked about Benzema, no doubt he will once again dismiss it, but I hope we get more positivity about the balance and harmony in the team. That’s what I want to hear from today’s presser, because ahead of the new season, I’m one excited Gooner.

Hoping football doesn’t pass jack by; building momentum with our start to the season

The Arsenal murmurs at the moment appear to surround the potential lengthy absence of Wilshere through injury and if it is as bad as being rumoured – out until approaching the New Year – then there is real cause for concern for everyone.

Not so much for the squad, because I think we have the players who can cope and Jack was always going to have a battle on his hands to get in to the starting XI in his preferred central role, but more for the future of the player and the label that will inevitably be handed his way as “the new Diaby” or other such comments which may sound harsh, but when you look at his age and recent injury record it starts to be a concern that becomes very real. I’ve had a quick look at his history and since he broke in to the first team my count says that since 2011 he’s had 17 different injuries. That’s over four injuries a season over four seasons and when you look at that history you start to fear for his future. It appears to be predominantly his ankles and in a sport in which you’re invariably going to pick up knocks in that area, the one thing that you don’t want to keep having recurrences of is ankle or knee injuries.

I hope it isn’t as bad as feared, but we’ve been here before with Jack, where a short lay-off quickly turned in to half a season. We’ll no doubt know soon enough as Arsene will take to the press conference chair and tell all, but the silence of the club is usually a bad thing. If he is out for that length of time, then serious questions need to be asked, because no club can put their hopes in players who are persistently on the sidelines. That’s why we ran down Diaby’s contract because as good a talent as he was, he just couldn’t be relied on and at his age he was simply taking up room in a 25-man squad that the club couldn’t afford. When does it become like that for Jack?

I know it sounds harsh and even in my head and as I type I feel like casting myself into the fires of Mount Doom for uttering such things, because Jack is one of us and loves the club, but football moves quicker than most things in life. What would be to stop Arsene from moving quickly now to sign a player if Jack is out for a prolonged period of time? Then what happens if that player performs brilliantly? Then when Jack gets back in to the team there will be another person ahead of him in the queue for a starting place in the team. But Arsene can’t just wait around for Jack to be fit just to fit him in his team, can he?

It’s a headache that nobody wanted or needed ahead of a lot of optimism going in to the new season. We’ve had a fantastic pre season, the squad looks balanced and deep enough (maybe a tweak or two needed but that’s it) and even Wilshere himself has had a good pre season and was looking forward to having an injury-free year. Yet we find ourselves back at square one with him. If he’s out for a few months he’s effectively going to have to do his pre season prep all over again and that will be a ball ache in itself for the player, so I really feel for him.

Still, on the eve of the new Premier League season, we should be more upbeat than deflated despite the news we’re rumoured to be getting. I’m still feeling positive. I think we have the best possible chance to win the league with the players we have. I’m looking at the first four games this season as the springboard to a successful season. If we get the results we want against all of the teams we play in August, I think we can challenge for the title. I believe it will be our start that will frame our season, so the players have to be ready. In seasons past, our good runs have come because we’ve started well. In 2007/8 we won a heck of a lot of games at the beginning of the season and that helped us get as far as March as the league leaders before the Eduardo injury and a lack of belief in the team – possibly because of the size of the squad – saw us lose out. In 2013/14 we lost initially to Villa but then went on an amazing winning streak that again, only a weaker squad saw us fall away in March. See a pattern emerging here?

I remember hearing the journos talking about how well Arsenal had been playing in pre season before 2013/14 started and at the time I ignored it, but they have been saying similar things about Arsenal this time around. My only hope is that our squad is capable of sustaining a challenge until May. I think we are, I think the players believe they are, so all we really need is to build momentum. The kind of momentum that you get when you win your opening games.

We play West Ham at home on Sunday. We have to be looking to get maximum points there. Then we travel to Palace which will be tricky, but we need to again get our away form up and running too. I think with the acquisitions Palace have they will be better, but my hope is that they are still settling in and we can therefore take advantage of that by picking up all three points. The following week it’s a Monday night game against Liverpool and whilst they will surely be better than last season, we have to approach the game in the same way in which we approached the game at the Emirates last season. Press Liverpool higher, take advantage of a weaker defence and win at home. If we have nine points going in to the bank holiday weekend, I’d fancy us to do it away from home to Newcastle. We then have the Orcs at home before an international break.

It’s all there for the team. They just need to put the pre season form and all the talk in to practice and deliver us a winning start. Confidence will grow from there and we’d be in a perfect position to go to Stamford Bridge after the international break in September feeling like we can finally beat Chelski on their own patch.

All of this is contingent on a good start though. We have to put West Ham to the sword on Sunday and go from there. Come on Arsenal, you can do it.

Arsène delivers a striker; Jack needs to deliver an injury free season

You want a striker?”

Yes.

You want a striker?”

Yes.

YOU WANT A STRIKER?”

YES!

“FINE! Here’s a striker. Now get out of my office!”

That’s what I imagined Arsène’s response to be to those people who are practically gnawing their arms off with the fact we haven’t signed a striker yet, after it was announced that we’ve picked up Ajax youth academy graduate Donyell Malen.

It will be one for the future (because he’s only 16) and of course my parody above is meant tongue-in-cheek, but after seeing young Jeff Reine-Adelaide light up at the Emirates Cup, I don’t think there can be too many complaints that we’re picking up young talent for the academy to see if we can’t unearth the next gem. And besides, he’ll be schooled well at Arsenal and if he doesn’t make it to the first team, we’ll most likely cash in on him when he reaches his early twenties anyway.

Also, there really aren’t enough Donyell’s or Donell’s in this world, especially in the footballing world. I used to love Donnell Jones’ music, so if our new Donyell can be as silky on the ball as Mr Jones was on the mic, we’ll be in for a treat. 

Speaking of treats, wouldn’t it just be the sweetest of them all if Jack Wilshere could stay fit for the whole of this season, eh? That’s what angle Arsène has been pushing via the official site and quite frankly, it’s hard to argue that he’s wrong. Super Jacky has seen such a stuttery last few years and I’m in no doubt that it’s hampered his development. Let’s not forget that six or seven years ago he was exciting us all with his ability on the ball to dribble past players, his ‘burst’ over five yards as Arsène calls it, as well as his tenacious attitude. He showed glimpses of his ability towards the back end of last season and has looked pretty good in preseason so far too. There’s no doubt it’s going to be a big season for him, but the challenge of getting in to this team could provide a welcome one for our boy Wilshere. He looks like the type who will be up for it; tongue out and head down, he’s one of a few players like The Ox or Theo, that have probably been earmarked by us all as ‘a big season for…’ territory. 

But it’s a big season for most of the squad. It has to be if we’re going to have a serious go at winning the league. I’ve said this before, but I’ve not felt as buoyant about a season since the Invincibles era. All of the psychological as well as the technical (in terms of quality of playing staff)  shackles feel like they’ve been removed. If Arsène is to win the league before his time is up at Arsenal, it does feel like he has to do it now, because we look and sound like the part.

This weekend is a friendly. In the grand scheme of things it means relatively little. But it would be nice to lay down a marker. 

Three days and counting. Come on Arsenal.

Arsène behaves like my mum wanted me too with press comments

Did you ever get told by your mum to ignore the chants of other boys/girls? To brush away callous name-calling with a simple rendition of “sticks and stones”? And did you find it really difficult to understand why your mother didn’t tell you to open up a can of whoopass on the individual in question? 

I did. I often found the idea of ‘turning the other cheek’ an irksome one. How can mothers understand what it is like when you’re in the middle of a playground surrounded by the mob that is your fellow school pupils? 

(My mum was a Maths teacher, so clearly in hindsight she understood more than any, but try telling that to a ten year old Chris)

I wanted to be able to brush away the name-calling, but I just didn’t feel strong enough to simply shrug my shoulders. That’s why I admire Arsène’s response to the press interpretation of the Mourinho comments yesterday. The season before last, after Arsène had made some comments about managers being afraid of failure, Jose took the baiting of the press and bit back with his “Specialist in Failure” jibe. At Arsène’s pressed yesterday, the reverse happened when the press tried to turn Mourinho’s comments into something to get a sound it’s out of Arsène.

He simply dismissed it. Doused the fire with good humour and essentially did what my mum had told me to do all those years ago. He shrugged it off.

That’s why Arsène’s the better man. He’s the more composed, more eloquent and I’m thankful we don’t have a snarling and over-reactive Portuguese as our boss.

Now, let’s start to reverse the recent history with a win against Chelski this weekend, Arsène. And afterwards, let’s take that Premier League trophy from Mourinho, just for kicks.

The early team news ahead of the game on Sunday looks like it will see the continued absence of Welbeck. It’s a bit of a shame really because it will mean he’s had absolutely no preseason and if we’re all honest, with players like Mesut talking about this importance of a good preseason for a footballer, I’m not sure it bodes too well for Danny. 

Even if he’s back for next week’s game, he’ll be nowhere near fully fit and unless he is able to fast track his own delayed preseason, I don’t think we’ll see him anywhere near his best until probably October time. It’s hard enough getting in to this Arsenal team with so many players fit now, let alone when everyone has stolen a march on you by having a full preseason, so I hope Welbeck can recover and not lose any confidence if he isn’t straight back in to the team.

I think he’ll get his chances though. Arsène promised as much to Chambers yesterday when asked about whether he’d go out on loan. Having only just celebrated his anniversary on joining the club, I suspect Arsène is still looking at engraining in him ‘The Arsenal Way’ of playing, which is why a loan is out of the question. But also probably because he will definitely play games. Four centre halves will almost certainly be used this season and, with Koscienly’s dodgy calfs, having both Chambers and Gabriel waiting to take advantage, it gives Arsène the opportunity to rotate actual central defenders rather than play full backs (even though Monreal and Debuchy made good attempts at it last season). 

That must be true for Welbeck too, so whilst there were some rumours of a move to Turkey in the press last week, I can’t see Arsène offloading him. He’s spent a season adapting to a whole new way of life, so it stands to reason that it was going to be a similar adaptation to his teammates and I expect we’ll see better things from him this season.

The countdown is well and truly on for the proper stuff to start and although the Community Shield is somewhat of a halfway house between friendly and the real thing the following week, I’m excited about how we might line up this weekend, because it’s a half decent indicator of how close we are to Chelski in terms of seriously believing we can take points off them this season. 

Sticks and stones may break some bones, but I’d rather we break Chelski hearts with what’s done on the pitch this weekend and come May next year.

Movement on players, but is it the ‘right’ players at Arsenal?

Mattieu Flamini to Galatasaray and Wojciech Szczesny to Roma on a one year deal, it seems, if the rumours across multiple newspapers and on radio shows are to be believed.

Firstly the Flamster who, if we’re all honest, probably knew his time was up at the club. The fact we’re picking up a fee for a player who we got on a free transfer and was probably expected to play only a handful of games, is pretty astute from Le Boss. 

Yesterday I talked about the need for adaptable players and it’s clear that as a player his adaptability whilst not that bad (we all know he can play at full back, having done so during the Champions League when we reached the final), does little to make up for his clearly limited technique. He’s a bulldog with plenty of bite, but if you want him to shepherd sheep or fetch your paper, it just wouldn’t work. He’d most likely chew the paper to within an inch of its centre. Then go after your slippers for dessert.

But he’s proved to be a useful transitional player, adding a bit of depth to the midfield, as well as a bit of bite. And this time he’ll leave the club with our blessing.

As for Woj, this transfer which I found out about via the radio last night, doesn’t feel as good for me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that a loan deal to get him game time won’t be better for him than sitting on the bench all season, but you just get the feeling that the second he departs, our shiny new signing might just develop glass ankles. Or wrists. That’s what tends to happen at Arsenal, you see. 

Perhaps a change of scenery would do him good. Perhaps a year in Italy will help him improve as a ‘keeper. But talk of Roma negotiating an option to sign the player at the end, suggests that his time is up and it will be Ospina who will play understudy to Cech, which I don’t necessarily think is the best option for Arsenal Football Club. Mainly because I think Szczseny is the better ‘keeper. He’s certainly the more attractive option for other clubs to go after. The age difference between Szszcesny and Ospina is one year and the Colombian played in a World Cup last year and the Copa America just a month ago, so he has been in full view of the world’s football clubs, yet Szczesny who was Arsenal’s number two and is also Poland’s number two has got a concrete offer in. Doesn’t that strike you as odd.

It does to me. 

I think Szczesny is the better ‘keeper and by letting him go instead of Ospina I think we’re weakening our reserve options somewhat. I know there was talk of Everton being interested in Ospina, but until something more concrete comes in, all it looked like from where I’m standing is paper chatter and nothing more, so to me it just looks like we’re trying to get one of the two out the door as quickly as possible. 

I have nothing against Ospina. He did ok at times last season. But that’s just it. Okay. Not spectacular. He didn’t really save us games, if you’ll excuse the unintended pun. He just did what you’d expect from your ‘keeper. The bread and butter. Szczesny form may have tailed off last season, but the season before that he showed he was capable of keeping us in games, to which I still think he’s capable of and it’s why I was kind of hoping we could solve a problem by giving Ospina a new home. But it appears that will not be the case.

Perhaps I’m getting overly worried when the reality is that we’ve already made an upgrade in goal and are likely to see Ospina rarely in the upcoming season. Only time will tell. But I just can’t shake the feeling that ditching the Pole isn’t in the best interests of the club from an ability perspective. Unless its got nothing to do with ability and everything to do with attitude and Arsène’s finally had enough. 

One things for sure; if Wojciech never plays for the Arsenal again, that crafty ciggie in the showers will go down as one of the most career defining puffs anyone has ever had.

Laters peeps.

What if. What if. What if. Don’t lose your sh*t gooners.

Honestly. I love our fanbase for the variety and volume of Arsenal fan that there is, but sometimes we all need to take a deep breath and chill the eff out, because life truly is too short.

Yesterday one of the Arsenal lads in my office called out from his desk that Schneiderlin had finally signed for Man United. Let’s ignore the fact a United fan sits nearby and was immediately grinning and asking me how upset I was at that. Especially as they now had Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin and all we had was Ozil and Coquelin.

I had to turn back to my computer and give a wry smile because, quite frankly, we have the two better players I believe. I also believe that this time of the year is one in which hope is stronger than ones memory, which is why you get people making ridiculous comments like “this will be their year. Just look at those signings. What a team on paper”. I remember Stan Collymore saying that Paulinho could be the final piece in the Spud jigsaw for a title, or at least a top four challenge. It stuck in my mind as a statement purely because little was known about Paulinho other than he’d made a successful start to a national team career and he came for a lot of money. Now he’s in China having bombed at Spudsville. Some of you may remember Florin Raducioiu signing for West Ham for big money after a good international tournament. He was expected to be a star at the Hammers and flopped quicker than Hugh Grant’s hair. It’s because he just didn’t work at West Ham.

Schneiderlin may turn out to be a good signing. He may also turn out to be Paulinho in Manchester.

But what if we get injuries? What if we don’t sign any other players? What if we have to rely on Arteta?

What if? What if? What if?

What if Schneiderlin signs for Arsenal and gets injured in the first week of the season? Are we then all going to be saying “well that’s ok, because we have cover, and we’ve already picked up an injury in that position so God won’t allow us to get more than one player injured in the same position”? No, didn’t think so, because we all know that life doesn’t work like that. We could have signed Schneiderlin, lost him and Coquelin for a period of two months and we’d be in this position anyway.

And besides, what’s with all the Arteta bashing anyhow? I don’t really get it if I’m honest. He’s a player who has served us very well and has been the foundation of a decent unit not 18 months ago, so why on earth has his stock plummeted so much in such a short period of time.

Injury. That’s it. As opposed to some players, in which absence makes the heart grow fonder, it appears that for Tricky Mickey absence has made the heart a cold and unforgiving thing. Arteta is, and will continue to be this season, a good player with an intelligence that will only be visible when he plays. But he’s got to play in which you will be able to see it. Until then, there will be too many people who will look at his date of birth, declare “his legs have gone” and dismiss his contribution to the team. I know it’s a different sport, but over the last two weeks I’ve watched a 33 year old Roger Federer do battle like a 23 year old in tennis. He’s the same age as Arteta and so why is nobody saying his “legs have gone”? Because what we see with our eyes contradicts such a statement. So it is with Arteta.

In the 2014/15 season he picked up a number of injuries which limited his time on the pitch. In between those injuries he played the odd bit-part, but never really got the chance to get any kind of run in the team or form going. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve said that players need a run of games to show their true value. The fact of the matter is that Arteta hasn’t had his run of games with which to make an accurate assessment of whether or not he really has had his time at Arsenal. Just because he picked up some injuries, doesn’t mean he’s a busted flush people. Jack Wilshere has had time out because of injuries, but his time at Arsenal hasn’t really been called on by goners I know, so why Arteta? Because of his age. That’s it.

Well I say that if his age is the only thing from anybody feeling comfortable that he is a very good back up, then pretend he’s 28 and then imagine how you’d feel if he was second in line to the ‘DM’ throne behind Coquelin. There, does that make you feel different? Does to me. All of a sudden I’m looking at our squad and thinking that we’re pretty much there. We can compete for the title. Heck, had we not stuttered at the beginning of the season, we would have done. I saw a brilliant comment on Twitter yesterday from Billy Dunmore which was perfect to describe where we’re at:

If we look at squads like cake. United are still layering theirs, whereas we are on the hunt for icing and cherries

Spot on the money there, Bilbo. We don’t need to be spunking cash on players who may or may not be successful. Remember, we’re in the ‘megastar signing’ bracket now. Schneiderlin is a good player, but he’s no megastar. Schweinsteiger is a decent player, but we have better, younger, less injury-prone players in our midfield who have played in the Premier League for many years. How do we know Schweinsteiger won’t Falcao up the joint? We don’t.

So let’s not lose our sh*t over a few United signings. Think about how far we have come since United won the league. Think about the two respective squads. United seem to be about big names. We’re about harmony, balance and competing for the title. United have to build a team with (most likely) a new ‘keeper, will probably need to look at their defence and with That Dutch Bloke and Falcao gone, they need another striker. We don’t need half of the surgery they need on their team, so chill, peeps.

We’re ready. I believe it. The players now believe it. I believe them.

A combination of a heavy night’s drinking on Thursday, coupled with centre court tickets to Wimbledon on Friday, conspired to prohibit me from blogging yesterday. But in true ‘they’re all agin me!’ style, the fates decided that they should release some interesting quotes from players and some good pictures for me to look at on the official site too, so I suppose if I was looking at this with a half full glass, I could say that at least I have some stuff to talk about. And look at.

And if pictures can tell a thousand words, I’m glad when they also tell less, because I can’t be arsed to look at a picture that’s going to take me that long to digest it. So it’s pleasing when pictures tell about a dozen words, which include:

Our shiny new ‘keeper is world class and has a funny hat.

Of course one has to feel sorry for Ospina, who is saying all the right things by declaring that he wants to keep his place. But whilst he has a somewhat entertaining chant, he is distinctly lacking in the hat department, so I can see why Arsene made the decision he made to bring a new man in.

As for the spoken word of players, whilst I was sunning myself in SW19 yesterday, I took time in between Roger Federer’s smashing of Andy Murray to have a look at the Sky Sports website and saw that Aaron Ramsey was quoted as laying down a challenge to Chelski for this upcoming season. I know talk can be cheap, but I have to say I have been loving the players attitude since we won the FA Cup for the second time. I don’t know about you, but it finally sounds like they believe they should be up there. Arteta, Mertesacker, Alexis, Wilshere, Ozil – all have made comments of differing levels of happiness with the FA Cup but ultimately saying that they want more. It just feels like this group of players believes in itself more than ever before. It feels like they are ready and by Jove, doesn’t that make you feel good as an Arsenal fan?

He spoke of keeping players fit, of challenging for the title and of his own career too. And when you have the desires and the potential of a team like this Arsenal team, players want to stay and players want to join us. Ramsey admitted he was flattered to be linked with Barcelona but despite all of that hubbub, if we are challenging for titles both domestically and abroad, we can keep all of our players. London is a great place to live, the Premier League is the best league in the world and if Arsenal are one of the best teams, then I think even the lure of Barcelona or Madrid would be easier to turn away.

I realise I might be getting a little too excited here by talking about fending off a Madrid or Barcelona if they come calling for our players – and I do acknowledge that right now we’re not up there – but what if we win the league and get closer to the Champions League than our regular exit in the round of 16 or quarter final? What if we start to turn the corner and become the team like we had 11 years ago? We kept Patrick Vieira from numerous Real Madrid advances and if players are winning things at Arsenal then we can keep players like we used to back in those halcyon days.

The trick for us will be keeping all of our best players fit, as Ramsey says in his interview. The back end of last season showed that if Shad and his crew are keeping everybody fresh, if Arsene rotates properly and if we can start the season off like we finished this season, we’re strong enough to have a go at the league. Think about what did us over in 2013/14 – a lack of an option other than Giroud. We had no Walcott (injured), no Welbeck or Alexis and we ended up with few options. Heck, even Bendtner played against Hull that season! So even if we didn’t sign anybody else (although I hope we do), we will still be competing. I’m convinced of that. If we start the season like 2013/14, even injuries to the team won’t mean we’re completely derailed, as we have plenty of cover (nearly) everywhere.

This isn’t just a over-the-top puff piece that is me trying to convince you to get excited about he season ahead without any real belief. I truly do believe we’re ready now. More than we’ve ever been.

Alexis’ success good for us?

Alexis Sanchez will be a happy boy today, after chipping the winning penalty to see Chile win the Copa America, so after a season of somewhat success at Arsenal just gone (and I say ‘somewhat’ not because of his personal success, or the teams, but I get the feeling the squad are all happy with the FA Cup but expected us to do better in the league) he can feel very happy with life at the moment.

He’s integrated in to a new team with consummate ease, he’s leathered in an FA Cup final goal in May and has notched himself a winning penalty for his international team too. The hope is that this will just provide more hunger, more determination and more motivation to help Arsenal succeed with our goal of winning tghe league next season.

Of course, we know from this time last year, that winning international competitions doesn’t actually always mean a good thing for returning players. Big Per admitted he found it harder to motivate himself after the extreme highs of the World Cup and Mesut Ozil also suffered with form before getting injured and then returning the superstar we all know he is. But whilst you cannot rule out such dip in form for Alexis, I don’t think there’s many of us that would think that he’ll be in the same category as our two Germans, simply because of the personality he is. He is an Energizer Bunny. His effervescent presence is amazing and it wouldn’t surprise me if he is calling up Arsene this week and telling him he’ll not be doing a holiday this summer, that he’s just going to go straight in to the next season with pre-season training now.

But we know that can’t happen. We know that he’ll need a rest and he’ll need to let his body recover, which means that he’ll most likely be given a month by Le Boss to rest and relax, before rejoining his treammates in training at the beginninng of the season. The only problem we’ll have there, however, is that he’ll probably need another month to get back to full match fitness. It means there’s a chance for others to prove themselves and so I do wonder who will be given the nod in that position during the early months of the season. The Ox on the left with Theo on the right? Welbeck? He’d be refreshed and ready to go after an injury-hit end to the season. perhaps Arsene will experiment with a new formation? That’s something that I’m sure will have my old friend Dave Seagar will be excited at the prospect of, I can tell you.