Get back to last year’s success story Arsene

What did I say yesterday? When everyone tips The Arsenal to steamroller a top seven side, fates invariably conspire against us to ensure that we don’t pick up maximum points.

It’s hard to be pleased about a home draw to what has been the poorest Spuds team that we’ve played in quite a while. Tottenham came to The Emirates with one goal – not to be defeated – and the Mushroom Man Pochettino ended the day yesterday the happier of the two managers after the 1-1 draw. His was a plan better executed than Arsene’s, as the Spuds were content to sit deeper than we’ve ever seen them before and try to catch Arsenal on the counter attack. And why not? If anyone has watched Arsenal this season they will have seen that we are susceptible to the sucker punch, as this game proved in the second half when the Spuds scored against the run of play. It was a goal entirely of our own making as Flamini was caught out easier than a John Terry testimony.

I don’t know if I am the only one here, but I’m starting to get a little bit concerned with the propensity with which we seem to be conceding first. Not only does it give our opponents something to hold on to, but it puts us in a position where we need to take risks and that isn’t something that’s good for my health. Arsene and Bouldy need to have a think about how we are set up, because it was much more fun last season when we were winning every game 2-0 and being defensively solid. But once again, almost as if to prove some kind of belligerent point, Arsene reverted to the style that we’ve adopted all season and played Ozil on the left. We saw with devastating effect the success of Mesut through the middle, but not only that, we also saw last week how Ramsey was more effective whilst sitting deeper and breaking forward from a deeper lying position. Yesterday was back to the old Ramsey, trying little flicks that didn’t come off and then capping off a torrid day by getting himself injured through a busted hammy in the first half. That problem was also compounded by Arteta who went down with a calf strain and the two will now not be available for next weekends loss to Chelski.

Tactically, Arsene needs to go back to basics too. The most basic principle being winning games. Three all season in all competitions is mid-table mediocrity form and we’ve already dropped far too many points this season with draws. Unbeaten runs may sound good out loud, but if you draw every game in the season you get 38 points and probably avoid relegation by a point or two, so should be taken with an extreme pinch of salt. To be honest, from the Gooners I talk to and follow, none are particularly over the moon with the fact we’re unbeaten, especially when you consider that the record will be dead and buried by next Sunday evening. I’m treating it as a forgone conclusion because, unlike Arsenal, when pundits tell the world that Chelski will roll over us, that is what usually happens.

Arsene needs to recognise who his best players are and play them in their best positions. Alexis’ best position – last time I checked – wasn’t sitting on the bench patiently waiting for the 75th minute to come when Arsene makes his customary substitution. Why on earth he didn’t start yesterday is a mystery. Actually, I don’t think it is a mystery at all. I think that Arsene is trying frantically to have a formation that affords Wilshere a space in the team. To Jack’s credit, he did ok yesterday, but with Rambo and Arteta having established the hierarchy last season of being on the teamsheets first and foremost, Arsene won’t drop them or Ozil, which is why Mesut is being shunted out wide. The hamstring injury to Rambo will allow Wilshere to sit alongside Flamini in the coming weeks and give Jack licence to be that box-to-boxer that we all want. It will also force Arsene into playing Ozil centrally, something that I’m pretty sure would have come to a parliamentary petition by all Arsenal fans at Ten Downing Street, had Arsene pressed ahead with his ‘Ozil out wide’ experiment. Ozil actually had a good game I thought, but he will only be so effective out wide, so needs to be sitting in that hole so he can feed Welbeck those killer balls we’re all craving.

When Santi came on I thought he was really good. He gave a bit more purpose to our attacking play and having him on the left with Ozil through the middle and Ox on the right instantly changed us into more of a threat. We should have had more than the one goal we had to show for our performance yesterday, but for some smart Lloris saves and a deep-sitting Spuds defence.

I really hope this doesn’t end up being a season of draws. Last year I don’t think we picked one up until late November and, when you go on long winning streaks it effectively sets you up for a title charge when you reach the halfway point. At this point now, with the tinkering Arsene is doing to the team, it’s hard to think we’ll be doing anything else than staring down the fourth place trophy. Sadly, just before the Ox scored his goal, I was starting to ponder whether or not a defeat today would at least give us the reality check that would be needed to know that it will be another season where fourth place is the target rather than lulling us into the false sense of hope that we’re good enough to win the league. I immediately hated myself for thinking that in the midst of the game and whilst we could still feasibly pick up two goals and win the game, but I can’t shake the feeling that come December our expectations will have been decidedly altered.

Le Boss has some work to do now. He needs to find his best team, not have them injured, get them back to playing what they did last season, plus get us on a winning streak that builds momentum and confidence. The good news is that after we lose to Chelski, we’ve got a run of winnable games until we then play Man United at home towards the end of November. We have to start clicking and clicking now.

Catch you tomorrow.

NLD nerves, despite everyone tipping us to win

Good morning to you on a very important day in the football calendar indeed. Derby day. The North London One. At home. Three points is the target and up and down the land (and the globe actually) there are Gooners like you and I nervously counting down the time to kick off. And it is nervous, isn’t it? Because let’s face it, without wanting to trot out all of the old cliché’s, the great form that we’ve had at home since the dawn of the Premier League era mean the square root of naff all today.

We host a Tottenham team who have just come off the back of a disappointing home defeat to West Brom (you can’t really call the midweek games the last games that the teams will have played because the two North London sides are completely different to the ones that will be rocking up today) and who have struggled to find their rhythm since the start of the season. In fact, you’d go as far to say that Spurs’ form is pretty poor so far. Over the last few weeks the Spuds have lost twice at home to West Brom and Liverpool, whilst also being pegged back by Sunderland away. So it’s hardly a Tottenham team that will be kicking off at The Emirates full of swagger. That’s what we’ve had during the previous 5-2 victories a couple of seasons ago, so I don’t really know what to make of the Spuds going in to this game. I mean, we could just as easily have that lot giving the games of their lives against us that belies their recent form, as we could see a comfortable evening of goals for our lads.

What does worry me is the fact that everyone is pipping us for a comfortable afternoon. When you’ve got people like Paul Merson saying we’ll have an easy afternoon and a 3-0 victory, Mark Lawrenson saying it will be a comfortable 2-1 and even Jamie Redknapp telling us the Spuds are a ‘million miles’ away from us, it instills anything but confident in your humble narrator here. Only because we’re not Chelski or City. Our dollar hasn’t been tainted with oil and we haven’t also managed to buy a truck-load of luck, so usually when everything points in Arsenal’s favour, we get a bloodied nose. Next week we’ll be on the receiving end of the pundits telling us that we haven’t got a chance against Chelski and it’s almost certain that what they say will come to pass, but when we are the favourites, rarely do we have it easy. I’m praying not to have that today. I’m praying for a real comprehensive victory that sees us a few goals up by halftime and a nice 45 minutes of jovial frivolity for the second half.

As for the teams, I suspect we’ll see the same side that dispatched Villa last week, minus The Ox for Alexis. So I am hoping that Arsene decide’s that Mesut should sit behind Welbeck and see if they can combine well as both did at VIlla Park. Defensively we’ll need Chambers to be at his best against a Chadli who looks a little bit more impressive than the five-minute player that played last season up against Jenkinson. The Spuds will play with a 4-2-3-1 and have Chadli and Lamela either side of Adebayor with Erikson sitting as the playmaker. Arteta will be responsible for making sure that Erikson doesn’t find space in between our defence and the midfield, so my hope is that he performs better than in the Dortmund game, in which he continuously let players run in beyond him.

It’s why Ramsey’s role in the team will be so important. Ramsey is at his best – I think – when he is starting from deeper and pushing forward. With Ramsey’s starting position being further up the field, it doesn’t give him the licence to be as successful with his driving runs I don’t think, so I hope Arsene opts for the Welshman sitting a little deeper than when he started the season. That would support Arteta and help to stifle the Spuds attack.

Our attacking quartet will need to find a way past Kaboul, Verthongen and Capoue who, up until his injury in the NLD last season, I thought looked like a decent player. Both him and Dembele can travel with the ball and look decent with it at their feet, but if Mesut can find those pockets in between their back four and the two deeper lying midfielders, he could have a good afternoon. He missed last seasons game because he hadn’t been signed in time, so I’m hoping he can show the world of his quality and build on the great performance of last week.

As Arsene mentioned in his presser yesterday, Ozil and Welbeck’s partnership was good last week and it has to be good today. Unlike two weeks ago when Welbeck found his chances few and far between, one suspects that he’ll be given more opportunities to put one away against this Spuds team. They play very open and do not have the requisite quality that Moneychester City have, so if Welbeck is presented with a chance it’s important that he puts it away. He opened his account last week in great poachers fashion, but he needs to get a run of games in which he’s scoring to secure his place in the side for the long-term. Let’s not forget that it was an excellent and deft touch of Giroud’s that won us this game last season, so that is what Welbeck needs to replicate today. If he can do it a few times too that would be grand.

We’ve drawn too many games already this season, so ideally we need the win more than anything else. A draw won’t really feel like we’ve mastered the ‘big games’ just yet, so its imperative that we don’t let a psychological barrier begin to build like it has in previous seasons. Having said that, it’s what I believe will happen today, as I think we’ll not see a Tottenham side anything else other than wanting to make a statement. I think we’re in for a tough afternoon and given our propensity to ship goals from set pieces, it wouldn’t surprise me if we get sucker-punched with a Kaboul goal from a corner or something like that. Chasing a football match is nobodies idea of fun, but I have a nasty feeling that’s what we might see this afternoon. After all, we’ve got form in that regard if you think about the two 5-2 victories.

I hope my gut feeling is wrong, I hope we can give them a smashing, so let’s all do our part to help the team to shout ourselves hoarse come 7.20pm London time this evening.

Come. On. You. Reds.

We wait on Debuchy; but not on Jack – why squad rotation is important

Morning friend, I hope you are well, recovering from the horrific prospect that after one game against a frankly awful QPR Man United are ‘back’ and ready to win every single game between now and the end of time? I’m certainly fearful of their awesomeness in every position. I mean, how will they ever concede again with the defensive solidity of Blackheart, Jones and Evans in their team? Football will become a boring repetition of 4-0 wins every week between now and the end of existence. Oh, woe is us, for life will never be the same!

Of course, the truth is a lot more palatable to stomach, which is that as the commentators on Sky Sports said yesterday that QPR were the perfect opponents to play at home after a series of poor results in the league. They were abysmal and I’d love to say that I can’t wait until they rock up at The Emirates, but you and I both know they’ll be disciplined, tough to break down and with a ‘keeper that decides to have the game of his life when we play them. It’s how things seem to happen in this universe.

The Arsenal chatter is understandably all about Mathieu Debuchy today, with the variation upon the theme being dependent on how long he will be out for, although the diagnosis from the journos appear to be that it’s ligament damage. Depending on who you believe there looks to be between two to three months out injured, which kind of figures, but there won’t be a better indication of the exact time for a few days I expect. Debuchy himself stated on his Facebook page that it was not a fracture and he was having further medical tests today, so I suspect it will be a pre or post match response from a prompt from Arsene that will give us an idea of his time on the sidelines.

If it does turn out to be about two months, it puts massive pressure on Chambers until December and with only Bellerin behind him in the pecking order, highlights just how ridiculous it is that Arsene has failed to fully address our overall options at cover in defence. There will be a lot of pressure on the first team defensive players and with our injury record even so far this season looking terrible (I think I saw somebody say that we have picked up an injury in every game this season or something crazy like that), you can almost certainly envisage a time in which we are down to Harry Redknappesque ‘bare bones’ between now and Christmas.

But let’s not get too caught up in the ‘what if’s at the moment, because there is the small matter of our opening Champions League game tomorrow night, a game in which we once again lock horns with Dortmund who themselves appear to have a bit of an injury crisis going on too. More on that tomorrow, but I’m just pleased the game has come ona Tuesday instead of a Wednesday, because I’m still not too sure whether or not I’m happy about a draw against the Champions on our own turf, as I mentioned yesterday. So the quicker I can put that result to the back of my mind the better.

One person who I’m sure will be starting will be Jack Wilshere and, with Arsene singing his praises about answering his critics, his performance on Saturday is exactly why I hope that we get better at using squad rotation this season. My view is that you can’t have the same 11 players playing the best football every game throughout the season. Footballers are human and are prone to off days, as Aaron Ramsey showed at the weekend, so for me it is important that you ensure that players are rotated enough so that they have enough game time under their belts to pick up where others are unable too, which is why seeing jack step up in the absence of a good performance from Ramsey, was so great to see. I love that Jack is one of ours, that he’s an Arsenal youth product and that he’s English, but if I’m honest I just want to see 11 players in an Arsenal shirt playing well and winning matches. That’s what counts and if that means that they all have to come from Venezuela, Bogotá or Singapore, I don’t really care as long as The Arsenal are on top.

So for me, the most important thing about Jack having that game is that we know that he can be relied on to take the game by the scruff of the neck, that he is getting back to somewhere near the player we saw before his numerous injuries set in, that we have a guy who is going to shine. And who can begrudge him a lot of praise after some of the drubbings he’s had from the media about both on and off-field activities. Hopefully we see a another sound game tomorrow night that will require the likes of Paul Scholes to stick it in his pipe and light one up on it.

That’s pretty much it from me for this Monday. You make sure that your world is filled with goodness, which for me, usually means logging on to Arsenal.com every once in a while during the day.

Catch you 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.

Lamenting the (possible) exit of the Prince

Sunderland may have helped to amuse me a little yesterday afternoon by picking up a point against a United side that we all hope can continue to be a bit short of ideas for the season, but by the time I laid my head on my pillow in the evening as Sunday drew to a close, I only had thoughts of potential disappointment.

Yep, it appears that there clearly is no smoke without fire and Lukas ‘Prince’ Podolski could be on his way out of Arsenal, with Juventus the apparent destination for our popular German. I’m sure you, like I, will be disappointed if this move actually comes off.

I think most of us suspected that Poldi might be offski this summer, but as the days ticked away and no rumours surfaced, I’d hoped that he’d have at least another year at the club. But it seems the absence from the entire squad on Saturday was another indicator that Arsene feels he’s not quite the right fit for the team any more.

It will be a big shame, because I like what Podolski brings to the club. Goals. In abundance. I’ve always said that we know exactly what we get with him and not a lot more. He is a natural-born finisher and if he gets 20 games in a season you can pretty much guarantee that he’ll get at least 10 goals. Goals win football matches. They are the hardest part of the game to master and when you have a player that is all about that in your team I think you simply must find a place for him. Think about Arshavin who, let’s face it, was all about mazy dribbling and finishing, but nowhere near on the level of Podolski in terms of end product. He seemed to stick around Arsenal rotting in the reserves for about a year longer than he should have done, so I suppose Arsene is looking at that situation and thinking that he doesn’t want to have a high-profile, high-earner, player who doesn’t contribute.

But that’s my issue: he CAN contribute and we all know it. Coming from the bench he could be quite a potent weapon I feel, so why isn’t Arsene considering him?

Perhaps it’s because of his technique and style. We all know that Arsene likes all of his players to be very highly gifted technically; it suits our style and quick interchanging of short passing. Podolski has never really been that great in that respect, so perhaps his Arsenal career was always going to be short-lived. He has also been known to be described as lazy because he doesn’t always track back. But my issue with that is that you have that from players like Mesut Ozil, so surely that can’t be another contributing factoring to his eventual Arsenal exit, can it?

I saw a Tweet yesterday from Arse2Mouse stating that the potential move to Italy was an interesting one because it meant that Arsene essentially needs at least 15 goals from Alexis this season to break par. I understand the sentiment and agree to an extent, but know that it doesn’t always work like that, as goals can be shared around a team to fill a void (a la The Dutch Bloke and the goals shared between Walcott, Giroud, Podli and Cazorla in the immediate aftermath season of the League after he left). It does seem strange that Arsene would put that pressure on the newer players in the team – Campbell and Alexis specifically – and expect them to immediately make an impact. Perhaps with the additional game time they will get as a result of one less player in their way it means that Campbell will step up, but he hasn’t exactly been a scorer of vast quantities of goals to this point, so I’d be surprised if he suddenly started banging them in. We know Alexis can score plenty of goals, but he needs time to bed in, so are we to rely on Ramsey and Giroud for the first part of the season whilst the squad knits itself together?

I’m just a bit worried is all. We haven’t exactly set the world alight yet – which is fine because it’s still quite early in the season – and we’re offloading players up top that have the experience and ability to bang in goals for the team. There might be some that say this could be a positive move because it means that another striker could be bought in, but as someone else said on my Timeline yesterday, this move is more fat-trimming than clearing the decks for another arrival. We’ve spent all summer being pleased that we’ve upgraded the squad with the additions, but we all also recognised that these have all been like-for-like replacement upgrades. That’s fine, but when we hit March this year, we were running out of bodies through injury, which given our injury record ever since The Invincibles, I have absolutely no hope (new fitness coach aside or not) that we won’t once again have a large number of absent players come the new year. That’s when a player like Podolski could be gold dust.

Here’s something to leave you with: last season we couldn’t find another forward player, so we kept Niklas Bendtner hanging around the training ground for a whole season taking up space. AND he even got some minutes on the pitch despite the fact the club, the player, the manager and the fans didn’t want that to happen. Why is it that was left to happen, but we can’t find a place for our natural-born finisher? Bit baffling.

Anyway, enough moroseness for one day, you have a good Montag.

Cheerio.

Everton away: Media narratives; points battled for

Yesterday was a day of recovery from a heavy Friday night which completely punished my body. I’m not as efficient with the amber nectar as I used to be it seems. As a result, doing anything that didn’t involve sleeping and water wasn’t on my agenda, even blogging suffered. I also had to prepare myself physically for entertaining The Management’s family with a full Sunday roast style dinner. The net effect was that I didn’t even manage to watch the game yesterday in real-time, having to settle for watching the game in full after the family had departed late last night.

Why am I telling you this? Well, mainly to explain that I find it very interesting how the end result affects the general narrative of a match, as well as the response from the media and fans. I am not somebody who can wait for something. When I was eight I knew my parents had a Lego pirate ship in their bedroom wardrobe fully six weeks before it was my birthday. It was annoying having to wait for it, but the very fact I was getting exactly what I wanted meant that I was contented.

I started off yesterday evening in full belief that I could avoid all contact with the outside world and watch the game as if it was in real-time. But the Lego pirate ship peaking boy inside me came to the fore and I switched on the radio at intermittent periods yesterday as I was cooking the dinner. What I heard from the commentators was an Arsenal team that were completely out of sorts, that didn’t deserve to pick up a point and yet by the end had smash and grabbed their way to a draw against a good Everton team. So it was with some reluctance that I watched the game yesterday late afterwards, knowing the result, which certainly took some of the worry out of watching Arsenal, but also gave me a different perspective.

For example: Everton. Described as composed on the ball, deadly going forward and thoroughly deserving of their 2-0 lead by half time. I’m not quite sure I saw it that way come the first half. Ozil switched off at the back post for the first goal, whilst for the second, there was most certainly a foul on Mertesacker and then an incorrect decision given by the lino (I am still not comfortable with calling them referees assistant) not to call Naismith offside before he slid the ball under Szczesny. The decisions were so obvious that even Jamie Redknapp had to admit them at halftime and full-time. By the time full-time analysis appeared on my TV screen, it showed that in the entire match, Everton had mustered just two shots on target which was both of their goals. Yet the media love a David vs Goliath killing and they love a sequel, so perpetuating the idea that we were watching a repeat of last season’s drubbing was easy for them.

I don’t think we played well at all yesterday. The passing was off, there were too many players that played at a six out of 10 pace, we were trying to be too intricate in the final third. The triangle passing football we play which gifts us such viewing pleasures as the Norwich/Wilshere goal last season looks amazing when it comes off, but it felt like there as a lot of that which just wasn’t finding it’s man yesterday. But then again, that might have had something to do with the fact that Everton scored their goal and sat 11 men in front of Arsenal and defended in numbers. Sit deep, tight and in numbers and you can frustrate this Arsenal team. So it proved.

The second half provided us with a bit more by way of opportunities, with Olivier Giroud the chief protagonist in a number of good opportunities going begging. He got us the winning goal and for that we should all be grateful, but his limitations will once again provide us with frustration this season I fear. That’s why I’m interested to see how we line up with both Theo and Alexis fully fit. An Alexis that does not, strangely, only last until half time. In the first half he ran his guts out and pressed high from the pitch. He did look slightly off-key (only slightly though), but again it’s interesting how the limitations of some commentators become more obvious when you re-watch the action. Alvin Martin, for example, was giving Mesut Ozil a savaging and saying that Alexis was by a million miles the better of all of the Arsenal players in the first half. Firstly, I think Ozil was quiet, but he did not stand out as the worst performer in my opinion. Secondly, I suspect that the reason he saw him as a stand out performer was not because of his play in thee final third with the ball, but because he was perpetually in motion throughout the half. That is his game and part of it, but for Alvin Martin, from an era when a player running around a lot was the sign of a good player, that’s what his barometer of success is.

But what about Ramsey, eh? What a player he’s going to be this season. Providing he isn’t Shawcrossed by anyone, this kid is going to bang 20 goals for us this season. He’s got that instinct to find the right places inside the box and you can see why he’s being compared to Fat Frank, who would always be that player arriving on to balls into the box, as well as be known for his engine in the Chelski team once he’d dropped the timber from his midriff that he carried in his early years. It’s why his departure from the team through suspension on Wednesday will be a massive miss. When that type of ball is slid in by a Cazorla or a Ozil on Wednesday, will there be anyone on the end of the ball to get there? I hope so. I really do. But I’m not so sure.

So let’s look at hindsight. Let’s ignore all of what went on yesterday and look solely at the point we gained at Goodison. Was it a good one? I think so. It was a point that was hard fought and the late nature of the comeback might even give the players more belief that they can turn anything around. Remember how United were always the ‘sign of champions’ with their late goals? There won’t be many teams that don’t rock up there and beat Everton off the park. That fixture is out-of-the-way and it also means that we have already arrested (if only a little) the worrying trend from last season of losing away from home to every team in the top seven (except the Spuds). We may still go on to lose the rest of the games away from home, but the important thing to keep hold of now is that we have already amassed more away points from that top five than we did last season. At this early stage of the season the importance is picking up points. The fluidity can come in September. We have an important game against Beisktas on Wednesday now, followed by a another away trip to Leicester on Sunday, where another break occurs before a chance to properly get our form going by beating Moneychester City at home.

Catch you tomorrow.

Vermaelen legacy in tact, as we prepare for excitement of new season

Before I delve into the thoughts of what may transpire come 3pm later at Wembley, there’s the small matter of the confirmation that our Captain Thomas Vermaelen, has departed our rainy shores for the sun of Catalonia. Last night Arsenal confirmed his move to Barcelona and Vermaelen was pictured outside the Nou Camp with the obligatory ‘thumbs up’ standing next to the ‘Mes que un club’ sign.

I said as much on Twitter last night, but let’s be honest about this folks, losing this captain doesn’t feel half as bad as losing the last two. Plus, we get the added bonus of all still getting to like him and wish him well on other shores, for this was the best possible scenario for all stakeholders involved in this transfer.

For Vermaelen, he gets an opportunity to get more game time at a big club, where hopefully he’ll be challenging for trophies. It was clear he is at an age where he needed to play (as Arsene said) and he is good enough to be a first team regular. I’m still not sure whether that will still be Barcelona – they’ve just spent a wedge on another centre half from Valcencia, plus they have Pique, so whether he plays all the time I’m not sure – but I think given their likelihood to rotate a bit more than ours, it’s a decent move for him.

It’s a decent move for us fans as well. It’s blatantly obvious that United were sniffing around him and, whilst Vermaelen may still come back in a Champions League encounter to haunt us, at least we know he won’t be on our screens on Match of The Day, or rocking up at The Emirates twice a season (minimum) in the league. We get to give him our blessing and say “thanks for the memories and good luck”.

For the club it is good because they have given themselves enough time to find a replacement, but the fact that they’ve got £15million for a player that hasn’t played much in the last 18 months and has just a year left to run on his contract is an absolutely brilliant piece of business. Arsene can have a root around for a good centre half now to challenge Per and Kos (like he has in Ospina for Szczesny) and with Chambers as another option we can hopefully have a bit more depth in an area that has worried us for most of last season.

Yep, this was good all round, which hopefully is what we feel come 5pm this afternoon when the Community Shield draws to a close.

We all know it’s a friendly and it doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, but it would still be nice to get one over on the Petro dollars, wouldn’t it? The papers have tried to spice things up by making comments designed to instigate outrage from Arsenal fans from a certain non-World Cup going football mercenary (who admitted money played a factor in his decision to leave Arsenal in that interview), but having read through the comments myself, it’s hardly a direct kick in our faces, so I’m a little bit ‘meh’ about it all if I’m honest. Nasri gave Arsenal a decent six months and then moved on for more cash and that’s pretty much all I can be bothered to say about that. It doesn’t really matter what anybody states about how Arsenal won’t be the main threat this year, because people said the same thing last year and we proved most people wrong by and large.

The line ups today will be intriguing. Pellegrini has already said that a host of City players (Company, Zabaleta, Sagna, Lampard, Aguero) will be missing today, so it will be interesting to see what a City side that is ravaged by injuries similar to what we’ve had in recent seasons, would look like. With Boyata and Nastastic at the heart of the defence they have some power and a bit of pace, but City aren’t I callable and I hope that we can through a few curveballs their way today.

As for us, Arsene has already given us a warning that the team aren’t 100% ready yet, which is why Olivier Giroud may not get a starting berth up top and in centre half Chambers might be thrown in at the deep end, but given the depth of squad we have this season, I’d still expect a strong line up to give Moneychester Citeh a run for their money. Szczseny in goal behind a back four of Debuchy, Chambers, Koscienly and Gibbs looks solid enough and with Flamini, Arteta and Ramsey all players that haven’t partaken in the World Cup you’d expect two of that three to be fresh enough and fit enough to start. I’d expect to see Santi Cazorla – slight chunkiness from the Emirates Cup aside – to play in the Mesut Özil free role, sitting behind a front three that should include Alexis Sanchez up top I think. Unless of course Arsene opts for a target man in Sanogo and Alexis/Campbell to play just off four-goal Yaya. If Sanogo is as impressive as he was last weekend, we can certainly expect the pace either side of him to profit from his hold up play.

What am I saying?! There isn’t even a place for The Ox?? He could start in the central midfield role or out wide with Alexis moving to centre forward too. He’s looked impressive in pre-season and I think he’s due a good one in 2024/15, so it’s certainly feasible that he’ll get the nod this afternoon. I also haven’t mentioned Rosicky, who Arsene loves and whose energy is always important in dictating the tempo of games.

The very fact that we have so many options, not to mention with the Germans still missing from it as well as Theo we have more options, fills me with so much excitement I want to run screaming with joy down my street in the rain. And I hate the rain.

This afternoon can be shrugged off or used as a confidence booster ahead of Palace next weekend, but whatever the result, I’m starting to get really excited for this season.

Come on you reds!