So, the countdown is on. This week will be full of previews and predictions as we get ready for a new Premier League season.
The tradtional Arseblog season preview/state of the nation will be published at some stage and the excitement will build. Regardless of the result on Saturday I know I’m going to be typically giddy as things kick off again, not least because it’s a huge game to begin the season with. Away at the Mugsmashers is never easy, but that’s all to come later in the week.
This morning the main story is the Mirror’s exclusive regarding Shay Given. They reckon that we’ll try and get him, on loan at least, should Joe Hart be made the number 1 at Man City. It does make some sense because Given isn’t the kind of player who would be happy to sit around on the bench but I’m struggling to see why City would let it happen.
Like it or not, because of the money they’ve spent City are a genuine rival now. The very least they’ll be aiming for this season is a Champions League spot. Giving Arsenal Shay Given undoubtedly makes Arsenal better and their job more difficult. They could even be quite clever about it and play Given until the end of August then install Hart as number 1 if that’s what they want to do. With the transfer window closed there’s nothing Given can do until January at the earliest.
Don’t me get wrong, I’d love to see it happen, he is a far better keeper than any of the ones we have now, but I just can’t believe that it will. I also wouldn’t put it past City and the sneaky twat that runs them now (Garry Cook) to lead us right up the garden path and then not sell/loan us the player at which point it’ll be too late to do anything else. Sort of the way Liverpool behaved when we almost signed Xabi Alonso that time. Why, at the last minute, would they have weakened themselves and made us stronger? I never understood that and never bought the story we were just £200,000 short.
So, I won’t exactly be holding my breath over this one and hopefully during the week the keepers we have will do well in dropping practice. It’ll be a relatively quiet training ground this week. The nonsensical decision to hold the international friendlies certainly does not make for ideal preparation. As far as I can tell we’ll be without the following players until Thursday at the earliest: Nasri, Vermaelen, Cesc, Vela, Wilshere, Gibbs, Walcott, Rosicky, Eboue, Fabianski and Arshavin.
Those who represented France in the World Cup are left at home, which is good for Sagna and Clichy and perhaps Diaby who, along with Denilson and Song is injured. Quite how injured we don’t know yet but with none of the three taking part in any of the pre-season games at all it seems a bit of a stretch to assume they’ll be fit and ready for Sunday. It seems the boss has already ruled out Cesc and van Persie due to their late return so, more than any other time, we have to hope our boys don’t pick up any injuries on their travels. We’re already down to bare bones and the season hasn’t even started.
So it’s going to be more challenging than AW would have liked on the training ground but with only Vermaelen missing from what is likely to be our back 5 at Anfield there’s enough to work with to put some of the defensive deficiencies right. And I have enough confidence in Vermaelen’s quality to be able to come back, slot in and pick up the beat straight away.
I expect a week of speculation too as the kick-off approaches. The squad is not complete, we all know that, and the pressure is on the club to deliver the signings. Not to make fans feel better but simply to give us the best possible chance of a winning start to the season. There’s a relatively easy home start to the season – although underestimating newly promoted teams like Blackpool, with their vim and vigour and energy, has undone us in the past – but then an away trip to Blackburn, a home game against Bolton and another trip north to Sunderland will all prove tricky enough.
Saturday’s game against Legia was no sign that we’ve learned to cope better with the physical side of things and you can be quite sure that the Fat Walrus will be ready to stage an aerial onslaught while Kevin Davies will be sharpening his elbows for Bolton’s visit. It’s going to be tough, but then it always is, and we’ve got to show we can look after ourselves.
Not much else going on this Monday morning. I’m not interested in Pep Guardiola understanding our position re: Cesc, it’s a shame Barcelona didn’t deign to understand it earlier, despite it being quite clear since the whole thing began. Oh well.