C-day could stand for many things. Chamakh Day, Clam Day, Christmas Day, ClintEastwood day, but really it’s just the day before D-day, innit?
Yesterday was C-day for many teams as the new Premier League season kicks off today. We have to wait until 4pm tomorrow, the so-called ‘Super Sunday’. I honestly think Sky should be brought up on charges of false advertising. Nobody can convince me that anything involving Jamie Redknapp, Richard Keys and Andy Gray is super.
Well, not unless Channel 4 take me up on my great new reality TV idea ‘Come Crucify with me’, and I get all three of them as contestants. No doubting the superosity of that.
“Take a bow son”.
“I can’t, I’m proper nailed to this cross. LOOOOOOOUUUUIIIIISE!!”.
One can but dream, I suppose. So with the new season almost upon us the time was right for the traditional Arseblog season preview – if you missed it yesterday, here it is. As things stand I don’t see a team that is capable of winning things. I should qualify that by saying there’s a good two weeks until the transfer window closes. Then I could qualify that by saying we’ve had all fucking summer to get in the players we need. And then qualify that by saying … erm … well, I’m not quite sure how to do that.
I have no worries about our ability to score goals, only our ability to keep them out. And the thing is, we’d score even more goals if we were better defensively. I have many of the same questions as you, I don’t have any of the answers, I just hope he does what is necessary. It’s blindingly obvious to everyone we need a goalkeeper and a defender. I know they don’t grow on trees and I know it’s not Championship Manager, but Arsenal is a football club run by a man with great knowledge of the game, with a scouting network that stretches around the world (probably twice), so I find it hard to believe we haven’t been able to identify players with the quality we need.
At a time when football is hardly awash with cash – apart from the clubs who are now playthings for bored billionaires – surely we have the financial muscle to get ourselves good deal. Regardless of that though, we need the players if we want to win things. If our business so far this summer is a signal of our ambition then we seem happy to settle for what we’ve got. That we’ve reached the eve of the season without correcting the glaring deficiencies that were so apparent last time is massively frustrating.
As I said, there’s still time and football clubs ought to work to their own agendas rather than those dictated by fans, but to go into the first game of the season with just one centre-half who has played Premier League football before and a goalkeeping choice which is the old ‘piss soup or poo sandwich’ choice seems a bit off to me.
There may well be some movement regarding Mark Schwarzer however. Gavin Henson’s real da has confirmed that Schwarzer has handed in a transfer request but also says there has been no contact from Arsenal since May. I suppose that shows we tried to do something early regarding the keeper situation, you just wonder why we didn’t pursue it to the end there and then.
Schwarzer must know how much we want him if he’s put in a transfer request. Fulham are quite within their rights to turn him down and the main issue is, of course, that they’ll be left without a first choice keeper and little time to bring one in. Another reason why doing business earlier is preferable.
There’s a lot of talk this morning that Joe Hart is set to be named Man City’s number 1 and will start against Sp*rs early this afternoon. That leaves Shay Given in a place he doesn’t want to be. At his press conference yesterday Arsene was asked specifically about Given and Hart and said he hadn’t made any bids but then asking Arsene in public if he’s interested in a player is like asking a toddler, crayon in hand, if they were the one who drew all over the wall. The answer is always no. So let’s see.
There was updated team news in yesterday’s press conference. Abou Diaby will be available while Denilson and Song could feature having returned to training. He’ll also make a decision about Cesc and Robin van Persie at some stage today, saying match sharpness will be a factor when it comes to selecting his squad/team. Regardless of how little they’ve played in pre-season the more regular first team players we have at Anfield the better. They should all be sharp enough to play, they’re professional footballers who have just had the summer off. The batteries are re-charged.
AW also spoke about the new rules involving the 25 man squad and once again expressed his dismay at them, both in terms of how it affects the transfer market and the rule itself, saying:
The new rules transform, even more, the agents into mercenaries. It is absolutely ridiculous and it is paralysing the market. Nobody will buy to make it 26 in a squad because you have to integrate that new player and pay another player off to bring the squad down to size.
The new rules on squads are a disaster for this country. It’s ridiculous. The home-grown rule is all artificial. From 1966 to 1996 this country won absolutely nothing, and there was not one foreign player. How has it changed? It is absolutely a joke. They will create more rules like this, and it’s all rubbish.
Strong words and he’s absolutely right. This obsession with the success of the English national team is going to damage the Premier League. Look at the way they’ve rounded on Capello, refusing to see the real problem. I’m all for seeing young English players make the breakthrough at Arsenal but they have to be in the squad because they’re worthy of it, not just because they’re English. Our academy is now producing, after more than a decade, a generation of young English players who could represent their country for years to come. It takes hard work, an investment in training, facilities and football education. Quick fixes like this are dangerous and counter-productive.
Then there’s the talk of a new deal for the manager, something that would have been met with almost universal approval in the past. Now the idea of another three years of Arsene Wenger doesn’t sit well with some fans. That’s the reality of it. It’s down to him to prove that he’s still the right man for the job and ultimately that means some kind of success this season. And when I say success I mean a trophy. I understand what he means when he says there’s a measure of success in qualifying every season for the Champions League, and many clubs would love to be in our position, but my feeling is we are, and have been for some seasons, just a player or two away from being real contenders. It’s like having an itch you can’t scratch, no wonder some folk go doo-lally.
Anyway, let’s see how it all pans out. Not much else going on this morning – other than Denilson living in some kind of crazy dream world – so we’ll leave it there for today.
Tomorrow’s the big kick-off. Until then.