and here we are on the very eve of a new season. It all kicks off again tomorrow and I have to admit that despite my worst fears and concerns about where we are right now, at this point I’m also a bit excited. Football will be back after a long, tedious and interminable summer, and like it or lump it, we have to just get on with things and see what happens.
Later today I’ll post the now traditional season preview, which looks back at last season’s preview/verdicts, and assesses where we are on the dawn of a new campaign. Ok, so it’s not going to be laugh a minute stuff, but I don’t know what I can do about that. I suppose I could put some kind of amusing animated GIF between each section but you don’t really need that.
The news this morning, as we prepare ourselves for Villa, isn’t particularly good with suggestions that Mikel Arteta could miss 4-6 weeks with a thigh problem. I’d imagine that’s at the upper end of the scale for his injury, but it might well be a case that he’s not available until after the September Interlull (which kicks in after the Sp*rs game on the 1st).
I hardly need to tell you what a blow that is. He’s the heartbeat of the midfield and extremely important to how we play. Not only that, in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen he’s the captain and one of our most experienced players, so to lose him is always a blow. But, to lose him when our options are so limited is extremely worrying indeed. Even with a fit Arteta I think we’re short in midfield and could really do with a new face, if he faces that long out, the need becomes not just pressing, but downright urgent.
In order for a new player to be eligible for the Villa game we have to sign them before midday so I can’t really see that happening. It means that, for this game at least, what we have, we hold and we’ve got to look at the ‘internal solutions’ as Arsene might say. On paper Ramsey, Wilshere + Cazorla/Rosicky isn’t a bad midfield, but as Anam pointed out in this week’s Tactics Column, we miss something when Arteta’s not there and that’s a cause for concern.
The other point, of course, is one that has been highlighted throughout the summer. The group of players we have is just too light to withstand the rigours of a full season, a few injuries leaves us absolutely threadbare, and if I can see it, and you can see it, then there’s no way Arsene Wenger can’t see it, but he’s the only one who can do anything about it, and thus far he hasn’t.
He did speak to the official site yesterday about the transfer market, saying:
We are active. We are in a situation like Manchester United, like Chelsea, where everybody expects signings and at the moment not a lot has happened. There are 18 days to go, so that is a long time in the transfer market and we will be active.I cannot certify what the number [of players coming in will be] but we will be active until the end, that is for sure.
Right. I’m not sure how our situation is in any way comparable with Manchester United or Chelsea. Both changed their managers this summer, Chelsea have done some business, United haven’t. And I have to say that comparisons with other clubs and what they do in the transfer market are annoying.
“Well, if you look at Man Utd, they haven’t signed anyone.”
Bully for them, but I couldn’t give a prehistoric fish’s tit what United or any other club do. I can look at others spending and worry that they’ll be better and more competitive, but none of it should affect us or our capability of doing business. The reality is we’ve been sitting on a pile of cash all summer, which could have been used to make our team better, and we have singularly failed to do that.
I don’t see what that has to do with United’s situation, Chelsea’s, or anyone else for that matter. As for being active, well, at the end of the season, and after Ivan Gazidis went large with the stuff about how much we could do in the transfer market this summer, I was utterly convinced we’d make the most of the fantastic position we’d put ourselves in. There was, however, always a caveat: that actions had to speak louder than words.
So far, all we’ve done is talk. So when Arsene says we’re active and will be active until the end of the window, I can read that, process that, compartmentalise that, and then simply choose to file it away with all the other guff we’ve heard. At this point, with the injuries mounting, and pressure growing, I think we’ll be forced into doing some business simply because we’re close to becoming a car on a long journey trying to get there with a flat tyre.
We’ll stop off in a garage where a toothless old coot will sell us a bockety old spare he’s got, but it’s not going to be the best tyre in the world. Certainly not as good a tyre as we could have got if we’d gone and got one before we set off. But, what can we do at this stage? So, yeah, we can talk about being active but until we’re actually active, it’s hard to listen to.
The manager will have his first press conference of the new season, and we’ll have updates and news over on Arseblog News throughout the day. Hopefully there’s some good news about Sagna, and I still think the players we have are capable of getting the right result tomorrow against Villa, but man, we’re not making it easy for them at all. More on that game, with a full preview etc, tomorrow.
The season preview, as I say, will go up around lunchtime, but now, after a summer off, it’s the return of the Arsecast. Joining me to discuss the fun times of the summer, the state of the squad, the words of Ivan and the actions of Arsene, is Amy Lawrence. We also get an exclusive message from the owner, amidst all the other waffle and nonsense.
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Right, that’s that. Have yourselves a good Friday, back tomorrow for the big kick-off.