Thursday, April 25, 2024

Home again

Good morning folks, I’m back.

Am I a shell of a human being who requires about 12 days of healthy eating and proper rest? Yes. But then that’s the price you pay for a good time. Let me first say thanks to Lewis Ambrose who held the fort in fine style during the week. I always enjoy reading Arseblog when I’m away, and this time was no exception. I will have to try and secure him to a new long-term contract for an undisclosed fee.

I have done some US Tour updates over on Patreon, so I might repeat myself a bit here today, but it has been an incredible few days. From events in New York and LA, games against Manchester United and Barcelona, and the fact that both these places are absolutely packed with Arsenal fans, it’s been pretty busy.

For me the highlight of the trip, besides spending time with Andrew A, Tim and Elliot, was the game against Barcelona. The United game was a bit weird because we were in the press box at MetLife Stadium, and it was behind glass which made it a pretty sterile experience. I don’t think we played well on the day, and the lack of atmosphere (because of where we were), made it very hard to connect with that game on any significant level.

It was different against Barcelona though. First, there’s something other-wordly about SoFi Stadium. Pictures/videos can give you an idea of what it’s like, but nothing I’ve seen really captures the scale of it. The screen which wraps around the interior is as high as a four-story apartment block, and it’s hard to get your head around the concept that despite being on the fifth tier, you are below street level. It’s easy to see why it cost as much as it did, but it’s just a shame the pitch didn’t live up to everything else.

Still, despite worries about how poor the surface was, the game was really good, and it’s much easier to get into a pre-season fixture when the opposition start it with a series of dirty challenges. Ronald Araujo looked like a man who wanted to cripple someone, and that gets the blood going. His challenge on Gabriel Jesus was a genuine disgrace, red card worthy in my opinion, so I was immediately riled up and I wanted us to have a real go back – which I think we did.

I enjoyed Xavi’s vague complaints afterwards about the intensity of the game, as if it didn’t all stem from his lumbering oaf of a centre-half clattering into our players. From a footballing perspective, we were a lot better in this game than in the previous one. There was a lot more cohesion, we played some nice stuff, and scored decent goals. The flip side of that is the fact that the goals we conceded during those two games were almost all down to individual mistakes, and that might be a bit of a worry, but I’m sure Mikel Arteta will work hard on cutting those out as the real football gets closer to kicking off again.

So, the week ahead will see us prepare for the Emirates Cup game against Monaco on Wednesday, and then the Community Shield against Man City next Sunday. It’s fair to say that despite the fact you can categorise these games in a way which suits you best depending on the results, they are a serious part of our preparation for the new season. I am looking forward to seeing what we do, and how we do it, and with a big squad with many options at his disposal, Arteta’s desire for greater unpredictability should be apparent in some of his team selections.

Beyond that I have to get back into the swing of things here again. I had that moment which I’m sure many of you have experienced if you’ve been away somewhere nice: you’re a bit sad to leave, but can’t wait to get back home. I have to say the California vibes suit me very well, I love being that close to the ocean and I spent time every day being battered around by the Pacific. However, I am about 63.333% margarita at this point, so there’s a balance to be found.

Anyway, here we are. It’s all good, I feel lucky to have been able to take that trip and to spend time with so many Arsenal fans whose passion and enthusiasm for the club is just incredible. Here’s to the next one.

Now, more coffee, and perhaps an Irish breakfast. Till tomorrow, with more here on the blog and an Arsecast Extra at a normal time.

Until then.

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