Day one of the season is about to start. This year it’s exciting. The major worry on my mind is that despite having a very good window, we had a very late one. The majority of our BIG signings aren’t match fit and all of them will need more time to integrate.
Additionally, it’s going to be a bumpy few months as the team gels and a new style emerges*
(*prays there’s a new style emerging).
Unfortunately, we don’t really have time on our hands. We have a beastly opening 6 weeks, Liverpool and Spurs are the two really tough games, but we also have to deal with Burnley and Watford away. There’s a huge Manchester United game at the end of September, that one really will be a tone-setter for the top 4 race this season.
Tierney is going to reintegrate into training in 4-6 weeks, so our left side is going to be a bit of an issue. Hopefully, David Luiz can start a little sooner having had a full preseason with Chelsea.
Looking at the squad, the only new player we’re likely to see start tomorrow is Dani Ceballos, and even then I’m not totally sure of it. If we’re rolling with the same players from last season, there’s a risk it could be a bit of a grim start as others work on their fitness.
What I am FASCINATED about is which young kids are the chosen ones. You could argue that Iwobi was a useful player that we didn’t really plan to lose, so, therefore, don’t have a backup for. We are certainly looking light for experienced players upfront.
So who takes his back-up role? Will we see ESR this season? Will Saka land some minutes? There must be an anointed successor because Pepe can’t play all the games.
I also really hope that Willock is a regular fixture this season. He looks ready, he had a great preseason, and I think his mobility and attacking threat could be very useful.
It’s also a big year for Mesut Ozil. He has a great squad of players to work with now and he appears to have put his EMERY OUT banner back in his Fortnite rucksack (did you see the kid that won the world cup of Fortnite earned $3m?). We know he can be the best in the business when he wants it. What will we see in November? Fannying out of challenges? Or racking up assists to feed his militant army of believers?
The exciting thing about this squad is we have an entirely new dynamic built around pace and an attacking threat… even our new centre back drops big game chances. It’s a tantalising thought that a defender like that will reduce our reliance on Xhaka.
A lingering problem that Emery is refusing to address is the captains’ armband. The group captaincy approach really is an odd way to think about leadership, especially after it worked so badly against us in the last campaign. The current group sits at three, Emery assuring us he’s going to wait and see who exits the building in the next 20 odd days before he decides.
“At the moment we have three captains: Xhaka, Mesut and Nacho, and I want to take two more because my opinion is the same as it was in the pre-season with five.
“I want to be with my squad clearly to have two more. At the moment we have three captains and I think they have the capacity to give us possibilities as captain.”
Even the most ardent Emery fan must be scratching their head at that list. You have one of the most error-prone players in the team on the list, someone who can’t go to big away games, and a left-back that is a true warrior, but also getting on a bit and quite injury prone.
David Luiz looking like the most standout figure when it comes to the armband, even if he is green to the club. #5 should probably be Hector Bellerin. He’s everything you want from a leader and I think there would likely be universal approval for a move like that.
Broader point… a leadership shared is a leadership that is NOT respected. Hierarchies in sport and business are important, this hippy commune approach to a badly damaged institution at Arsenal seems more about not making a decision than anything else.
At the time of writing this, the season has started and it appears Liverpool and City will be good this season. Some great goals in both games, the real concern early on is the way the Premier League is implementing VAR.
‘YOU WANTED ACCURATE FUCK WE’LL GIVE YOU ACCURATE’ is maybe a touch too extreme when it comes to the enforcement of the rules.
In the City game, every goal was checked, the keepers footwork on the penalty and the fouls inside the box. All the decisions were correct, but the time lag was inappropriate. Calling an offside for millimeters felt petty, but again, correct.
A few thoughts on this.
If we’re going to get militant about decisions, we have to bring the fans along. That waiting screen is the equivalent of internet buffering when you’re trying to watch your AV videos on Youtube… just show me the fucking Dreamliner stupid internet. Show the fans what the refs are looking at, give a little transparency, otherwise the in-ground experience is going to drive people away.
I also think cross-checking every single goal is a bit extreme. I don’t know how you get around that. There’s no middle ground when it comes to fact. I wonder if they work a Hawkeye sort of system where managers get two calls a game? I also wonder why they’re still allowing humans to manage the process. Shouldn’t IBM have Watson looking at these decisions? Why do we need a layer of officiating over the game? If we’re going black and white, let AI work it out.
I will say that the penalty save from Fabianski was rightly called back. For me, it’s baffling that refs and linesmen almost NEVER call the encroachment out of the box. But again, why did we need to wait so long to call it, the player left the line, you don’t even need a video ref to call that out.
All in all, we need VAR. Too many big decisions have been incorrect over the years. They just need to be flexible in ironing out the kinks. They also need to address them rapidly, let’s not wait a year to deal with the elephant in the room. If it’s laborious or boring to get to ‘right’, then the argument will be that maybe we should just accept injustice.
I truly believe they will find a middle ground. Well, I hope they do, otherwise the game is in trouble.
Right, I’m off to watch the MIGHTY VILLA spank Spurs this afternoon.
See you in the comments x