Inhaaaaaaale… breath out… inhaaaaaale… CuuuuuuuKAAAAAAW… CuuuuuuKAAAAAW… channel that inner eagle you powerful beast. 🦅
Quite simply put, if you are not preparing mentally for this game to the sweet shrieks of eagles, can you call yourself elite?
Here is a video so you can prep.
Barclays Premier League Day is here. In a few hours, Arsenal will roll out for a season opener against Crystal Palace.
Patrick Vieira is no mug when it comes to coaching. He’s aged down the Palace squad, he’s brought some Wengerball to the Selhurst Park Turf, and he wants to kick on this season after making some shrewd summer signings. Paddy signs street footballers that entertain, he moves on those fancy Youtube comps we all like, Palace are going to be trouble this season.
… that said, word has it their preseason was a bit of a disaster because they went to Aus and loads of their players were anti-vaxxers. They only took TEN senior players there. So who knows, maybe we’ll be more fit, you can hide anti-vaxxers in the US no problem.
Last time we went to Palace, it was after an international break that Partey and Tierney went to, they promptly picked up injuries during the break and during the game and we were beaten quite badly in the first half. I’m not sure we deserved to lose over the 90, but we did, so there we are.
What is different this time?
Well, we’re still missing both our first-team fullbacks, but this time, we have much more capable back-ups. Ben White will slip in for Tomiyasu, he’s been really impressive there so far, but Zaha is a different ball game. At left back, we’ve got ELITE cover in Zinchenko. A player that knows the league, can play the system better than Tierney, and is more than ready to stake a claim.
Midfield will be Xhaka and Partey, same as last time, except one didn’t go out partey-ing after a World Cup qualification. Cut it however you like, those two together have a great connection, and they’ve been very impressive this preseason. They are extremely brave and I do think the more advanced Xhaka is starting to pay dividends. He’s contributing to the assist tally, he won’t be there all season, but he’s less exposed in more advanced positions, and he’s adding a bit of boldness to his passing. I think we all forget that you are never too old to improve at your craft.
Odegaard will captain and drop in as a #10.
The frontline we’re going with tonight will be very different. Saka will occupy the right, Martinelli will take up the left, and Gabriel Jesus will be playing through the middle.
I cannot tell you how different life is going to be this season. Even if we have a bad game tonight, what you won’t see is a freeze in the frontline. Finally, we have the specificity in every position we need.
We have 5 defenders who can play through a press and pick out Hollywood passes. We mostly had that last season, but if you don’t have runners, what’s the point in having longball specialists.
There’s more chaos in our forward line this season. Gabriel Jesus is a nightmare, he comes deep and he’s problematic, he goes wide and he’s a nightmare, he’s standing still and he can create something, in the box he’s ahead of everyone, this guy has changed the game. Last time we played Palace, we had Lacazette who lacked power, speed, and ability in front of goal.
The biggest shift we have tonight is winnertivity. Two players can make a huge difference on nights like tonight. Zinchenko and Jesus have done it consistently at the highest level. They understand patience, they know how to dig deep, and their experience will inspire the young kids around them.
Johnny made a great point on the Before the Whistle. I’d much rather Palace in the heat of August than on December 27th in the freezing rain.
Ideally, we don’t go a goal down this evening, I’d rather not test our abysmal record of clawing back, but I am less worried about that part of our make-up than I was last season.
Last season was the worst start imaginable, COVID and late business nearly killed this project before it started, this August is the chance to put some points on the board and make amends.
11 points from the next 5 games would be very, very good. 7 points from the next 3 would put us top 4 before the international break. That is where we need to be. I believe we can do it.
Before I leave.
I’m very excited about this season, as fans, we’ve been through a lot. Finally, it feels like there’s a bit of structure at Arsenal, a boatload of ambition, and we seem to have the right people driving the vision.
This season, we have to learn a few lessons from what happened last year:
There will be downs and they will feel very painful.
There will be long runs that will feel like we’re title contenders.
Key is not to get too carried away with the bad or the good times. We’ll be up there at the end of the season, then it’s a roll of the dice who has enough to kick it over the line.
Also… just remember that every team will have down moments.
It is easy to be there for the good times, but as you’ve seen from that documentary, our fanbase is most important to the players when we’re there for the bad times.
The journey is always better than the destination. Enjoy the feeling of being underdogs. Eat up those predictions tables that have us behind Spurs this season. Take names and numbers of the people that doubted The Arsenal.
Right, that’s me done.
We will be ON THE WHISTLE at 10pm BRITISH time this evening.
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