It’s back. Well, it may have started yesterday but if you’re like me, it’s hard to consider the season well and truly under way without The Arsenal in action.
If we are to be part of the title challenge and Chelsea are the only one we’re really afraid of, yesterday’s result must serve as an extra motivation. Swansea have provided us with a gift – any points dropped by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is simply a bonus.
Last season we had our struggles in the early part of the season. From the players being back at different stage of their pre-season due to the World Cup, injuries to simple because there wasn’t sufficient player acquisition from the management.
It already feels different this time around and mainly because of the way we finished last season. The last 3 – 4 months of the season was nothing but pure joy. The team was showing good consistency and the injury curse seemed to be dwindling down.
No major players have been sold this season and we’re not looking likely to do that, judging from the financial muscle we’ve been able to flex recently. Just like that case with the previous batch of players who weren’t trusted enough to be used, they have been discarded.
So, it essence what we have now is a squad who knows that they are highly fancied by the manager. Who knows, that if they give their all during training and whatever minutes that they can get on the pitch, Arsene Wenger will give them a chance. The cases of Nacho Monreal and Francis Coquelin will be real-life examples for the players to place their hopes on.
All that and you add in Petr Cech. The former Blue is now a certified Red. No spring chicken but there’s really no need to go over again how long a career that a goalkeeper can have. His presence and experience will calm the defenders in front of him. His guidance and instructions will ensure that panic doesn’t set in when we’re under the cosh.
The pre-season has gone swimmingly well with consecutive wins with goals and clean sheets as well. When I met with the players during the Barclays’ Asia Trophy in Singapore last month, you could sense the desire and spark from the players, that they really want to do well this season.
The likes of Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin are already looking to be at their peak in terms of form and that augurs well. I’ve always been a firm believer that different set of players will have to be at their best at certain periods of the season to mount a successful title challenge.
That’s not to say those that have peaked can play below par for the rest of the campaign. Well and good if a particular player can be world class for 8 continuous months but in order to reduce the dependency, much better to have groups by groups taking turns to pull the team along.
That is also the reason why I choose to see the bright side of Jack Wilshere’s latest injury. It’s absolutely gutting to see him miss out for a few months but there’s nothing that can be done to prevent accidental ones like this and the last one he suffered at the hands of Paddy McNair. Remember Ozil and Oliver Giroud last season?
West Ham tends to give us a game whenever they come visiting – that Bobby Zamora goal still haunts me. They’ve added good quality in Dimitri Payet but more than most, they have got Slaven Bilic in as manager. I like the what Bilic did with the Croatia national team and it’ll be interesting to see how he copes with management of a Premier League club.
Wenger said in the pre-match press conference that he’s happy to be under the kind of pressure that comes with the expectation of the team. I would say I expect Arsenal to be challenging for the title at the very least until the mid of May. Meet or overshoot my expectations, boss.
Here’s to a good starts. Up The Arsenal!