It starts again today. The gap doesn’t feel as long as it normally because of the wonderful World Cup in Brazil. For the first time in many many seasons, it feels that things might be different.
After the seemingly endless wait last season for transfer, it all happened rather quickly and early this season – the club cannot be criticised for dragging their feet and that is always music to the masses of fans. We’ve replaced and added well, with time to integrate the new ones into the squad despite the distraction of the World Cup.
Bacary Sagna was replaced by Mathieu Debuchy – not the typical replacement that Arsene Wenger normally goes for. That being someone who’s already 29 years old but it does give us someone who’s ready to step into the breach immediately, without needing a period of settling into the English game. It remains to be seen if Debuchy could replicate the defensive stoutness that Sagna provides but it’s an upgrade if we consider the contributions which the former Newcastle man could bring to the attacking side.
Just like Sagna, we knew of Lukasz Fabianski’s desire to move away to get more game time. With Damien Martinez still young and probably need one or more loan moves to gain more experience, a more experience keeper was needed. It came in the shape of Colombian custodian, David Ospina, signed from Nice. I wouldn’t claim to know much of Ospina apart from Colombia’s run to the quarter final of the World Cup. Given he’s first choice there, should be someone who’s able to provide a challenge to Wojciech Szczesny or come in without the defence worrying about the keeper behind them.
With Thomas Vermaelen confirmed to have signed for Barcelona (really happy we’ve rejected Manchester United’s advances – sign of increase power and all that), we are down to only 2 recognised centre backs in Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesackers. Calum Chambers was signed from Southampton and played there during the Emirates Cup (no, I would not consider Monreal playing there as any sign of Wenger looking at the Spaniard as being the 3rd centre back). However, Wenger has come out and say that Chambers could be a defensive midfielder and that leaves everyone just a little confused and worried.
Theoretically, we need another experienced centre back as 3rd choice and probably an up and coming young centre back learning the trade at 4th choice. We’ve been extremely lucky with regards to the fitness of both Koscielny and Mertesacker last season. I’m hopeful that this run could continue but I’m going to be realistic and somehow, think that either one could be out for a sustained period this season. I don’t see Chambers as someone in the mould of Raphael Varane, as in someone who’s young but slots in seamlessly when called upon.
If we could get that position settled before the start of the season, all the better. For flexibility purpose, it’s of course better to find a player who could do the defensive midfield role as well as the centre back role. It would mean less effort on one hand and more concentrated effort on the other, to pursue this player. If that role is eventually filled, either by a specialist in each position or someone who could do both roles, then in my mind, we have to be one of the favourites for the league title. All that and I haven’t even mention the special talent we’ve procured further up front.
Last season’s we’ve been begging to have someone come in who could complement as well as ease the workload of Olivier Giroud. We’ve got that someone now. The signing of Alexis Sanchez ticks a lot of boxes. The primary/secondary striking role, the pacy wide attacker to reduce the reliance on Theo Walcott, blessed with high technical abilities as well as being an absolute resilient fighter on the pitch. We’ve struggled when Walcott and/or Oxlade-Chamberlain were injured, at least now we’ve added the option of another one who looks to run beyond the last line of defence. You could always see Mesut Ozil grinning ear to ear.
Add to all that the continual progression of Aaron Ramsey, an injury-free season for Jack Wilshere, the growing impact of Kieran Gibbs from left back and the experience afforded from the likes of Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini – it’s hard not to feel better at how we are approaching this season compared to the last few.
It starts with the Community Shield against Manchester City and if I could dictate how the players approach this match, I want each and everyone of them to take it like it’s the first league match of the season. Winning is addictive and after the triumph of last match of last season, there’s no doubt in my mind that it would be best to continue in the same vein. Whatever your view on how important this trophy is, I would very much like our winning momentum to continue. We saw how the desire to keep winning every single week, helped push the Invincibles through their run and how it gave us an advantage with respect to how it instil fear into other teams.
So, let’s pick up where we left off and have an almighty go at it this season.
Up The Arsenal.