Arsenal’s Scandinavian tour a welcome distraction from transfer guff
Oh how I’ve missed Arsenal. It’s been a strangely liberating summer for me as I’ve been completely disconnected from the off-season and all that accompanies it.
This is my first blog update in weeks because I’ve not really had anything to say (so very unlike me) and to be perfectly honest; even if I did, I’ve not had the motivation to write.
There’s something incongruous about a jobbing writer saying he hasn’t had the motivation to write, especially when he’s spent the past 3 months doing nothing but writing. I’ve been fortunate enough to make some new contacts that have laden me with work in the most positive sense. As such I’ve barely had time to blink let alone form coherent opinions about Arsenal – although I do still check in on Twitter most regularly and coherence doesn’t seem to be popular so maybe I’ve missed a trick.
My self-imposed detachment from Arsenal’s off-season has certainly helped me to achieve some much needed sporting equanimity. I’ve spent little time worrying about Arsenal’s transfers or lack thereof and I’ve actually enjoyed myself – more so than any summer since 2012 when we were all caught up in Olympic fever.
It’s incredibly freeing not being subjected to the ramblings and rants of people who seem quite happy to howl into the wind or opprobriously shake their fist at the sky bellowing Arsenal cognomina like Rocky atop a mountain purging his lungs with shouts of “DRAAAAGOOOO”. Or perhaps it’s more that I’ve not let it bother me or fester when it did.
With a little under a week to go before the new season kicks-off I felt I should probably get back into the fan mindset, not least because around 30% of my commissioned articles come between August and May. In truth, I’ve missed the football. The actual football; not this constant agonising over transfers guff. I’m sure I’ll develop a few opinions on our summer recruitment as the season gets going and especially if the window closes and we find ourselves short. For now though, I’m just happy to see Arsenal playing.
As I write, the Viking FK result is playing on loop in my head. There’s little to be gleaned from most friendly matches, especially when the opposition is so very average, however I was particularly impressed with our finishing. Eight-nil is clearly an impressive scoreline but it was more the precision and killer instinct we showed that whet my appetite for Sunday and next week. Arsenal were clinical and more willing to take early shots. Is that something we’ve been working on? I’ve no idea, but I like it.
Sunday should be a thrilling affair and a game I can put some of my summer education in both teams to score and win tips into action. I turn 30 next year and it has always been my dream to go to Vegas for my 30th. My wife is not keen as she fears I may have an instantaneous early mid-life crisis and decide to abandon my dignity on the roulette table. She has nothing to fear. I’m more likely to be found watching a gaudy show than be one.
My good friend Devon of Goonersphere Podcast infamy and much more respectable endeavours like the Atlanta Gooners page, sultry voice-overs, making music with his band or expanding on his incredible solo work tells me that Vegas is way overrated and has instead convinced me to spend my 30th treat to the US in Atlanta eating oversized portions of what can only be described as a carnivores wet dream and watching his local MLS franchise in their debut season. And to think I was contemplating watching a Manilow concert with all you can eat shrimp!
Alas, I digress. Sunday’s match against Manchester City is a friendly match and as such the result can be used to suit whatever narrative you have after the fact. I’m going to set out my stall ahead of time. I think it matters…a bit. The result will have little bearing on the season as a whole but I think how both teams play will give us an insight into who is better equipped for the title race.
Easy answer, Manchester City of course I hear you scream. Maybe not. City flexed their financial muscles with the subtlety of a fitness fanatic taking a “casual” mirror selfie for their Instagram. And despite their boldness in the market they still only finished 4th and Arsenal, with their one signing, came second. Clearly we could have done much better in the market and on the field but that doesn’t excuse Manchester City’s woeful performance by financial standards.
Pep Guardiola is a different kettle of fish though and when he spends he usually hits the mark. What will be interesting is to see how the City players adapt to his style. I think City will do well this season but I’m not convinced they will win it just because of who their manager is. Let us not forget that Arsenal have done pretty well and given decent accounts of themselves against Pep sides and have often left him and his players looking rattled.
It’s a good test before we head into the Premier League season against Liverpool next week and whilst it’s too late to bed in new signings ahead of that fixture I believe a good result against City will be enough to help see us through the first few fixtures. New and returning players will help us beyond that and Wenger is offering assurances that he is active in the transfer market.
I expect a pretty open match but I’m not sure of a winner. My heart says Arsenal by my head says draw. As long as my arse isn’t saying City by Sunday evening I’ll be happy.
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