So there you have it, REDaction’s information about Newcastle being the opener was correct. A shame that no-one foresaw that it would be followed by Liverpool at home and a visit to Old Trafford. Each of those surrounded by Champions League fixtures. Yes, Arsène, fourth place very much feels like a trophy won.
There is little point in deciding that a run-in is better than someone else’s or worse. We know that Arsenal are capable of screwing up a relatively straightforward set of fixtures. Perhaps we would have been better served by a tough run-in? Anyway, you can decide which is best here.
By the time Premier League fixtures being in September, the squad will have faced 3 EPL matches, 2 Champions League Qualifiers and 3 internationals. Eight games in the space of three weeks is an intense schedule at that stage of the season. Arsène will need his squad fully fit and everyone in place, ready to go by then. The demands of the season are unyielding in the opening stages and muscular injuries are a real possibility. At least for part of it, the transfer window remains open and new purchases can be made if anything long-term arises.
Starting at St James Park is the best place in some respects. It prevents pressure building for the clash if the defence is misfiring and offers an early opportunity to put right one of the wrongs of last season. The same applies to Liverpool at home. But we’ll forget that Arsenal have never won at St James Park in August. And have lost four of the six opening day fixtures against the Barcodes. Or that we have never won at Old Trafford in August. Still, there is always the fact that we have lost three of the four games against Liverpool if it is the second league match of the season…
New Signings, Old Signings, Anyone Re-signing?
On the transfer front, the potential signings of Christopher Samba and Gervinho remained potential signings, the speculated announcement of at least one of them as an Arsenal player never arrived yesterday so they drag on into next week.
Most importantly Samir Nasri is meeting to try to resolve the differences between himself and the club. The sticking point is money with the rumoured demand of £6m per year fast becoming fact, despite no evidence being offered to prove it is the case. But that is the sort of money that a great player will earn. Samir knows he is not yet a great player,
I don’t want last season to be just a one-off. I want to continue playing at my best and be consistent at the level I was at the start of last season. This is the difference between a good player and a great player – and I know the expectations will be higher on me too.
That is very self-aware of the player and one reason the club will not cede to his demands – if they exist – and nor should they.
If he is the best player, like everyone else he should be rewarded as such. But it is not just proving it this coming season, he has to do it in the next one and the one after that. He has the potential to become the star of the team but he is not yet. A great player has the ability to shine consistently, to lift a team that is limp of performance and drive them to a win. Too often Nasri was dragged down to the lower level in the seond half of the season.
If he becomes the star, I will champion Samir Nasri to be paid a lot more than £6m. But he is not there yet. And has some way to go.
Gary Cahill is still mentioned as a possibility but deemed too expensive at £17m. Even Ray Parlour thought that and being as English as English can be, champions anyone can vaguely run from our nation. For all of his attempts to bring finesse to Bolton’s playing style, Owen Coyle is still a little rough around the edges, offering to fight anyone who tries to buy Cahill. Presumably with a can of Special Brew in his hand at the same time. You can the boy out of Govan but not Govan out of the boy.
Elsewhere, Arsène might be keeping his defensive options open but surely Sol Campbell is a little too much of a retrograde step whilst Blaise Matuidi is rather blase about being linked with new employers but a bit, well, CBA, if truth to be told when it comes to Rumours. And I have to agree, I’ve always found it to be an overrated album.
Christian Zapatta is ‘snubbing‘ Arsenal at the same time Sebastian Larsson is rightly miffed that his Mr20%s attempt at drumming up interest failed miserably and now he has to put up with a bleak future on Wearside. Who has snubbed whom first as Arsenal were never interested in either? Finally, the weekend after the week before, and José Manuel Jurado is the replacement for Cesc. When a holiday / promotional trip to the Far East makes the basis of a story, you know that the bolt is shot on that one.